X-Factor #10 (1986, November)
More Massacre! By Louise and Walter Simonson, “Falling Angel!”
Some Morlocks are sitting around a fire, when one of them – Erg, who’s actually friends with Power Pack – hears gunfire. The others soon hear it, too. Jean and Angel fly Rusty back to X-Factor headquarters, while the other three search for Artie. A couple of the Morlocks run by them and trip. Harpoon hurts Beast, then Arclight collapses the ceiling to keep X-Factor back.
Skids follows Jean and Angel back to X-Factor HQ, and when she figures out where she is, she gets upset. Angel explains the whole thing to her, and Skids says it was a stupid idea. She’s right! It was! Back in the tunnels, Caliban, Leech and Artie are attacked by Sabretooth. Scott blasts Sabretooth, then X-Factor runs towards more screams, while Artie and Leech pull Caliban into a narrow pipe.
Trish is doing a news report about Angel backing X-Factor. Freedom Force leaked word, and Candy finds out about the report. She decides to go see him, since he’s going to need her help once he hears what happened. Back at X-Factor HQ, Angel sees the news report.
In the sewers, Blockbuster is about to kill Tarbaby and Ape. X-Factor tries to help, but Vertigo leaves them helpless, aside from Beast, who can deal with the vertigo well enough to kick her in the head. Artie leaves Leech’s side long enough to find out where X-Factor are, so he can bring his friends to them.
Back at HQ, Angel mopes about his secret being revealed, and Jean tries to comfort him but just makes herself cry. So they’re comforting each other about how screwed-up things are, just as Candy walks in. She says she’s tolerated his philandering, but she’s had enough. You go, girl! She also tells off Jean for ruining another relationship. Jean tells Angel to go after Candy while she goes after Scott, but Angel goes with Jean, instead.
Back in the tunnels, Plague makes Sabretooth sick. Harpoon is about to kill her, but gets knocked out by Apocalypse. He leaves with Plague, saying she’ll be his first Horseman – Pestilence.
X-Factor is ambushed by more of the Marauders – Arclight, Scrambler and Prism. I forgot that Prism can actually do something beyond be useless: He reflects Scott’s blast back at him. Then Jean smashes him against a wall. Because his main power really is to be useless, as will be seen any time he returns. Angel tells Jean to bring the others back to HQ, since they’re all injured, while he looks for Artie.
He finds Artie, but he also finds Vertigo, Blockbuster and Harpoon. He gets beat up and pinned to the wall. Yep, it’s that time!
This is a good issue. It’s really intense. The constant scene-shifting gets a little distracting at times. Simonson is balancing a lot of threads here, so there’s not a lot of time spent on each one. The main plot, of course, is X-Factor in the tunnels. This might actually be the least-interesting plot, as it’s basically just the same scene repeated over and over, of X-Factor getting into brief fights with various Marauders. The Marauders themselves get less chance to be really threatening, compared to UXM. UXM showed them killing. This issue is really just the results. So there’s a lot of dead bodies laying around. But still, the Marauders don’t come across as all that threatening in the fights.
The other big thread in this issue is Angel’s involvement with X-Factor no longer being a secret. This sets up a pretty major change down the line. An even bigger change is coming with Angel, of course – the end of this issue starts a major plot for the next little while. This issue also marks the end of the Jean/Angel flirtations, and it’s about damn time. It was nice to see Candy chew Angel out for his philandering. He deserved it. The ass. And, of course, we’ve got the Apocalypse plot, with him starting to recruit his Horsemen. Which will, of course, tie into the Angel plot. Spoiler alert, I suppose.
The writing is fine. Weezie was never a particularly strong writer – I’d say she was pretty well middle-of-the-deck for the time. Not one of the best, not one of the worst, just in the middle. Her biggest weaknesses, though, were pretty well standard to the time. Overwrought dialogue, heavy exposition, all the other things that make classic comics sometimes a chore to read through.
As for Walt’s art . . . It worked great on Thor. I’m a little less enamored of it here. It’s different from the normal art of the time. It’s unconventional. But it’s not a style I really enjoy. Still, personal tastes aside, he does a solid job here. I would’ve liked if maybe the colouring was a bit darker, but that’s not really Walt’s fault.
Overall, this is an OK issue, and it’s definitely an important one.
This issue actually dovetails a little into Thor #373, by Walter Simonson and Sal Buscema. Late in the issue, a frog tells him about some screams in the tunnels, so he goes to check it out. He finds Blockbuster and Harpoon pinning Angel to the wall. He chases them off, and is about to take Angel down when he hears footsteps, and gets ready for more fighting.
X-Factor also appears in Amazing Spider-Man #282, by Tom DeFalco and Rick Leonardi. JJJ sees a news report about X-Factor. It cuts to them training – Scott and Jean against the other three. Hodge calls them to tell them JJJ wants to hire them to catch Spider-Man. They agree to take the job. JJJ says he can’t lose – either they succeed and capture Spider-Man, or they fail and he exposes them as frauds. He doesn’t like the way they’re fueling anti-mutant sentiment. The moral crusader is actually my favourite version of JJJ – he does the same thing in the ’90s, during Operation: Zero Tolerance. Anyway, X-Factor finds Spider-Man, who’s suffering a concussion from a blow he took from Rhino, and they try to talk to him, but this is a superhero comic, so obviously they need to fight first. After he passes out, they decide to go back to JJJ and tell him they can’t take the case, since Spider-Man’s not a mutant. It’s a pretty decent story. It’s pretty generic, in the end. Heroes fighting each other over a misunderstanding was always really common. The best part was JJJ bad-mouthing X-Factor for being anti-mutant jerks.