X-Factor (3rd series) #46

Issue Date: 
September 2009
Story Title: 
X-It Strategies

Peter David (writer), Marco Santucci & Valentine de Landro (pencilers), Pat Davidson (inker), 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: 

Having been forced to abandon his avatar of Shatterstar in mid-battle, Cortex asks Falcone, who is transmitting his voice from eight decades in the future, what he wants. The two discuss the status of Madrox being in the future and Cortex’s remaining tasks in the past. Eventually, they agree to handle their own targets in each respective timelines. In the future, in a room in the White House, Falcone berates his advisor, Shaw, for the sorry state of their plans to the mutant problem, the Summers Rebellion in general and especially the use of Cortex. The extent of their debacle is clear when presidential aides come to remove Falcone from the White House grounds. Before leaving with them per their orders, he tries to explain his thoughts to Shaw, but the man is gone, never having been seen by the agents. Before departing, Falcone makes a phone call to his assistant, Connie, giving her an innocuous message, clearly with a cryptic meaning. Having slipped away unseen, Shaw departs via hovercar, reveling in Falcone’s misfortunes. He makes a phone call to a man in Paris, informing the man that he will need some people saved from an imminent Sentinel attack and that the man in Paris is just the one to do it. Miles away in Detroit, Madrox, Layla and Ruby continue their conversation with Doom, who explains through his addled ramblings his invention of Doomlocks, which allow time-traveling cybernetic beings to successfully alter the time stream. Before they can discuss further, the group is attacked by Omeganoid Sentinels, all of which inexplicably disappear moments later. Meanwhile eighty years in the past, Cortex continues his use of Monet as an avatar to fight Darwin, eventually flying him away and dropping him elsewhere. Returning to the hotel to finish off Lenore, however, Monet is attacked first by Siryn and then by three Omeganoid Sentinels, which appear from nowhere. Watching at a safe distance, an incredulous Cortex wonders what where they came from. Eighty years in the future, Madrox and the others wonder what happened to the Sentinels. At first Doom attempts to take responsibility but their true savior is the arriving Trevor Fitzroy, who explains that he teleported them away. Embracing his lover, Ruby, Fitzroy welcomes the dumbstruck Madrox into the Summers Rebellion.

Full Summary: 

Brought to his knees, Cortex repeats to Falcone, who speaks to him from eighty years in the future, that he has his attention. What does he want? Via transmission, Falcone replies that Cortex was supposed to dispose of James Madrox. How could he fail to do that? “By not killing him?” Cortex quips. Told not to get cute with him, Cortex explains to Falcone that one of his avatars showed up to dispose of him, but he had already vanished. He doesn’t know where he went. Apparently, Falcone replies, he’s there, in their time. All right, Cortex rejoins, rubbing his head. Now he knows.

Rising to his feet, Cortex is asked how Madrox got there. That he does not know, Cortex replies. Since Falcone is in the future and he’s in the past, Falcone’s in a better position to determine it. Falcone begins to bridle at this, but Cortex tells him to listen. He sent him to do a job. Because of him shouting in his head, he just made it a little more difficult. Thanks to him, he lost an avatar. Told by Falcone to reacquire him, Cortex replies that his hold on the avatar was tenuous at best, thanks to his extradimensional nature. He’ll find another way to dispose of Rictor. He was low priority anyway.

When Cortex then adds that matters of great importance are unfolding, Falcone asks about Madrox. If he’s in Falcone’s time, then he’s his problem, Cortex replies. With this, Cortex raises his right hand and projects an energy field which coalesces into a swirling, purple vortex. Told he needs to do better, Cortex rejoins that how well he does will be inversely proportional to the amount that Falcone shouts in his hea…

Turning to notice a pair of pigeons pecking at the corpse of the police officer Cortex killed a short while ago, he shouts for them to show respect for the dead. In punctuation, Cortex extends his hand and blasts the two birds, reducing them to ash. Turning toward the vortex, in fact a portal, Cortex mutters that living creatures are opportunistic and disgusting, no matter what their kingdom or species. If he still numbered himself among them, he’s likely kill himself.

(eighty years from now)
In a room in the White House, Falcone paces while Shaw sits. Visibly upset, Falcone rants to Shaw that he’s beginning to think that Cortex was a mistake. This entire plan for disposing of mutants once and for all… it’s over involved. There are too many components, too many ways that it could go awry. Sarcastically, Shaw replies that he thinks Falcone is right. It’s doomed to failure. Pointing a figure at Shaw, Falcone reminds him that it was his plan.

Acting incredulous, Shaow repeats the word “plan” inquisitively. He calls a few random suggestions a plan? He thinks Falcone is giving him too much credit. Or passing the blame perhaps. Placing his hands on his hips, Falcone snaps that he’s offended his Shaw’s insinuation. He knows him better than that. He’s a man who stands behind his convictions. As he would be, Shaw replies about himself, except he’s never been convicted.

With the calling of “Doctor Falcone…” the two are interrupted, joined by two stern-looking men. Told that he needs to come with them, Falcone rejoins that that’s impossible. He has a meeting with the president in five minutes. No, he doesn’t, one of them replies. Replying that he sees, Falcone turns to Shaw, noting that it appears that there is some tremulousness in the White House over the Summers Rebellion. Scapegoats are being sought. What does he think of that? Confused at the doctor’s meaning, one of the men asks Falcone to whom is he talking. Turning again to Shaw’s direction, Doctor Falcone finds only an empty chair.

Muttering a “hunh,” Doctor Falcone touches his finger to his ear communicator and contacts Connie. When he tells her that he needs to go into a meeting with an old friend, Connie begins to ask if he just said… Yes, he repeats, an old friend. Told that she understands, Connie replies that she’ll clear his schedule. In kind, Doctor Falcone replies that that would be appreciated. And after she’s done that, she can take the rest of the day off. With a “yes, sir” as a reply, Doctor Falcone straightens his tie and exits, followed by the two men.

Outside, a stylish, wheel-less, hover car departs the White House grounds. Sitting within, though not needing to drive due to computer control, is Shaw, who enjoys a beverage while using his handheld communicator. It appears Doctor Falcone, Shaw tells the person on the other end, is experiencing an abrupt downturn in his career trajectory. Who would have thought the mutant population would have had that much fight left in it?

To this, the part on the other end replies that the Summers insurrection came at just the right time. Yes, he knows, Shaw replies. And don’t think, Shaw tells the person, that he doesn’t know he’s had a hand in it, “boy.”

“Me?” the man on the other end replies. Standing in Paris, within sight of the Eiffel Tower, the man raises his left hand and spreads his forefinger and thumb so that his perspective makes it seems like he is squashing the massive & far-off tower within his digits.

Yes, the man in the car continues, referring to the help of the man in Paris. Don’t bother denying it and, furthermore, don’t worry about it. Frankly, I could use the connections he doubtless has. Without admitting that he has any, the man in Paris states, what does he need. He needs to have some people saved from an imminent Sentinel attack, the man in the car replies. And he thinks he is just the one to do it.

Her body a mesh of purple circuitry, Monet St. Croix, current avatar of Cortex, stands over Darwin, who has been knocked to his knees. This could have gone a lot easier for him, Armando, she tells him. It didn’t have to be like this. He could have had his heart’s desire. She could have disposed of Lenore and they could have parted friends. But no. He had to get in the way. And now… now it’s going to cost him.

Reaching down to grab him by the neck, Cortex-Monet finds that Darwin’s neck is not solid, not has turned into a gelatinous substance. As Darwin’s body follows suit, relinquishing any human shape, Cortex/Monet yells for him to stop it. Does he have any idea how ridiculous he looks? She can’t get any sort of grip on him! And he’s slimy besides! “Okay…” Darwin rejoins, “Now she’s just… hurting his feelings.”

Having had enough, Cortex-Monet drops Darwin, telling him “fine.” Be that way. Evolve to survive. See what she cares. She has a job to do. With this, Cortex-Monet turns her attention to Lenore, who is asleep on the couch. Replying that so does he, the amorphous Darwin slides across the floor, between Lenore and Monet. His job, he continues, is to stop her from doing hers. And it’s not even her job. That’s somebody’s making her do.

Told to step aside, Darwin replies no. Coalescing back into humanoid form, at least for his upper torso, Darwin continues that, if they’re gonna do this, he’d rather her not act like she knows him, whoever or whatever she is. In other words, it ain’t Armando to her… IT’S DARWIN! Freshly humanoid, Darwin clenches both fists into one mass and knocks them across Cortex-Monet’s face. Unphased, the faux Monet smiles that he’s not Darwin for long… and launches herself into his mass.

Reeling from the blow, Darwin yells to Lenore, instructing her to get out. Run!!!! Still intoxicated, however, Lenore continues to slumber, blissfully unaware of the danger.

Having transformed his mass now into a tarp-like consistence, Darwin begins to envelop Monet, like a net. All the while, he pleads with her that it’s not too late. He can help her… shake this… whatever… is happening to… to her…!

A moment later, it is too late. Using her strength and power of flight, Cortex-Monet launches her body skyward, using Darwin’s body as her shield as she bursts through the wall and into the sky outside. This burst of destruction finally wakes Lenore, who has to quickly move to avoid falling debris. At first, she calls out to both Monet and Darwin but, seeing the hole in the ceiling, summarily decides that that can’t be good.

Now fully humanoid, Darwin is being taken ever higher by the flying Monet. When he calls for her to stop, Cortex-Monet complies, stopping in mid-air and releasing Darwin. As he falls to the city below, he calls in vain that that wasn’t what he meeeaaaannnttt…

Hovering for a moment, Cortex-Monet remarks that that took care of that. Now… to dispose of Lenore Wilkinson… and her offspring… and her little dog too. As Monet flies back to the hotel, she is watched by Cortex, who mirrors the words she say, or rather speaks them for her to mirror.

(eighty years from now…)
In the remains of a once great hotel, which now serves as his palace, Victor von Doom remarks to Layla Miller that she’s younger now than when they first met. And she told him what he needed to tell her… and when he needed to tell her. And something else. Some other message he was to pass on to her. What was it now? Told by Layla that she doesn’t know, Victor replies that she will.

Standing a short distance away, Jamie Madrox eyes Doom out of the corner of his eyes. He’s like to think that this makes no sense, but unfortunately when Layla’s involved, nonsensical or not… at least it’s consistent.

Oblivious to Madrox, Doom’s attention remains on Layla Miller, whom he suddenly orders on her knees. Then, perhaps, he states, he will share his wisdom. Crying in pain, Layla sinks to her knee, her wrist caught in the grasp of Doom’s hand. Satisfied, Doom orders her to genuflect! Kneel before Victor von Doom!

At first, Ruby begins to intervene, declaring that that’s it, but she is held back by Madrox, who points out to Layla free, right hand. Pointing out the “okay” gesture she is providing, Madrox informs Ruby that she’s okay, see? Von Doom’s, like, 120 years told. HE’[s probably got the upper body strength of a dead flounder. He only thinks he’s hurting her. Let her play along.

This, Doom continues, oblivious to Madrox and Ruby, is how you show respect for your elders. Haltingly agreeing, Layla promises to remember. She then asks if he remembers, what they need to know. The second thing, Doom states, trying to recall. Very important. Damnation, what was… Asked about the first thing, Doom quickly remembers. Ah, Doomlocks, he answers. Richards couldn’t create them. Forge could not even conceive of them. Only von Doom. Only von Doom.

When Ruby repeats the word “Doomlocks,” Madrox quips that it sounds like something an evil Bob Marley would wear. Subsequently asked “Bob who?” Madrox begins to rub his temples, noting that this is what Hell feels like. Nobody gets your topical references.

Oblivious to the exchange between Ruby and Madrox, Doom continues to hold Layla’s wrist. If you went back in time, he begins, killed Hitler and then returned to your own time, nothing would be changed, because your action would simply create a divergent time stream. When Layla begins to reply that she knows, Doom interrupts her, explaining that he wasn’t speaking to her. If she interrupts him again, she will die where she stands.

Having forgotten his place, Doom is reminded by Layla of “Divergent time stream” and he remembers. “Unless you had a chronal inhibitor,” he then finishes. Asked by Layla if that’s his “Doomlock,” Doom affirms. If you possess one, then your actions will impact those of your own timeline. You become an “invariable.” All actions flow from you. Asked how does she get one of these Doomlocks, get it and use it, Doom releases Layla hand, asking if she’s a cybernetic organism. When she replies in the negative, Doom states that she cannot use it. The technology has to be bonded to you. You have to be more machine than man. Otherwise the energies involved would tear you a…

Stopping in mid-sentence, Doom instructs Layla to wait. It’s coming to him. Asked by Ruby what is, Doom replies that it’s the other thing he’s supposed to remember. Nothing can thwart the mind of Doom. It’s coming… It’s almost… Turning away from Doom, Ruby opines to Madrox that this is insane. “Doomlocks?” Nebulous warnings? Suddenly, Doom notes with an “ah” that he remembers now. “Duck.”

A moment later, the roof of the hotel and room is lifted off by a pair of Sentinels, even as a third reaches down for them. Barely having had time to process that Doom’s word did not relate to fowl, Madrox, Layla and Ruby scatter. Though he does not recognize the model of Sentinel, Madrox notes to himself that he has no reason to believe that they’re any less deadly.

Returning to the same hotel, albeit eighty years in the past, Cortex-Monet descends toward the hole she had made earlier during her fight with Darwin. Speaking to himself and noting that Darwin gave him more trouble than he should have, Cortex wonders if his avatar is resisting his kindly influence. Yes, yes, he finally decides. HE can feel her rooting around in there. She’s not happy. Apparently , she has unfond memories of being in mental thrall to others.

As he/she approaches the waiting Lenore, Cortex becomes lost in thought, wondering if when he’s done he should simply vacate the premises of Monet or stick around to see if he can thoroughly break her… However, his thoughts are interrupted when Monet is hit by something. Standing on a rooftop some distance away, Cortex falls to his knees, wondering what fates have allied to protect this one damned girl. She has the luck of the… Irish…

In fact she does, as the airborne Siryn hovers near the floating Monet. Yelling for Monet not to worry, Siryn tells her that whoever’s done this to her… they’ll undo it! Rubbing her head, Cortex-Monet tells Siryn that she should worry about herself than her. Noting that Darwin must have summoned her, she wonders how Siryn got there so fast. She was already en route, Siryn replies, and figured out something was wrong.

Speaking to Siryn in XF Investigation’s headquarters, Val asks Theresa if it has occurred to her that Darwin might be in danger. Told not to be silly, that Monet is with her, Val then points out that this is the same Monet who Theresa said underwent some type of psychic attack in the hospital… and right after that, couldn’t wait to be alone with their client. So what if…? Her eyes wide in realization, Theresa swears and declares herself and idiot.

“I’m a detective, Monet,” Siryn replies. “It’s what we do.” To this, Cortex-Monet replies that she is an assassin. Guess what they do? However, before the blow can land, Siryn unleashes a sonic scream, which drives Cortex-Monet back slightly.

From a rooftop within sight, Cortex watched the interaction between Siryn and his thrall. Speaking aloud there what Monet is also saying high above, Cortex tells Siryn to keep screaming. Truth to tell… he derives some deep amusement when he hears screams. Perhaps it’s their sheer uselessness that he finds… Stopping in mid-sentence, Cortex notes a blinding light which appears between the two hovering women. Before he can wonder what it might be, three Omeganoid Sentinels fly through. “This is just making no sense at all, Cortex-Monet states.

Hovering a short distance away, the lead of the Omeganoid Sentinels identifies the two mutants: Identified from archive records as Theresa Cassidy, deceased, and Monet St. Croix, deceased. Subject St. Croix has acquired techno-organic attributes at variance with previous files, it then adds. Update files… Declaring them so updated, the Sentinel orders itself and its companions to proceed with destruction of mutants.

As the three Sentinels begin to attack, from below Cortex places his hands on his head in exasperation. This is like an assassination undertaken by committee, he bemoans. No one’s clearing anything with anyone else. Where did they come from?

(eighty years from now)
Exasperated at the disappearance of the three Sentinels, Madrox asks where they went. Ruby? Layla? At first Layla denies, followed by the denial of Ruby. Doom quickly claims the credit, but Madrox notes aloud that he’s betting it wasn’t.

“Actually,” someone from above confesses, “it was me. Just whipped up one of my handy-dandy portals and poof, no more problems.” Ecstatic at his appearance, Ruby calls out to “Fritz” and welcomes him as he descends to the hotel floor via his jet pack. Calling him baby, Ruby notes that she thought he was long dead. Embracing her, “Fritz” notes that even death wouldn’t keep him from her, “Rubes.”

Still embracing him, Ruby introduces Madrox to “Fitz,” a name to which Madrox wonders aloud if it means as “one size fits all.” Though still enjoying her embrace, the short-haired mustached man pulls his head around Ruby’s and replies “As in Trevor Fitzroy, mate. How you doing?” Dumbfounded, Madrox repeats the name of Fitzroy, recalling him as the totally evil, major villain from the future Trevor Fitzroy.

“Yup,” Fitzroy admits, extending his hand in friendship. Asking if Madrox is new to the rebellion, he notes that the more the merrier, that’s what he says. All the better for bringing the Summers Rebellion to a successful conclusion.

Characters Involved: 

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


Lenore Wilkinson

Police officer (dead)

(80 years in the future)
Layla Miller, Multiple Man, Ruby Summers
Trevor Fitzroy

Doctor Doom
Winston, Doom’s robot

Dr. Anthony Falcone

Omeganoid Sentinels
Two secret service agents

Story Notes: 

A man, here revealed to have been under the control of Cortex, attempted to kill Madrox in X-Factor (3rd series) #41.

“And her little dog too” is a paraphrase of a meme made famous by the Wicked Witch of the West, from the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz,” in which the witch stated that she would get Dorothy “And your little dog too.”

Bob Marley was an influential reggae musician and performer known for his trademark dreadlocks.

Monet has “unfond memories” of under the mental thrall of others due to her time under the control of her brother, Emplate, and transforming her into the identity of Penance.

Madrox is familiar with Trevor Fitzroy as the homicidal and psychopathic criminal whom Bishop traveled back in time to pursue.

In an interview on Comic Book Resources, artist Valentine de Landro wrote that she penciled the interior, but due to an error was not credited. She also noted that the man in the hovercar was supposed to be Shaw, speaking to Fitzroy.

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