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X-Factor #6 (1986, July)

August 9, 2015

I have nothing to say here. So, by Louise Simonson and Jackson Guice, “Apocalypse Now!”

Apocalypse Now!

That’s a really, really stupid cover.

The owner of the motel where X-Factor got their asses kicked is yelling at a cop, demanding protection from any mutants inside. Inside, Cyclops is pissed about what happened. He’s mad that Mike helped the Alliance. The others point out that they had his girlfriend, with Jean adding that no one who loves anyone could abandon them. Ooh, burn. Scott snaps that the Alliance never should’ve been able to sneak up on them, and Jean thinks he blames her for not being Phoenix. She angsts a bit about what the Phoenix did to her. She’s pissed about losing her telepathy, too, and at Scott for hiding something from her. Angel tells Scott to tell Jean the truth, and then Scott turns on him, saying his idea to form X-Factor was asinine. They finally decide they should probably leave, with Angel leaving a roll of cash behind to pay for the damage.

Elsewhere, Mike is being held captive by the Alliance. They want to know about X-Factor. He says he doesn’t know anything, and begs them to let his ex go. He says that the mutants chased off X-Factor – very nice of him to protect their secret. The Alliance figures maybe beating on his ex will get Mike to tell them more. He uses his power to put Stinger into overpowered mode, and she blows a hole in the roof.

Angel sees the explosion and flies off to check it out. Jean says something about him flying higher than he used to. I don’t know if this was meant to continue the Jean/Scott/Angel triangle, or what. Back at the house, the Alliance’s powers are out of control. Frenzy, of course, is just made stronger, and she threatens to kill Mike, but Apocalypse orders her to stand down. Frenzy is reluctant, so Apocalypse decks her. He also mentions that his power allows him to control his body, rearranging the molecules. And he mentions being centuries old. And, finally, he gives his motivation – survival of the fittest, though he doesn’t use that phrase just yet.

That night, X-Factor arrives at the house. Scott gives some quick orders, and then he talks about Maddie and the baby. He’s torn between Maddie and Jean. Part of him wants to go searching for Maddie and try to gain her forgiveness, the other part is angry when he sees Jean and Angel laughing together. Jean asks Angel about Scott again, and Angel wants to tell her about the marriage to Maddie, and also wants to bang her. He seems about to declare his love for her, but the Alliance interrupts. Beast smashes into a lab, and sees Mike in a chair that provides heroin to block his power, cutting it off when his power is needed. Apocalypse comes in and attacks, stretching around the room and turning his arms into hammers.

Scott and Iceman join Jean and Angel in fighting the Alliance, but the fight’s interrupted by the arrival of Apocalypse, with Mike, his ex and the unconscious Beast. Mike is forced to power-up the Alliance. His ex tries to run, but gets hit by one of Stinger’s blasts. Mike goes crazy, and overpowers everyone. Jean goes up against Stinger, blocking Stinger’s blasts, and Scott sees that the energy looks like a giant bird. Mike draws the energy back into himself, and almost kills himself until the heroin is re-injected.

With him down, X-Factor finishes off the Alliance, as Apocalypse takes his leave. X-Factor lets the Alliance run out to the arriving police, and stay with Mike while he dies.

Not bad. Simonson wraps up the plot Layton had set up with Mike. And in the process, she introduces one of the classic X-Men villains – one of the classic Marvel villains, really, even if he seldom deals with anyone outside the X-Men. He’s an instant classic villain, with a cool design, a neat power and a cool, simple motivation. It’s no wonder he caught on in a big way. And to think, Layton wanted to use the Owl. I still can’t get over that. We almost missed out on Apocalypse for the Owl.

Simonson is mostly just continuing on from what Layton had set up. It’s only her first issue, so it makes sense. Luckily, it doesn’t take her long at all to make this book her own. To start moving away from certain of Layton’s subplots – especially the Jean/Angel thing, which really annoyed me, because it just makes Angel look like a dick who’s cheating on a woman he loves for absolutely no damn reason at all other than “I had a crush on that girl in high school.” (Which is still better than trying to cheat on Candy with Dazzler, with the reason being “She’s hot.” Angel is just an ass.) Simonson does a lot with the book over the next couple years. One thing she does here is introduce some question of whether Jean is really separate from the Phoenix. Scott continually wonders, over the next while, if maybe Jean is actually Phoenix returned. It’s a somewhat interesting subplot. What makes it more fascinating is what other writers do with it years later – particularly Greg Pak, in Phoenix: Endsong, when he declares that Jean is the Phoenix, and the Phoenix is Jean.

The art here is good. Guice does a solid job with the action. It’s better than the past few issues had been, actually. It still gets a bit off at times. Some wrong-looking faces, that sort of thing. Guice actually doesn’t hang around much longer.

All in all, this is a solid start to Simonson’s run.

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