X-Factor (3rd series) #4

Issue Date: 
April 2006
Story Title: 
Lines in the Sand

Peter David (writer), Ryan Sook & Dennis Calero (pencillers), Wayne Von Grawbadger & Dennis Calero (inkers), José Villarrubia (colorists), Cory Petit (letterer), Tom Valente (production), Molly Lazer & Aubrey Sitterson (asst. editors), Andy Schmidt (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Gabrielle Dell’Otto & Jose Villarrubia (cover art)

Brief Description: 

As Jamie calls to ask for Monet’s help, she discovers the body of the assassin that Layla Miller encountered earlier that night. She tells Layla to take care of it while she goes to provide a mind-scan of their client Gloria Santiago in the hopes of learning the truth behind the murder charges she now faces after the death of her sister. She discovers the truth about the murder and takes it upon herself to deal with the true culprit, movie star Jack Vaughn. She visits Vaughn and creates psychic illusions of his victim that drive him into a crazed paranoia that leads to his arrest. Meanwhile, Rahne, Guido and Siryn face off against the police and make it clear that X-Factor has pledged itself to protecting the former mutants of Mutant Town and all who come there seeking refuge. The mysterious staff at Singularity is shocked to have the body of their assassin returned to them with a note warning them to stay out of Mutant Town. Later that morning, Siryn is attacked and beaten as she heads to breakfast.

Full Summary: 

The telephone at X-Factor Investigations is ringing incessantly, much to the annoyance of Monet St. Croix. She calls out to someone, anyone to answer the phone but finally relents and answers it herself. She floats in the air casually as she answers the call. It’s Madrox finally checking in. Monet tells him that the place is flooded, she punched out Rictor and the power is out.

As she floats through the office, she notes that the lights are coming back on. As she floats along, she notices a dead body on the kitchen floor. She is about to tell this to Madrox who tells her to shut up and listen. At the other end, Siryn asks again why they need Monet and Madrox has to tell her to zip it as well. He tells Monet to get to the police station right away so she can mind scan their client Gloria Santiago and get to the bottom of her sister’s murder. He tells her not to stop for anything.
When Monet asks what to do about the chaos in the office, Jamie tells her to have Layla deal with it. He admits that while the girl is weird, she does seem good at handling stuff. Madrox hangs up and Monet calls Layla into the kitchen. She flatly tells the girl she has to go out and that Jamie wants her to deal with the corpse on the floor. Layla is completely unfazed by this and simply replies “Okey-dokey.”

In Mutant Town, police and SWAT teams arrive in response to the mounting riot between Mutant Town’s residents and the band of “reals” who have come there to harass and torment them. Monet flies past the scene as Wolfsbane and Strong Guy address the assembled crowd and police. Guido introduces them to the gathered citizens as “Can-Crush-You-With-A-Glance Man” and “Once-Disemboweled-A-Fellow-Just-To-Watch-Him-Die Girl”. He gives them all a few seconds to digest exactly why they might be called that and what it means to their individual, long-term health.

Uptown at the police station, Monet, Madrox and Siryn review the current situation. Monet tells them about the riot and when Jamie asks why she just flew by, she reminds him what her boss told her, “Not to stop for anything.”
Siryn suggests that if he’s worried he could send some dupes to help out. Jamie says he has a better idea and sends Siryn instead. She agrees and tells them if they need her, just scream. Monet sassily says that that’s more her thing to which Theresa replies “Bite me.” Monet replies that that’s Rahne’s thing. Siryn throws this right back at her and sarcastically assures M that she’s sure that she will find her own thing one of these days.
As Siryn exits the police station, she is stopped by Damian Tryp, Jr. He compliments her on her strength and beauty and tells her that he’d hate for her to come to any harm. She asks if that’s a threat and he tells her it’s a “heads-up” and he thinks she’s on the wrong side. She tells him in no uncertain terms what she thinks: that Singularity serves the interests of slimeballs and hurts innocent people along the way and that she intends to change all that. As she flies off into the night sky, Mr. Tryp smiles and says “Finally, a girl I could bring home to kill Mom.”

Inside the station, M and Madrox discuss Gloria Santiago’s condition. Monet asks Jamie if she thinks that Jack Vaughn killed the sister. Madrox cites Occam’s Razor theory: that the simplest explanation is usually the one that’s correct. Monet notes that the simplest explanation is that Gloria killed her sister. Jamie begins to ask Monet to keep her psychic findings to herself and she finishes his sentence, adding in case the police are listening in.
He starts to ask her if she’d let him finish a sentence, but she interrupts and finishes that one too. She tells him her time is too valuable to waste and she moves closer to Gloria to begin her mental probe. She makes physical contact and Jamie asks if she has to for her powers work. She says she doesn’t but that for probes such as this it helps. As she probes Gloria’s mind, her eyes roll back in her head and turn dark. Monet starts to shake with fear and Jamie reaches for her hand to break the psychic rapport. Without breaking from her trance, Monet instinctively lashes out and punches Madrox. This generates a dupe who is unusually aggressive and tries to pick a fight with M. The real Jamie tells his “Fight Club” dupe to calm down and that M is on their side. The dupe tells Jamie that he’s always letting others push him around when he’s the most powerful mutant alive! He tells him that he finds the “real” Madrox disgusting.

Their argument is interrupted by the investigating detective. Jamie quickly absorbs his dupe and Monet claims they were just having a professional disagreement. The officer tells them to keep it down. He calls Jamie “counselor” and M asks since when is he an attorney. He replies since he passed the bar. He then asks if she found anything out. She tells him she’ll handle it. He asks what she means and she reiterates more firmly that she will handle it and it’s not up for discussion.

At Singularity’s offices, Mr. Tryp, Sr. tries to convince actor, Jack Vaughn to remain at their offices until the arraignment of Ms. Santiago. Tryp believes they can best protect him there. Jack reminds Mr. Tryp that he was voted number 3 on Premiere Magazine’s most powerful people in Hollywood list. Tryp feigns being impressed but Jack tells him that the studio wants him back on the West Coast right away. He throws in that as the customer, he’s always right. Mr. Tryp tells him that even a 300 pound woman in spandex thought she was right when she bought it and he should consider that. He wishes Mr. Vaughn a “Bon Voyage”.

Meanwhile in Mutant Town, Rahne and Guido face off against the police. Rahne and Guido tell the police to leave if they want to avoid further violence. Wolfsbane says that the “reals” came to Mutant town to beat up on former mutants and that she’ll see it end whether the police like it or not. The lead officer is not about to back down despite Rahne’s brusque and threatening manner. Guido tells Rahne to simmer down and the officer tells them that they do not get to control Mutant Town like their own private fiefdom.
Siryn arrives and tells him that they do, using her seductive voice to try and sway him. He’s not buying it and threatens her with a nightstick if she comes any further. Guido notes that her vocal persuasiveness isn’t working and she notes that his helmet and radio earpiece are probably blocking it. So she tries “Plan B”, which is basic assertiveness. She tells the cops to leave and to spread the word that Mutant Town is a haven for any former mutants who feel threatened or vulnerable and that X-Factor is there to protect them. He asks what will happen if they refuse and she simply replies, “I’ll scream.” Moments later, that’s exactly what she does, her hypersonic wail sends a wave of force through the streets so powerful that it knocks police cars on their sides.

At the airport, Jack Vaughn sits aboard a private jet from the movie studio where he is served by an attractive young waitress. He smiles at the pretty young woman, asking her to keep the drinks coming and to call him ‘Jack’. As he drinks his cocktail, he doesn’t notice as Monet flies up to his window and touches it. He leans back in his chair and tells the stewardess he could use a refill as he closes his eyes. She tells him she’s sure he could and that killing people is like eating potato chips, you can’t stop at just one.
His eyes open with surprise and instead of the cute blonde flight attendant; he sees the mutilated face of Rachel Santiago. He is shocked and in utter disbelief as he sees her and stutters out that she can’t be here. The zombie-like Rachel asks where else she would be, stating that she can’t visit her sister since she’s in jail for her murder. She tells Jack that they both know better though. She says that they also both know how Jack likes to play games with loaded guns and pretend he’s forcing himself on girls making them beg for their life. She tells him how this time he got startled when her sister, Gloria burst in and the gun went off. She reminds him how he thought quickly and contacted Singularity to cover it all up while Gloria was still in shock.
She cradles his cheek and he pulls away in horror. She whispers in his ear that they’re going to be fast friends now and she plans on sticking around all his life to remind him. He starts to call out “No!” and once more, he sees the flight attendant. He begins to rant that he’ll kill her again, no matter how many times it takes. Another member of the studio staff comes back and restrains Jack as he lunges for the stewardess making threats to kill her.

Later that night, Jamie Madrox is standing outside an electronics store and watching the news report of Jack Vaughn’s arrest as police wrestled the ranting movie star into a squad car. The news report suggests that Vaughn confessed to his culpability in the death of Rachel Santiago and that despite sparse details, it was expected that her sister Gloria would soon be cleared of all charges. As the clip concludes, Monet lands next to Jamie. The news moves on to the riots in Mutant Town and reports that no fatalities occurred thanks to X-Factor.
Police stated that they are happy to be working with the new organization which bears no ties to the mutant hunters or government team of the same name. Jamie continues to watch and notes what a night it’s been. He begins to commend Monet on a job well done and finally looks over to see that Monet has been deeply affected by it all. She begins to describe the things she saw in Gloria’s mind, the emotions she relived but then stops and begins to cry.
Jamie comforts Monet and realizes that he really doesn’t know how to handle women except when they’re trying to beat him up. Monet pulls away and through her tears tells Madrox that she’ll tear him in half if he tells anyone about this.

Later at X-Factor’s offices, Jamie is shocked to fins a bill from a messenger service for one thousand dollars. As he asks himself “Why?” Layla Miller arrives from nowhere, fills his coffee cup and tells him it’s because they deliver anywhere and at anytime with no questions asked.
At that moment, security at Singularity Investigations receives a large crate. The security guard assures Mr. Tryp, Jr. that it doesn’t read as being dangerous or having any explosives inside. They are waiting for a crowbar to open it. Tryp tells them not to bother and pries open the crate with his bare hands. Inside is the body of the assassin they sent to kill Rictor wrapped in bubble wrap. The note attached says “Stay out of Mutant Town! XOXOXOXO X-Factor. Mr. Tryp, Jr. stares at it, his face showing no hint of emotion beyond a twinge of concern.

On the stoop outside X-Factor Investigations building, Rictor tells Siryn that someone tried to kill him. He tells Theresa that when he woke up the guy was gone and Layla said he just “packed up and left”. Siryn admits that the kid is weird and she’s heard that she “knows stuff”. Rictor hopes she knows why he’s still here. He confesses that he’s still feeling a bit sorry for himself and that he feels like he just wants to get drunk. Siryn tells him that’s no way to handle it and reminds him that she’s a drunk herself. Ric asks how she handles it then and she tells him she eats and invites him to get some breakfast with her. He declines and heads inside to fend for himself and she makes her way to the nearby café.
As she’s walking she feels a sudden sting in her neck and pulls out a dart of some sort. As she reacts to whatever was on the dart, someone clubs her over the head from behind. She falls to the ground and grabs her throat. A man steps into the light and stands over her before continuing to beat her with the club. As he leaves, he begins to whistle leaving Siryn’s unconscious body in the alleyway.

Characters Involved: 

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

Damian Tryp, Damian Tryp, Jr. and unnamed security staff (all Singularity Investigations)

Gloria Santiago

Jack Vaughn

Unnamed police

Unnamed rioters and bystanders in Mutant Town

Unnamed flight attendant

Unnamed assailant

Story Notes: 

Occam’s Razor is a principle attributed to the 14th-century English logician and Franciscan friar, William of Ockham. It forms the basis of methodological reductionism, and is also called the principle of parsimony or law of economy. In its simplest form, Occam's Razor states that given two equally predictive theories choose the simpler one, the one with fewer unnecessary assumptions.

Premiere magazine covers entertainment news focusing primarily on movie reviews, previews and articles with film stars and creators. Once a year they publish a list of Hollywood’s 100 Most Powerful People. The list generally includes the top actors, producers and directors in Hollywood and is one of several published each year by media magazines.

The news station references the two earlier incarnations of X-Factor. The original X-Men regrouped and posed as mutant-hunters to try and help mutants in trouble in X-FACTOR (1st Series) #1. The team evolved into a government-sanctioned mutant team featuring a collection of “second-string” X-characters that included Havok, Polaris, Multiple Man, Strong Guy and Wolfsbane beginning in X-FACTOR (1st Series) #71.

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