X-Factor Annual #3

Issue Date: 
August 1988
Story Title: 
The Evolutionary War: Unnatural Selection <br>

1st story: Louise Simonson (writer), Terry Shoemaker (penciler), Al Milgrom (inker), Joe Rosen (letterer), Petra Scotese (colorist), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)
2nd story: Louise Simonson (writer), Tom Artis (penciler), Joe Rubinstein (inker), Joe Rosen (letterer), Petra Scotese (colorist), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)
3rd story: Mark Gruenwald (story), Paris Cullins (pencils), Tony DeZuniga (inks), Ken Lopez (letters), Gregory Wright (colors), Ralph Macchio (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

1st story: The High Evolutionary orders his Purifiers to sterilize all the Subterraneans who live beneath the Earth. He believes them to be a genetic dead end, and wants them removed from his plans. As the Purifiers carry out the sterilization, they encounter a Subterranean Moloid named Val-or who possesses immense psychic capabilities, and he sends out a psychic distress signal which reaches every psychic on Earth. X-Factor’s Jean Grey receives the signal and the team descends into the underground to find its source. Deep under the Earth’s surface, X-Factor encounters the frightened Subterraneans and, in a stroke of luck, manages to subdue Val-or. Meanwhile, Apocalypse seeks out the High Evolutionary in order to better understand his motives. The two super-beings debate the merits of their individual goals and methods. In order to convince the High Evolutionary that his methods are wrong, Apocalypse teleports them both to the Subterraneans underground home. They observe as the Purifiers attempt to defeat both X-Factor and the Subterraneans. His powers heightened by the battle, Val-or rallies his troops and they manage to defeat their attackers. The High Evolutionary realizes that the Subterraneans are not an evolutionary dead-end after all; it simply took a little hardship for their strength to emerge. Apocalypse basks in the fact that he was right, and departs. Despite being wrong about the Subterraneans, the High Evolutionary vows to fulfill his goal of enhancing humanity.

2nd story: Angry at the fact that they are being sent away to boarding school, Rusty, Skids, Boom-Boom, Rictor, Artie and Leech goof around in X-Factor’s sentient headquarters, Ship. They find one of X-Factor’s old photo albums. They begin looking at the photos together, and briefly explain the histories of Beast, Iceman, Angel, Cyclops and Marvel Girl to Ship, who listens attentively. After reviewing how many changes the members of X-Factor have gone through, the teenagers decide that maybe boarding school isn’t such a bad thing after all.

3rd story: Struggling geneticist Herbert Wyndham travels to a genetics conference in order to acquire further funding for his mutation-accelerating machine. While there, he meets fellow aspiring scientist Jonathan Drew. The two men attend a lecture by Polish scientist Wladyslav Shinsky who advocates caution and restraint when conducting genetic experiments. Wyndham approaches him afterwards and asks for advice regarding his genetic accelerator. Shinsky dismisses the machine as impossible, and then adds that even if it were, it should not be used until the genetic code has been completely mapped. The enraged Wyndham then goes to dinner with Drew, gets extremely drunk, and has to excuse himself when he gets sick. In the alleyway outside the restaurant, a mysterious man approaches Drew and gives him an accurate blueprint of the genetic code.

Full Summary: 

1st story:

Far underground, in a vast, subterranean cavern…

The High Evolutionary’s Purifiers are quickly learning that exterminating an entire race of people is a lot harder than they thought. A Purifier named Major Purge complains to his associate that the Subterraneans are supposed to be docile. Instead, they fight back in swarms, and quickly replace their fallen comrades in battle. He even points out that some of the creatures breathe fire.

Purge’s associate Stack explains that the fiery Lava-Men are the only truly dangerous foes; the rest simply have strength because of their vast numbers. He explains that most of these creatures resulted from experiments by an ancient group known as the Deviants. Stack then gives a brief run-down of each of the different species of Subterraneans: Moloids, Tyrannoids, Lava-men. Major Purge interrupts him, saying he does not really care about their origins. He explains that the goal of the Purifiers is to simply sterilize this entire race, as they represent a genetic dead end.

A pair of fire-coated Lava-men suddenly flanks the men from the side. They blast them with a stream of freezer-fluid. After neutralizing the threat they pose, Stack continues speaking. He explains that all the Moloids he previously examined were mostly blind, completely mute, and totally lacking in independent thought. So why, he asks, are they suddenly fighting back?

“If it was up to me, I’d just kill the filthy things,” Major Purge says. “Sterilizing them is slow genocide; why not get it over with?” Stack reminds his associate that they are forbidden to initiate violence. Nearby, the Moloid Val-or fights with a trio of Purifiers. It incapacitates two of them, but the remaining Purifier blasts from behind with an energy beam. It lets out a piercing scream, which instantly spreads to all the other Moloids. The entire colony begins screaming in unison.

Above ground, Val-or’s scream is felt by every psi-sensitive being on Earth. The White Queen, Psylocke, Artie Maddicks, Dr. Druid, Franklin Richards, Rachel Summers, Caliban, and the High Evolutionary all hear the painful, psychic signal in their minds.

Elsewhere, X-Factor works at rebuilding the Empire State Building in the wake of its destruction by Apocalypse. Jean Grey is in the process of telekinetically lifting a bundle of steel girders into the air when she hears the psychic distress signal. She loses her concentration, and drops the girders from hundreds of feet in the air. Cyclops destroys as many of the girders as he can before they hit the civilians below, while Beast catches all the rest. Iceman breaks Jean’s fall with a well-placed ice slide.

As soon as Jean recovers, Cyclops asks her about the incident. She says that she did not recognize the sender, but thinks it may have been a mutant. “It was…my first telepathic contact since that portion of my power was…removed,” she says. She adds, however, that while she misses her old psychic rapport, she could do without ever hearing a psychic cry like this one ever again.

Beast, Cyclops, Iceman and Jean Grey immediately board their current headquarters, the sentient ship appropriately named Ship. As they depart, Ship performs a scan in order to locate the source of the psychic distress signal.

Meanwhile, on the far side of the world in a secret base, Caliban relays what he just experienced to his master, Apocalypse. He explains that the scream was undisciplined, mindless, and lacked training and direction. However he adds that it came from a mutant whose unrefined telepathic abilities may rival the strongest telepaths currently known. After relaying the mutant’s coordinates to his master, Apocalypse deduces that the mutant is one of the Subterraneans.

“The Subterraneans have lost many abilities which we take for granted, my hell-hound,” Apocalypse says to Caliban, “…but it seems that, at the hour of their death, one of the strong has emerged among them.” This mutant’s life may be of value, Apocalypse adds, but only if he can reach it before it is snuffed out by the High Evolutionary’s Purifiers. “Long have I monitored the High Evolutionary’s activities concerning our Earth,” he continues. “His all-encompassing plan for this world only recently became clear to me. And now, as you see, he has begun to act!”

Back in the subterranean caverns, the Purifiers proceed with their mass-sterilization. No longer defending themselves, the Moloids passively march right into the sterilization chambers. “This is how my gatherers found them, Purge. This is why we weren’t expecting any resistance,” Stack explains. They herd the passive Moloids into a large, water-filled chamber. Then, they shock them with some sort of electrical current, rendering them sterile.

As the next batch of Subterraneans approaches the chamber, one of the Purifiers points out an unusual-looking Moloid, who is none other than Val-or. “Looks more human than the others,” he says, gesturing toward the unconscious Subterranean. “Must be he’s some kinda half-breed…or throwback.” As they grab him to throw him into the chamber, Val-or wakes up and begins to panic. His rebellious fervor instantly returns to all the Subterraneans and they once again begin fighting back.

Back on the streets of New York City, X-Factor is busy breaking into the subway system. Beast lets the rest of the team know that he knows they tried to leave without him, and he asks them to stop doing this. Iceman tries to explain that it is for his own good, seeing as how Beast gets dumber and dumber every time he uses his super-strength. “Sometimes I think I might as well be dead, for all the good I can do like this,” the despondent Beast says.

Soon enough, the team reaches a dead end. Jean informs them that the conflict is occurring hundreds of feet beneath their current position. Cyclops takes the initiative and blasts a hole in the ground, clearing a path into the caverns below. What the team sees as they descend even further into the ground reminds them of an ancient, alien civilization they discovered during their time as X-Men. While Cyclops, Iceman and Marvel Girl examine a large, alien machine, Beast stumbles upon a pile of slaughtered Moloids.

As they begin to ask who would do such a thing, Iceman looks around the vast cavern with his flashlight. He spots hoards of Moloids lurking in the shadows. After informing his teammates, Jean immediately recognizes Val-or as the source of the psychic distress signal. Val-or screams at the intruders, inciting all the Moloids in the vicinity. They begin attacking X-Factor, and Val-or disappears into the mob.

Meanwhile, high above the Earth…

Through a direct video feed, Stack explains the problems the Purifiers are having with the Moloids to his master, the High Evolutionary. He listens attentively, but is then interrupted by someone on his ship. He turns and sees Apocalypse materialize in his control deck. “We have a philosophical difference concerning the evolution of mankind and how it must progress,” Apocalypse begins, skipping past all formalities. The High Evolutionary demands to know who he is, so Apocalypse introduces himself. “As long as mankind has existed, I am. War and strife have been mankind’s proving ground. I have encouraged these things…to ensure that the denizens of that world below grow strong.”

Realizing that he has indeed heard of Apocalypse, the High Evolutionary tries to distance himself. He informs Apocalypse that he views him as a symbol of destruction. “What I do is for the greater good of all mankind,” the High Evolutionary argues. “The Subterraneans are flawed…devolved almost to an animal state,” he says, and then calls them “an evolutionary disaster that must be expunged.”

The High Evolutionary then turns his attention back to the screen and resumes speaking with Stack. Using the advanced technology at his disposal, he teleports a new weapon down to his entrenched Purifiers. He tells Stack that this new weapon will be a painless means of extermination. While he previously objected to using violence against the Subterraneans, their rebellion has left him with no choice.

Not a fan of being ignored, Apocalypse begins charging an energy blast. “I do not argue with your treatment of the Subterraneans, Evolutionary,” he says. “Those who cannot defend themselves deserve their fates. My argument is with your long-term goals. You, superbly intelligent as you are, immortal as you are, powerful as you are, have existed for a mere instant of humanity’s past.” Apocalypse then fires an energy blast at the High Evolutionary, who dives out of the way. “I am as old as man, and time has taught me patience. You have to learn.”

The High Evolutionary fires a counter-blast, telling Apocalypse that he is the impatient one for foolishly testing his wrath. This blast breeches the wall of the High Evolutionary’s orbiting station and both men are pulled out into the vacuum of space.

While far below…

X-Factor tries to fight off the swarm of Moloids without killing any of them. Cyclops points out that they are so frail, anything X-Factor does may prove deadly. Jean, meanwhile, desperately scans the Moloids for the mutant telepath, but has no luck in finding him. Beast tells her to hurry, as the Moloids are now getting help from their friends the Tyrannoids.

Beast randomly latches on to one of the Moloids, but then finds himself overcome by yet another swarm. He lifts the Moloid in the air and is about to smash him over a rock when Jean commands him to stop. She realizes that Beast has caught Val-or, and lifts them both into the air away from the legions of Subterraneans. After Beast calms down a bit, he realizes that he was just about to smash the mutant Moloid. He Beast suddenly feels very guilty.

Jean consoles her teammate, explaining that if Beast had not caught the telepath, they might never have found him. She then begins communicating with Val-or. She realizes almost immediately that the Moloids possess no civilized language, forcing the telepath to communicate through a mixture of emotions and images. He calms his fellow Moloids, and the attack ends.

Jean comments on the raw, telepathic power that Val-or possesses. He then communicates to her his entire life story, and she sees it play out as a progression of mental images. She learns that he was born to a non-speaking community, but as he grew, he found he could read the minds of his tribe. They did anything he wanted, but since his needs were so tied to those of the tribe, he never really had the opportunity to abuse his power. The tribe mostly lived in contended peace. Then, the Purifiers arrived. Val-or detected them early on, but when they began attacking his people, he became very afraid. His fear affected all of the Subterraneans and they began to fight back.

“Whatever he’s sending, it only affects sensitives…which I guess I still am,” Jean says. “And his people must be both exceptionally sensitive and suggestible. His fear and rage fed their and their fed his…till they were caught in a cycle of hysteria.”

The Purifiers take advantage of this brief respite and re-initiate their attack on the docile Subterraneans. This time, however, X-Factor is there to help. The mutant team does their best to disable the airborne Purifiers in order to give the Moloids a fighting chance.

Back in space…

Despite the fact that they now float through empty space, Apocalypse and the High Evolutionary continue their conversation. The High Evolutionary commends Apocalypse’s ability to control every molecule of his body. “Control is something I’ve come to admire! In less that a single lifetime, I have devolved to less than animal…and evolved to become like unto a God,” the High Evolutionary says. “In controlling humanity’s destiny, I offer it a chance to become more than it can be by giving it a…boost.”

“Your insistence on sterilizing those you consider genetically unfit is unnatural selection,” Apocalypse retorts. “Time would weed out the unfit. Time would allow more of the strong to emerge…even from your supposed dead ends. But it is time that is your enemy, time that you seek to evade, is it not?” Apocalypse adds.

The High Evolutionary counters by saying that Apocalypse’s motives are in conflict with his deeds. “I consider you a villain of the first order,” he tells the ancient mutant. The two men are now in close enough proximity that they can simply exchange punches. Apocalypse explains that everything he does follows the basic principals of natural selection, adding that his actions serve as a “trial by fire” that ultimately strengthens humanity.

“As I suspect, you talk of death while I speak of life. I will help humanity advance…as I have advanced,” the High Evolutionary says while Apocalypse grips his face. “I am like a benevolent parent, who makes the choices for those who are too immature to choose for themselves.”

“You seek to force humanity’s change…to remake it in your own image,” Apocalypse counters. “Your own evolution was forced, and see what you’ve become.” He then reminds the High Evolutionary that he is incapable of reproducing himself, and calls him a genetic dead-end.

The High Evolutionary fires an energy blast at Apocalypse, who dodges it. “Your gifts are death and destruction. Mine will be a gentle gift…of advancement for all.”

“Except for those you deem unfit to advance. I give no gifts,” Apocalypse says while punching the High Evolutionary in the stomach. “By war, by disaster, I force humanity to change…to grow…to take what it needs.”

The High Evolutionary then states that the Subterraneans are no longer capable of change; they are the genetic dead-ends. He quickly turns himself invisible to avoid Apocalypse’s next attack. Apocalypse detects his position in spite of his invisibility, and captures him. Then, in order to prove his point, he teleports the High Evolutionary and himself to the Subterraneans’ caverns back on Earth.

They arrive a short distance away from the battle and observe the fight between the Purifiers, the Subterraneans and X-Factor. The High Evolutionary is shocked to see that a group of mutants is defending the Moloids, and asks who they are. Apocalypse responds that they are X-Factor, and were probably alerted to the plight of the Subterraneans just as he was.

The Purifiers, meanwhile, finally pinpoint the mutant Moloid as the source of the resistance. Stack orders his men to target Val-or, giving them permission to kill. They begin flying toward him, using their rifles to cut through anything that gets in their way. They sufficiently scare him after firing a few blasts, and Val-or panics. As he begins to escape, they hit him with an concussive blast and knock him out. Major Purge picks up the mutant and announces that he still lives. “But he is the source of all this trouble and he is going to die!”

Apocalypse scoffs at this Purifier’s ignorance. He asks the High Evolutionary why he would grant so much power to men who cannot even recognize true, genetic power when they see it.

The High Evolutionary defends his position. “The little Subterranean is incapable of using his power consciously,” he responds. “He reacts instinctively, as frightened animal does. For all his innate ability, he is not creative. He cannot think! He is a dead end, like all his kind.”

X-Factor finally notices that Val-or has been captured, and they move to rescue him. Beast leaps at Major Purge and knocks him over his head. He tells the Purifier that he has no right to choose when a species goes extinct, adding that if they truly deserved extinction, they would bring it upon themselves.

“It is not our right, mutant, as much as our pleasure,” Purge says. He tells Beast that he wishes to ensure the purity of the emerging master race. “You’re nearly as doomed as he is, and for just about the same reason!” He fires a stun ray at Beast and sends him hurling into the cavern wall.

Having developed a sense of sympathy for his protector, the Val-or screams when he sees him get shot. He once again begins flooding his peers with a series of psychic images. They renew their attack on the Purifiers. Also picking up his signal, Jean realizes that the Val-or actually absorbs the emotions of those around him and re-distributes them. The pain he channels comes from Beast, the anger comes from the Purifiers, and the panic from his fellow Moloids. Feeding from Major Purge’s vast reservoir of hatred, Val-or begins grappling with the Purifier, quickly overpowering him. Then, he temporarily shuts down the man’s brain with a powerful psychic attack. Jean then telekinetically lifts the two up to the safety of a ledge.

Apocalypse asks the High Evolutionary if he just felt the extraordinary amount of power the mutant just unleashed. “I felt an animal lash out,” he replies.

Finally aware of the awesome power he wields, the Val-or stands on the ledge and overlooks the thousands of Subterraneans below. He absorbs all the ambient fear and hostility in the cavern, and redirect this energy toward his tribe. The sudden surge of emotions empowers them, and they begin an organized retaliation. The Moloids, Tyrannoids, and other Subterraneans quickly turn the tide of battle and subdue many of the Purifiers. Apocalypse observes this and laughs. “Does an animal take such control, such responsibility for his actions?” he asks.

With the help of the Subterraneans, X-Factor manages to neutralize Stack. The fight finally ends. The High Evolutionary observes the defeat of his minions in shame. Apocalypse takes this moment to further his point. “That Subterranean telepath – and his friends in X-Factor – proved me righter than I guessed. You and your ‘help’ were the element that provided the pain, the stress and the trauma that forced his growth,” he says. “And through that growth, he has defeated you and saved the next generation who will, no doubt, contain many of his progeny.”

As Apocalypse teleports out of the cavern, he leaves some final words for the High Evolutionary to ponder. “I was wrong to be concerned about your actions. The strong and fit will not allow you to eliminate then, and the others deserve their fate. You do my work for me, High Evolutionary, whether you wish it or not...”

The High Evolutionary is very disturbed by these words. He realizes that after all the arguing, Apocalypse was right about everything. Time is my enemy. Time and loneliness, he thinks. Sometimes I feel I will go mad from loneliness. He reveals his true goal, to create other beings like himself to appease his loneliness. The High Evolutionary believes this will be a great gift to the world, and he refuses to stop now that he is so close to achieving this goal.

I have always known that my acts of benevolence will, of necessity, create some…minor disruptions. I cannot allow that to dissuade me, not when so much is at stake. Looking at Val-or for one last time, he decides the creature truly has earned the right for his species to exist. Before departing, however, the High Evolutionary comments that he might still remove this wild card if it impedes his plans later on.

Just as X-Factor begins interrogating the captured Purifiers, the High Evolutionary teleports them away as well. X-Factor is left with the Subterraneans, and decide it is time to leave.

Before they depart, Beast takes the opportunity to try and Val-or for saving his life. The telepath rapidly absorbs Beast’s language as he speaks, and quickly learns enough to communicate back. He finally introduces himself as Val-or. X-Factor, however, is astounded that the mutant learned enough of their language to communicate so quickly.

After thanking Val-or, Beast invites him to come stay with X-Factor so he can better learn to use his mutant power. Val-or declines the offer, saying that he must use his special gift to better help his people. In return for Beast’s gratitude, Val-or informs him that it is he who owes Beast and the rest of X-Factor. Not only did they save the lives of the Subterraneans, but they also showed Val-or that he can choose how to use his power for the good of his people.

2nd story:
Aboard X-Factor’s ship, hovering above the Atlantic Ocean…

Rusty, Skids, Boom-Boom, Rictor, Artie and Leech decide to race to the hydroponics garden. They agree that they can use their individual powers during the race. “Just make sure you stay ahead of Leech or he’ll depower you,” Boom-Boom says. Leech swears he would do no such thing.

Artie and Leech, being much smaller than their teenage peers, decide to take the elevator instead of running all the way to the garden. Up ahead, Rictor uses his seismic power to place an obstacle in Rusty’s path. Rusty incinerates the obstacle using his pyrotechnic abilities. “We better use our powers while we can,” he says while clearing the path. “X-Factor wants to send us away to boarding school…with ordinary humans.”

Boom-Boom, who currently holds the lead in the race, gags at the thought of this. However, she keeps her mind on her current priority. After running across one of the ship’s narrow bridges, she destroys it using one of her signature time bombs. Rusty reaches the damaged bridge and laments that they will surely lose the race now.

“Indeed you are not,” Ship says. The bridge immediately mends itself, recreating the pathway. “Though in the future, Boom-Boom, I suggest that you and your compatriots in crime consider who it is that you are exploding! You know, I could simply swallow you!” Skids tells the ship that Boom-Boom did not mean any harm, as she simply got carried away with the race.

Skids then announces that she will simply glide past Boom-Boom in order to win. However, Artie and Leech emerge from the elevator right in front of Skids and Boom-Boom, winning the race. Unfortunately Leech’s sudden presence also cancels Skids’ mutant power, and she unexpectedly stops moving. Rictor and Rusty fail to notice this in time, and run right into her. The group of mischievous students tumbles right into Beast, who sits on a chair looking through an old photo album.

They ask Beast what he is doing, and he tells them that he found this photo album in the remains of the old X-Factor complex. Leech picks up a photo and is shocked to see that it depicts the current member of X-Factor when they were mere teenagers. Ship senses that everyone will want to see the photos at once, so it creates a three-dimensional projection of the pictures.

Rictor, Rusty, Leech, Skids, Artie and Boom-Boom are astounded by how young X-Factor looked as teenagers. “He was our teacher an’ his school was called the School for Gifted Youngsters,” Beast explains, directing their attention toward Professor X. “He had this idea how he would collect and train a batch o’ us mutant kids t’fight evil mutants. He called us the X-Men.”

Ship then activates a slide-show of the photos, and the picture changes into one of a young Henry McCoy in a graduate cap and gown. “I graduated from Xavier’s…an’ college, too, an’ grad school an’ stuff,” Beast explains. He adds that he used to be pretty smart, and even got a job as a genetic researcher, a career which led him to the discovery of the catalyst that causes mutations. “Only maybe I wasn’t so smart, ‘cause I tested it out on myself, an’ look what happened!” Ship changes the picture to another photo of Beast, this one from the era of his life when his body was coated with blue fur.

“You were cute like that!” Skids says. Artie realizes that he has something to add to this story, so he shoves Leech out of his proximity and begins projecting an image of his father, Carl Maddicks. Boom-Boom explains that it was in fact Artie’s dad who captured Beast and chemically removed him of his blue fur. Beast then explains that these chemicals later reacted with the poison from Pestilence, one of Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen. The effect was that while Beast grew increasingly stronger, his intelligence lessened at the same rate. Beast suddenly gets upset at the thought of becoming a brainless brute and has to leave so he can be alone for a while.

Rictor comments that maybe they should stop exploring these painful memories, but Ship interjects and adds that it would like to learn more about its new masters, X-Factor. They start looking through photographs of Bobby Drake. “Iceman! Isn’t he adorable?” Boom-Boom says. She points out photos of him when he was part of the superhero teams the Champions and the Defenders. They even get to see a photo of him from when he served as an accountant. Boom-Boom briefly recounts how he was over-powered by Loki, then depowered with a belt that actually just gave him more control over his powers.

Moving on, they come across a photograph of a young Warren Worthington III in an Exeter school uniform. “That’s a ritzy, rich kid snob school,” Rictor says. They note that Warren is a multi-millionaire due to a generous inheritance, and he used that money to help found X-Factor. Artie interjects again, projecting an image of Warren saving his life. Rusty interprets Artie’s projection for Ship, telling of how Angel’s wings were critically damaged while trying to help out the Morlocks during the Mutant Massacre. Ship interrupts at this point and says that it knows the rest of Angel’s story, having been a servant of Apocalypse at the time as well. Ship adds that while Archangel is now free of Apocalypse’s influence, he chooses to remain by himself, away from his former friends.

Next in line is a photo of the young X-Men hanging out near a swimming pool. In the photo, Jean Grey uses her telekinesis to pour lemonade for Warren and Bobby, both of whom are decked out in their swimming trunks. Scott Summers, however, stands nearby with his arms folded and still dressed in his X-Men uniform. “He looks like he’s expecting a villain to pop out of the pool! Has he always been so stiff?” Skids asks. Rusty tells her that Scott has always been very driven, noting that he actually led both the old and the new X-Men.

“And he always loved Jean...ever since they were kids,” Rusty adds. “Only…he was much too shy to do much about it.” The conversation then turns to Jean, inevitably leading to the fateful shuttle crash that led everyone to believe she was dead. Skids remarks that Jean apparently came back from the dead as the Phoenix, but it turned out that Phoenix was just a cosmic entity masquerading as Jean. Boom-Boom explains that by the time they found the real Jean, Scott had already married Jean’s lookalike, Madelyne Pryor. After having a huge fight with Madelyne, Scott left Alaska and met up with the newly resurrected Jean Grey and helped form X-Factor. When he returned to see Madelyne, he found that both she and their newborn son Nathan were missing. Later on, he saw her supposedly die with the X-Men on TV, and has been searching for his missing son with Jean ever since.

Rusty concludes by commenting how the X-Men became the fake mutant-hunting team X-Factor, but eventually revealed their true intentions to the world and are now regarded as public heroes. Ship adds that it has undergone a large change as well. After destroying the old headquarters of X-Factor, it now serves as their residence.

Rusty, Skids, Boom-Boom, Rictor, Artie and Leech realize that maybe change is not always a bad thing, and sometimes change is even for the best. They decide that boarding school may not be such a bad change for them after all.

3rd story:
September 1st, 1928, at 2:16 am. The basement laboratory of Herbert Edgar Wyndham in the suburbs of London, England…

Herbert Wyndham runs his 113th genetic acceleration experiment on a lab rat. While he tries to be somewhat cautious, the experiment bombards the rat with lethal dose of radiation. The rat’s death marginally upsets him, but he justifies it as it is in the name of science. He takes a cell sample from the deceased rat and examines it under a microscope. Noticing an alteration in the cell’s DNA, Wyndham realizes that it is the most dramatic mutation he has created so far.

Retiring for the night, he heads upstairs to get some sleep. He encounters his mom in the kitchen and asks if the mailman has stopped by. She says that he has, and then offers to make him breakfast. Wyndham politely declines, adding that he has been up all night. Like all good mothers do, she scorns his irresponsible behavior. She also tells him that the mailman has already stopped by.

Wyndham goes and collects the mail and is surprised to find an invitation to an international conference on genetics in Geneva, Switzerland. He desperately wants to attend, but remembers that he spent all of his inheritance on lab equipment. He currently cannot even afford to buy new lab rats, let alone fare to Geneva. However, the conference may represent his best chance to procure funding for his experiments. I must find a way no matter what, Wyndham declares. I will bring my genetic accelerator and force the scientific community to acknowledge the genius of my work!

His mother collects enough money from her extended family to fund her son’s trip, and arrives at the conference in Geneva. Once he arrives, Wyndham realizes that he does not recognize any of the influential scientists in attendance, as they generally do not publish pictures of themselves in the scientific journals. I will simply have to mingle…try to glean the identities of the influential by eavesdropping, he thinks to himself.

Distracted, he accidentally bumps into another young man at the convention. Wyndham introduces himself and strikes up a conversation with the man who turns out to be Jonathan Drew. After introducing himself, Drew points out several notable geneticists in the room, such as Arnim Zola and Wladyslav Shinsky. Wyndham seems impressed and mentions that he hopes to receive a scholarship to Oxford. The two men head into the conference room and try to get a good seat for Shinsky’s keynote speech.

As the speech winds down about two hours later, Shinsky closes by saying that the scientific geniuses in the room need to be cautious. After all, they may hold the key to mankind’s future, and need to hold themselves to a higher standard than those who would abuse them for selfish ends. “Sounds to me like he’s advocating caution just so he can keep ahead of everyone else’s accomplishments,” Wyndham snidely remarks to Drew.

After the speech, Wyndham approaches Shinsky and asks for a moment of his time. “I gather from your remarks that if someone were to make the next breakthrough in the field, you’d advise him to consider all the possible political ramifications before making the discovery known?” he asks. Shinsky responds affirmatively. Wyndham then asks how one could possibly predict the political implications of a machine that could accelerate the mutation of genetic material. Shinsky advises that such a machine should not be used until mankind had properly broken and mapped the genetic code, adding that indiscriminately manipulating the genetic code could have disastrous effects.

I guess you could call the fact that all my test subjects have died so far ‘disastrous,’ Wyndham thinks. He then retorts that it could be decades before the genetic code is fully broken. Shinsky advises him to have patience, and then departs.

That night, Drew and Wyndham head out for dinner at a Swiss pub. Wyndham gets extremely drunk at the dinner table and begins raving about his amazing genetic accelerator, adding that he refuses to just shelve it while other geneticists slowly map out the genetic code. Drew advises him to just show the machine to Shinsky, as it might inspire him to accelerate his own research. “No…I’m not sure I can even trust him, he’s made me so angry!” Wyndham drunkenly responds. At this point, Drew notices his friend does not look well. Wyndham excuses himself for having imbibed so much alcohol, gets up from the table, and stumbles outside.

After puking in a nearby alleyway, he begins to head back into the pub. However, he is approached by a mysterious man. The shadowy figure wears a trench-coat and a top-hat, and his eyes glow an eerie yellow. The man addressed Wyndham, by his full name no less, and hands him a stack of papers. Then, as suddenly as he appeared, he is gone. Wyndham examines the papers, and is amazed to see that they are a complete blueprint for the human genetic code!

Characters Involved: 

1st story:
Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Jean Grey/Marvel Girl (all X-Factor)

The High Evolutionary
Major Purge


Dr. Druid, Artie Maddicks, Phoenix, Psylocke, The White Queen, Franklin Richards (all psi-sensitives)

Val-or (telepathic Subterranean Moloid)
Various Subterraneans

2nd story:
Artie, Boom-Boom, Leech, Rictor, Rusty, Skids (all future X-Terminators)
Beast (X-Factor)

in photographs
Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl, Professor X (all X-Men)
Madelyne Pryor
Nathan Christopher Summers

3rd story:
Herbert Edgar Wyndham
Jonathan Drew
Wladyslav Shinsky (Polish geneticist)
Arnim Zola (his assistant)
Mysterious man
Herbert’s mother

Story Notes: 

This issue is the first story in an eleven-part Marvel Event called The Evolutionary War. This event took place in the annuals of eleven Marvel titles in 1988. The first story in each annual was a tale about the High Evolutionary and his schemes to speed up the evolution of the world. The last section of each annual depicts one part of a larger story chronicling the origin of the High Evolutionary.

1st story:
While getting increasingly stronger, Beast’s intelligence has been rapidly draining away since being poisoned by Pestilence in X-Factor #19.

This issue was published the same month as X-Factor #31, during which Beast transforms back into his blue, furry form and regains his extraordinary intelligence. This issue obviously takes place before that one, chronologically.

Apocalypse is not Ship’s creator. Ship was originally created by the Celestials and left on Earth to monitor humanity. Apocalypse stole the sentient craft from another immortal named Saul almost a thousand years ago. This story is depicted in X-Force #37.

Apocalypse attacked New York City and destroyed the Empire State Building in X-Factor #25. X-Factor commandeered Ship at the end of that same issue.

Jean has not had access to her telepathy since her recovery from the bay in Fantastic Four #286. While they briefly return for this issue, Jean does not fully regain access to them until much later in X-Factor #65.

The X-Men visited an ancient, underground, alien civilization in X-Men #41. While there, they encountered Grotesk, a remnant of the first incarnation of the Subterraneans.

The Moloids were introduced in Fantastic Four #22.

No explanation is given in this issue for how Apocalypse and the High Evolutionary manage to carry on a conversation while floating through the vacuum of space.

The Evolutionary War crossover continues in Punisher Annual #1.

2nd story:
This story mainly existed to serve as “an unabashed plug” for the X-Terminators series. That four-part series stars Rusty, Skids, Boom-Boom, Rictor, Artie and Leech, and depicts their adventures after their time with X-Factor.

Despite Rusty’s comment that they will be attending Exeter, none of the teenagers end up going there. Artie and Leech are sent to the St. Simons school, Boom-Boom, Rictor and Skids go to the Philips Academy, and Rusty re-joins the navy.

For in-depth histories of Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, and Jean Grey, see the Spotlight On section of this website.

3rd story:
Jonathan Drew is the father of Jessica Drew, also known as Spider-Woman.

Some of the geneticists attending the conference eventually become super-villains. Wladyslav Shinsky later became a member of the Enclave, an elite group of scientists who sought to rule the world. After joining the Nazi party, Arnim Zola also became a notorious super-villain as well.

There is some speculation about the identity of the mysterious man who gives the genetic blueprint to Jason. While some believe the giver to be Phaeder of the Inhumans, other fans speculate that the man was in fact Mr. Sinister, seeking to further his machinations by accelerating the work of another geneticist. For a more in-depth analysis of this theory, see the “Sinister Observations” article in the Bring on the Bad Guys section of this website.

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