X-Factor (3rd series) #48

Issue Date: 
November 2009
Story Title: 
the Cortex Equation

Peter David (writer), Valentine de Landro (penciler), Pat Davidson (inker), Jeromy Cox (colorist), David Yardin with Nathan Fairbairn (cover), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), Jody LeHeup (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Eighty years from now, Dr. Falcone meets with his benefactor, the one who aided him in the vision of a mutant free world. It is Damien Tryp Sr., who continues to promise Falcone that the business with the president is simply a setback – and that their only true problem is Layla Miller. Meanwhile in New Jersey, Madrox has returned from Detroit with Victor von Doom. Though still mind-addled, he demonstrates his lucidity and abilities by blasting Cyclops with a device he constructed of spare parts on the drive over. Doom is then taken to a primitive laboratory, which Doom assures Madrox will still be adequate for his needs. So told, Madrox asks Doom if he would be able to locate the Doomlock he once constructed and bring it back. “Easily,” Doom replies. Meanwhile, in the present, Cortex revels in the discovery by Siryn and Monet that he is actually a dupe of Madrox, though he sarcastically declines to tell his personal story of how he came to be the man he now is. The ensuing battle between he and the two women continues to be one-sided, with it being obvious that any blows landed against him are because Cortex allows it. Eventually, he makes his way to Lenore, who remains his actual target of assassination. Just as he raises his hand to blast her, however, the arm is severed by the blade of Shatterstar, who has arrived out of nowhere with Rictor and Guido.

Full Summary: 

(eighty years from now)

Through the near-empty halls of a factory, the words of Dr. Falcone reverberate. Accusatorily, he tells someone that they assured him that he was going to settle old scores! They told him that he would be hailed as a visionary. To this, another voice replies that he will be. Not unlike Joan of Arc. In reply, Falcone reminds his partner that Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. He was imagining that the celebration of his name would occur while he was still alive.

When the other voice begins to reply that there’s certain no accounting for public opinion, Falcone interrupts, damning public opinion. Flanked by an Omeganoid Sentinel, he asks what of his priorities? They swore that they’d help him assure that no one had to suffer as he did because of mutants! They made matters worse with their portents and predictions! Their visions of a world overrun by berserk mutants!

“Your dreams of vengeance were merely the match,” the other replies. “I needed to provide you the kindling so you would have proper incentive. A vision of the price of failure…” Interrupting, Falcone declares it a vision that he couldn’t show anyone else! “That’s never how it worked, Doctor,” replies Damien Tryp Sr., the source of other voice. Men of vision have never been able to put physical manifestations of what they see in front of others and say, See, here? This is what I’m talking about. Men of vision persuade others through the power of their ideas. Gandhi convinces others through his actions and his words. He didn’t display photographs and say here is what a world filled with peace will look like.

Seeing a pattern, Falcone asks Tryp Gandhi was assassinated, was he not? Told that’s not the point, Dr. Falcone presses. Joan of Arc, martyred. He’s noticing a recurring theme here, he tells Tryp, and he’s not enamored by it. If the maid of Orleans could have produces a genuine saint to vouch for her, or if Gandhi did have pictures, things might have turned out better for them, is all he’s saying. As it is, he’s less sanguine with the directions this conversation has taken.

As Falcone examines one of the massive Sentinel gauntlet units in the production line, Tryp tells him that he needs to remain calm. This business with the president is simply a setback. One that he knew was a possibility. “Possible, yes. Likely, no,” Dr. Falcone counters. Pressing, Tryp states that it’s why there are several plans in play. Positioning mutants to be removed from their world once and for all… while retroactively disposing of various key mutants through chronal reversion. It’s all coming together.

So he says, Falcone rejoins. Yes, Tryp states, so he says. And he has lived far longer than Falcone and knows far more. When Falcone then mentions the Summers Rebellion, Tryp replies that Summers is not the problem. When Falcone asks who is… Madrox…? Damien Tryp Sr. replies with a negative. “Layla Miller,” he says. “If anyone screws this up for us… it’s going to be her.”

Elsewhere, Layla Miller walks barefoot on the beach, her shoes dangling from her right hand. Calling to her from behind, Cyclops asks her if she brought him there. Told yes, Cyclops reiterates she brought him here. Again told yes, he repeats here, to which Layla replies “No, somewhere else.” When he bridles at this, she explains that “yes” didn’t seem to be working so… Exasperated, Cyclops tells her that this isn’t funny. He’s one of the greatest villains of all time. When Layla points out that he himself said his brain was half gone, Cyclops retorts that von Doom with half his brain is still more dangerous than most men with the entirety of theirs.

Changing subjects, Layla informs Cyclops that Fitzroy’s back. Is he going to have the same conversation with Ruby? Somber, Cyclops tells her that that’s different and she knows it. Ruby is trying to change things. Change him. Forestall damage he could do… “Does do,” Layla voices. Could… do, Cyclops counters. Returning a starfish she had been examining to the surf, Layla looks back over her shoulder to Cyclops. Just because he’s “Cyclops,” she tells him, doesn’t mean he has to be myopic.

Further down the beach, on the boardwalk, Hecat’e asks Ruby if that’s really him, referring to Victor von Doom a short distance away. Told by Ruby that it is, what’s left of him, Hecat’e replies that she was expecting someone… she doesn’t know… “Doomier?” Ruby asks. Yeah, Hecat’e confirms. Something more impressive, she supposes.

Having returned to the boardwalk, Cyclops stands before Doom, who continues to sit in his wheelchair, flanked by Madox and Doom’s robot, Winston. Addressing Doom directly, he tells the man that he needs to know that he doesn’t approve of his being there. He was a tyrant, a dictator. A heartless menace who enjoyed the protection of diplomatic immunity. When Madrox tries to interrupt, Cyclops continues, ignoring him. But, he tells Doom, Madrox here seems to think he can be of some use. So he’ll tolerate his presence for the time being. Quieting another dissent from Madrox, Cyclops then instructs Doom to stay out of his way. For a moment, Doom looks up at Cyclops in silence. “As you wish,” he finally voices.

A moment later, from down the beach, Layla Miller is able to hear the impact of the FWZAAK, which blasts Cyclops the distance between the boardwalk and where Layla is standing on the beach. As Cyclops recovers from his violent impact on the sand, Layla sarcastically asks him how’d did go.

Back at the boardwalk, Doom is immobile, still holding up the right hand, whose gauntlet fired the blast. When he asks if Cyclops is in his way, he is told by Madrox that he is not. “And I, therefore” Doom then notes, “not in his.” Told no, Doom lowers his hand and declares all is well, and then orders his robot manservant, Winston, to take him to his chambers. As soon departs, Hecat’e declares that was impressive.

Still smoldering, Cyclops climbs the steps from the beach to the boardwalk, incredulously calling Madrox’s name. Arms wide, he reminds Cyclops that he tried to warn him. What part of “chill out” wasn’t clear? To this, Cyclops asks what part of “he’s evil” did he not understand? Madrox begins to counter this with another “what part of” statement, but stops himself. Screw it, he says to Cyclops. He put him in charge of his disappearing people. He’ll handle the investigation the way he sees fit. As Madrox turns to depart, Cyclops states that there are times he doesn’t know who Madrox is. “Yeah, me too,” Madrox replies.


Looking into the confused visage of Siryn and the angry countenance of Monet, Cortex notes to himself that, he hates to admit it… but it was worth it for this. The pain of being abandoned in the future, forgotten and neglected… The soul-ripping torment of being catapulted across realities by Tryp… And oooh, what Falcone did to him under Tryp’s guidance… But it’s all worth it just to see the looks on Terry and Monet’s faces. Always so smug. So arrogant. So sure of themselves and confident in their knowledge and superiority. They knew nothing. They know nothing. And he knows everything.

Having had enough, Cortex declares first things first and lifts a hand, which produces a blast that knocks Monet flying. Doing so, he declares that he’s doing her a favor, as she’s just embarrassing herself.

Back at the hotel, Lenore looks out of the window of her room, sheepishly opining to no one in particular that she was better off when her mother was trying to kill her… Seeing something, Lenore manages to leap out of the way, just as a blasted Monet crashes into the room… through another wall.

Kneeling next to her, Lenore asks if she’s okay. Although Monet replies, Lenore can’t quite make it out and asks if she said “close,” as in she wants her to get closer to… Interrupting, the still very naked Monet looks up and replies “clothes, you idiot…” Find her clothes… and then… get the hell… out of there…

Back on the roof, Siryn asks Cortex if it is Jamie. Answering her own questions, she decides that it’s not. He’s a dupe, isn’t he? One of Jamie’s dupes gone rogue or something. What happened to him? Reaching down for his glasses, Cortex sarcastically replies that, yes, what’s really going to happen now is that he is going to tell her everything that happened to him. How he got this way, who sent him. His whole mission. Placing the glasses back on his face, Cortex adds that he could tell Terry everything that happens to her. Whether the mutant race is restored. Who she marries. How she dies. How she brings deal old da back from the dead. Would she like him to tell her that? Well? Would she?

“No,” Siryn replies with a snarl. Not speaking another word, Theresa instead screams, knocking Cortex off of his feet and through the window of an office building. Returning to his feet, Cortex mocks “Feisty.” She is feisty. She is practically dripping with feist. Before he is completely recovered, however, another sonic scream knocks Cortex again off his feet.

Now entering on hers, Siryn tells the Madrox look-alike that, she swore that if she saw him again, she’d break his neck. She’s had a month to dwell on her state of mind when she said that. A month to regret it or not regret it or whichever way. “Thankee,” she then adds. “Thankee” for coming back as an evil version so she would’na hafta doubt herself no more…

Smiling at this, Cortex replies that he does believe he’s gotten her Irish up. Tell him truly, he asks her. She saw what he did to Monet. She’s not invulnerable. He could kill her where she stands. Is that what she would like for him to do? Does she have a wee death wish? “A-yuh?” she yells back. “Try it! Go on…! Go on. A chollach! Try!” Back on his feet, Cortex waves his hands with a smile, stating that she’s so cute when she’s angry. He just can’t do it.

The next moment brings a sonic scream which propels Cortex into an elevator door, which crumples from the impact. Moving to the edge of the shaft, Siryn looks down for Cortex’s body, but does not see it. She continues not to see it, as Cortex appears suddenly from behind her. Elbowing her in the back of the head, he watches as she falls down the elevator shaft herself. “How about that?” he notes silently. Turns out he could do it, after all. Now then… back to business. He’ll need to find a…

Cortex’s thoughts are interrupted, as is his chest, but the flying knee of Monet. Yelling that he took over her mind, she delivers a right cross, to which she adds that no one takes over her mind! Never again! Never… everAGAIN!!!! In punctuation, Monet punches with her right arm straight through Cortex’s torso, her fist emerging through his back.

(the future)

Wracked with pain, Madrox clutches his chest and staggers against a wall. Asked by Layla what the matter is, he tells her that was just… weird. Probed further, he asks her if she knows the old saying about someone stepping on your grave? Well, he feels like Riverdance just stampeded over his. Pulling away from her, he tells her to come one. Let’s go.

A short distance behind, Ruby walks next to Doom. Speaking to him, she notes that the device he used on her father… he didn’t have it on him when they first saw him. Admitting that he did not, Doom adds that he constructed it out of spare parts in the back of the truck. Asked how… and why… Doom replies that, despite appearances, he has his moments of… lucidity… As for why… he was bored.

If that’s the case, Madrox chimes into opening the doors to a room, then this should keep him entertained. Emerging into what was once a laboratory, long ago, Doom immediately declares it adequate. A poor, pitiful thing compared to the majestic laboratories spawned by the genius of von Doom… but adequate. There is much that could be done with it.

Seeing an opening, Madrox notes that he was thinking of one thing in particular. Explaining, he asks if Doom created the technology that made the “Doomlock” possible. Told that he did, Madrox notes that it’s out there somewhere in the space-time continuum. Could he bring it back there? “Easily,” Doom replies.

Slowly, hand over hand, Siryn uses the elevator cable to climb back up the shaft. As a mantra, she promises to kill him… She’s going to kill him… She’s going to kill him… However, emerging from the doorway, Siryn sees Cortex already dead and immediately asks Monet how could she? Her hands on her hips, Monet looks down at the inert Cortex, noting that he was just a dupe. When Siryn continues to protest, she points out that he didn’t even have any blood. He was just… she doesn’t know what he was.

Suddenly no longer inert, Cortex smiles to Monet that it’s rude to talk about someone as if they’re not there. And by the way, he then adds, “you left your client unprotected.” That was a mistake. Before Monet or Siryn can act, a door-shaped portal of white light manifests horizontal to the floor and immediately above Cortex. The portal then descends and envelopes Cortex, teleporting him elsewhere.

Elsewhere, having heeded Monet’s instructions, Lenore has run from the hotel and is now out of breath. Hiding behind a giant clock, Lenore screams when someone grabs her shoulder, but is relieved to see it is Darwin. Asked what happened, Lenore admits that she got really drunk… and then things started exploding. The rest of kind of a blur. Suddenly, seeing danger, Darwin instructs Lenore to get behind him. Walking to their position from down the street is Cortex.

Closing in on their position, step by step, Cortex notes to himself that he had no desire to do this. Taking a direct hand is pushing the limits of chronal reversion. It risks tearing the fabric of reality. Possibly even causing bleed-through. But he’s expended entirely too much effort on this one female. He could simple have gone and killed Hecat’e himself in the time this has taken. Enough… is enough.

With this, Cortex lifts his right hand, glowing with purple energy… only to have it be sliced off before he can fire. Startled, he looks up to see Guido, Rictor and the dual sword-wielding Shatterstar. Bleeding from the stump that was his arm, Cortex seems more concerned with the trio’s appearance. All right, he laments. This just makes no sense at all! Where the hell did they come from?

“Funny story, actually,” Guido smiles. “Here’s how it happened.”

Characters Involved: 

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



Omeganoid Sentinels

Father John Maddox

(80 years in the future)

Multiple Man

Cyclops, Trevor Fitzroy, Hecat’e, Layla Miller, Salvé, Ruby Summers (all Summers Rebellion)

Doctor Doom < BR>
Winston, Doom’s robot

Dr. Falcone

Damien Tryp Sr.

Omeganoid Sentinel

Mrs. Archer

Secret Service agents

Story Notes: 

Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948 by a Hindu nationalist.

The historical figure known as Joan of Arc was a French nationalist hero who was captured by English forces and burned at the stake on the charge of heresy in May 1431. She was retroactively dubbed “The Maid of Orleans” by a poem of the same name published in 1899.

“Riverdance” is a touring dancing theater performance consisting of Irish step dancing.

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