X-Factor (1st series) #73

Issue Date: 
December 1991
Story Title: 
Crowd Control

Peter David (writer), Larry Stroman (penciler), Al Milgrom (inker), Glynis Oliver (colorist), Michael Heisler (letterer), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

X- Factor’s press conference is disrupted by a stranger who not only claims he is the real Jamie Madrox but backs up the assertion by producing several dupes. A heated argument ensues and soon there is a big knock-out drag-down battle between Multiple Men dupes on both sides. X-Factor decides to act by knocking out every Multiple Man they can find until only the two originally are left. Since they are identical in every manner, the team is stumped and Havok asks Val Cooper to bring in a polygraph expert to find out the truth. Elsewhere, a mysterious individual observes them and decides on the next team member to destroy with his ricochet powers – Strong Guy. And Professor Victor Chalker again fails at his plan to create a credible anti-mutant weapon.

Full Summary: 

A man in a car calls his wife, telling her he doesn’t know how long he’s gonna be. There’s a traffic jam. He assures his wife he is not with her. Disgusted and disbelieving, his wife hangs up on him. So much for his better half, he sighs. Get less static from the radio. He switches the car radio on, to be listening to a cut from Weird Al’s new all-mutant parody album “Wings On Her fingers” – available in five different editions. Collect them all! This one is to the tune of “Particle Man” – Multiple Man:

Multiple Man,

Multiple Man,

Doin’ the things a multiple can…

What’s he like?

It’s not important, Multiple Man.

Is he a lot,

Or is he alone?

A super clown or a super clone?

His own beginning

And his own end

His own best friend, Multiple Man…

Suddenly, two Multiple Men Man tussling with each other land on the car’s windshield. Enraged, the man gets out of his car and announces they wrecked his car. He’ll sue! He’s got witnesses, he’s got… He is startled when he finds that all the people nearby, his potential witnesses, are the same guy – more dupes of Multiple Man fighting each other.

A crowd of bystanders has gathered witnessing – and some filming – the battle. Among them is journalist Ariel O’Hare, reporting the battle and summarizing what has happened. The new government backed team X-Factor held their press conference which degenerated into chaos shortly after the introductions were made. The true identity of one of the group’s members was challenged by someone who was his exact duplicate…


The Jamie Madrox in the crowd angrily announces that he happens to be the Multiple Man and he wants to know just who that impostor thinks he is! The members of X-Factor and Val Cooper are shocked as the new Jamie scoffs that this is some organization the government has going for it. They can’t even confirm the identity of their own people! They are allowing blatant frauds into their own ranks without authentication.

“Nobody move!” team leader Havok shouts, causing the newly christened Strong Guy to inquire if it is okay to scratch his nose. Val begs their Jamie to tell her this is a stupid joke. She won’t get mad, she swears. It’s not a joke! he replies. Just shoot her now, Val mutters.

Havok asks Wolfsbane to use her heightened senses to figure out the real Madrox’s identity. But her senses tell her both Madroxes are real. Val is crouching on the floor now and Guido asks if she wants a valium or something.

The new Madrox continues that he can tell them who the other Madrox is. He is one of his multiples broken free and trying to supplant his identity But he is the original!

Oh, yeah? X-Factor’s Jamie boasts. Then let’s see him do this. He multiplies several times. As does newcomer Jamie unfortunately. Angrily, X-Factor’s Madrox throws off his coat to get ready for battle. He figures the challenger is to blame for everything that’s been going wrong in his life. Only one of them is going to be walking alive out of here and it won’t be the other. He attacks the army of plain clothed Madroxes. His dupes follow and soon a huge battle is going on, made more complicated by the fact that, each time they strike each other, new dupes are produced.


Ariel O’Hare continues that X-Factor is endeavoring to deal with the emergency. Val asks the team how they can put a positive spin on this. Havok orders her to shut up and asks Rahne if she can figure out which among the many Multiple Men are the two originals. Rahne repeats they are identical in every respect.

X-Factor’s Madrox walks through the hallways of the Smithsonian, sure he saw one of the others come in here. He wonders why that case with the dedication plaque to Jim Henson is broken. A moment later, Kermit the Frog appears atop the case, asking if he can help him with something. He’s a little lost, Madrox admits. Has he tried Hare Krishna? Kermit asks. Actually, he’s looking for someone who looks like him, Madrox replies. “Kermit” hits him in the face. He thinks he’s found him, the other Madrox remarks.

Outside, the two groups of Madroxes assure one another that they hate each other. Havok observes that while they are still hitting they are no longer splitting. Multiple Man is at his limit. He asks Polaris if the multiples disappear when the original is unconscious. Lorna doesn’t know. They are going to find out, Alex decides. He means he wants them to knock out anyone who looks like Jamie Madrox? Quicksilver asks. Alex agrees. Good, Pietro comments. Alex orders him to shut up.

One of the civilian Madroxes is addressed by three young men. He is him isn’t he? they ask. The superhero guy! The one everybody is talking about! Gotta be him with the haircut. He’s the Rocketeer! The Rock-a-who? he asks. That moment, one of the costumed Madroxes slams into him. Must be a stunt double, the men decide. That means they are making a movie right here! The men grin broadly, shouting “hi mom.”

Elsewhere, Guido takes out any Jamie he can find: “One little, two little, three little Jamies…” as does Havok (having considerably less fun).

Meanwhile, at the Air and Space Museum, the original X-Factor Multiple Man is still looking for his opposing number, who almost manages to drop an antique biplane – one of the exhibits – on him. “Space – the final frontier!” the civilian Jamie who started the whole mess mocks as he kicks him. Like the space between his ears if he thinks he can keep up this charade forever! He’ll show him who’s charading! the first Jamie shouts. The other mocks there is no word like “charading.” That proves he’s real, the first one retorts. His grammar is lousy!

The civilian Jamie runs up a flight of stairs. X-Factor’s Jamie shouts after him to come back. He’ll show him how bad he is at state capitals and that will clinch it! He really hates him! He really, really does! He grabs him by the ankle, and the other kicks him.

X-Factor’s Jamie figures he knows what the other is. It’s why he can’t get a telepathic feeling from the dupes he makes. He’s some dark repressed side of him! Something he doesn’t want to acknowledge! Some subconscious that broke free and because he denies him there is a mental block! Nice theory, the other agrees and kicks him off the stairs.

X-Factor’s Jamie catches a hanging exhibit plane. As a matter of fact, the civilian Jamie continues, he was thinking the exact same thing about him. He too catches the plane which drops. The civilian Madrox continues he’s not really what makes Jamie Madrox Jamie Madrox. He’s some fleeting thought that got away from him, a bad dream conjured up by an underdone potato like Marley’s ghost! The dickens you say, first Jamie retorts. Uh-oh, he mutters a moment later.

Outside, Lorna knocks two Jamies together and has thus finished off the last of them (all 38). Since they aren’t disappearing, it becomes clear they haven’t found the two originals. Just as Havok wonders where they are, the plane exhibit comes crashing through the window, both Jamies hanging on to it. He told them he was the Rocketeer! one of the three youths states, while the other is disappointed that he never got to ask him how much of a babe that Jennifer Connelly is.

Before Lorna can slow the plane down, it crashes and the two Jamies are out. The dupes disappear. Rahne wonders how they can both still be here if one of them is a dupe.

That moment, the journalists find them. Ariel O’Hare begins announcing that they are reporting live from the latest scene of destruction, where mutants have been connected and these mutants are supposedly on their side. Thus far, the damage in this internecine mutant squabble is estimated at hundreds of thousands of dollar and they are going to get comments from one of the mutant members of…

“Okay, that’s it!” Guido shouts at her. He is sick and tired of the world “mutant.” Thanks to them, it’s one of the dirtiest words and racial slurs in this country. Mutant menace, mutant scum, mutant danger… Sure, they had a problem today, and the FF and the Avengers have problems, but they are not cosmic powered freaks or superhero vermin! But they are always nasty mutants. Remember when African-Americans were Negroes or worse? When the physically challenged were cripples? Every other segment of society is now treated with verbal respect but journalists have turned the word “mutant” into a buzzword meaning “dangerous.” It’s unfair and they are not gonna take it anymore! They deserve respect! They demand respect and they won’t ever get it with the pejorative “mutant.” How would they refer to individuals such as them? one journalist asks, with all attention now on Guido. They prefer the term “genetically challenged” or GeeCees for short.

Elsewhere, Professor Vic Chalker has finished his masterwork. The most devastatingly destructive exo-skeleton in the world. Now all he has to do is get into it and he will be able to go out and wage his war against the dangerous mutant scum menace. All he has to do is… Of course, unfortunately, the thing is the wrong size. He can’t see out, he can’t fit in and can’t reach the hand control. Only a minor setback, he vows, or his name isn’t Professor Vic Chalker!

Back at X-Factor’s brownstone, Havok is trying to chew out Guido. Genetically challenged? Where did he get that from? First he comes up with that idiotic “Strong Guy” name, now he makes it sound like being a mutant is something to be ashamed of!

Guido, who is doing his nails along with Lorna, asks him to lighten up. He was just blowing smoke to distract the journalists while they got Jamie out of there. Those newsguys won’t take that GeeCee stuff seriously. Oh yeah? Havok asks and switches on the TV where the anchorman describes Guido as the genetically challenged spokesmen Strong Guy of the new GeeCee team…

Lorna asks Alex not to be such a blork. He’s trying to be like Scott again. Scott’s so deadly serious about everything, so he feels he has to be too. If Scott smiled, his face would crack. Some role model. Look at him! He wears his headgear all the time. He’s getting like the guy in “Doonesbury” who always wear his helmet. Blow off some steam! Right? she asks Guido. Right, he agrees and suggests he and ‘Lex go out cruising for babes, earning him a “shut up!” by Lorna.

Wolfsbane interjects they should leave Alex alone. Just because he’s properly appreciative of the stakes and the two of them are immature oafs, doesn’t mean …

Val enters and stops the argument. The two Madroxes are kept immobilized in special chairs to keep them from reproducing. Talk about extreme form of contraception, Guido jokes. What if one of them blinks real hard?

Both Madroxes still insists they are the genuine article. One of these two people is the real Jamie Madrox, Guido announces, and you’ll be invited to guess on “To Tell the Mute”. Val hushes him and asks the team’s Madrox what’s going on. Civilian Madrox interjects that he wanted to get away from Muir Island for a while… just to live in the normal world for a bit, but did not want to argue with Moira about it, so he left a dupe to cover for him. So here he is playing tourist in DC and he sees this clown pitching fits over another body of his and hearing he’s part of a new mutant group.

Oh, he’s really smooth, X-Factor’s Madrox interjects. Civilian Madrox continues why would he agree to join this group? He’s turned down membership in other groups? Why X-Factor? Because he was afraid the real Madrox would return and reabsorb him and X-Factor was his ticket out!

Oh come on! X-Factor’s Madrox protests, he joined X-Factor because Muir Island was wrecked, because he was tired of hiding his head in the sand. Because-- Why is she looking at him like that? he accuses Lorna, who is starting to look doubtful. They are not falling for this, are they? It’s not impossible, Guido begins.

It’s him! Madrox shouts Jamie! Mr. Mayo! Don’t they see? He must be the one who is trying to kill him!

The others leave as this Madrox calls after them not to leave him with this creep; he might try something.

They’ve got a big problem, Alex admits. Rahne points out they need a telepath to tell who’s lying. They are the only mutant group on the planet without a resident telepath. “Genetically challenged” group, Val corrects her. They don’t need a TP, Alex decides. People determine truths all the time. They need a polygraph expert, he tells Val. Considering the circumstances, they need the best. Oh, she knows the best, she assures him. He owes her two favors. She’ll call him. What are the two favors he owes her? Pietro asks. The first is that she married him, Val replies. The second is that she divorced him.

X-Factor’s Jamie warns the other one that they are going to find him out. He won’t be able to fool them forever. Civilian Madrox replies he was about to say the same thing. They’ll probably hook them up to lie detectors and he’s confident to face one. How about you?

Far from the madding crowd, a stranger watches, musing this is going perfectly. First Quicksilver and now Madrox. Who next to use his ricochet abilities on? Whose confidence will he erode? Whose public image will he shatter? Hmm…. He sees a picture and has found his next victim… Strong Guy…

Characters Involved: 

Havok, Multiple Man, Polaris, Quicksilver, Strong, Wolfsbane (all X-Factor)

Val Cooper, X-Factor’s governmental liaison

“Other Multiple Man”

Ariel O’Hare, reporter

Vic Chalker, mad scientist

Ricochet, mysterious villain

Story Notes: 

"Weird Al" Yankovic is a singer-songwriter and parodist who is known for his humorous songs that make light of popular culture and that often parody specific songs by contemporary musical acts.

“Five different editions” is dig at the “variant” cover craze of the time, specifically X-Force #1 and X-Men (second series) #1, the latter of which came out at about the same time and had 5 different covers.

“The Rocketeer” was a comic-based movie that came out about the same time. You could make a case for Bill Campbell really looking a lot like Stroman’s version of Jamie Madrox, though a personal connection for Peter David is that he wrote the movie’s novel adaptaion.

Jennifer Connelly also starred in “The Rocketeer.”

“Space the final frontier” is a famous tagline of “Star Trek.”

Marley’s ghost is of course, from Charles Dicken’s famous “A Christmas Carol.”

Doonesbury is a famous long running political satire cartoon series by G.B Trudeau. The “helmet guy” refers to B.D., a rather conservative humorless character who was always wearing a football helmet.

Scott is, of course, Havok’s brother, Cyclops.

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