X-Factor (3rd series) #34

Issue Date: 
October 2008
Story Title: 
The Darwin Awards part 3

Peter David (writer), Larry Stroman (penciler), Jon Sibal (inkers), Jeromy Cox (color artist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), Will Panzo with Aubrey Sitterson (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

In Detroit, She-Hulk is temporarily waylaid by the sheer number of Madrox’s duplicates, but eventually shrugs them off to follow Jazinda on their search for the Skrull previously masquerading as Longshot. As She-Hulk departs, Madrox overhears her speaking with her partner, Jazinda, on the other end of a mobile phone, and learns of the Skrull connection to her investigation. Meanwhile, Jazinda has caught up with Nogor, who is still trying to convince Darwin to come with him, claiming that Darwin is a missing link between humans and Skrulls. Though Jazinda is armed and he is not, Nogor still possesses energy powers with which to defend himself. He initially uses it in Jazinda, but then finds his number of enemies growing with the recovery of Monet and the arrival of Madrox, Guido and She-Hulk. Still, Nogor holds his own against the entire group, until the gentle encouragement from Monet provides Darwin with the self-confidence to face the full fury of Nogor’s powers, evolving to compensate against anything the Skrull throws at him. However, it is ultimately She-Hulk, approaching from Nogor’s flank when he was focused on Darwin, that knocks him out. To prevent his recovery, Jazinda places a nullifier helmet on Nogor’s head, after which She-Hulk begins to stow him into their RV. Despite being distrustful of Tony Stark, She-Hulk explains to Madrox that she will turn the Skrull over to him. However, an almost playful query from Monet as to whether Stark might in fact be a Skrull freaks She-Hulk out, even as they depart into the distance.

Full Summary: 

In the large house currently occupied as the HQ of XF Investigations, Hector Munoz stares at a picture of his son and hesitantly asks that his son is called “Darwin?” To this, Theresa replies that it’s because of his evolutionary abilities. When Mr. Munoz replies that he understands that – but why “Darwin”… Theresa quips that it was either that or “Scopes Monkey Boy.” Seeing Mr. Munoz clearly not understanding, Theresa tells him to never mind.

Returning to the picture of his son, Mr. Munoz states that, when he thinks of all the things he should have done for him, he’s the world’s worst father. Hearing this, Rictor takes a break from his bottle and asks if he was ever an arms dealer. Receiving a “no” from Mr. Munoz, Rictor then asks if he ever got himself killed. Now receiving an “obviously not,” Rictor tells Mr. Munoz that, from where he’s sitting, he’s the freaking father of the year. Trust him.

Elsewhere in the city, the prime Jamie Madrox kneels before She-Hulk, who has dozens of Madrox duplicates piled upon her and weighing her down. Believe it or not, Madrox tells her. He sympathizes with her. He knows everything that was done to her and her cousin. Done to her by people she trusted, depended upon. She was an Avenger, a member of the Fantastic Four… she was the ultimate insider. And suddenly, presto, she’s on the outside looking in. Plus, they made her into something she never was: a victim. All of that combined into a lot of reasons for displace anger. Long story short: he understands what she’s going through.

To this, She-Hulk replies that “short story even shorter”… she doesn’t give a crap. This said, much to her surprise, She-Hulk uses her strength to shrug off all of the dupes, sending them flying. As more dupes are created from the impact of all of the duplicated, She-Hulk makes a bee-line to the prime version and picks him up by the shirt. Noting to him that impact causes him to replicate, she asks him if she tears him in half… does that count as an impact? To this, Madrox replies that he’s really hoping that questions rhetorical. A moment later, Madrox finds himself flung a far distance, while She-Hulk turns away to call Jazinda on her mobile phone.

Picking up on the other end, Jazinda reports that she had been knocked out with her own weapon. She fired point blank at Nogor’s companion and the last just ricocheted off him and hit her. Asked if it killed her, Jazinda replies that she doesn’t think so. She’s not hungry, and dying always gives her the munchies. Changing subjects, Jazinda tells She-Hulk that she’s heading due east. She can sense Nogor just a few blocks away.

Back at the battle site, She-Hulk replies that she’ll catch up – and then adds to Jazinda not to let the Skrull get away. Hearing this, one of the Madrox dupes asks who’s the Skrull? Taking a moment to reply, She-Hulk answers “Longshot” and then departs.

Having heard this himself, Guido inquisitively notes to Madrox that Longshot’s a Skrull. Weird. He doesn’t look Skrullish. Asked by Madrox if he’s okay, Guido replies that he is, as much as a guy who got kicked in the ‘nads by She-Hulk can be. Good, Madrox replies. They need to go after her. Following, Guido notes that, lucky him, he’s a masochist.

Some distance away, Darwin stands before the revealed Skrull – in fact Nogor, who had been masquerading as Longshot. Exasperated, Darwin tells Nogor that he thought he was his friend. He trusted him! And he was right to do so, Nogor replies. No matter how he appears to him, he presses, he’s still the same inside.

Recoiling from Nogor’s out-stretched hand, Darwin tells him to get away from him. He’s a Skrull! True enough, Nogor replies. But he presented himself to him in a way that would encourage him to listen to him. Still backing away, Darwin trips over the unconscious body of Monet and falls to the ground. Clasping his hands around his face, Darwin asks why he should listen to him. He’s a Skrull!

Yes, Nogor replies, sarcastically noting that they’ve established that. Repeatedly. And, he presses to Darwin, his words prove the necessity of his subterfuge. And, Darwin points out, he said he’d help him find Professor Xavier! A lie, admittedly, Nogor states. He has no idea where Charles Xavier is. But they discussed many other things in their time together. He said that he had tremendous potential, and he meant it. His brethren have theorized that he existed. It is the gods’ will that he was the one that found him.

Confused as ever, Darwin asks Nogor what he’s talking about. Standing over Darwin, though with arms cross in a non-threatening manner, Nogor explains that, on a genetic level, there is not that vast a difference between humans and Skrulls. He believes that, from an evolutionary point of view… he – Darwin – is the missing link. What else is the Skrull ability to change shape if not an evolutionary development to maximize their own survival? The ability that he’s developed is the Terran equivalent of what Skrulls can do. It shows that, on some level, the human race has the potential to be as powerful as they Skrulls.

Which makes them dangerous to Skrulls, Darwin defends, cautiously accepting the outstretched hand of Nogor to help him up. On the contrary, Nogor rejoins, as he pulls Darwin to his feet. Upon such commonality are great alliances built. Many other races do not trust them specifically because of their malleability. If humanity displays that same trait, it will receive the same hostile treatment.

Now on his feet, Darwin pulls his hand away from Nogor’s, noting as he’s done so that they’ve already received plenty of hostile treatment, thanks. And they’re still there. For the time being, yes, Nogor replies. But their luck will not last. They need allies. They need them.

Interrupting this, another voice asks Nogor if they need to conquer them? Is that the argument? They are not speaking of conquest, Nogor replies to a gun-wielding Jazinda, now in her native Skrull form. Think of it more as a strategic occupation. How considerate, Jazinda replies. And while they’re protecting them from everyone else, who’s protecting them from the Skrulls?

Having had enough, Nogor begins to emit a swirl of energy from his torso. As he does so, he tells “Jazinda Kl’rt-spawn” that he’s warning her. He is the living power of the gods. Lower her weapon and show proper respect. It is her only chance for survival. Then told by Jazinda that he cannot kill her, Nogor replies that, actually, he’s the only one who can. The gods abominate her existence, “Kl’rt-spawn.” Shall he exert their will?

With this, Nogor moves his hands, emitting energy while doing do. The effect is immediate upon Jazinda, who slowly collapses to her knees. Continuing the process, Nogor notes that she is impressive. He would not have thought that she would have the wisdom to behave in such a manner, to show proper deference. To this, Jazinda replies that she’s not showing the proper deference. Then asks what would she call it, Jazinda smiles “getting out of the way.”

A moment later, Monet has launched herself at Nogor and deals a devastating right cross to Nogor, knocking him back off of his feet. Without speaking, Monet follows her blow with a powerful left hook, which results in a thunderous crack against Nogor’s jaw.

Joining the scene, Madrox arrives with Guido and She-Hulk, yelling to Monet that it’s not really Longshot! It’s… “A Skrull,” Monet replies, interrupting him. Got the memo. She then tells Madrox that he should have heard the line he was laying on Darwin.

Recovering enough to return to his feet, Nogor snarls at Monet that she was faking. She weathered his attack better than she allowed him to believe. She is very clever for a Terran. Very clever Terrans, Nogor then adds as he begins to emit energy from his fingers, will be the first to be disposed of!

Moving instinctively, She-Hulk tosses Monet away, before she can object – and then steps into the full onslaught of Nogor’s energy beams. Taking the full blast, though not without a grimace of pain on her face, She-Hulk calls to everyone else. Don’t just stand there people… Take him! Answering the call with the rest of the team, Guido assures She-Hulk she can trust them… he’s taken!

Mocking Guido’s work of “trust,” Nogor questions what humans can know of trust. They can’t even agree on one god. They need the Skrulls to take charge of them. Left to their own devices, the humans would destroy each other sooner or later. The Skrulls could not merely stand by and watch such potential, such raw material, be wasted. It would be a sin. And he, the highest and most sacred of the Skrull Empire, knows quite a bit about sin.

Having been repelled, She-Hulk, Jazinda and Madrox’s team regroup. When Madrox asks what the hell he’s hitting them with, Jazinda replies that it’s conviction. The pure conviction of his beliefs. He trusts in the gods implicity. He can destroy them because he believes he can. Then asked by Madrox how do they take him down, Jazinda replies coldly by believing in something more than he does.

Ignoring Jazinda and Madrox, Nogor calls out to Darwin by his name of Armando and tells him to come quickly. Looking up from Monet, on whom he was checking, Darwin asks if he’s serious. HE flash-fries people, he talks about invading them for their own good, and he thinks he will just come with him?

To this, Nogor transforms back into the form of Longshot and outstretches his hand. He trusted him when he looked like this, Nogor replies. Even in this form, he was testing his abilities, trying to determine his full potential. Is he so shallow that he needs to depend upon exterior looks? Now transforming into the body of Monet, Nogor notes that he saw the way he looked at the creature with this appearance. He can be indistinguishable from her, even down to the voice. Would he find this preferable?

Grimacing at this, Darwin replies that he can’t even begin to tell him how much he wouldn’t. And stop calling him Armando, he then adds. Only close friends get to call him Armando. He can call him… Darwin!!! With this, Darwin fires Jazinda’s energy pistol, which unfortunately, Nogor is easily able to deflect. Lamenting Darwin’s choice, Nogor replies that, if he is disinclined to be an ally, then he will provide a worthwhile subject for dissection.

At the end of the volley, Darwin is still alive, though knocked to his feet. Further, he is paralyzed by fear… overwhelmed and uncertain of what to do. Inspiration comes from Darwin’s flank from Monet, who calls out to him. As Darwin rises to his feet, Monet tells him that he can take this guy. He’s all mouth. Mouth with a light show. Take him down, Monet then smiles. She knows he can. His attention returning to Nogor, Darwin replies simple, “He’s taken.”

Slowly, step by step, Darwin walks toward Nogor, who unleashes the total fury of his powers. Evolving as he nears his quarry, Darwin is more than a match for the powers of Nogor, who for the first time… looks worried. So focused on the approaching Darwin, Nogor does not spy the She-Hulk, who comes from his flank and delivers a left-hook.

The fight over, with Nogor unconscious, Darwin chides She-Hulk, telling her she had no business… Interrupting, She-Hulk tells Darwin that rule number one is that no one tells her her business. Rule number two, she then adds, is to see rule number one. As they argue, Jazinda flaces a helmet over Nogor’s head, explaining that it is a nullifier, which will jeep him manageable for the time being.

Nearby, Monet thanks Darwin for getting Nogor out of her face, a compliment to which Darwin replies no problem. Also delivering her own compliment, She-Hulk tells Darwin that she likes the nicer skin tone on him now, a seeming after-effect from the fight. It suits him. Smiling from the darkened skin tone, which now mirror’s that of Monet’s, Darwin tells her thanks.

In short order, She-Hulk is about to place the helpless body of Nogor in their RV. Asked what she’s going to do with him from Guido, She-Hulk replies that she hates to say it, but probably the best person to turn him over to would be tony Stark. And if Tony Stark is a Skrull imposter? Monet asks. Don’t be ridiculous, She-Hulk rejoins. She then begins to ask Jazinda if that isn’t ridiculous, but then stops in mid-sentence. Considering this, Madrox notes that that would explain a lot, wouldn’t it? The Registration Act…Exiling her brother, depowering her… all of it… just to put him in a position of strength…

Repeating “Oh my, God” as she stows Nogor in the RV and enters, She-Hulk pauses only when Madrox asks her where she’s going to take Nogor. Still shaken, She-Hulk tells him that she doesn’t know and to shut up. Changing tact, Madrox then suggests to She-Hulk that, next time, how about she just tell them what’s going on. Pausing against just before closing the door, She-Hulk rejoins with the suggestion that, even better, next time how about they just stay the hell out of her way. Nothing more to be said, She-Hulk closes the door and, within a few moments, Madrox and his team watch as the RV drives off into the distance.

Characters Involved: 

M, Multiple Man, Rictor, Siryn, Strong Guy (all X-Factor)




Agent Val Cooper

Surveillance tech

Hector Munoz

Citizens of Detroit

(in picture)


Story Notes: 

This story is part of the Secret Invasion crossover. It is also the 3rd part of a story begun last issue and continued in She-Hulk #31.

The “Darwin Awards” is an unofficial and facetious award bestowed upon individuals who have died due to their own perceived stupidity, thus winnowing them out of the gene pool. The “Darwin” name of this is derived this self-winnowing of the gene pool being an example of Darwin’s theory of “natural selection.

“Scopes Monkey Boy” refers to the “Scopes Monkey Trial,” the colloquial name for a famous trial in 1925 Tennessee, where teacher was put on trial or teaching the theory of evolution, in deliberate violation of state law.

In his reply to Hector Munoz about whether he is an arms dealer or had died, Rictor is comparing him to his own father, who was an arms dealer and was murdered by a rival in front of Rictor.

Guido’s quip about Longshot not looking “Skrullish” refers to the politically-incorrect statement occasionally non-Jews will make upon learning someone is, saying that they don’t “look Jewish.”

Nogor’s practice of calling Jazinda “Kl’rt-spawn” refers to her being the daughter of the Skrull named Kl’rt, better known as the Super-Skrull.

Issue Information: 

This Issue has been reprinted in:

Written By: