Matters of life and death
- With Jamie back, Siryn decided to quit X-Factor and move to her father’s castle in Ireland. M joined her in the hopes of helping her through her recent traumas.
- Shatterstar decided to stay with Rictor and joined X-Factor.
- The team moved from Detroit back to New York
- The Fantastic Four fought a number of alternate versions of themselves summoned by the Marquis of Death. They believed that they had all been dealt with. [Fantastic Four (1st series) #568-569]
At their new base in New York, Jamie and some of the team met with Franklin and Valeria Richards, the children of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman of the Fantastic Four. They claimed their mother was missing and their father was involved. After a bit of persuasion, Jamie decided to look into it and went to the Baxter Building with Rictor, Strong Guy and Shatterstar. There they found Reed acting rather hostile and the Thing even started a fight with Strong Guy and Shatterstar. Using the fight as a distraction, Rictor slipped off and found a bobby pin belonging to the Invisible Women. The team left, but secretly assured the children they are still on the case.
Back at base, M returned after leaving to help Siryn, as she was hoping that Jamie could get her friend through her depression. Val Cooper tracked her down and informed her that her father had been captured by terrorists and they wanted M in return for his freedom.
Back in New York, Jamie and his group returned to base and had Longshot use his powers on the bobby pin to learn that the Invisible Woman took the Fantasticar to Latveria. In Longshot’s vision, he saw the adult Layla Miller, who communicated with him via the vision, giving him a cryptic clue about the case. The team decided to go to Latveria and used Shatterstar’s power to open a portal to do so. Before they could depart, the Thing arrived looking for a rematch with Strong Guy, but he was knocked through the portal along with M. Strong Guy stayed behind in New York as the rest of the group split up in Latveria to sort the situation out. Jamie’s group followed Layla’s previous hints and discovered Mr. Fantastic trapped in a coffin in a graveyard. He told them the Reed Richards in New York was an alternate reality version inhabited by the mind of an alternate Doctor Doom.
In New York, the Richards children got into a fight with their “father” and escaped to X-Factor’s base, only to find Strong Guy there. Reed showed up and a fight broke out between him and Strong Guy.
In Latveria, M’s team stormed Castle Doom and discovered the Invisible Woman trapped in an illusion. After M used her telepathy to break her out, they went to confront Doom, but were shocked to find Layla Miller with him. After Jamie’s team arrived and explained the situation, Doom told him he had actually saved the Invisible Woman from the clutches of her alternate husband. He then let everyone go, after which Shatterstar opened a portal up to home. Back in New York, though, Strong Guy was still fighting the alternate Reed and punched him so hard that the doppelganger’s head stretched through the portal, just as Layla tricked Shatterstar into closing it early.
In Ireland, Siryn was still mourning the loss of her child and had finally came to terms that her father was dead too when she was visited by John Maddox. Initially, she acted hostile towards him because he was a dupe of Jamie, however after a long talk she began to work through some of the feelings she has been bottling up inside her. [X-Factor (1st series) #200-202]
- The Sentinel-human hybrid known as Bastion had been working behind the scenes to set up the destruction of the mutant race. Using a modified techno-organic virus, he had resurrected a number of influential anti-mutant humans to aid him.
- Layla and Shatterstar remained with Doctor Doom for a short while.
M and Strong Guy travelled to a remote jungle where her father was being held prisoner. Unfortunately, their plane was shot down before it could land and the two were separated. Unable to find M, Strong Guy asked a local drug lord for help and was pointed in the direction of a nearby, ancient temple. After fighting off some Mindless Ones used as guards, Strong Guy found M and her father at the mercy of Baron Mordo. The sorcerer had developed cancer and was using M’s unique physiology to syphon energy off of her to heal himself. Strong Guy fought Mordo but, when the fight spilled out into the jungle, they were shot at by some soldiers.
In New York, X-Factor was approached by the Absorbing Man, who believed his wife, Titania, was cheating on him and he needed proof. After tailing her to a remote cabin, the jeep they were driving was targeted by a group of soldiers. Fortunately, Longshot had gotten a reading off a wad of money the Absorbing Man gave them and had realized they were walking into a trap. Using Darwin and some holograms, they fooled the soldiers but, when Darwin was almost crushed to death, his powers teleported him back to the safe house the rest of X-Factor were using. Jamie knew that Bolivar Trask and Bastion were now after them, so they decided upon laying low until they could figure things out.
In Ireland, Theresa, now going by the name Banshee in honor of her father, was about to board a flight back to America when she was apprehended by some men. After a short fight, she was knocked out, and would have been killed had Shatterstar and Layla not appeared and saved her. The trio were chased by some of Trask’s soldiers but teleported back to Jamie’s safe house before they were shot.
Back in the jungle, Baron Mordo and Strong Guy managed to get back into the temple before they were both killed by the soldiers. Despite Mordo’s actions, M agreed to let him drain her again if he got them out of there and back to X-Factor. Mordo managed to teleport them away before the temple was destroyed and they too also arrived at Jamie’s safe house.
The reassembled team didn’t have time to celebrate though, as Trask’s men had found them and they were forced to fight for their lives. Trask himself entered the fray but, when M used her telepathy on him, Bastion’s hold was briefly broken. Trask killed himself before Bastion could control him again and the soldiers were defeated. Afterwards, Layla and Banshee both rejoined the team. [X-Factor (1st series) #203-206]
- Wolfsbane joined Cyclops’s secret X-Force team in the hopes of finding her father, who had joined the Purifiers. Instead, she was brainwashed into ripping Archangel’s wings off by the hate group. Later on, when her father was about to kill her, the brainwashing accidentally triggered again and she killed and literally devoured him. Afterwards, she met up with her former love interest, the Asgardian wolf-prince Hrimhari, and the two entered a relationship. She became pregnant with his child but, due to it being half-mutant and half-Asgardian, she suffered complications. Hrimhari sacrificed his life to the Asgardian goddess of death, Hela, in return for healing Wolfsbane. X-Force eventually disbanded as the traumatic nature of their missions had taken its toll. [X-Force (3rd series) #1-28]
- The X-Men had relocated from Westchester to San Francisco, where they had set up base on the island of Utopia.
Cyclops invited the X-Men to Utopia in a bid to mend relations between the two groups. Whilst Madrox talked with Cyclops, the rest of X-Factor reconnected with their former acquaintances & teammates. Rictor was somewhat put out by Shatterstar’s obvious flirtation with Boom Boom, and Longshot spent his time in bed with his ex-wife Dazzler. [X-Factor – Nation X]
Back in New York, a mysterious woman hired X-Factor to locate a pendant that had been stolen off her. Madrox and Banshee tracked the thief down to a bar and, when they forcibly took the pendant off him, discovered it allowed him to disguise his real form. The handsome thief turned into Pip the Troll and, despite him trying to escape, the mysterious woman showed up to claim her pendant. After captured Pip, the woman revealed herself to be Hela, the Asgardian goddess of death. She then teleported them both away before Madrox could stop her.
Back at the jungle temple, despite Baron Mordo’s evil nature, M still vowed to go through with her promise of letting him syphon energy off her to heal him. The others were against the idea but M remained adamant, until Layla slyly manipulated her into using her telepathy to make Mordo think he had been healed.
Meanwhile, Rictor was having issues with Shatterstar and the fact that his extra-dimensional boyfriend didn’t quite understand the concept of monogamy. They managed to sort out their problem but, just as they were about to get intimate, a heavily pregnant Wolfsbane walked in on them. Seeing red, Wolfsbane turned into her wolf-form and attacked Shatterstar. After eventually calming down, she learned about their relationship and lied to Rictor that the baby she was carrying was his. [X-Factor (1st series) #207-208]
Deciding to go save Pip from Hela’s wrath, the team travelled to Las Vegas in a bid to find her. Thanks to a bit of luck from Longshot, the team bumped into Jane Foster, who gave them an idea on how to locate Hela. Longshot’s luck came in use once more as he used it to win big at the casinos in a bid to draw attention to themselves. The plan worked but Hela sent an army of undead Asgardian soldiers to take care of them. The team was in trouble until the arrival of Thor, who having been tipped off by Jane now helped turn the tide of the battle. With Thor’s aid, they found the entrance to Hela’s lair and met with the goddess herself.
After a tense confrontation, she decided to let the team leave with Pip, but revealed that they would have to fight the entire army of the undead if they wanted to leave her realm. Shatterstar leapt into battle and was shocked to meet with Hrimhari, who could smell Wolfsbane on him. During their fight, Hrimhari let slip that her baby was his but, before he could explain, he was knocked out by Banshee. Hela proved a deadlier foe and would have killed Madrox, had Darwin not intercepted. Using his evolution powers, he absorbed Hela’s death power and it changed him enough so that he could strike down the goddess. He then turned her undead army on her, buying enough time for the team to escape her lair. Despite seemingly reverting to normal, Darwin still possessed some of Hela’s power. [X-Factor (1st series) #209, 211-212]
Whilst the rest of the team was in Vegas, Rictor and Wolfsbane went to the doctor to get an ultrasound of the baby. However, when the doctor tried to use the machine, they discovered that the mystical nature of the baby stopped them from seeing it on the screen. This piqued Rictor’s curiosity about the baby but Wolfsbane remained elusive with her answers.
Meanwhile, M was approached by a woman called Noelle, who wanted M to use her telepathy to lessen some of the traumatic memories in her head. M agreed and the procedure was a success, although afterwards she couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right. [X-Factor (1st series) #210]
In Vegas, Darwin was struggling with the after-effects of his fight with Hela. Deciding that he needed some time to sort his head out, he left the team. In the team’s hotel room, Banshee told Madrox off for letting Darwin go so easily, but their argument was interrupted by the arrival of Pip, who decided he would join X-Factor, as he owed them a debt. They tried to ditch him by teleporting back to base but didn’t realize he could also teleport and Pip caught up with them. Once they got inside, they found an inebriated Rictor, who had gotten drunk after realizing Wolfsbane’s baby wasn’t his. Shatterstar and Layla convinced him to find Wolfsbane and sort things out before anything bad happened. He caught up with her and forgave her for lying, whilst also declaring he would still be there for her and the child. Later on, as Pip settled into his new role as X-Factor’s receptionist, he received a call from a mysterious person who made it clear that Pip was still working for them. [X-Factor (1st series) #213]
Madrox and Layla meet with a woman who claimed her father was murdered by her stepmother. Despite all the clues pointing to a vampire attack, they took on the case and quizzed the various parties. During the investigation, one of Madrox’s dupes proposed to Layla and she happily accepted, although Madrox Prime denied it was a real proposal. As it turned out, the client had actually killed her father because she had been possessed by an Ethiopian version of a succubus. Layla managed to exorcise the demon from the client by using magic she learned from her stay with Doctor Doom. Afterwards, Madrox proposed to Layla for real but she told him she was not sure and walked away. [X-Factor (1st series) #215]
The team received a visit from the mayor of New York, J. Jonah Jameson, who wanted to hire the team to look into the murder of a friend of his. Not wishing to get on the bad side of the city’s mayor, the team had little choice but to agree and split up to look into it. Madrox, Longshot, Shatterstar and Rictor went to the scene of the murder to find some clues. Using Longshot’s psychometry, they got a good look at the murderer and composed an image of her. Meanwhile, M, Strong Guy and Banshee escorted Jameson to a protest rally, as they believed he might be a target. Sure enough, the woman who murdered his friend showed up and confronted him. Before the team could stop her, she used her superhuman power to fire bullets out of her hand. Strong Guy stepped in the way, as he expected his powers to protect himself, but the bullet punched through his skin. To her horror, M recognized the shooter as Noelle, the woman whose memories she messed with a few days before. Noelle continued to shoot at Jameson but, after being blasted away by Banshee, she made her escape.
M flew Strong Guy to the nearest hospital for medical attention. Unfortunately, when the rest of the team assembled after hearing the news, they were informed by the doctor who had worked on Strong Guy that he had died. A few moments later, however, the doctor received a page and rushed to Strong Guy’s room, discovering he was alive. When the team went to see him, they found him not only alive and well but that his wound had completely healed, much to the astonishment of the doctor. No one was aware that it had been Layla who brought Strong Guy back to life using her mutant powers.
As Strong Guy recovered in the hospital, M went on the warpath to try and figure out what was going on. Along with Banshee and Madrox, she cornered Jameson and forced him to reveal the truth about his connection with the murdered man. It turned out that the two of them, along with a doctor, had been part of a secret project to create cybernetic super soldiers. Noelle, along with two other women, were the test subjects and the process has seriously affected their personalities. The women were mind-wiped and placed back into society, until Monet had inadvertently undone Noelle’s conditioning. Realizing that the doctor was also a target, the team raced to his home and discovered Noelle and her gang about to kill him. With the help of the Black Cat, who had been looking into these events as well, the team fought the murderous women. Whilst her associates escaped, Noelle was captured by Monet, who used her telepathy to rip apart the woman’s mind, leaving her in a coma. [X-Factor (1st series) #216-219]
When Strong Guy was being discharged from the hospital, M went to escort him home. She immediately began to notice a change in his personality, as he seemed more carefree and even kissed her out the blue.
Wolfsbane and Shatterstar went for a walk and used the time alone to sort out the tension between them. They ended up at a church where they discovered the congregation had been slaughtered by a sin-eater demon. As the two fought the creature, it revealed it had come specifically to purify Wolfsbane. Though they defeated the demon, it escaped, leaving a cryptic message that this was the opening salvo of a much bigger battle.
The two were just about to leave the church when the ghost of Feral confronted them. She taunted Wolfsbane and claimed that she was acting as a GPS so that other supernatural creatures could find the woman. Sure enough, on the way back to base Wolfsbane was attacked by an Irish demon dog and the Egyptian god Bastet. Nevertheless, they made it back to their headquarters, where they discovered Layla had spent the morning warding the building from supernatural forces. She explained that the various supernatural creatures were after Rahne’s unborn child, as they could sense it held great power. M and Strong Guy arrived home and were ambushed by the numerous gods and demons surrounding the building. The rest of X-Factor rushed out to save them and, in the brawl, Wolfsbane was confronted by Jack Russell aka Werewolf-by-Night. He told her he was there to protect her and the two escaped in his car.
Madrox and the team set out trying to find Rahne and they tried to convince Pip to use his powers to locate her. Unbeknownst to them, he knew exactly what was going on, as he was working for one of the supernatural beings trying to find Rahne. At first he lied to them, claiming he was unable to find her, until Banshee used her hypnotic voice to convince him otherwise.
As Jack and Wolfsbane drove into the forests around New York, they were attacked by Cerberus, who managed to force their car off the road. The demon dog had been sent by Pip’s master and Jack was forced to fend it off himself while Wolfsbane fled on foot. The stress caused her to go into labor but, fortunately, she came across a young boy from a nearby cabin. She followed him to his home, where she discovered he was Agamemnon, the “half-brother” of the Asgardian goddess Hela. He chained Wolfsbane in the basement and awaited the birth in the hopes of claiming the child for himself. As opposed to giving birth traditionally, Wolfsbane ended up coughing the child up like a hairball. Due to its supernatural nature, the child had wolf-like features and was immediately able to walk upright and leap about. It attacked Agamemnon and killed him, much to the horror of Rahne.
In the forest, the numerous gods and demons had assembled and were fighting each other for the right to claim the child. The rest of X-Factor arrived and dove in, whilst Madrox and Banshee sought out Rahne. They entered the cabin, where they were immediately attacked by the child. Not knowing who it was, Banshee blasted it away, with her scream catapulting it far off into the woods where it was found by Hela. As she was about to teleport away with the child, she was attacked by X-Factor and the hordes of demonic creatures. Everyone but the X-Factor crew disappeared in an explosion that resulted in a blinding flash of light. As the team tried to figure out what happened, none of them was aware that the child had survived and was found by Jack Russell, who took the baby into his care. Believing the child gone, the team took the traumatized Wolfsbane back home. [X-Factor (1st series) #220-224]
The team took a contract in the town in which Madrox had been born. So whilst the rest of the team dealt with the mission, Madrox and Layla visited his old farm. There they discovered a mother and son, Sally and Terry, squatting in it. After having a long talk, Jamie gave them his blessing to remain in the house. In town, the team fought and killed a mysterious demon that had taken the form of an old woman. [X-Factor (1st series) #224.1]
- When Wiccan’s magical powers went out of control, the Young Avengers decided to track down his supposed-mother, the Scarlet Witch. After finding her in Transia, they discovered she had no memory of her past. However, when a series of events restored her memories, Wanda felt guilty over what she had done to the mutant race and decided to try and repower them. [Avengers: Children’s Crusdade #1-5]
In need of a guinea-pig to test out the Scarlet Witch’s plan to reverse the effects of M-Day, Rictor was called upon. Meeting with the Avengers and the Scarlet Witch, the plan was explained and, whilst the rest of his team disliked the idea, Rictor decided to give it a go. The Scarlet Witch used her magic and the effect was instantaneous; Rictor’s seismic powers had returned. Before she could use her power on the rest of the world’s depowered mutants, Doctor Doom showed up and stole the Scarlet Witch’s magic. X-Factor stood alongside the X-Men and the Avengers and, though the teams together defeated Doom, the Scarlet Witch now no longer possessed the ability to repower the rest of the mutant race. Madrox and the team walked away, giving the Scarlet Witch a blunt warning that she had better use what little powers she did have to make things right with those she had hurt. [Avengers: Children’s Crusade #6-9]
In the aftermath of recent events, the team’s moods were all over the place. Wolfsbane was distraught about the birth of her child, whereas Rictor was delighting in having his powers back. Shatterstar, meanwhile, was beginning to feel left out now that Rictor didn’t rely on him as much and Layla was trying to keep the fact she resurrected Strong Guy a secret from the rest of the team.
In the midst of all this, Madrox received a call from the police force of his old town informing him that Sally, the woman who was squatting in his old house, had been murdered. He took some of the team to the morgue to view the body but, when Longshot tried to use his powers on it, he couldn’t see anything. Even more surprising, Sally suddenly woke up and jumped off the table. Seemingly possessed by another entity, she attacked the team before leaving some cryptic messages for them and escaping.
Travelling to his old house again, the team found the remains of a fight scene, as well as more clues involving someone with the initials “B.B.” Longshot found a Screen Actor’s Guild card belonging to Sally’s ex-husband, who also happened to be the supervillain, Hangman. They tracked him down to Los Angeles and the team split up in a bid to locate him. Madrox was attacked by the Hangman and almost killed before someone let slip that Sally was dead. Hearing his ex had been killed caused the Hangman to stop and reveal he was being forced to work for a man named Bloodbath. They went to Bloodbath’s base at a movie studio and soon found the demon. Unfortunately, Bloodbath proved a powerful foe, taking control of the group’s souls. However, as Strong Guy no longer possessed a soul following his resurrection, he was immune to Bloodbath’s powers and he beat the demonic man to a pulp.
Nearly defeated, Bloodbath’s spirit jumped into the nearest dead body it could find, the corpse of one of Jamie’s dupes that had been killed during the battle, and with it stabbed Madrox Prime with a large sword. The team were devastated and they attacked Bloodbath with vengeance. However, every time they thought they had killed him, Bloodbath would just jump into another dead body. Monet soon realized that Strong Guy did not possess a soul and alerted everyone else to it. Layla was forced to admit her part in his resurrection and the team was immediately split on whether she should bring Madrox back too. Of more immediate concern was Bloodbath, who was still attacking them. However, he was eventually stopped by Layla, who had waited until he was in Madrox Prime’s body and then performed an exorcism, sending him to Hell. By now too much time had passed and Layla’s powers would not work on Madrox. He could not be brought back. [X-Factor (1st series) #224.1, 225-228]