X-Factor #23 (1987, December)
The team sneaks into the science museum the kids were taken to. Beast grabs a guard and demands to know where the kids are, and the guy explodes. One hell of a Non-Disclosure Agreement the Right makes people sign. Beast gets pissed off. He mentions Bobby’s speech about judging mutants by their deeds – holy hell, Weezie was really proud of that bit, given it gets up practically every issue – and says that if it applies to humans then the Right are evil. Then he throws a desk through a door. Scott points out how stupid a move that was, and Beast says that, lately, when he uses his strength, it gets harder to think.
Below, Hodge is ranting to the kids about war between races, and mutants being slaves and tools to be exploited. He’s a bit of a dick. He’s notified about X-Factor’s arrival, and goes to deal with them, while the kids bemoan their situation, and try to think of a way out of it.
X-Factor gets led into a trap, as a box drops down around them. The walls are made of ruby quartz. Hodge shows up, and he and Scott run down a list of his crimes. X-Factor passes out, and some guards come in to put power blockers on them. But X-Factor was faking! Jean put a field around them to block the gas as soon as she smelt it.
Above, Apocalypse watches and enjoys the show. Then tells his Horsemen to fight for leadership. Last one standing wins. Death kicks their asses. Just demolishes the other three.
Back in the labs, the power goes out, and the kids are free. Rictor knocks out their guard and uses his gun to smash up the machines, saying he learned to shoot it in Central America. An early hint to his background. They run around and find X-Factor, fighting the Smileys. Their appearance distracts Iceman for a moment, and a power blocking belt gets locked on him. Beast gets pounded into submission, as do the kids, and Hodge hops down to confront Scott, wearing his ridiculous ruby-quartz armour. It’s so stupid-looking.
As they fight, they debate. Hodge says that, as a rich guy, he should’ve been Homo Superior, not Warren. Um, Hodge? Not really how it works. You don’t get to declare yourself an evolutionary offshoot just because you have money. This argument is so mind-numbingly stupid. It’s almost a parody of what normal people think rich people are like. I’m an unapologetic socialist with a deep mistrust of wealthy people, especially wealthy businessmen, and even I think this is too over-the-top. Anyway, Scott argues that evolution is good and that without evolution, humanity never would’ve existed in the first place. A totally valid argument.
Bobby, worried that Hodge will kill Scott, actually ends up overpowering the power blocker. It was calibrated for his previous power levels, but the recent augmentation meant that he was too strong. Instead, all it’s done is given him better control of his power. He ices the armour up a bit, and creates just enough of an opening for Scott to fire an optic blast into it. And blows Hodge’s head up. Turns out it was just a robot. A robot Hodge wearing crappy ruby quartz armour. OK then.
Despite the fact that X-Factor’s free and his robot was destroyed, Hodge still claims victory. He says that now Scott knows peace is impossible. The building starts to shake, and Jean levitates everyone out before it collapses. Then Apocalypse abducts X-Factor. And next issue: Fall of the Mutants!
Man, this series is just so melodramatic. I can’t take it seriously, with how melodramatic the dialogue is. It’s all shouting! About things! To make them seem important! People are shouting deep and important things! And I know that’s common in comics, but there’s just so little subtlety in this series. The dialogue is all just too over-the-top for me to be able to enjoy it. The story itself is actually pretty good. There’s solid plotting, and some good ideas. Weezie just needed to tone down the dialogue a little bit.
I’m also not a fan of the art. I find Walt’s style a little too sharp-edged. The lines are too heavy for me. It gets to be a bit much. Again, too melodramatic and over-the-top.
So, not a comic I enjoyed reading.