X-Factor (3rd series) #5

Issue Date: 
May 2006
Story Title: 
Captive Audience

Peter David (writer), Dennis Calero (artist), José Villarrubia (colorist), Cory Petit (letterer), Tom Valente (production), Molly Lazer & Aubrey Sitterson (asst. editors), Andy Schmidt (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Ryan Sook & Jose Villarrubia (cover art)

Brief Description: 

Rictor goes looking for Siryn but finds that she isn’t at her normal breakfast hangout. After being brutally attacked, Siryn has been kidnapped by Doctor Leery, an embittered and sadistic former mutant who is convinced that X-Factor and the remaining powered mutants are behind the “power outage.” He’s holding Theresa as a means of providing X-Factor with the incentive they need to investigate M-Day and restore the status quo. Siryn fights back but is still powerless from the focused and intentional attack she endured before. Lucky for Terry that Rictor was worried and tracked her down to the abandoned theater where Leery was holding her. With a little assistance from Siryn, Rictor manages to defeat Leery and free his broken and battered teammate.

Full Summary: 

Rictor enters a café in the wee hours of the morning in search of Theresa Cassidy AKA Siryn. The waitress tells him to sit anywhere and Rictor clarifies that he was just looking for a friend. The waitress asks how friendly he’s thinking since her divorce was just finalized.
He stammers a bit and explains that he’s looking for his friend who frequents the café for breakfast. He had passed on an invite earlier and changed his mind. He mentions Theresa’s name and the waitress immediately recognizes her as Siryn, the girl with the lovely voice. She shares how a cockroach once jumped out of her omelet and her startled scream shattered every glass in the place.
The waitress, Candy, tells Rictor that she hasn’t seen Theresa at all that morning and that she’d been there the whole time. Candy asks if Rictor thinks something bad may have happened to her and he assures her that Theresa is probably fine. Candy asks him to tell her “hi” when he sees her.

Rictor walks out into the morning rain and notes that it’s a straight walk from the X-Factor offices to the café and he would have seen Siryn had she headed back there. As he walks back, he wonders if she could have gone somewhere else and notes that he’ll find her cell phone number at the office and if that doesn’t help, he can use the x-shaped tracers that the entire X-Factor staff wears. As he walks past an alleyway, he fails to notice Siryn’s discarded X-tracer or the trickle of blood that flows into the gutter from the alleyway.

This same trail of blood leads to the back door of an abandoned theater in Mutant Town. Inside, a bespectacled and disheveled man sits on the edge of the stage threading a needle as he explains that it’s lucky he happened by when he did. He relates his story of how he was a doctor before his mutant powers emerged and his life was completed derailed and was ruined. This left him with nothing unlike many mutants with flashier mutations and now he doesn’t even have his mutant power anymore. What he does have is his medical kit, wits and now someone to talk to. As he says this, Theresa Cassidy, beaten and bloodied, sits in a front row center seat bound by cords and gagged with a fetishistic ball gag.

Siryn’s captor introduces himself as Doctor Leery and notes that he’s heard all the obvious jokes about his name. As he chats about these jokes, he gets closer to Theresa. She responds by kicking him square in the chest the moment he’s within range. Enraged, her kidnapper slaps her twice and calls her ungrateful for attacking him. He notes that she would be dead if it weren’t for him and that he reset the leg she just kicked him with. He says that he holds her life in his hands and is clearly intoxicated by the power that gives him. He grabs her forcefully and asks if she gets that. She looks up at him, her face bruised and the ball gag still in place. The look in her eyes speaks for her.
Dr. Leery apologizes and casually notes that he has anger management issues. He explains that that’s how his life became so filled with trouble. His mutant power only kicked in when he was angry and he lost it one night in the ER and things got bloody. Siryn strains against her bonds to no avail.

Dr. Leery notes how funny it is that he finally has someone here to talk with and he’s not in the mood. He steps down from the stage and removes the ball gag from Siryn’s mouth. She tries to speak but cannot. He notes that the wounds on her neck suggest someone paralyzed her vocal cords through a drugged dart. He shows her a scalpel and warns her that if she kicks him again, he’ll sever her vocal cords permanently. To drive his point home, he plunges the scalpel into her leg.
His point made, Dr. Leery spoon-feeds Theresa some vegetables from a can. He tells her he hated to do that since a doctor’s oath is to “first do no harm”. He asks her if she wants to live and she indicates that she does. He tells her that she can live there with him. He tells her that he finds the abandoned theater a great metaphor for the mutant race. Once thriving and magnificent, a thing of beauty, a work of art. But then the curtain fell and the drama was over. Despite great reviews, the show was over for mutantkind.

He tells her that he thinks X-Factor and the X-Men had something to do with all this. Siryn weakly tells him that he’s wrong and he disagrees. He says that he could survive as a mutant and now he doesn’t even have that! He places the scalpel on her neck and breaks the surface as he tells her that he wants to know who is responsible. He asks if it was her and she swears it wasn’t. He tells her that he once had great plans and now has nothing and that someone is going to pay for all he’s lost.
The doctor says that he bets she thinks he’s vermin but that he’s a person who once had dreams that have been squashed right and left. He needs something to hold onto and he’s picked her. He says that when a group suddenly loses power, you’ve got to look to those who still have it and wonder why and what’s in it for them. He says that kidnapping her might give her team some incentive to look into the source of the M-Day depowering. He says that a mere note asking them to investigate things might not get their attentions but one with a lock of her hair or a more significant body part might get them to do something.

In the alley where Siryn was attacked, Rictor finds her X-Factor communicator. He picks it up and looks around the alleyway. He finds a lock of Theresa’s hair on a chain-link fence. He looks concerned as he passes the stage door. Some instinct tells him to turn back rather than exit the alleyway.

Inside, Theresa swears that X-Factor doesn’t need incentive and they’ll find out what caused the power outage. She tries to convince him that they are there to help. He tries to get her to promise to restore things to the way they were and she says she can’t do that since there’s no way she can know how things will turn out. He says she’ll have to make the leap of faith with him and tells her to swear it on her faith and soul and all she holds dear.
As he says this, the scalpel gets closer and closer to her eye. Through a hoarse whisper, she tells him to go to hell and refuses to swear on holy things to make him think that she’s afraid of him. He tells her that she is afraid and she replies that he has no idea who he’s messing with. He says all he wanted was a little hope but if she won’t give him that he’ll take her tongue instead.
As he leans forward menacingly, Rictor calls out for Terry to see if she’s inside. Leery replaces the ball gag as Rictor enters the stage wings.

As he enters the backstage area, Rictor realizes that calling out like that may not have been the smartest move. As he makes his way onto the stage, Leery sneaks up behind him. Rictor can hear Siryn who is bouncing up and down in her chair in an attempt to make some noise. As Rictor struggles to get through the heavy stage curtain, Dr. Leery raises his scalpel to stab Ric in the back. Rictor decides to simply crawl under the curtains.
In the theater, Siryn manages to get her hands loose and quickly removes the ball gag. She lets out a sonic scream which shatters Leery’s glasses and drives the fragments into his eyes. Rictor spins around and grabs Leery’s wrist. The two struggle for a moment for control of the scalpel as Leery threatens to kill them both.
He is ranting about how they stole his powers and life and how he wants them back. As they tussle, Leery gets tangled up in the ropes that control the curtains. They wrap around his neck.
Seizing the scalpel, Rictor cuts the rope and Leery is hoisted into the air as the sandbag hits the floor. Rictor finally gets the curtains open and sees Terry. He quickly leaps down to help her and asks if Leery did all this to her. She replies that she isn’t sure. Her voice is hoarse form the strain of the single sonic scream. Ric commends her on her timing. She tells him she hates playing the damsel in distress but that she can’t walk. He picks her up and carries her towards the door. Siryn thanks him and tells him weakly that she wasn’t afraid of Leery or of dying. Ric says that makes one of them. As he takes her out of the theater he tells her that “Candy says hi”.

Characters Involved: 

Rictor, Siryn (both X-Factor Investigations)
Doctor Leery
Candy, a waitress at a local café

Unnamed customers in the café

Story Notes: 

The opening panel depicting the café is a tribute to the famous and oft-reproduced painting “Nighthawks” by Edward Hopper.
Doctor Leery notes that many ask if his first name is Timothy. This is in reference to actor and psychologist/drug campaigner, Timothy Leary who is sometimes credited as Dr. Timothy Leary and directed a 1979 film of the same name.

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