X-Factor #18 (1987, July)
The team gets back to the HQ, and are greeted by Rusty and Skids, and Hodge, who makes Rictor nervous. Skids and Rusty call themselves “the Team Supreme,” which is, just such a cliche. Everyone in comics declares themselves “the Team Supreme.” Regardless, they thaw Iceman out, and Iceman immediately passes out. And Scott makes a snide comment about rising from ashes being Jean’s thing. After the adults leave, Rusty and Skids start to make out, but Skids stops it when she thinks about Scott and Jean: They fell in love as teens, and they still love each other, but things have gone really bad between them. I actually kinda love seeing the situation explained here:
Anyway, they go tell Hank about the weird things that have been going on, then chat with Rictor. The next morning, during a training session, Rusty talks to Scott about his feelings for Skids, and asks what it was like for Scott and Jean. Scott says they were being trained as Xavier’s soldiers, and romance would have been frowned on; at least, that’s what Scott thought at the time, though he admits he may have used it as an excuse to avoid getting close. He then talks about the New Mexico butte where they totally had sex, back in X-Men #132. Scott then remembers it was Phoenix that happened with, and he seems very confused about it all. Jean happened to be outside the room, listening, while telekinetically carrying a bed. As one does. Hodge watches the scene with amusement.
Scott goes to talk to Hodge about the PR campaign, and the way it’s promoting fear of mutants. Hodge says things are going well, and takes him into the training room, where Beast is training Rictor. While they watch the session, Hodge says Scott’s just irrational from grief over losing his wife, and also mentions how crazy it is that Scott’s fallen in love with three women who all look exactly alike. Rictor ends up freaking out and running out of the room, followed by Scott. Hodge asks Beast to look for Boom-Boom, and Iceman says he and Caliban are going, too, and they’re going to look for her as mutants. And also tells Hodge to sit on a tack. Woo, strong words there, Bobby. You dork.
When Scott talks to Rictor, Rictor says that Hodge’s voice reminds him of the voice of the Right’s leader. Jean comes in and thinks Scott is scaring Rictor and yells at him, and he yells right back. She goes looking for Scott. He’s in his office, accessing the computer files on Hodge. And Phoenix comes out of the monitor and talks to him. Jean comes in while he yells at Phoenix, and he’s really, really freaking out. She hurls him back, and a fight begins, with Scott saying he loves her while trying to shoot her. Dude. Talk about mixed messages. Anyway, they talk about their feelings while trying to kill each other. Because that’s just what the X-Men do.
In the end, Scott tries to prove that Jean is really Phoenix, by taking his visor off so she can block his eyebeams. Lucky for him, that’s right when Leech shows up. Otherwise, he would’ve killed her. It turns out, the Phoenix that came out of the computer was a hologram. Scott realizes Hodge set it up. I want to point out that Scott’s been hallucinating since Alaska, so he’s still pretty clearly not mentally healthy. But luckily, his hallucinations do stop here. By the way, I do love that, with the office all smashed up, the computer somehow managed to avoid getting damaged. The ceiling’s caved in, but the computer works fine. It didn’t even lose power! Very convenient.
And then we end on Apocalypse’s ship, with a man with blond eyebrows asking why Apocalypse saved him, and Apocalypse promises to give him the power to get revenge on those who wronged him. He agrees, in order to be able to fly again. I wonder who it could be!
This was such a melodramatic issue, and I kinda love it for that. I can’t really say it’s a good issue. It’s just so over-the-top. But that makes it so much fun. The Scott/Jean stuff is absolutely ridiculously melodramatic, with them shouting about their feelings while trying to beat each other up. It’s hilarious. “You can trust me!” *ZAPT!* *CRASH!* Real trust-worthy, Scott. He really is messed-up in this period. Like, we’re supposed to think it’s all Hodge’s fault that he’s the way he is. But there’s no indication that Hodge was responsible for Scott’s earlier hallucinations. Hodge is taking advantage of Scott’s fragile state of mind, but Scott’s been pretty clearly messed up for the entire run of X-Factor, and Maddie’s seeming-death only made it worse.
The rest of the issue’s OK. We get more hints about Hodge, with Rictor’s comments suggesting that Hodge might be the leader of the Right. Which he is, of course. The Rusty/Skids scene was meh – they’re characters I have trouble caring that much about. They’re pretty generic. They tend to be very one-note characters, there as much to exposit on other characters as anything else. And, of course, we find out what’s happened to Angel. It’s pretty clear that the character on the last page is Warren. No one reading this title was ever going to wonder who it was.
The art is fine. I’m not a big fan of Walter Simonson’s art style. He does fine work here, it’s just not a style I’m big into. Some expressions seem a bit odd at times, but for the most part, it’s good work, just not for me.
Overall, this was a fun issue.