X-Factor (3rd series) #42

Issue Date: 
June 2009
Story Title: 
Slings & Arrows

Peter David (writer), Valentine de Landro & Marco Santucci (penciler), Pat Davidson, Marco Santucci, Patrick Piazzalunga & Craig Yeung (inkers), Jeromy Cox (colorist), David Yardin with Nathan Fairbairn (cover), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), Jody LeHeup (assistant editor), John Barber (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

At XF Investigations HQ, Rictor runs across a story on the internet of the attempted shooting of a Father John Maddox, who from his photo is clearly a dupe of Madrox. Though the still-bitter Siryn is uninterested if Jamie is involved at all, Rictor and Guido decide on a road trip to investigate. Along the way, Guido asks Rictor if he is okay, wondering if the attempt to take on a whole squad of O*N*E agents had been an attempt at suicide by cop. Rictor, however, is uninterested in discussing it, much to Guido’s discontent. Back at HQ, Siryn and Monet are visited by Val Cooper, who chides them on their last job, in which the team deliberately disposed of the anti-mutant weapons they had been hired to confiscate. She reiterates once again, that she is not their enemy, no matter their beliefs to the contrary. Elsewhere in the city, Longshot is working as a bodyguard to Lenore, who has hired XF as she has had a sense that someone is out to killer her. At first, Longshot’s inherent charms lead Lenore to romantic endeavors, but Longshot resists, not wanting to be distracted from his job at protection. Later that night, Lenore’s mom shows up and, to both Longshot and Lenore’s surprise, pulls a gun and shoots Lenore. Meanwhile, eighty years later in the future, Madrox meets Ruby Summers, who had just saved him and Layla from a Sentinel attack. To his surprise, he learns that Ruby is not only related to Scott Summers but is actually his daughter. Unfortunately, the arrival of three more Sentinels cuts short their introductions. Ruby manages to take out one with her optic blast, followed by a second at the hands of another mutant named Daemon. However, the final Sentinel is felled by Scott Summers himself. Very much still alive, though with a mechanical arm and leg, he welcomes Jamie Madrox to the Summers Rebellion.

Full Summary: 

In XF Investigation’s HQ in Detroit, Rictor sits in front of their office computer and is startled. He calls out to Theresa, telling her to check out something he has found on the computer. Carrying her coffee as she and Guido arrive, Theresa chides to Rictor that, so help her, if this is another of those stupid “I haz a cheeseburger” kitten things…

Interrupting, Rictor informs her that a priest in New England got into a shooting incident with some guy. It’s on the wire services. Asked by Theresa if the priest is okay, Rictor replies that he is, and the shooter’s dead. Killed himself. Asked “so,” Rictor tells her to check out the padre’s picture. As she and Guido do so, they see the image of Jamie Madrox, clad in a priest’s garment, on the monitor. Immediately, Guido guesses that it is really Jamie, pretending to be a priest, but Rictor corrects him. Not pretending. The article says “the Reverend John Maddox” has been there for years. Gotta be a dupe. Only answer.

Considering this, Guido asks the others if they think Madrox is connected somehow. Even if it is, Theresa interjects, it’s none of their concerns. There’s no client. No case. Find something else to keep them busy, she them orders. As soon as she has left, however, Guido glances down to the seated Rictor and smiles. So… road trip? “I’m in,” comes the reply.

Looking out the window of an upper floor in a high rise block, Longshot compliments Lenore on her lovely apartment. Asked if he really thinks so, Longshot admits that not really, no. It’s totally disorganized, there’s a layer of dust an inch thick and something’s growing in the refrigerator that could join the X-Men. Tossing her coat onto her couch, Lenore replies that, if another guy said stuff like that, she’d punch him. But, from him, it sounds so… charming… “It’s a knack,” he replies.

Arms behind her back, Lenore playfully moves toward Longshot. Asked by her what his name is, he replies “Longshot.” No, she replies, she means his real name. She figured Longshot is, y’know, his nom de guerre. What name was he born with? He wasn’t born, Longshot retorts, as Lenore seductively draws her face closer to his. He was genetically constructed. Everone is genetically constructed, Lenore rejoins. Really? Longshot asks. Apparently, he’s been misinformed.

Now placing her arms around the back of necks, drawing herself up against him, Lenore tells Longshot that he still needs a real name. Maybe she’ll come up with one for him. If that pleases her, he replies. He wants to do what pleases her? Lenore asks. “Absolutely,” Longshot answers. Taking this as permission, Lenore clasps her hand behind Longshot’s head and pulls it toward hers in a kiss.

A moment later, Longshot pulls back and apologizes. She needs protection, he tells her. Misinterpreting, Lenore replies that she has some in the nightstand. He means his protection. That’s why she cam to XF Investigations. Because she believes someone’s trying to kill her, correct? When she begins to haltingly agree but disagree, Longshot steps back and takes Lenore’s wrist. He cannot remain vigilant if he’s distracted. For her own safety, he asks her, please try to keep her hands off him. To this, Lenore replies that she just has trouble not thinking about him in… that way. Replying that he understands, Longshot adds that he has similar thoughts about Uma Thurman, but they must be strong.

Smiling at Longshot’s words, Lenore takes him by the hand and with playful eyes tells him all right. He can be her guardian. Her attentive sentinel. Wincing Narrowing his eyes, Longshot asks if she could, perhaps, use a different term. “Sentinel” doesn’t have many positive associations.

(the far future)

With the giant, robotic Sentinel behind her, illuminating the night sky with the electrical energy crackling from its decapitated neck, Ruby Summers readjusts her goggles over her eyes. Staring down through the hole in the roof on which she is standing, she remarks to Jamie Madrox below, noting that he looks younger that she remembers. Still holding Layla Miller next to him, Madrox haltingly asks if they have met. They will, Ruby replies. Leaping through this loop of logic, Madrox asks back if this doesn’t count as a meeting. Maybe or him, Ruby replies. Not for her.

Interjecting, Layla tells Madrox that she knows it’s confusing, it’s just one of the hazards of time travel. When he haltingly repeats “time travel,” Layla rolls her eyes. Yes. What did he think just happened. Turning around, gesticulating his arms wildly, Madrox replies that he doesn’t know. Five minutes ago, he was about to kill himself! Maybe he did and he screwed up and now he’s dreaming all…

Stopping in mid-sentence, Madrox’s eyes go wide and he clasps his hand over his mouth. A moment later, he leans forward and regurgitates. Regarding this calmly, Layla asks Madrox if he typically vomit in his dreams. And she’ll wager the taste and smell are way too authentic for… Layla suddenly stops when Madrox raises his hand and whispers that she wins. Remember, she continues, she told him if he barfed, she wouldn’t think less of h…

Still managing only a whisper, Madrox asks how far. Getting a confused response, Madrox elaborates. How far into the future? Eighty years, he is told. My God, comes the reply. Interjecting, Ruby Summers, who has jumped down from the roof, tells Madrox that she’s sure he has a lot of questions. Interrupting, Madrox rejoins that the only question he can frame right now is, do they have breath mints in the future? ‘Cause he could really use one. Incredulous, Ruby mocks that he’s been yanked eight decades forward courtesy of a time-traveling hologram and the best he can do… Give him a break, Madrox retorts. His brain hasn’t caught up to his body yet. Turning to Layla, Ruby asks her to remind her why his guy was worth this effort again.

Suddenly making a connection, Madrox tells Ruby to wait… Ruby Summers? Is she related to… “Scott?” Ruby asks. He was gonna say “Buffy,” Madrox rejoins, but okay… Having had enough, Layla moves to Madrox and grabs his face, scrunching it up to silence. Listen carefully, she tells him. He knows the way he usually is with people? When he sheepishly replies with a “yeah,” she tells him to be a different way. Got it, he replies.

And you Layla, Ruby chimes in. How could she have…? Dammit, they talked about this! When they found out about this lab, they talked about her not doing this very thing! If she hadn’t shown up when she did, she’d be as dead as the idiots who helped her in this misbegotten project! Scowling at this, Madrox sarcastically notes that, yeah, she’s related to Cyclops all right. Apparently judgmental arrogance is a genetic trait.

As Layla begins to rub her eyes, chiding Madrox acting as she asked not to do, Ruby incredulously asks if Madrox just insult her father. He doesn’t know, Madrox rejoins, who’s her fath… Suddenly understanding, Madrox’s eyes go wide. Wait… Scott’s her… father? Not some distant…? Good Lord, how old is sh…?

“Incoming!” Layla interrupts, drawing everyone’s attention upward to the arrival of a squad of three Sentinels. As the threesome dive for cover, Madrox muses silently that here he is, trying to avoid getting killed, while only a few minutes ago he was ready to kill himself. He felt he had nothing more to live for. Now Layla’s here… he’s here, wherever “here” is… Sentinels are here… and he’s fighting for his life. He doesn’t know what to make of that, other than when Layla’s in his life… he doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going. God, he thinks, he’s missed that feeling. He misses it almost as much as sleeping. Feels like he hasn’t slept in a month.

In the past, fast asleep, Theresa Cassidy snores gently. Shaken gently awake by Monet, she asks where she is. Is she in bed? Is… is Monet in bed with her? Because, if so, that’s a little disturbing. Ignoring Theresa’s statement as she raises her head from the desk, Monet informs her that Val Cooper is there. Saints, Theresa curses. Doesn’t that woman know how to pick up a bloody telephone? Apparently not, Monet rejoins.

Now rising to her feet, Theresa tells Monet that she’ll give her a thousand bucks if she deals with her. To this, Monet replies that Val asked for her, she’s rich and Theresa doesn’t have a thousand bucks. Walking down the hall, Theresa yawns that she hates everybody right now, which she guesses means she’s turning into Monet. She doesn’t hate everybody, Monet retorts. She thinks she’s better than everybody else. It’s completely different.

Entering the main room, Theresa greets Val and informs her that she didn’t have to come in person to pay them for their services. A check in the mail would have sufficed. “Services?” Val mocks. She sent them in to capture a weapons shipment. Monet and her associates, Curly and Larry, sank the damned boat. To this, Theresa points out to Val that they caught the smugglers and turned them over to Val’s people. And they stopped the weapons from getting into enemy hands. Enemy hands, Val asks. Or their hands. Pardon their confusion, Monet answers, to “Ms. Cooper,” but sometimes it’s not easy to tell the difference.

Any enemy, Val replies to “Ms. St. Croix” wouldn’t be kicking lucrative gigs their way. An enemy would have Homeland Security going over their status with a fine-toothed comb. And enemy would have Rictor already in the slammer and the rest of them looking at prison time, considering she got shot thanks to them. Trust her, Val concludes, the last think she wants it for her to be the enemy as they pain her as.

Speaking of Rictor, Val changes the subject, where is he? Out clubbing or something, Theresa supposes. When Val then asks about Darwin and Guido, Theresa answers that Darwin’s taking night classes at a local college and Guido is… she doesn’t know, out doing something that would probably annoy Val, is her guess.

Elsewhere, driving along the highway in a Hummer, Guido tells Rictor, who is laying in the backseat, that he is a little surprised he wanted t’come along. He means, the last time he checked, Ric ain’t exactly Madrox’s biggest fan. Told that he’s still not, Guido begins to ask why. It’s not like he got much better to do, is all, Rictor replies before the question is asked. Then asked by Guido if he’s, y’know, okay, Rictor asks back why wouldn’t he be?

Glancing back, Guido sarcastically replies that he doesn’t know. Maybe a month ago he challenged a whole squad of feds to a shootout. Just to protect Terry, he replies. Taking a different tact, Guido asks Rictor if he’s ever heard of “suicide by cop?” When Rictor does not reply, he begins to repeat what he said, but is interrupted by Rictor, who replies that he heard him. Then asked if he has, Rictor’s only answer is to tell Guido to just drive. Yeah, okay, Guido mutters somberly, continuing to do just that.

Elsewhen, Ruby Summers lifts her dark goggles and unleashes an optic blast of black light, yelling back off, slabs in the process. As the optic blast knocks one Sentinel back as it plows through it, another announces with a booming, electronic voice mutant identified as Ruby Summers. Force beams require ninety-three seconds to regenerate. Subject vulnerable during that time. With this, the Sentinel outstretches a hand and prepares to unleash a blast from the weapon in its palm. The resulting scarlet fury knocks Ruby off of her feet. However, when the blast subsides, she defiantly, though haltingly, asks the robot if that’s… all it’s got... Again via its electronic voice, the Sentinel replies that it is all that will be required, even as it raises its left foot to stomp the helpless Ruby.

Acting on instinct, Jamie Madrox yells to Ruby to get clear, even as he leaps for the Sentinel’s foot and grabs a hold. Immediately identifying “James Madrox” the Sentinel notes that he has no superhuman strength or destructive capabilities. Conclusion: no threat. Grinning slightly as he holds fast to the Sentinel’s foot, Madrox agrees that he’s pretty much nothing on his own. Fortunately… he has a lot of company. Within a few moments, Jamie Madrox is not alone, dozens of dupes having been generated and each climbing onto the Sentinel, each doing its best to tear the robot apart.

As he and his dupes go to work, Madrox admits to himself that this is a Hail Mary pass, nothing more. Even an entire swarm of army ants are still just ants. But he can’t just stand by. For the past month, he’s had nothing worth living for. Nothing worth fighting for. He never thought there was much difference between a good death and a bad death. Either way, you’re dead. And now… now he’s starting to think he was wrong.

Reiteration, the Sentinel suddenly booms as it produces a blinding jolt of electricity, repelling all of his dupes, mutant poses no substantive threat.

Suddenly, the Sentinel itself erupts, not in electricity but in flames. “Yeah? Really?” a voice calls up to it. “How about me? Do I present a nukin’ threat?” Regarding the source of the voice, a flaming man whom she calls Daemon, Layla congratulates him on his good timing. Just getting to her feet, Ruby notes aloud that Layla doesn’t sounds surprised that he’s still there. Is she ever? Layla replies.

As he remotely absorbs all of his dupes simultaneously, Madrox asks who the newcomer is. He’s Daemon, another new arrival answers, this one a woman dressed in black and sporting a braided ponytail which descends past her waist. He’s always on fire, she continues, referring to Daemon. Controls his agony through medication. Doing his best to digest this information quickly, Madrox then asks the woman who she is. “Hecat’e,” she replies. “And we’re leaving. Right now.” With this, the world goes black for Jamie Madrox.

Through the darkness of Lenore’s apartment, a buzzing sound causes Longshot to turn on the lamp next to the couch on which he had been resting. Raised from her bed and dressed in a bathrobe, Lenore informs Longshot that it’s the front door buzzer. Someone’s ringing to get up there. Asked if she has a roommate, Lenore answers no. So it could be someone who wants to kill her, Longshot deduces. Walking to the intercom, Lenore calls down and hears the voice of her mom. Now speaking back to Longshot, she tells him he was right. Except she’s doing it verrrrrry slowly.

With the press of another button, Lenore buzzes open the door downstairs for her mom to enter the building. A minute later, she opens to door and, holding back a yawn, asks her mom what she’s doing there. She never wanders out this time of… Lenore suddenly stops in mid-sentence as she sees that her mother is holding a pistol in her right hand, aimed directly at Lenore.

Launching himself from the couch, Longshot calls to Lenore, but it is too late and Lenore’s mother pulls the trigger, hitting her daughter squarely in the chest. Cursing that he wasn’t fast enough, Longshot does manage to tackle Lenore to the ground, thus causing Lenore’s mom to miss with the second shot.

In the future, Madrox, Layla and Ruby race away from the inferno behind them. Trailing the others, Ruby calls out to “Hec,” asking where she is. “Right here,” Hecat’e answers, suddenly appearing by Ruby’s side. Told that she lost her for a moment, Hecat’e tells Ruby that when you cause localized blackouts, that kind of think will happen…

Suddenly, Madrox spies a Sentinel at a steep incline, rocketing toward them in a strafing run. He barely has time to yell for a “heads up” before a scarlet blast reduces it to ash and debris. The source of the blast calls out to Jamie Madrox, calling him “son” and noting that he looks like crap. Like five miles of bad road. Turning to the source of the voice, Madrox sees an old man with smoking eyes, wearing a cloak under which a generic, dark-blue X-Men costume is worn. The man’s left arm is totally replaced with a crude mechanical one, as is everything below his left knee. Likewise, on his mainly bald head is a metal plate, just above his left eye. It is a very much older Scott Summers.

“Welcome to the Summers rebellion,” Cyclops, sans visor, tells him. “Here’s hoping you’re far less worthless than you used to be.”

Characters Involved: 

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

Daemon, Hecat’e, Layla Miller, Ruby Summers, Scott Summers (all Summers Rebellion)

Val Cooper


Lenore’s mother

(on computer monitor)

John Maddox (dupe of Jamie Madrox)

Story Notes: 

Siryn’s “I haz a cheeseburger” line refers to a series of internet humorous photo’s collectively called “LOL Cats.” Generally, the photos contain a cat or kitten employed in a “cute” manner, along with a humorous caption, intentionally misspelled as if the cat had the ability to type it, yet could not get the spelling right.

“Nom de guerre” is French for “name of war” and is an alias (or “codename”) someone uses in battle, much like a “nom de plume” (name of pen) being an alias used by a writer.

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