X-Factor (1st series) #79

Issue Date: 
June 1992
Story Title: 
Rhapsody in Blue

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

Brief Description: 

Quicksilver and Multiple Man are sent to a small town to help in a murder investigation involving a young mutant woman nicknamed Rhapsody as a suspect. Both men bristle at the casual racism of the citizens but have very different ways of dealing with it. They find Rhapsody and she and Madrox immediately hit it off, causing him to believe she is innocent. In Washington, Val Cooper tells Havok about their newest mission: protecting one Marylin Maycroft, who is about to testify against her teammates. At the same time, Polaris is beaten up on the streets as a warning to the team not to protect Maycroft.

Full Summary: 

Night time, a study: An elderly woman comes inside, asking her husband Harry if he isn’t coming to bed. Did he fall asleep reading again? She looks closer, to see the man is dead. Outside at the window, she sees a young blue-skinned woman and then begins to scream.

Jamie Madrox and a dupe are playing Chopsticks on the piano and apparently have been doing so for some time. Quicksilver holds his ears and shouts he can’t stand it anymore. Doesn’t he know anything else? He’s been at this for hours!

Havok, Strong Guy and Val Cooper come in. Guido tells Pietro to ease up. Jamie is a beginner. He’s never been trained either, Pietro scoffs, but a trained baboon could do better than that! Okay, monkey boy, Guido retorts. Twenty bucks saying Pietro can’t do better. Pietro agrees. This oughta be good, Val remarks. He has money riding that it won’t be, Guido points out.

Pietro recalls Black Bolt used to play one of these. Crystal always insisted they watch. Middle C was here… Pietro begins playing at superspeed and it is horrible. “Shoot me now!” Havok shouts. And he thought this was going to be an easy 20 bucks, Guido groans. Lorna and Rahne come running. Are they sacrificing yaks? Lorna asks.

Val tells Pietro to knock it off but then the cacophony transforms into beautiful music, the Moonlight Sonata, Wolfsbane realizes. She loves it. So did Black Bolt, Pietro remarks. What does he call that horrible racket before? Lorna asks. Learning, Pietro replies smugly. Guido tells him he hates him and hands over the money. What is he so enraptured about? Lorna asks Jamie. She thought he was a Motown junkie. He knows beauty when he hears it, he replies.

Two Forks, Maine:

Two police cars chase the blue-skinned woman, Rachel Argosy. A third car cuts her off. Rachel smashes the shop window of the music shop next to her. The cops tell her she is under arrest on suspicion of murder. While they read her her rights, she takes up a violin and begins to play and flies up on the music. The cops realize they need help on this one.


He’s gorgeous, Jamie mocks Guido, who has dressed in a suit. He knows, Guido replies. Studs all over the world hate him ‘cause he ruins the grade curve. Jamie asks where he is off to. Showing Sean around town, he claims. He’s not still giving him this nonsense about him dating that actress, is he? Jamie scoffs. First, she’s married or something, second… no offense… she’s out of Guido’s league. To the first, things can change, and the second is beneath his dignity, Guido replies.

The doorbell rings and a woman in a Catwoman costume stands before the door. Guido tells her she looks great, but he’s gotta be honest. The film’s wrapped, Michelle got the part. It’s not gonna happen for her. Give it a rest. Time to move on. If he says so, she replies and they walk away, arm in arm.

Jamie decides that is someone Guido got to dress up, just to drive Jamie nuts.

Suddenly, Quicksilver is at his side, informing him they’ve been stuck on a job together. He tells him to take few deep breaths. Before Jamie understands why, he runs with him to Two Forks.

At the local police station, several locals have gathered to protest about the mutant freak whom the woman, Margaret, saw standing outside the window. Harry is dead but that person is still running free! The cop repeats they are doing all they can. And they are having specialists brought in. Specialists to deal with freaks? The ringleader, Roper, asks. What kind of specialists?

Quicksilver arrives at superspeed, making sure Roper’s hairpiece falls off, and tells them, the kind they should be glad to have at their side. Angrily, Roper accuses them of just taking her side. God forbid they take her side against brainless bigotry, Quicksilver mocks. Jamie tells him to calm down. He’s not worth it. Pietro agrees.

The officer tells them where to meet the people who called for them. On the way, Quicksilver berates Jamie for standing there in the face of their bigotry and ignorance and having the nerve to tell him to calm down. If he were any sort of man besides “multiple,” he’d have volunteered to help him beat some sense into them! Why did he agree with him? Jamie asks. In front of them, they have to present a united front. That doesn’t make what Jamie said any less of a joke! Thanks for his support, Jamie sulks.

Washington DC:

Lorna is window shopping, musing that the anniversary of the day she and Alex met is coming up. She wonders if he even remembers. She’d feel much better about everything if she knew where they really stand with their relationship. They are still staying at Guido’s place until they decide whether they want a place of their own. Makes her… itch. She sees a slinky red dress in the shop window and wonders if Alex saw her wearing that, if that itch might get scratched.

A hand in a metal glove taps her shoulder and the person tells her not to protect Marylin Maycroft. Before Lorna understands, the person hits her brutally.

In Maine, the police commissioner greets Quicksilver and Multiple Man and apologizes for events outside. Pietro gets right to the subject, asking if the woman was a music teacher. Captain O’Day explains the suspect’s name is Rachel Argosy, although the kids nicknamed her Rhapsody. She taught music at the high school. By mutant standards, Rachel was a late bloomer. Maybe it had to do with her having meningitis as a kid. She’s twenty now, and her mutation only just manifested. He skin turned blue and when she plays instruments… weird things happen.

She was tremendously popular with the kids, but the parents – he is embarrassed. They didn’t want mutants teaching their children. After a school board meeting, it was voted to terminate her employment. The man on the schoolboard who was the biggest supporter for the firing was Harry Shapiro. Two days later, Harry was found dead in his study and his wife spotted Rachel peering through the window. The guy leading the lynch mob is Harry’s business partner, Dick Roper.

Pietro asks after the cause of death. Captain O’Day explains the coroner hasn’t established it yet. It’s like Harry just… stopped. How can they be certain then his death was foul play at all? Pietro asks. They can’t, the Captain admits, although the nature of his death is so unusual, it seems to indicate someone unusual was involved. That seems more a matter of convenience, Quicksilver argues.

A cop comes in, announcing Rhapsody’s been spotted over in the industrial park. Quicksilver asks for directions, then rushes off without Madrox. A moment later, he comes back and grabs him.

They see Rhapsody fiddling a violin, flying in the air. Quicksilver deposits Madrox on a police car, runs up a building and manages to grab her. He orders her to stop struggling as she loses her violin. He is on her side! At least he will make certain to capture her alive. The police might not make that distinction!

They fall through a roof window into a ware house, their fall cushioned by empty boxes. Rhapsody fishes a flute from her pocket.

Madrox comes into the warehouse and his dupes search it. He hears music coming from the attic and sees Quicksilver entranced, sighing the name of his wife.

Madrox tries to grab Rhapsody. She smiles at him and she begins to play her flute. Suddenly, he finds himself naked and the warehouse gives way to the farm in Kansas where he grew up. He lands in a cornfield and an equally naked Rhapsody suggests they make beautiful music together and embraces him. She is under arrest, Jamie mutters into the kiss before deciding it doesn’t have to be immediately.

He is suddenly shaken awake by his dupes who had covered their ears and apprehended Rhapsody. Jamie calls them idiots and orders them to take their hands off her.

Quicksilver tells him to snap out of it. Rhapsody assures them she didn’t hurt him. She couldn’t hurt anyone! Not them, not Mr. Shapiro… no one! Don’t turn her over to them. They hate her! They’ll kill her.

Jamie promises they’ll make sure nobody hurts her and they won’t leave until this is cleared up. Quicksilver warns him that perhaps she did do it. Jamie insists she is innocent. She has a beautiful soul… he sensed it. Pietro said their kind had to stick together. Please back him up! He’s going to regret this, Pietro sighs. Jamie thanks him. He knew Pietro couldn’t be the complete dirtbag everyone else says he is. What does he mean, everyone? Pietro asks.
In Washington, Alex is critical about having to wait around for assignments coming their way. Any time he wants to hop into the Batmobile and patrol the city, looking for trouble, be her guest, Val Cooper retorts.

This is Marilyn Maycroft. She hands him a picture of a dour-looking woman. She’s going to be testifying against a major drug cartel. She’s a mutant and a former member of a group of female enforcers named Hell’s Belles who work for the cartel. Adorable, Alex comments. Got a nickname: Shrew. And he’ll bet she hasn’t even been tamed, Alex jokes. He’s so funny he should be on a stage, Val sighs. There’s one leaving town in ten minutes.

She continues that Maycroft is currently in government care but the concern is that her old teammates will track her down and snuff her. So they are watching her until after her testimony, at which point she’ll enter the witness protection program. Alex is sure she’ll blend in seamlessly into whatever small town they’ll place her.

Wolfsbane comes running in agitated, shouting that there was a call from the hospital. Lorna’s been attacked and they don’t know if she’ll make it!

Characters Involved: 

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

Val Cooper, X-Factor’s governmental liaison

Rhapsody / Rachel Argosy

Dick Roper, partner of Harry Sharpe

Mrs. Sharpe

Bill Warden, police commissioner

Captain O’Day, police officer


in photograph:


Story Notes: 

“Rhapsody in Blue” is a famous work of music by George Gershwin.

The “Moonlight Sonata” is by Beethoven.

Crystal is Quicksilver’s estranged wife and her cousin / brother-in-law Black Bolt is the leader of the Inhumans.

After losing the role of Vicky Vale in the first Batman movie by Tim Burton, actress Sean Young lobbied for the role of Catwoman in a self-made costume. However, the role went to Michelle Pfeiffer.

Havok refers to the Shakespeare play “The Taming of the Shrew.”

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