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X-Factor #9 (1986, October)

September 14, 2015

I slept in pretty late today. Oh well. By Simonson and and Terry Shoemaker, “Spots!”

Spots!

I kinda like that Jean’s decided to just deck Mystique.

Rusty and Skids run away from Freedom Force. X-Factor is trying to find him, and run into a crowd. A cop thanks them for saving the city from radioactive mutants. Scott asks why the Avengers weren’t called about the Central Park battle, and the cop says he doesn’t trust muties, and sees no difference between mutants and other superheroes. Then they spot Magneto going into the Hellfire Club. They see his leadership of the X-Men as a betrayal of what Xavier held dear. This whole scene, of course, is the same we saw in UXM#210. I love that. It’s such a great little bit of coordination, a neat semi-crossover.

Skids is trying to get Rusty to the Morlock Alley, but Freedom Force catches up with them. Spider-Woman catches them with her psi-web. A crowd spots Freedom Force attacking Rusty and Skids, and thinks it’s dangerous mutants attacking harmless humans. A cop opens fire on them, and the gunfire attracts X-Factor. The crowd pelts Freedom Force with bottles and eggs. The distraction allows Rusty and Skids to sneak away. Jean covers Freedom Force with a force field, which gives Mystique a chance to pull out her badge and threaten to arrest everyone there.

Destiny tells Mystique where Rusty’s gone, but says she doesn’t know what’ll happen if they follow. All she sees is death. Trish Tilby asks X-Factor what they stand for. Beast tells her that her media hype is is building hysteria, and she points out she’s just reporting what they do, and asks if that’s bad, how much worse are their actions. Tilby’s clearly not a fan of X-Factor. There’s no rebuttal to her comments, so I guess we’re probably supposed to take her side now. Which I do. She’s right, Beast was wrong, and that pretty much defines their entire relationship over the years.

Back at X-Factor Headquarters, Artie is telepathically tracking what’s going on, and he’s scared of what’s going to happen. He decides he has to go warn Rusty. When X-Factor gets back, they find a drawing on the wall from Artie, explaining he’s gone into the tunnels. X-Factor heads into the tunnels, in their X-Terminator identities. While Artie’s down there, he bumps into Leech. The beginning of a wonderful friendship. Leech brings Artie to Caliban, and then they hear a scream.

It’s apparently come from Rusty, after he and Skids came across a dead body. Freedom Force finds them. X-Factor fights them. Destiny mentions that she’d seen a remote possibility of Cyclops turning to evil. Then the fight begins. Destiny tells Mystique that they have to leave immediately. Mystique orders a retreat.

Cyclops orders Angel and Jean to take Rusty back to HQ to treat his injuries, while the others look for Artie. They hear screams as mutants start to die.

Later on, Val Cooper yells at Freedom Force for failing to finger the flaming fugitive. I don’t use alliteration enough. It’s fun. Mystique decides to pay the X-Terminators back by finding out what Angel’s been up to and leaking the information to Trish. Oh, there’s big things coming.

This was pretty good. Once again, it suffers from knowledge of what’s about to happen. The story of Freedom Force trying to arrest Rusty just doesn’t seem so compelling when you know that the next issue is about the Mutant Massacre. This issue does have a little more of the blooming romance between Rusty and Skids – a cute little bit of young love. More important, it has the start of one of the great X-Men friendships: Leech and Artie! Those two have been inseparable ever since. They’re Bros For Life. True Friends. All that stuff. They’re great.

The art is fine. No complaints there. Shoemaker was a good artist, if an uninspiring one. He never really amazes with his work. Not an artist, I would think, that would fill writers with ideas. He just does a serviceable job drawing what he’s supposed to draw. Which is fine. Not every artist needs to be a genius.

All in all, this is pretty OK. The series has just about found its feet; the next couple issues are where it really lands.

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