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X-Factor #7 (1986, August)

August 17, 2015

I saw something today that angered me. All I’ll say is this: When an ambulance is coming, wait for it to pass before you start driving again. This is common sense, but apparently, some jackasses haven’t figured it out. Anyway, by Simonson and Guice, “Fall Out!”

Fall Out!

Iceman’s bridge is coming from X-Factor headquarters. Subtle, Iceman. Real subtle.

X-Factor sneaks back onto their plane. They hear a news report on the fight from last issue, with Tower saying they were defending themselves from X-Factor, the mutant hunters. One guy listening calls mutants monsters, another – a black guy – says mutants aren’t necessarily monsters. Jean and Iceman both say they want a chance to give their side of the story. Well, maybe you should do that by going public as mutants and going on TV. But nope, that won’t happen for a couple years. Because doing anything that makes a single goddam bit of sense for promoting civil rights just isn’t the X-Men way. Xavier taught them to hide who they are, so that’s just what they’re going to do!

Anyway. The plane. Jean doesn’t know what switch to throw to open the door, and Scott calls her Maddie. She asks who Maddie is, and Scott’s response is absolutely priceless: “She’s . . . someone who knows how to open a hatch!” Nice, Scott. Evasive and dickish at once. It’s like Scott goes out of his way to be an unlikable prick.

When they get home, they find their headquarters surrounded by demonstrations. They’re being covered by reporter Trish Tilbit. That’s not a typo – her last name was Tilbit in this first appearance. Obviously, it got changed to Tilby soon after. Anyway, there’s pro- and anti-mutant protests. Vera gets swarmed by journalists, being weird and trying to say mutants aren’t a threat. Beast interrupts to drag her away. Hodge goes out to make a statement to the press, beginning by mentioning X-Factor’s “alleged involvement” in mutant murders. Iceman thinks his wording makes them sound bad. And Scott decides he needs to find Maddie, by calling everyone he knows.

Over in a Jersey landfill – not to be mistaken for Jersey itself, though as I understand it, the confusion is understandable – a couple mutants are looking around for something. Some humans come by and start shooting at them. They run for cover, and we find out they’ve both contracted radiation poisoning that’s slowly killing them. They decide that, if they’re going to die anyway, they may as well take X-Factor down with them.

Scott’s unable to find Maddie, and decides he may as well tell Jean about her. Meanwhile, Jean is training with the other guys, with a game of tag. But she decides to make the game interesting by asking them some questions. She figures out that Scott married a woman named Maddie. Then she runs out crying. The truth has finally come out! Finally!

Down in the Morlock tunnels, Glow Worm and Bulk are asked by Skids to leave. It’s Skids! I like Skids. It’s a shame she’s spent so much of the past 25 years in limbo. She shows up now and then. She was in the Mutant Liberation Front for a little while, she joined Apocalypse after M-Day, she worked for SHIELD briefly. It’d be nice to see someone bring her back. But that could be said about a lot of characters. Anyway, Skids explains to the pair that her power makes things skid off her – Masque can’t change her, and their radiation can’t affect her.

The two attack X-Factor’s headquarters, and Angel comes up with an idea for how they can stop the pair without exposing themselves as frauds. Scott, Beast and Iceman use a secret passage to get out of their headquarters and come up behind the crowd. They join the other two mutants, with Beast shouting “X-Terminate X-Factor,” which Trish uses to dub them the X-Terminators. She paints them in a pretty positive light, actually.

The X-Terminators make a show of helping the pair, while actually hindering them. Then X-Factor comes out. Angel, Jean, Hodge, Vera and Rusty. The X-Terminators “flee.” After hamming it up. They try to encourage Glow Worm and Bulk to go to the school so they can learn to control their powers, “and pass as human.” And, see, this is the shit that bugs me so much about the X-Men of this era. Passing is not acceptance. A gay person shouldn’t have to “pass” as straight. A Latino person shouldn’t have to “pass” as white. That’s what the X-writers always seemed to struggle with. They thought that mutants “passing” as human was a goal for them to work towards. But no. No no no no no no no no no! That is a horrible goal to have! That’s the general problem, as well, with having Attractive White People making up the bulk of the X-Men. Nightcrawler was really the only mutant Xavier ever recruited who couldn’t pass for human. And Xavier gave him an image transducer to get around that. It suggests that Xavier’s goal wasn’t for mutants to be truly accepted, but for mutants – more specifically, for his mutants – to be able to pretend to be human. Xavier is the worst civil rights leader you could possibly ever imagine.

Anyway! Glow Worm mentions that they’ve been attacked a lot more since X-Factor came on the scene. Then Jean tells Scott they need to have a serious talk. Dun dun duuuun!

In the letters, someone asked if Rusty would join the New Mutants, and the editor said probably not. Shows what he knows! Rusty did briefly join the New Mutants, after Inferno.

This issue was pretty good. The irritating “secret marriage” subplot has finally been ended, and Jean knows that Scott’s married. There’s still going to be a confrontation about it, of course, but still. Scott’s going to stop being a lying douchebag! Finally! The following issues also end the Scott/Jean/Warren triangle, as Warren stops pursuing Jean. So there’s some developments I’m very glad for.

This issue also advances a little the subplot of X-Factor doing more harm than good. And we get the introduction of Skids! And Trish! I like both of them. Trish was always a cool character. Though I always felt her relationship with Beast was really weird. He was always kind of a dick to her. The main story of the issue, with Glow Worm and Bulk, is pretty so-so. They’re mediocre characters – Bulk is the generic Big Dumb Guy. Glow Worm is smarter, and has some personality. So he’s a better character. Still just a one-off character there to serve the plot. Nothing really special. X-Factor getting their X-Terminators code name was kinda neat, though it doesn’t end up getting used that much in the comic, due to upcoming circumstances.

In fact, while this isn’t the fault of the book itself, there is a story coming up that makes it feel like the series is killing time until that story. I’m pretty sure it’s not the case, but still, the excitement for that story kinda drags down the issues leading up to it. They fall a little flat just in comparison. Still, they’re good issues, and a big improvement over Layton’s run.

The art was good, once again. Guice does fine work. This isn’t as good as his New Mutants issue. The expressions aren’t quite as telling, the backgrounds not as rich. His work on X-Factor was never his best. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just not as good as he was capable of.

Just the same, overall, this was a pretty good issue.

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