X-Factor #17 (1987, June)
It starts with Thor returning Iceman to X-Factor HQ, which we saw already in Thor’s own series. Beast rushes up to help him, and Iceman notices Beast wearing a suit, and asks if he’s going to a funeral. Beast tells him about Angel dying. Iceman gets Rusty to thaw him out so he can go to the funeral, and Skids also shows that she can turn off her force field now. Iceman really did miss a lot in the past two issues, didn’t he?
The funeral is a circus, with pro-mutant and anti-mutant demonstrators, along with riot troops. Scott notes the X-Men aren’t there, and this panel just cracks me up.
I just love it. Jean’s matter-of-fact comment about them sometimes going into space (they’re actually in Scotland, which is close enough, right?), followed by Scott’s glorious angst. I’m sure it’s meant to be really serious, but it’s just so over-the-top that it makes me laugh. Anyway, X-Factor is confronted by Trish Tilby, who starts asking about Worthington’s “brutal” advertising campaign, which pisses Bobby off. She’s not wrong, though, and even Bobby hated the ads. Regardless, he starts losing control of his power, until Caliban and Leech get close enough to turn it off. Hodge takes over the interview to talk about mutants being dangerous.
Later, back at the X-Factor HQ, Hodge answers a call from the Governor of California about mutant terrorists, led by someone named Rictor, threatening to destroy San Francisco. And I guess the West Coast Avengers were busy or something? I mean, you’d think the superhero team who’s just down the coast a bit would make more sense to call in than some guys on the other side of the country. But who am I to judge the Governor? X-Factor decides to go, with Rusty suggesting they all go as themselves, as the “X-Terminators,” as a way of showing some positive mutant images. Which makes sense. Good thinking, Rusty.
Boom-Boom and Skids head to the roof to tell Scott, and find him talking to himself. Rather, he’s first talking to Angel, then Maddie. He seems to be losing it, having hallucinations still. Boom-Boom goes to tell Bobby what she saw, while Jean talks to Scott and says they need his help in the mission. Someone is watching them, saying he’ll destroy them. I wonder who it is? We see Boom-Boom tell Beast and Iceman about Scott, but sadly, it’s not the same scene we saw in Fallen Angels. The Fallen Angels scene is way better. Just the same, they chase her into the broom closet that Ariel picked her up from.
They fly out to San Francisco, and they even give Caliban an X-Terminators costume. Aw, that’s nice. They accept Caliban as part of the team! Back at HQ, Rusty wonders where Boom-Boom went, and Skids suggests she was kidnapped by aliens. Heh, cute. They also eavesdrop on Hodge talking on the phone, and it sounds suspicious.
X-Factor finds what they’re looking for, and learn their opponents are The Right. We’ll see more of them. The building that Rictor is in starts to tremble. They find Rictor, who’s just a scared kid hooked up to some machines. Iceman gets fed up with mutants wreaking destruction, and he freezes the entire building. They free Rictor and get back to the helicopter, but Rictor’s still shaking badly. The Right’s building collapses, then Rictor passes out, thanks to Jean telekinetically stopping the flow of blood to his brain for a moment. That’s a pretty neat application of her powers, actually. It’s not something I can recall her doing again. A forgotten trick, I guess, but it’s one that makes sense. And also, man, she can be dangerous.
Also, Scott’s still crazy. He says she did things she shouldn’t have been able to do, and he knows it must have cost to reveal herself. Oh, Scott, you’re so crazy. Iceman’s also a little crazy, getting pissed at the Right for making him think Rictor was his enemy. So things are great! The police are chasing them, and Iceman decides to use the helicopter’s loudspeaker to tell everyone what actually happened, and that most mutants are good.
And the mysterious villain from earlier is annoyed at Iceman’s speech being broadcast over the news. And it turns out it’s Cameron Hodge! Who could have predicted!
This issue is . . . it’s not a great issue, but it’s still fun. It’s actually really, really cheesy, which is why it’s so fun. Everyone is so over-the-top with their angst that it’s impossible to take it seriously. X-Plain the X-Men described X-Factor as a book where Everything Is Awful For Everyone Forever, and yep, that’s about right. Scott’s having hallucinations and is still in the middle of a breakdown, and now, he’s convinced that Jean is Phoenix. (Hilariously, later retcons would show he was right. Jean is Phoenix, Phoenix is Jean, they are one and connected always. So even when he’s wrong, Cyclops Was Right.) Plus, there’s his self-loathing. Always fun. And now Iceman’s getting a little crazy, too. His power is out of control, and here, we see it apparently affecting his mental state. He’s angry at all the mutants they’ve been fighting, all the Evil Mutants making mutants look bad, and it’s making him really aggressive. It’s fun.
And we also get confirmation that Hodge is a villain. I think most people suspected it from the start, because no one in PR is a good guy. It’s an industry of villains. Or so I’ve heard. Regardless, he’s been getting progressively more suspicious for a while, and now, we see that he really is a bad guy who plans on destroying X-Factor.
The art is good. It’s Walter Simonson art. He’s not my favourite, but he’s good.
So, overall, a thoroughly enjoyable issue.