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X-Factor #3 (1986, April)

June 29, 2015

So there’s been a lot of Marvel books announced today. Like, a lot. I’ll share my thoughts on them tomorrow. For today, by Layton and Guice, “Regression Obsession.”

Regression Obsession

I’m sure Beast being completely wrapped-up so we can’t see what he looks like doesn’t mean anything.

Beast is still alive, with big splotches covering his fur. Maddicks leaves him to make sure he doesn’t get discovered before he can cure his son, Arthur. He goes to see Arthur, and gets a run-down of last issue, with X-Factor fighting him. Maddicks gets Artie to put a mental lock on Tower before he can reveal anything.

Tower tells X-Factor if they want any information out of him, they’ll need to let him walk away. They agree, but Tower freezes up before he can say anything. Maddicks gives Beast a final injection, and the Beast’s screams distract Artie so the mind-lock is broken. Tower tells X-Factor what he knows, then leaves. Jean tries to get him to join them and be a hero, but he laughs her off.

Back in New York, at X-Factor HQ, Vera asks Hodge if he’s heard anything from the team. The conversation is interrupted by a visitor, Senator Thompson, who’s come to tell Hodge that X-Factor may be doing more harm than good. At Ryan Labs, Beast is wrapped head-to-toe in bandages, and Artie establishes a mindlink with him, and feels intense pain.

Outside, the team splits up in two teams. Scott and Angel, Jean and Iceman. Jean and Iceman come across an electric fence, and Jean gets them past by ripping it out of the ground without breaking the connections. She admits later in the issue that she was just showing off. Angel and Scott fly to a roof, and Angel tries to talk to him about Maddie. Because breaking into a lab is the perfect time for that conversation. Scott says Maddie moved out, and then they’re attacked by guards in fancy armour. Back outside, Jean levitates herself and Iceman over some ground sensors, but Artie senses them and lets his dad know.

Maddicks is packing up his lab, so he can continue his work somewhere else. He adds there’s one last phase left to the experiment on Beast. Jean and Iceman get open a door, but set off alarms. Scott and Angel run from the guards and reach an elevator. It stops halfway down, and then gas is leaked in. Jean and Iceman have also reached an elevator shaft, but there’s no elevator, so Jean just shoves Iceman in and jumps after him. Iceman seems to have forgotten she could levitate them, even though she did it just a few minutes earlier. Iceman is an idiot.

The four regroup, and Scott prepares to blast through the wall to the lab. Inside, Maddicks is trying to get Artie to wait in the escape tunnel, but Artie refuses to leave Beast. Maddicks admits he’s done some bad things, but only because he wants his son to be normal again. X-Factor busts in, and finds Beast in bad shape. Maddicks explains he’s made Beast human again, and then explains why. Flashback time!

He worked at Brand as a spy for the Secret Empire. They shot him, but he survived. He started a new life, rejoined by his son. When Artie turned 11, his mutant gene activated, and disfigured him and left him mute. Artie lets his dad know the guards have arrived, and Maddicks says they’ll have shoot-to-kill orders. He tells X-Factor to take his son and leave through the escape tunnel while he delays the guards. He takes out a gun, and gets shot to death.

The next day, Scott is angsting about the Maddie/Jean situation. He wonders if telling Jean the truth will make him lose her. She comes in demanding to talk. She says she loves him and wants things back to how they were, but that she can handle bad news. Before Scott can tell her the truth, they’re summoned to the Med-Lab. Because dragging this plot point out as long as possible was inevitable. Beast has woken up, and the bandages are removed. He’s back to his human look, more or less, but with blue hair.

And so, Beast is back to his ’60s look. I’m pretty this story was done purely because Layton was trying to get things back to how they were in the ’60s as much as he possibly could. If Claremont didn’t already have dibs on Xavier, I’m sure Layton would’ve brought him in to X-Factor. That aside, this is a pretty good issue. It’s mostly action-oriented, and the characters do well there. Iceman comes across as an idiot, but oh well. The Maddicks story is actually done fairly well. He clearly loves his son and wants to help him, but he’s still a bit of a dick. He knows he’s a dick, and when pushed, he admits it, but he still believes he’s doing the right thing. He’s got some nuance. There’s also the scene where the Senator says X-Factor is a dangerous idea, which was good. Layton doesn’t last long enough on the title to really explore how terrible an idea it was, but at least he sets the seeds.

Guice’s art is nice. He does a pretty good job with the action, and a pretty good job with the quieter scenes. It’s largely conventional art, but done well.

This was probably the best issue of X-Factor so well.

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