X-Factor (1st series) #224

Issue Date: 
October 2011
Story Title: 

Peter David (writer), Emanuela Lupacchino (penciler), Guillermo Ortego (inker), Rachelle Rosenberg (colorist) VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), David Yardin (cover), Jordan D. White (assistant editor), Daniel Ketchum (editor), Nick Lowe (X-Men group editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Guido and Shatterstar (joined by the Fenris Wolf) delay the mystic creatures which are hunting Rahne and her soon to be born child, while Madrox and the rest of X-Factor scatter through the forest to get to her first. Madrox, however, is found by Werewolf by Night, who introduces himself by his human form of Jack Russell. He is on the scent trail of Rahne and suggests that they follow him. Meanwhile, Rahne is the captive of the youthful god Agamemnon, who has Rahne in his cabin’s basement, chained to a floor on which a pentagram is painted, all in preparation to take her baby when it is born. However, in twist of mysticism over biology, Rahne’s baby is born when she coughs the infant forth, nearly fully formed, as a hairball. Immediately conscious, independent and deadly, the godling wolf cub attacks and disembowels Agamemnon. In contrast to its ferocity, the infant wolf creature is horrified when he is rejected by his mother, Rahne. It moves to escape and finds the arriving Madrox and Banshee in its way. Instinctively, the cub attacks, only to be repelled out of the cabin by Banshee’s scream. The resulting howl of pain by the godling draws the attention of the nearby mystical creatures, all of which race toward their newly born quarry. It is Hela, however, who first finds Rahne’s child and prepares to accept the young creature into her embrace, when the rest of the mystic beings arrive. The ensuing collision creates an explosion which results in a gigantic crater, with seeming no one surviving. Unable to do more and assuming all parties dead, X-Factor departs with the shaken Rahne, who fully believes the whole ordeal has been her punishment. After they have departed, however, Jack Russell, who has stayed behind, finds the godling wolf cub and takes it into his care, all of which is watched by the spectral Feral.

Full Summary: 

Snarling through the teeth-filled jaws of her lupine form, Wolfsbane is chained to the floor in the center of a pentagram and surrounded by a circle of candles. Let her go, she grows through spittle, you son of a… Interrupting, the youth tells her “temper, temper” and reminds her that she is in labor. She should try to relax. When Rahne counters that she will kill him for this, the youth rejoins that better than she has tried. She doesn’t even know who or what he is. Rahne replies to this that it doesn’t matter, but the youth replies that it kind of does.

Gesticulating with a large knife, the youthful Agamemnon tells Rahne that here’s the thing. She hasn’t heard of him, but he thinks he’s heard of his half-sister. Tall? Death goddess? Has a thing for hats with antlers? Runs the place where Rahne’s lover is trapped? Reverting to her human form, Rahne whispers the name of Hela. When the youth confirms, Rahne asks if he’s working with her. With, he repeats inquisitively. No. See… there’s a war coming, a war in which her child is destined to be a major player. Asked why, the Agamemnon kneels next to her and replies that it’s the first child born of mutant and god. How could it not be? And, whoever controls the child… raises it in his own image… is going to win the war. What can he say? He likes to win.

Standing again, Agamemnon points his blade to Rahne’s chains and tells her that she won’t break them. They’re enchanted. They held Cerebus. They can hold her. To this, Rahne rejoins that Cerebus isn’t a mother fighting or her child. Before Agamemnon can respond, Rahne erupts in a scream, clutching at her chest. Seemingly nonchalant, Agamemnon asks “problems?” to which Rahne screams that her chest is on fire. Rubbing his chin in thought, Agamemnon quips that he hopes she’s not planning to go all “Aliens” on him. That would be messy. As her screams continue, Agamemnon returns to the stairs and states that he’d better go get some Clorox, just in case.

Meanwhile, in the woods, Madrox leads Longshot, Siryn and Rictor in their search for Rahne. Over his wireless headset, Madrox tells the scattered others that they need a “twenty” on Rahne. When a confused Longshot asks what that mean, Madrox explains that it means they need to know her location. To this, Longshot suggests that he just say that. Otherwise, it’s confusing. Irritated, Madrox begins to reply that it’s not confusing, only for Shatterstar to add his confusion, asking if Madrox wants to put money on Rahne. Giving up, Madrox tells them to never mind. Just find her.

As they continue to search, Madrox silently notes his frustrated. He’s got his dupes out all over and his team is dispersed… but there’s eighteen thousand acres of forest. They need an edge to… Suddenly, Madrox recoils in shock as a gigantic wolf-man erupts through the brush. Longshot immediately acts, tossing a handful of flechettes, but the wolfman deftly avoids them, even as he yells that he’s on their side. Before anyone can act further, Monet lands into the middle the situation, exclaiming that he’s right: he’s on their side. Shrugging at this, Longshot notes that, in his defense, it was a big, hairy, snarling monsters leaping out at them. Nine times out of ten, throwing knives is the right call.

Ignoring Longshot, Madrox points his finger at the werewolf and recalls that he’s the creature that attacked those things back at HQ. Yes, the werewolf replies, as he transforms back into his human form. The transformation completed, the man introduces himself as Jack Russell. Incredulous, Madrox asks “really?” Receiving a confirmation, Madrox asks if he’s serious, which earns an emphatic rebuke from Monet. They get it: he’s got the same name as a terrier and it’s all very Dickensian. Can they stay focused, please?

Agreeing, Madrox returns his attention to Jack and asks if he was indeed the one Rahne took off with. Yes, Jack replies, but now she’s gone and, unless they’re capable of following her scent, then it’s probably best if they stop chatting, so he can lead the way. And one further suggestion, Jack then adds. Even on his best days, reining in his beast is a challenge… so don’t piss off the werewolf. Transforming back into his lupine form for emphasis, the werewolf leaps into the brush, following Rahne’s scent.

As they prepare to follow, Banshee asks Monet where the others are – Guido and Shatterstar. They’re busy, Monet replies. This monster showed up, and then another, and then a few more, and, well… things kind of just went insane from there.

Elsewhere in the woods, Guido and Shatterstar are joined in battle by the Fenris Wolf. Together, they face against a pack of Cu Sith, the humanoid Cerebus warrior, Bastet, Okami & Kasha. Their mission is to make sure that nobody follows the rest of the team, so they have a clear shot at Rahne.

Back at X-Factor HQ in New York, Pip the Troll finds himself surprised by the Latin question “Quo vadis?” Startled, Pip turns to see Layla, who notes that he’s back from the excursion. He didn’t lead them all the way to Rahne, did he? Layla asks. She gets that. She thinks she even gets why. What she doesn’t understand is why he popped back there instead of just… well… anywhere he wanted.

Turning the tables, Pip asks Layla why is she there? Why didn’t she go with the team? Layla cryptically replies she didn’t because “he doesn’t,” to which Pip replies that that’s helpful. Layla presses again, asking why he didn’t leave but Pip but continues to obfuscate. Eventually, much to Pip’s confusion, Layla tells Pip she’s glad they had this talk. Asked if that’s what it was, Layla replies “close enough” and walks off.

Back in the basement of his cabin, Agamemnon kneels before Rahne, who is still chained to the floor. Just so she knows, he tells her, he’s not planning to sacrifice her or anything. The knife, he tells her, is just to cut the cord or, at worst, do a C-section. Of course, he doesn’t have anything to sew her back together but… Suddenly, Rahne transforms into the form of Wolfsbane, startling Agamemnon. The youthful godling asks what’s the matter but soon has his answer when Wolfsbane coughs up a gigantic hairball. “Wow,” the spectral Feral states, appearing from thin air and arms akimbo.

His attention focused on Wolfsbane, Agamemnon remarks that he should have seen this coming. The births of gods or even half-gods aren’t governed by mortal biology. And, after all… if Pallas Athena could be birthed fully formed from the head of Zeus… why not the offspring of a Norse god?

With wide-eyed horror, Wolfsbane watches as the freshly-regurgitated ball of fur unravels into an infant-looking but fully-formed and conscious humanoid wolf-cub, who eagerly surveys its new surroundings with intelligent, predator-like eyes.

Hello, Agamemnon addresses the new life before him. He knows this is all new and confusing to him, he tells the creature. He might as well listen closely, because he can’t leave that circle until he allows him t… Agamemnon halts in mid-sentence as the newborn creature leaps beyond the bounds of the pentagram and tears into the youthful god. Watching from a short distance away, the spectral Feral grins slightly. “First blood. What a trip, huh?”

Barely cognizant of what is transpiring, the once again human Rahne discovers her manacles suddenly pop open of their own accord. Weakly, she manages to lift her head enough to spy a stream of blood which has invaded the pentagram from the outside. Slowly, Rahne’s eyes follow the source of the stream and quickly finds her former captor face down in a pool of blood. Standing over the corpse, the diminutive form of a werewolf stands, upright on two legs, bloodstained fur and glowing eyes, staring deep at her.

Weakly at first, Rahne instructs the creature to get away from her but then follows it with an emphatic reiteration, waving away as she does so. Her head turned and her eyes closed, Rahne does not see that the creature countenance changes from that of resolute, deadly killer to that of an emotionally rejected child.

At that moment, the front door is kicked in by Madrox. Following him within, Banshee notes that the scream had to be Rahne. The “wolf guy” led them to right place. Madrox begins to instruct the team to spread out but his attention is soon drawn to the form of an infant werewolf leaping toward him. Though Madrox only has a moment to curse aloud, Banshee acts much more quickly and emits a sonic scream, the force of which not only stops the creature’s leap but propels him backward, through the roof of the cabin and into the night sky. As it ascends into the night, the lupine godling howls in pain, “ARROOOOOOOO.”

A distance away in the forest, the battle of mystical forces comes to a halt, as all harken the cries of their quary. “He… is born!” Fenris Wolf proclaims. As most of the mystical combatants rush off toward the direction of the howl, Guido asks Shatterstar if they should follow. Do what they want, the Cerebus warrior proclaims. They can all rot for all he cares. He’s going home. Hesitantly, Guido asks if he needs a lift or something but Cerebus replies that he’s fine, thanks. “Nice fighting you,” Shatterstar offers with a wave. “You too,” Cerebus replies.

Back in the cabin, Banshee has discovered the basement below and Rahne’s location within. She calls out for the others, noting that there’s blood everywhere. Asked from above if she’s okay, Banshee reports that she’s alive, but in a bad shape. She doesn’t think the blood is Rahne’s, though. And she’s alone.

Weakly, Rahne tries to correct Theresa, telling her about the boy, Agamemnon, but Banshee replies that there’s no boy there, just her. Tenderly, almost hesitantly, she then asks Rahne if her baby is all right, only for a teary-eyed Rahne to reply that that… creature… is no child o’hers. Immediately grasping the inference, Theresa swears to herself and claps her hands over her mouth. As Madrox races down the steps to join them, Theresa informs him that the creature that attacked him… he’s not going to believe this.

Back in the forest, the wolf-baby is feeding upon the carcass of a downed deer when a blinding green light erupts into being. A moment later, the light coalesces into the form of Hela, the Norse goddess of death. “My, my,” the goddess states at the godling. Noting the mess he’s made, she proclaims what a warrior he’ll become. Her poor, silly brother with his plans. As if there was a moment in all of this where she was fooled. His giving Pip the Talisman to elude her… his machinations… all plain to her. But, they indulge their siblings, she tells the godling, just as she will indulge him. Come to her arms, she then tells the infant. She will be as mother to him, and he will meet his father. Come to Hela.

Tentatively, the godling wolf crawls slowly to the open hands of Hela. Before the two unite, however, Hela detects movements from the distance and spies as the accumulated hosts of mystic creatures converge on her. Enraged, she yells for them all to stay back! He is hers! Within moments, however, they are upon her and the resulting mystic convergence erupts in a blinding explosion.

Later, Madrox is told by Shatterstar and Guido, who were flash-blinded by whatever hell energies which were unleashed, of the opening moments of the battle, as by the time he and the others arrived it was over. The only thing that remained was a gigantic, smoking crater. They described the “baby” leaping into Hela’s arms just when all those other creatures came crashing in. Different mystic figures all slamming into one mystic portal. Talk about when worlds collide… It was like matter meets ant-matter on a keg of dynamite the size of Delaware. They’re lucky, Madrox notes, the whole forest didn’t go up.

In the aftermath, Russell took off as well, as he’d done all he could. They got Rahne back and tried to tell her what happened, but she wouldn’t listen. She just kept saying the same thing, over and over. That she’d been judged… and this was her punishment… this was her punishment.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the forest, the very human Jack Russell comes upon a small cave and calls to a set of small, but wide and glowing eyes. He tells the small creature not to be scared. Got left behind, huh? In all the ruckus? It’s okay, he continues, speaking smoothly to the godling wolf cub. They’re going to be great friends, the two of them.

Tentatively, the godling reaches out to Russell’s outstretched hands. In short order, Russell is transformed into Werewolf by Night and clutches his infant ward to his furry neck. Speaking smoothly, the Werewolf tells the godling it’s okay. There’s no need to tremble. No one will ever hunt him… ever again… As the two walk off into the night, they are watched by the spectral Feral, who mocks that he just go right on believing that.

Characters Involved: 

Banshee II, M II, Multiple Man, Rictor, Shatterstar, Strong Guy, Wolfsbane (all X-Factor)
Pip the Troll

Jack Russell, “Werewolf by Night”
Rahne’s wolf cub

Feral (as a ghost)

Okami & Kasha
Cu Sith

Story Notes: 

The next issue is #224.1.
“Aliens” refers to the Aliens movie franchise, in which the eponymous extra-terrestrials erupt from the chest of the humans in which they had been incubating.

Clorox is a brand of bleach used for decades in cleaning.

“20” is actually an abbreviation of the shorthand “10-20,” which is itself part of the Ten-code (or ten-signal) code words, used in radio communication since the 1930s.

“Dickensian,” referring to famed 19th century author Charles Dickens, can be attributed to many characteristics. In this case, it most likely refers to Dickens tendency to give names to characters that in some way described their characterization.

“Quo vadis?” is Latin for “Where are you going?”

Pip the Troll was wearing a magic talisman which his him from Hela’s sight in X-Factor (1st series) #207. Hela’s reference to it here implies that it was given to him by Agamemnon to enable him ultimately get close to X-Factor (and thus Rahne), so that he could report back on her pregnancy. Thus, the mysterious “boss” of Pip’s has been Agamemnon, who might now not be as dead as he seemed in this issue, due to the disappearance of his corpse.
Agamemnon and Hela are both children of Loki.

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