X-Factor (3rd series) #2

Issue Date: 
February 2006
Story Title: 
Star Power

Peter David (writer), Ryan Sook & Dennis Callero (pencilers), Wade Von Grawbadger & Dennis Callero (inker), Jose Villarrubia (colorist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer),Brad Johansen (production), Molly Lazer and Aubrey Sitterson (asst. editors), Andy Schmidt (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Siryn’s plan to confront Singularity Investigations directly is derailed by Layla Miller who convinces her that this will lead to certain failure and that their best chance at getting to Singularity is by taking on the client who is about to arrive. Enter Gloria Santiago who believes and evil mutant is behind her sister’s sudden shift in personality and behavior. Siryn takes on the case despite the ongoing uncertainty of who Layla is and how she knows all that she does. Meanwhile, Singularity’s director Mr. Tryp is angry that Siryn didn’t show up to be neutralized as was predicted by his mysterious and wizard-like associate. This associate is apparently from the future and supplies Tryp with foreknowledge of events that have yet to occur but for him are a part of the past.
After being pushed from a rooftop by one of Madrox’s dupes, Rictor is rescued by M who tries to convince him to join X-Factor. He opts to leave and is directed to a gas station by Layla Miller. At the station, he saves a girl’s life using only his wits. This convinces him to return and give X-Factor a shot. Jamie learns that the dupe responsible for Ric’s freefall was the self-deluding side of his personality that can’t be trusted. He reabsorbs this aspect who vows that he’ll one day be free to act again. This leads to Jamie’s further questioning of himself and his staff doesn’t fully trust him either when he reveals what happened with the dupe and Rictor. Siryn catches Gloria’s sister in the passionate embrace of a major movie star. She reveals this to Gloria who calls X-Factor shortly thereafter pleading for help after being arrested at the site of her sister’s murder.

Full Summary: 

Protesters gather outside X-Factor Investigations. Inside, Siryn is determined to investigate the mysterious Singularity Investigations who were responsible for gunning down an important contact in X-Factor’s latest case. Layla Miller shuffles through office files as she cautions her against this course of action, bluntly stating that Theresa will meet with certain defeat in a one-on-one confrontation with Singularity Investigations. Siryn tries to brush this off with a bit of bravado, but the mysterious Layla Miller assures her that she won’t like what will happens if she tries.

Once again, Siryn and Strong Guy find themselves wondering who this odd young woman is who has so boldly inserted herself into X-Factor’s affairs. Layla tells them that the only way Singularity will take them seriously is if they manage to get their attention. She advises them to take on their next client who she predicts will arrive in a few moments worried about her sister. As Guido begins to shoo Layla out, Gloria Santiago arrives stating that she’s worried about her sister and needs X-Factor’s help. Layla simply smiles and pulls out a file she’s already created with the name “Santiago” on it. She states her name and once again that she “knows stuff” as she tells Gloria that X-Factor is eager to dive into her case.

At this same moment, Rictor plummets towards the ground after being pushed from a rooftop by one of Madrox’s dupe. Oddly enough, the dupe had just convinced Rictor not to commit suicide before shoving him off the roof. Seeing Ric falling, Rahne tries to force her way past a pair of police officers in order to save her former beau.
From nearby, Jamie watches in horror and wonders why his dupe would have done such a thing. Rahne transforms into her transitional lupine form and threatens the officers until they relent and let her go. She leaps into the air, fearful that she is too late to save Rictor’s life.
She slams into the building as Monet St. Croix arrives and catches Rictor herself. She tells Wolfsbane not to fear as she flies Rictor off for a private chat. As she departs, she comments wryly on the state of Wolfsbane fur and asks snidely if she’s trying out a new flea treatment. Rahne growls at her haughty new teammate.

The dupe who pushed Rictor tries to escape down an alleyway but is intercepted by the original Multiple Man, who was convinced that this was the optimistic side of his personality. He questions the rogue dupe about his actions and the boldly states that he’s the part of Jamie’s consciousness that tries to delude himself, the side of his persona that can’t be trusted. The dupe exults in being free and able to act independently at last and Jamie insists that he’s going right back inside. The dupe states with a smile that he can’t keep him trapped forever like a genie in a bottle. He tells Jamie that there’s no way he’ll know that it’s him either. Jamie draws the dupe back inside as the dupe declares “You’re not the boss of me!”. Jamie wonders aloud who it is then if not him and the dupe replies that that is the question.
As Jamie assimilates the errant dupe, a homeless guy asks if he’s still a mutant. Jamie answers in the affirmative and asks if the homeless man is too. He replies that God loves him and that he isn’t anymore. Jamie tells the guy to ask God what it is that he did to piss him off.

At the X-Factor offices, Gloria Santiago explains that her sister is a cleaning girl at an exclusive hotel called the Marquis and that she’s undergone a radical personality change and has become suddenly secretive. Guido asks bluntly why she thinks this is a case that merits X-Factor’s specialized services. Ms. Santiago suspects that an evil mutant is behind her sister’s sudden behavorial shifts. Siryn explains that the odds of this being the case have dropped dramatically since the events of M-Day and that any evil mutant left would likely be targeting world leaders not fooling around with the chambermaid at a hotel.
Layla interrupts and tells Theresa that if she wants to get to Singularity Investigations, Ms. Santiago’s case is the place to start. Guido asks how she knows this and Layla tells them once more that she’s Layla Miller and she knows stuff. Strong Guy asks what kinds of stuff and she replies “all kinds”. He asks how and she begins to say “Because…” and he finishes with an exasperated “…you’re Layla Miller.” She smiles and says he’s finally getting it! He replies that if she means a massive headache when referring to “it” that she’s absolutely correct.
Siryn agrees to take on Ms. Santiago’s case mostly due to her commitment to finding out the truth about Singularity. She asks Ms. Santiago for the information she has so far about her sister’s situation.

The scene cuts to a shot of the impressive skyscraper that houses the offices of Singularity Investigations. Siryn approaches and with a scream crashes through the office windows. As soon as she enters, she is enveloped by a null field that absorbs and deadens her sonic scream. She is quickly surrounded by armed guards who fire upon her, their bullets easily passing through the null field.
Turning from his desk, Mr. Tryp, the head of Singularity, notes that this would have been an exciting end to his day and asks why Siryn did not show up as expected. Hovering before him is a small glowing vision of the scene just described which he regards with great interest. He is speaking to a robed figure who looks like an ancient wizard complete with long green robes with gold trim and a stylized dragon logo.

The wizardly figure states that a new and unforeseen element has entered into events as he recalls them, clearly suggesting that he is from the future and for him the events leading to Siryn’s demise are past tense. Tryp demands more details but the old man is unable to provide them. He states that the period following the “decimation” of M-Day were a period of temporal confusion.
Tryp notes that there was great grammatical confusion as well given that the term “decimation” refers to the death of one-tenth of the population and the mutant population has been reduced by ninety percent. The old man dryly encourages Tryp to try arguing with the media.
Tryp asks if this will affect the important upcoming events involving Jamie Madrox, again indicating that the two share some knowledge of future events. The old man states again that he doesn’t know. Tryp reprimands him for picking now as the time for such uncertainty. He states that the older man had told him that X-Factor’s actions would lead to the re-empowerment of the disenfranchised mutant population. The old man states that this would naturally put them at odds with X-Factor but that this change in circumstances changes everything. X-Factor could now be responsible for maintaining the current status quo for mutantkind. Tryp suggests that any interference on their part could then result in them “slitting their own throats.”
The old man stoically states that this could be the case, theoretically. Tryp demands that his associate sort things out on his end and bring him more accurate intel. The old man reminds him to show some respect and that he is not a messenger boy. Mr. Tryp sarcastically restates his request and adds “pretty please with sugar on it.” As the old man vanishes to parts (or times) unknown, Mr. Tryp wonders aloud why being evil has to be so much work.

Back on the streets of Mutant Town, Rictor rides away on his motorcycle as M flies alongside him. She is relaxed, flying backwards with her hands clasped behind her head in a very nonchalant manner as the two move past a crowd of protesters. The signs of the protesters mark them as mutants who clearly want their powers and mutant status restored. As they pass, one ex-mutant shouts angrily to Monet asking if she has to flaunt her remaining powers. M callously replies that yes, she does.
As they move through the streets, Monet compliments Julio on his motorcycle and asks if she can have it if she’s not around the next time he needs a rescue. He comments on her attitude but she blows it off with another snide remark.
They arrive at the X-Factor offices and Ric comments on what a dump it is. M says that she’s done wonders at beautifying the interior. Ric asks how and she states that her mere presence improved the place. She begins to invite Ric inside but he hastily reminds her that he’s now powerless. She says that he’s still sharp-minded and quick and nearly as attractive as she is. She wonders where the downside is. He informs her that hanging around with mutants who still have their powers will only remind him of all that he’s lost. That and her boss, Madrox just tried to off him.
As he’s about to leave, Layla Miller comes out and gives him a coupon for a gas station up the street. He thanks her and rides off. M asks the odd young girl who she is and Layla responds “Layla Miller. I know stuff.” Snottily, Monet replies “How special for you.”

At the Marquis Hotel, Rachel Santiago knocks on the door of a famous actor named Vaughn. He states that the room is a mess and she smiles softly and states that an important star like him deserves the best. As she enters the room, he says that he does and grabs her forcefully from behind. She cries out as if surprised by this but then turns and lustfully pulls off her cleaning lady uniform. She notes that he clearly wants to get right down to it this visit, implying that this is not their first time together. From outside the window, Siryn clicks a picture on a tiny digital camera. She remarks that this hardly seems like a case of mind control to her!

Rictor pulls into the gas station to fill up with the coupon that Layla gave him. He can hear shouting from inside the station. A young man named Ronnie is arguing with his girlfriend who is apparently breaking up with him. From their argument, it’s clear that they were both mutants and she views their depowering as a blessing from God. Since he doesn’t see things the same way, she’s dumping him and he’s none too happy about this turn of events or losing his powers. He pulls out a gun and says that if they’re through it will be on his terms and that this way, she can thank God in person.
The woman tries to escape and runs towards Rictor begging him to call the police. Ronnie comes after her and Rictor hoses him down with gasoline. Ronnie aims the gun at Julio, telling him shouldn’t have interfered because he has no idea what it’s like. Rictor says that he knows all too well and warns him not to fire the gun. He does anyone and the spark from the hammer ignites the gasoline. Rictor and the girl ride away as Ronnie bursts into flames.

At X-Factor’s offices, Siryn shows Gloria Santiago the photos of her sister in the arms of the movie star. Gloria has a hard time believing her formerly modest sister capable of such a passionate tryst. Monet states that she doesn’t mean to sound unsympathetic, not that she is in the least but she hates her inability to hide it better, but that Ms. Santiago’s sister wouldn’t be the first girl to give it up for a major movie star. Rahne appeals to M to show a little compassion and M snidely replies that she’ll consider it once they get central air in the offices. Gloria hastily thanks them for the information, pays them and leaves. She passes Jamie in the hallway but she ignores him.

He enters the office and asks if that was a client. He then compliments Monet on the save earlier with Rictor. Monet asks where he’s been and why he pushed Julio in the first place. Jamie replies that he was trying to clear his head and explains that it was a dupe who pushed Rictor and that’s what he was trying to clear his head of. He says that it’s complicated as Rictor enters and suggests that they try and simplify it.

Later, Jamie reflects on how poorly things went in trying to explain things to Rictor and the others. He knows that they don’t trust him now and he can’t really blame them. As he ponders this Layla appears and tells him that he’s going to want to take the call when the phone rings. He asks who she is and how she knows and she repeats her mantra “I’m Layla Miller, I know stuff.” As Jamie asks who let her in, the phone rings.
Layla leaves to finish her filing as Jamie answers. On the other end, Gloria Santiago says that he has to help her. She is at the Marquis Hotel. Her sister lies in the bed, apparently shot in the chest. A police officer is standing with Mr. Vaughn who is wrapped in a sheet. He claims that he took the gun away after she fired it and she didn’t even struggle. The officer begins to read her her rights and states that she’s under arrest for her sister’s murder.

Characters Involved: 

M, Jamie Madrox, Layla Miller, Rictor, Siryn, Strong Guy, Wolfsbane (All X-Factor Investigations)

Mr. Tryp and his unnamed elderly ally (both Singularity Investigations)

Gloria Santiago

Rachel Santiago

Mister Vaughn (an A-list movie star)

Ronnie and his girlfriend (both de-powered mutants)
Homeless de-powered mutant

Police officers

Protesters in Mutant Town


In precognitive vision only:

Singularity Investigations marksmen and staff

Story Notes: 

Pencilling chores in this issue alternate between series regulars Ryan Sook and Wade Von Grawbadger and Dennis Callero. Sook and Von Grawbadger handle the art chores on pages 3-7 and 10-13 while Callero covers 1-2, 8-9 and 14-22.

On pages 14, Monet’s hair and costume are miscolored. It appears on these pages that Rictor is talking to Siryn given the red hair and green costume while the dialogue and set-up make it plain that he is conversing with M.

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