X-Factor (3rd series) #39

Issue Date: 
February 2009
Story Title: 
Multiple Birth

Peter David (writer), Valentine de Landro (penciler), Craif Yeung (inker), Jeromy Cox (colorist), David Yardin with Nathan Fairbairn (cover), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), Randall Miller (production), Michael Horwitz & Jody LeHeup (assistant editors), John Barber (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

In the hospital, atonements are made. While Darwin forgives his comatose father for betraying him, though expressing no interest in having contact with him again, Jamie Madrox tells Theresa Cassidy, who is about to give birth to their baby, that he’s sorry for keeping the secret of working with Val Cooper and O*N*E. Accepting his apology, Theresa surprises Madrox with a proposal of marriage, which he happily accepts. Shortly thereafter, Theresa is wheeled into surgery for a C-section birth, as the baby is abnormally positioned. A short operation later, a baby boy is born, which Theresa and Jamie have no intention of letting out of their sight. Later, as the rest of the team watches over the baby at the nursery, Madrox visits Val Cooper, who is also in the hospital recovering from a gunshot wound. She attempts to reiterate that O*N*E is only interested in providing a safe environment for he and Theresa to raise the baby, a promise in which Madrox has a hard time believing. Returning to Theresa’s room, Jamie he learns that not only has she decided to name their son Sean, after her father, but that Theresa has finally come to accept her father’s death, from so many months before. Horrifically, however, the air of joy turns to terror when, Madrox, holding his son for the first time, involuntarily absorbs him, like a dupe. Theresa’s resulting mania causes her to attack Madrox, resulting in her popping her stitches and require a return to the O.R. Some time later, after spending time along in reflection, Madrox is brought back to Theresa’s room, where she is recovering from her surgery. Though he tries to apologize and explain that the baby must have been a dupe all along, fathered not by he but by another dupe, Madrox receives Theresa’s wrath when she breaks his finger. With cold, dead eyes, she promises that, the next time she sees him… it’ll be his neck.

Full Summary: 

In a hospital room, Darwin addresses his father, who lies comatose, oblivious to all of the world, including his ambivalent son. They told him what he did, Darwin informs his dad. How, after he made him think he was worried about him, trying to make up for abandoning him… he sold him out to people who imprisoned him… used him… violated his very being. And now, here he is, far more helpless than even he was. Unable to speak. Unable, he’s told, to hear him. Considering the depth of his treachery, it would seem impossible to forgive and forget. But it’s not impossible. He forgives him, Darwin tells his father. And now… he will do his best to forget him. “Good-bye father. May you rot in hell.”

In another room of the hospital, Theresa Cassidy lies in her bed. Sitting in a chair next to her, holding her hand, is the father of her child, Jamie Madrox. Looking into her eyes, Madrox apologizes. He should have told her about Val… Aye, Theresa replies, he should have.

And Guido knew, too? she then asks. He didn’t say either? He found out by accident, Madrox replies. He spotted Val and him in a coffee shop when he came back from a vacation a day early. He made him promise. Be angry with him, Madrox pleads, not Guido. Jamie, Theresa replies, she’s been she’s been in labor for fifteen hours. She’s too tired to be mad with anyone right now. Besides… she sucks at staying angry with him. To this, Madrox rejoins that she shouldn’t think he’s not grateful for that.

Joining the two in the room is a nurse, who asks how they are doing. Just swell, Theresa replies, considering she’s trying to push something the size of a cantaloupe through a hole the size of a lemon. To this, she then adds that another contraction’s about to start. Eying Jamie and Theresa’s intertwined hands, the nurse tells Jamie that he might not want to be holding her hand during contractions. That’s a good way to get your fingers broken. Unconcerned, Madrox replies that he’ll take his chances.

A short distance away in the waiting area, Guido, Rictor, Monet, Longshot and Darwin… wait. When Guido asks how long it’s been, an annoyed Monet replies about three minutes later than the last time he asked. Trying to be positive, Longshot begins to mention that he’s sure they’ll hear something before much longer… but a when Monet sits up straight with an “uh oh,” her eyes darting down the hall, he takes notice. Asked what’s wrong, Monet instructs him to cover his ears. Longshot begins to ask why, but Monet simply covers her own and yells at the top of her lungs for everyone to cover them. Now! Everybody! And close your eyes, and hit the deck! A moment later, a sonic scream hits the room, causing ear-spitting pain to all, even those following Monet’s instructions. All throughout the building, the same occurs. Glass from all over the building shatters.

In her room, Theresa has regained her composure and through sweat and tears apologizes repeatedly to Madrox. Smiling, Jamie replies that no one’s mad at her, but Theresa reiterates. She controlled herself until now. She… she made such a mess of everything. It’s okay, Madrox replies. It was just a little startling, that’s all. It’s over. Everyone must be terrified, Theresa replies. No, they understand, Madrox reassures. Really! Right guys?

Peeking into the room through the door is a threesome of hospital staff, one of which swears that there ain’t no way he’s setting foot back in there. Joined by them are two more staffers, one of which laments that she steps away for two minutes and all hell breaks loose. What happened? When one of the original three tells her to ask “Screaming Mimi” over there, Theresa interrupts. That’s someone else, and she goes by “Songbird” now. To this, Madrox rejoins that he thinks they don’t really care.

Entering the room, despite the misgivings of her staff, is a woman who introduces the man behind her as Doctor Laramie. He’ll explain what’s happening. Sarcastically, Theresa replies that she got the memo already. She’s having a baby. In contrast to Theresa’s emotionalism, the doctor gently explains that he’s afraid the baby’s presenting abnormally. Immediately turning worried, Theresa asks what she means. Like… he’s got wings or…? Interrupting, Madrox tells her that he means a breech birth. The doctor’s saying she’ll need a C-section.

Worried at this, Theresa haltingly asks if they have to cut her open. Still holding her hand, Madrox tells her that they’re just going to make a traverse cut right above the bladder. It’ll be fine. In fact, it solves the problem of her sonic scream. It was either this or numb her vocal chords, which he knows she hates. “I… I guess whatever you say,” she replies. Impressed by Madrox’s knowledge, Doctor Laramie asks Madrox if he’s a doctor. “On and off,” he replies. With this, Doctor Laramie orders a nurse to prep O.R.3, stat. The nurse rushes off to comply, glad of anything that get’s her out of there.

Left along in the room once again, Theresa turns back to Jamie and asks if he’s going to be there with her. All the way, he smiles. Apprehensively, Theresa sheepishly begins to tell Jamie that she’s been thinking… after the baby’s born and everything… “wanna get married?” Kissing her on the head, Jamie Madrox tells his new fiancée that he thought she’d never ask. Though still sweating from her ordeal, Theresa Cassidy is now all smiles.

A short while later, Jamie Madrox finds himself in the OR, still holding the hand of the mother of his unborn child. As she looks at him lovingly through her oxygen mask, he ponders how funny it is. His life has been marked by an inability to make decisions. But when Terry asked him to marry her, he didn’t hesitate. So, that’s what it feel like, he thinks. To know without question that something is right. He’d almost forgotten. He had no idea what the future holds. But this much he does know: whatever it is, Theresa’s going to share it with me. He’d not kidding himself. They’re getting married because they have a child together. That’s rarely a recipe for success. But what’s the alternative? They don’t marry because they have a child? What kind of bass-ackwards thinking is that?

The sound of a crying infant finally draws the attention of Jamie Madrox away from Theresa. It comes from the small form of a newly born infant, still being pulled from his mother by the doctor. As soon as he’s finished, the doctor orders a nurse to get the baby to the nursery immediately. When Madrox asks what’s wrong, the doctor replies that the baby’s skin is a little blue. They’re going to start on oxygen. It’s just a precaution, he explains, trying to soothe the new parents. He’s already showing them he’d got a healthy set of lungs. Speaking through her oxygen mask, Theresa instructs Jamie to go with him. Now. Don’t let him out of his sight. At first, Madrox begins to question, but Theresa presses. “Go! Go!”

With this, Jamie stamps his foot, creating a dupe to leave behind with Theresa. However, as he himself moves to follow the baby, he realizes he understands. The moment should be filled with joy. Instead, it’s rife with paranoia. But paranoia, he then internally notes, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get them. They know that O*N*E is interested in their baby. What if the baby was never breech? If this was just a scheme to separate them from…

A short distance ahead, the nurse taking the infant notices its father jogging to catch up. When she calls back, asking if he shouldn’t be with his wife, Madrox replies that it’s okay. He’s got it covered. To this, she informs him that he won’t be able to come into the nursery. But, Madrox rejoins, he can keep an eye on his through the glass, right? Of course, the nurse answers. Well… through the plastic sheet. “Sheet?” he then asks incredulously. What happened to the…? Looking up, he sees that the window normally present is gone, having been shattered by Theresa’s Siryn’s scream from earlier.

A few moments later, Jamie Madrox stands on one side of the plastic sheet, viewing into the nursery. At his son.

In another room in the hospital, Val Cooper lies in bed, a nasal canal providing oxygen to her. Suddenly sensing a presence, she opens her eyes and sees a man standing in shadows in her doorway, which is guarded by a plainclothes-wearing O*N*E officer. Recognizing the shadowed form, Val weakly asks him if he’s a daddy yet. At first, Madrox is startled, voicing that he was not aware that he was awake. Not sure, she replies. Might be dreaming this conversation. Now addressing the agent, named Rosetti, she tells him he can leave them. When he asks if she’s sure, Val tells him not to worry. If Madrox tries something, she’ll jump outta bed and kick his butt.

After Rosetti has left, Val returns her attention back to Madrox. “So,” she begins. “Boy.” Receiving a “yup,” she replies that she’s surprised he’s not standing guard. Should he be? Madrox asks cryptically.

Narrowing her gaze, Val replies that thinks they’re planning to snatch him. When Madrox rejoins that the thought occurred to him, Val sarcastically replies that it’s not like they’ve got nothing better to do than spend thirteen year raising his son, just in case he grows fur during his confirmation ceremony.

Actually, Madrox states, he sent a dupe to bring the rest of the team over to the nursery. They’re standing guard while he came to visit her. To this, Val tells Madrox that his caution’s commendable… but honest to God... they’re not the bad guys. They don’t kidnap babies. Finding a safe environment for Siryn and he to raise their child… that’s what this was always about. “Yeah?” Madrox replies. Then why did she try to drive a wedge between them? Why did she tell Theresa about the two of them working together? Visibly annoyed, Val explains that that wasn’t her driving a wedge. That was his girlfriend pissing him off, prompting her to say things she shouldn’t have said. Besides, Val continues, if he’d been honest with her in the first place, she couldn’t have driven squat.

Visibly chastised, Madox rubs the back of his beck. Okay, fair point, he admits. By the way, he then adds, she’s not his girlfriend. She’s his fiancée. Really, Val replies incredulous. She forgave him that readily for keeping secrets from her? Labor pains tend to focus you on what’s important, he then replies. She dares day, rejoins Val.

Moving back to the doorway, Madrox tells Val that they don’t want her protection. They want to be left alone. No they don’t, Val quips. Sensing her sarcasm, Madrox states that the thinks he knows what they want better than she. However, as he turns to leave, Val counters that, no, he doesn’t. Maybe Theresa, yes. But him? They both know the truth Jamie… he wants to work for the government. For her. He wants someone to tell him what to do. He wants someone to make the decisions for him. He’s happier that way. They both know that. And she’s okay with that. And, sooner or later, he’ll be…

“One of us?” Madrox asks. Told yes, Madrox turns and leaves. “Good-bye, Val,” he tells her. “Sorry you got shot.” As he moves out of her sight, Val calls for him to tell the nurse she never got her Jell-O. He’s on it, he answers.

As he walks down the hallway, Madrox thinks back to what Val said. She’s not right about him, he thinks. Maybe at one time she was… but he’s never going to have someone else calling the shots again. Although… he was relieved when Theresa popped the question to him. He could never have done it himself. Except, really, it’s moot because she was the one rejecting the notion all this time. Maybe she didn’t mean it. Maybe she didn’t mean it. Maybe it was hormones talking and…

Lord almighty, enough, Madrox suddenly thinks, stopping in his tracks. Enough uncertainty. You have a child now. Grow the hell up.

A few minutes later, Jamie is greeted by Guido, who tells him that the rest of the group is with Siryn and the baby. Asked if he’s okay then, Guido replies yeah. They got his color back to normal and his vitals are all rock solid. “He looks like ya,” Guido adds. To this, Madrox opines that he thought he looked like a drowned rat. Well, yeah, Guido retorts. What’s his point?

A few moments later, the two enter Theresa’s room, finding mother cradling newborn in her arms. Greeted with a “hello daddy,” Madrox returns with a “hey, mommy.” Smiling, Madrox notes that that’s going to take a little betting used to. So… their son have a name yet? She’d kinda soured on “Nathan” and so they’d narrowed it to half a million alterna…

“Sean,” Theresa interrupts, gazing at her baby. She wants to call him Sean, after her… her father… her… her late father… Though Theresa closes her eyes, it does not prevent the tears that follow. He’s dead, she cries, isn’t he? He’s dead and he’s never coming back. Sitting at the foot of the bed, Monet replies that that’s right, adding that he died a hero. But he died, Theresa replies. That’s all that matters to her. But it’s not all that would have mattered to him, Monet retorts. How he died would have mattered. Now leaning toward the yawning infant, Monet adds that having a grandson named for him would have mattered. She’s right, Monet, Theresa admits. She knows she is.

Calling over the Jamie, Theresa asks him if he doesn’t want to hold his son. Hearing him reply that he doesn’t know, as he may drop him, Theresa grins that he won’t. Taking the swaddled newborn, Jamie says the name “Sean” aloud. It’s a good name, he voices. Sean. He has that new baby smell. Yeah, Rictor confirms. He hears they spray that on in the factory.

As Jamie Madrox gazes upon his son, he knows peace. Everything that Val said, all her predictions that he’ll come crawling back to her… they fade away in the purity of his son’s presence. And for the second time today, he knows something for absolutely certain. He knows that everything is going to be all right.

A moment later, nothing is all right. Horror comes to the eyes of Theresa and Monet. Theresa calls out Madrox’s name, while Monet swears. Oh, my god!!! OH MY HOLY GOD!

Before them, having begun to clutch the baby Sean to his chest, Jamie Madrox is absorbing the infant.

Madrox’s mind goes numb in shock. He’s frozen, unable to move… He’s absorbing him, he thinks. Absorbing him like any of his dupes.

Almost lunging from her hospital bed, Theresa cries to Jamie to give him back. What is he doing?!? Haltingly, Madrox replies that he can’t help it! It’s happening by itself… He… “Sean!!!!, Theresa yells, “SEAN!!!

The process finished, Theresa asks “Madrox what have your done?! What in God’s name have you done!?” When he replies nothing, he swears, she yells for him to give him back. When he yells that he can’t, Theresa leaps from the bed and accosts him. Pulling Madrox’s shirt aside, she yells at him to get Sean out of there! “Give me back my baby!”

As she wrestles him to the ground, pulling at his shirt, Jamie Madrox can hear the others shouting Theresa’s name, telling he to get off of him. That this isn’t helping. But no one stops her. Not a single one of his friends comes to his aid. She rips at her chest, no longer saying anything comprehensible. No words, just raw emotion. He notes that she thinks she can rip their child out of his body, which is impossible. Everyone knows that. And still nobody stops her. Maybe they’re hoping against hope that she succeeds. Or maybe they just want to see him suffer. And why shouldn’t they? He does.

As she continues, the dupe created by his impact on the floor crouches next to Madrox. Through gritted teeth, the dupe exclaims that he hopes she rips his damned heart out. It’s what he did to her, and it’s no less than what he deserves. When Madrox begins to voice that she didn’t mean to, the dupe tells him to save it for someone who cares.

Having heard all of the commotion, Doctor Laramie and the nurse return. While the nurse wonders if Theresa has lost her mind, Dr. Laramie’s attention goes to the baby, or absence thereof. Being held back by Monet, Theresa yells that he took him! Madrox took him! Laramie struggles to understand Theresa’s meaning, but the nurse becomes more concerned with the patch of blood on her gown, surmising that she’s popped her stitches. Trying to get her attention, Dr. Laramie tells Theresa that they’ve got to get her back into the O.R. before she starts losing blood by the quart. Theresa begins to protest… but soon loses consciousness. Worried more than every Dr. Laramie turns and yells for the orderlies.

As Theresa is being wheeled off to the operating room, the nurse turns her attention to the missing baby. Still in shock, Madrox admits he absorbed him. He was a dupe. An infant dupe. And he absorbed him… like this. Demonstrating, Madrox grabs the recently-created dupe, who still seems angry with his progenitor, and pulls him into his own body until he disappears.

Witnessing this, and realizing the implications of it, the nurse brings her hands to her mouth, covering it. Noting her reaction, Jamie recalls that she’d known going in that they were mutants. They confided in her because they felt she should know since mutant births can be… unpredictable. But no one could have predicted this. Except… he should have. Should have realized the possibility existed. It’s all his fault. All his…

For a long while, Jamie Madrox is cloaked in darkness, which he welcomes. Sitting with his legs brought up to his chest, he wraps his arms around then. After some time, the door opens to the supply closet in which Madrox had been hiding. Exclaiming that there he is, Guido informs Madrox that she’s out of surgery. When Madrox asks how she’s doing, Guido reports flying on painkillers, but okay otherwise. Said she wanted to see him. He bets, Madrox replies.

He can’t hide in there forever, Guido tells him. Sooner or later, he’s gotta come outta the… uh… It’s okay, Madrox interrupts, saving Guido the unfortunate forthcoming phrase. He knows what he means. Accompanying him down the hall, Madrox asks Guido how are the others taking all this. Longshot and Darwin are confused, Guido informs him. Rictor’s quietly seething and Monet mostly wants to rip out his spine. So, it’s status quo, Madrox aks. “Pretty much,” Guido states.

A minute later, Madrox is back at the bedside of Theresa. Sheepishly, he tells Terry that he’s sorry. He reminds her that he was pretty drunk the night the baby was conceived, and he was never clear on what happened. He thinks… he thinks it was a dupe who fathered the baby, and… and apparently… the offspring of a dupe isn’t really anything more than a…

Madrox trails as he sees Theresa extend her hand, reaching out for Jamie’s. Hearing her whisper “I’m sorry,” Madrox extends his hand and clasps with her. Referring to her apology, he tells her that she doesn’t have anything to apologize for. Yes, she does, she says, again speaking softly. For his finger. “What?” Madrox asks. “I don’t understand…”

With the sound of a KRAK, pain races through Madrox, culminating in a blood-curdling scream. As he moves to a safe distance, examining the broken finger on his left hand, Theresa once again speaks softly. “Next time I see you…” she tells him, “…it’ll be your neck.”

Characters Involved: 

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



Val Cooper

Agent Rosetti, of O*N*E

Unnamed O*N*E agents

Dr. Laramie

Hospital staff and patients

Mr. Munoz

Story Notes: 

Though the term “screaming mimi” originated elsewhere, within the Marvel Universe “Screaming Mimi” was the original name of Melissa Gold, a one-time super-villain, who has since become a reformed super-hero under the name of Songbird. [Thunderbolts #1]

Val Cooper was shot by a stray bullet during a gun fight between Rictor and agents of O*N*E the previous issue.

Madrox undoubtedly leaned toward the name of “Nathan” after meeting a former mutant of the same name during the fire that destroyed Mutant Town. [X-Factor (3rd series) #31-32]

Siryn’s father, Sean Cassidy aka Banshee, died in X-Men: Deadly Genesis #2. Though she was so informed by Cyclops in X-Factor (3rd series) #7, Theresa has until now refused to believe that he is really dead.

After a night of celebration following their stand against the mutant registration act, both Monet and Theresa slept with Jamie Madrox, or at least one did and the other a dupe. As a result of merging memories along with the absorption process, Madrox has to date been unsure with which woman he slept and which the dupe. Theresa subsequently learned she was pregnant in X-Factor (3rd series) #28.

Issue Information: 

This Issue has been reprinted in:

Written By: