X-Factor (3rd series) #38

Issue Date: 
February 2009
Story Title: 

Peter David (writer), Nelson (pencils and inks, pages 5-22), Larry Stroman (pencils, 1-4), Jon Sibal (inks, 1-4), Jeromy Cox with Rob Schwager (colorists), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), Mike Mayhew & Andrew Troy (cover), Michael Horwitz (asst. editor), John Barber & Will Panzo (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Madrox, Monet, Guido and Longshot stand face-to-face against the mysterious Mr. Maru and his army of Darwin clones. The confrontation quickly leads to a full battle, during which Maru disappears. Eventually realizing that fighting the faux Darwins is useless, Madrox goes in search of their mysterious enemy and eventually finds him and the captive, original Darwin. To the surprise of Maru, Madrox tells him that he is not interested in whatever Maru has planned, since they are not the Avengers or the Initiative. Being detectives, they are only interested in their client, namely Darwin. Amused, Maru releases Darwin without further hostilities. Upon meeting back up with the others, Madrox lies to the group about how he found Darwin, leaving out the deal with the Karma official, whose name he never even learned. Meanwhile, back at X-Factor HQ, Rictor begins to take Siryn to the hospital, as she has begun labor. However, he finds their house surrounded by plainclothes O*N*E agents. Scared at their plans for Siryn and her baby, Rictor pulls a gun and fires. Attempting to end this escalation, Siryn uses her sonic scream to create a force barrier between Rictor and the agent, all of whom have returned fire. Though she prevents Rictor or any of the agents getting shot, a ricochet hits Val in the chest. Acting quickly, Siryn uses her scream to fly herself and Val to the hospital, at which point Rictor is taken into O*N*E custody.

Full Summary: 

In the house serving as X-Factor’s headquarters, Theresa Cassidy swears. Rushing next to her, Rictor asks her what she wants him to do. Unable to answer directly, she replies that her baby isn’t due for three weeks. Rictor tries to get her to sit down, but Val chimes in, noting that she shouldn’t be. Not with her water having broken and the baby coming. Cursing, Theresa tries to get up, telling Rictor that she’s right and orders him to call the midwife.

As Rictor helps Theresa down the hall, Val notes that she saw that in the file and couldn’t believe it. “Midwife?” What is this, Medieval Europe? Sarcastically, Theresa rejoins that midwives are perfectly viable alternatives to obstetricians, and it’s none of your damned business. God, where’s Jamie when she needs him?

Elsewhere, Jamie Madrox, flanked by Guido, Monet and Longshot, is surrounded by clones of Darwin, all at the command of the mysterious Mr. Maru. Dumbfounded by their predicament, Guido asks if someone wants to tell him what he’s looking at here. Confidently, Mr. Maru replies that he’s looking at a highly evolved opponent. Or opponents, as it were. Volunteers who have given their bodies over to a grand experiment in replication.

Hearing the word volunteers, Madrox asks if these aren’t… “Darwin himself?” Maru asks. Tragically no, he then adds. Like Beatlemania, they are merely an incredible simulation. But what they lack in authenticity, they more than make up for in enthusiasm. With this, Maru tells Madrox to watch: “Gentlemen… kill them.”

What ensues is a melee, Darwin clones facing against the thrown knives and luck of Longshot, the strength of Monet & Guido and fighting prowess of Jamie Madrox. One such faux Darwin makes a leap at Madrox, who deftly sidesteps it and follows it with kick to the knee, knocking the ersatz Darwin off of his feet. However, the faux Darwin immediately recovers, and somersaults toward Madrox once again. Having had enough, Madrox decides upon another tactic. Much to the Darwin’s surprise, Madrox head-butts him, staggering the Darwin enough to allow Madrox to race off, leaving the newly created dupe generated by the impact behind. Racing off, Madrox realizes that even now they are still jumping through the hoops of their mysterious foe. Want he needs to do is get to the guy who’s running this nuthouse.

Nearby, Guido has one of the Darwin clones by the throat. However, much to his surprise, the skin of the faux Darwin begins to liquefy and its fluid quickly begins to grab hold of Guido’s fist and then forearm. As Guido struggles with the concept of what has happened, a trapdoor beneath him opens, causing him to drop to a lower level, filled with water. Finally extricated from the faux Darwin’s, Guido finds himself in alone in the chamber, which seals itself above him.

Back above, Longshot continues his combat. However, much like the true Darwin, the clones begin to adapt. A thrown knife of Longshot’s bounces off of one’s head and ricochets into the hands of another. Now armed, this clone swipes and draws blood from Longshot’s forearm. Luckily for Longshot, however, Monet arrives with a literal flying kick. The impact breaks the Darwin’s neck – though the clone seems to immediately adapt. Longshot begins to warn Monet to look out, but Monet offers her own warning, telling Longshot to be quiet and hit the deck. As he complies, Monet uses the extended neck of the Darwin clone to swing him around like a baseball bat, bowling over other Darwin clones.

At X-Factor HQ, Val Cooper tries to get Theresa to listen to her, even as Rictor helps Theresa to the door. However, Theresa replies she’s not remotely interested in discussing… Theresa’s words trail as she find that waiting outside are a host of O*N*E agents, all dressed in the same grey suit.

As they pause at the doorstep, Rictor turns to Theresa and asks if she can fly. When she begins to question him, Rictor presses. Can she? Fly? Finally answering, she replies that she’s not being at her aerodynamic best, but yes. But, she then adds, she’s in no shape to carry him as well…

Pulling her behind him, Rictor tells Theresa to go. He’ll draw their attention; she’ll take off. When Theresa asks if he’s nuts, Rictor replies that he’s just doing was he has to. They’re not getting her or her baby, he tells her. Before Theresa can react, he pulls her close and kisses her on the check. Stepping away from her and producing a handgun, Rictor whispers that Madrox should have married her. If he were the dad, he would have. With this, Rictor pivots and raises the gun toward the agents.

Immediately, one of the agents yells GUN!! and orders everyone to aim clear of the woman. In the moment that follows, Val Cooper emerges from within the house, Rictor opens fire, the O*N*E agents fire back… and Siryn screams. Attenuating her sonic scream into a wall of sound, Theresa creates a forcefield between them and the agents, which stops all bullets in midflight. A moment later, the firing has stopped and Theresa places herself in front of Rictor, yelling to all of the agents that he’s out of bullets. Nobody shoot! To this, Rictor tries to tries to point out that the could reload, only to be told to shut up by Theresa.

Turning around to face Rictor, though still blocking him from the aim of the agents, Theresa asks if he thinks she wants to celebrate her child’s birthday every year by remembering his death? Rictor begins to explain, but Theresa interrupts. She knows. She knows that he was trying to do, and it was as sweet as a purely suicidal tactic can be! But he should be practical! He heard Val! They know who’s delivering the baby! Does he think they won’t have people at the hospital? Think for God’s sake! Think about…

“…cesarry,” a voice weakly says. It is Val Cooper, her right hand filled with her own blood, which came from the gunshot wound from her chest. Staring down at her blood-filled hand, she reiterates that she was going to say… it wasn’t necessary… Wouldn’t want someone to get… hurt… but ricochets… Glancing skyward, Val weakly says that that’s weird. Sunset isn’t for… a few hours yet… She thought… watch must be running slow…

With this, Val collapses from the tops of the stairs, but luckily is caught by the fast-acting Theresa. Immediately, Theresa tells Rictor that she’ll get her to the hospital. When Rictor tries to remind what she said before, Theresa angrily yells that she’s a lot lighter than he. She’ll manage. As a final thought, she tells Rictor and the agents not to kill each other when she leaves.

A moment later, Siryn is airborne and a moment after that she and Val are gone. Now alone with the agents, Rictor turns to them and asks “So. Whassup?” His answer comes in the form of service dozens of service weapons trained upon him. “Greeeeat,” he opines, holding up his hands.

Back at the Karma Project facility, Monet grabs Longshot’s lacerated arm and mockingly asks where was his famous luck just now. Well, she jumped in, he points out. That was pretty lucky. Wow, Guido was right, Monet chides. He really can just take credit for any breaks that go his way. “Part of my charm,” Longhshot then smiles, his left eye shining. Oh, and he’s just loaded with charme, isn’t he? Monet asks.

Suddenly, a Darwin clone appears from behind Monet, armed with a knife. Longshot calls out to her, however Monet simply backhands the clone without bothering to look its way. When she asks “what?” he tells her never mind.

Elsewhere in the facility, Madrox makes his way through the maze of hallways. All along the way, he encounters Darwin clones. However, each time, Madrox creates dupes to deal with them so that he can continue along the way, Eventually, he comes across an open area and pauses. At the top of his lungs, he yells out, Where are you?! Come on! He hasn’t even introduced himself! Guys like him are usually in love with the sound of their own name! He just can’t help standing there, looking smug and tossing it around!

Finally revealing himself, Maru mocks to Madrox that he thinks he really has a handle on how this will all turn out, doesn’t he? When Madrox replies that they should just say he’s seen a lot, Maru replies that he dares say more than most. If he counts all the lifetimes of his duplicates consecutively rather than concurrently, how long has he lived? A century? Two? How much life experience does he have? More than any man should?

Nearby, Monet asks Longshot if he’s noticed the Darwins aren’t bouncing back as fast as they were? That they aren’t adapting as quickly? Still rubbing his forearm, Longshot replies that he was too busy bleeding to pick up on that, but now that she mentions it…

At that moment, a Darwin clone comes flying up through a trap door, now no longer closed but shattered. A few moments afterward, Guido Carosella also appears, gasping for air in the process. Calling out to Monet and Longshot, he emphatically tells them that he’s all right! Almost ran ouotta breath and drowned, but it’s okay! They can stop worrying about him! Incredulous, Monet asks if they wouldn’t have to had to start worrying in order to stop? “Nice t’know ya had my back,” he replies. Whatever, Monet dismissing. The should find Madrox.

Madrox stands tensed and ready should his as-yet unnamed foe strike. He was conducting some sort of experiments on Darwin, Madrox states, rather than asks. Told “obviously,” Madrox then wonders aloud for what purpose. To tap into his evolutionary powers and use them to create… what? Soldiers of some kind? Mercs, perhaps? Told something like that – and then asked if he intends to stop him, Madrox replies that he doesn’t give a damn what his long-term plants are? Asked if that’s a fact, Madrox steps closer.

They’re not the Avengers, or the Initiative or some other group interested in bringing down vast villainous conspiracies, he points out. They’re a detective agency. They fulfill a client’s needs and they move on. In reply, Maru asks that, in this case, his erstwhile client is lying comatose, thanks to them. Doesn’t that bother him?

“Small loss,” Madrox replies. Grinning devilishly, Maru exclaims that he might have underestimated him! Perhaps they can come to an agreement after all.

Stopping briefly from on their search for Madrox, Guido, Monet and Longshot stop to regard a Darwin clone collapsed on the floor. Clutching its abdomen, it asks what’s happening to it. It’s body’s on fire. It… A moment later, the faux Darwin melts into a puddle of flesh, begging to be helped. When Monet notes that it seems to be happening to all of them, Longshot asks back why she thinks that is. Because, Monet replies, for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. Meaning, Longshot asks? She means, Guido explains, that in artificially trying to create hyper-evolution in humans… they wound up devolving instead. Their DNA couldn’t handle it.

Taken back by the eloquence of his insight, Monet compliments Guido, then adding that she’s almost glad he didn’t drown. They should go. As they trail behind her, Longshot asks Guido if she is not magnificent. Oh, yeah, Guido mocks. Question is what? Yelling back, Monet yells that she said for them to go! COMING! they both yell.

With a crowbar, Jamie Madrox makes a mighty swing, which shatters a tube containing red liquid in which floats Darwin. As the liquid drains out, allowing Darwin to be freed, Jamie once again waxes philosophic. In the end, sometimes the smart thing is to bypass bad habits and learned behavior. There are entire countries where fighting is the default position. If you’re willing to put aside that mindset… it’s amazing how much you can accomplish with minimal muss and fuss. These Karma people have had days to study Darwin. They’ve gotten everything out of him that they need. No point in holding onto him.

We know where this facility of there is. So either they waste time, effort and resources trying to kill us… or they cut their losses. This man he was dealing with… who, just to annoy me, never told his name… he wasn’t some world-conquering demagogue. He was obviously a businessman. Turning over Darwin was just smart business.

A few minutes later, Madrox and Darwin come across their teammates, looking for them. Asked if that’s the original, Madrox replies that it is, although she can mindprobe him if she wants to make sure. Staggering forward, barely able to walk, Darwin haltingly asks Monet to do so, if it will give her a measure of security. Just… put her mind into his. It won’t bother him, really. She can stay there as long as she wants, until she’s sure that…

“Yeah, that’s him,” Guido jests. “Definitely,” Monet agrees. Once again, Darwin volunteers, but Monet quickly assures him it’s all right. She’s good.

A thought occurring, Guido asks Madrox where he found Darwin. Internally, Madrox considers telling the truth, how he and a businessman had a chat and came to an understanding to stay out of each other’s way. Rather than doing so, he tells them that he chased down the head guy and beat it out of him. Asked if the guy pulled a last minute escape, swearing vengeance, Madrox replies, “exactly.” Man, Guido laments, he hate when that happens. Him too, Madrox rejoins.

As the quintet departs, Darwin again reiterates that he’s not a hundred percent sure he’s he. Maybe Ms. St. Croix should probe him just in case. Yeah, okay, Guido interrupts. Now he’s just embarrassing himself, “ya blork.” Sorry, Darwin replies.

Characters Involved: 

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



Val Cooper

Unnamed O*N*E agents

Mr. Maru

Darwin clones

Citizens of Detroit

Story Notes: 

Though Madrox never learned his name, the head of the Karma Project facility introduced himself to Darwin as “Mr. Maru” in X-Factor (3rd series) #35.

Issue Information: 

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