X-Factor #38 (1989, March)
Maddie’s preparing to sacrifice Nathan, and X-Factor tries to talk her out of it, and she points out they were the reason Scott left her in the first place. You know, she’s not wrong. They knew he had a wife and son, and they were like, “Forget them, hang out with us!” They were kinda dicks. Scott begs her to just destroy him, but she sees no reason to limit herself like that. The X-Men and X-Factor both try to attack at the same time, and just trip over each other. The two teams bicker and start to fight each other. The X-Men still believe X-Factor to be mutant hunters; they haven’t seen the more recent news coverage. While Scott and Storm fight, Maddie reveals that their earlier battle, where Storm defeated Scott for leadership of the team, was the result of Maddie influencing things with her psychic abilities. I don’t like this retcon. It diminishes Storm, and says the only way she could defeat Scott is if Scott was basically brainwashed into losing. It’s a stupid, unnecessary retcon.
Anyway, Scott makes Storm realize that Maddie kept the X-Men from learning the truth about X-Factor. Maddie also convinces Longshot and Dazzler to switch to her side, by appealing to their vanity, their desire to be stars. They take down Angel, and Maddie talks about how similar they are, and sways him with a kiss. She also makes a pretty epic speech.
Angel resists Maddie’s temptation enough to sever the mystic leash connecting to Jean, which also clears Wolverine’s head, in time for him to save Angel from demons. Scott and Alex fight. Maddie throws up a bubble around herself, Nathan and Jean, so Jean and Maddie can fight and talk. Maddie reveals she’s a clone of Jean, and Jean freaks out about it being the same as what Phoenix did to her, creating a copy and stealing her life. Angel takes out Alex with paralyzing feathers.
Inside the bubble, Jean and Maddie continue the revelations. Phoenix brought Maddie some of Jean’s memories, and a portion of the Phoenix is still hanging around, and Jean learns about what the Phoenix did, and remembers rejecting it when ti tried to restore the part of her self it had taken.
Outside, the X-Men come up with a plan. They’ll attack at different spots on the bubble, force Maddie to stretch her telekinetic focus, then Scott, Alex and Dazzler will use their power at full strength at a specific point to break through. Rogue gets Dazzler to agree by reminding her that Maddie’s the real star of the story, the one at centre stage. I like how well Rogue understands Dazzler. Wolverine gets Alex to agree, by saying the Maddie in the bubble isn’t their Maddie. Throughout all this, we continue to get Maddie’s story. Which we actually already know: She was cloned from Jean Grey, awoken by a portion of the Phoenix, programmed by Sinister to fall in love with Scott and have a baby with him. But now we get a little more. Sinister bought Scott’s grandparents’ air freight company, and she was hired to fly cargo to San Francisco, where she was attacked by the Marauders.
Outside, Psylocke gets Longshot to throw a blade to find the spot where Scott, Alex and Dazzler should focus. Inside, Jean tries to reach out to Maddie, offering understanding and even friendship. Jean’s a good person. The X-teams break through, and Maddie tosses the baby in the air. Scott grabs it and protects it from Maddie’s blast, and Maddie decided to just kill everyone. She tries to blow everything up, but the X-teams work well together to protect everyone. That’s one of the best things about the X-Men, honestly: They work really damn well together. I would argue they work together better than any other team.
Anyway, Jean and Maddie are mind-locked together, as Maddie dies. Maddie plans to bring Jean with her into death. But the piece of the Phoenix returns what it borrowed and keeps Jean alive. And with that, everything returns to normal. And everyone starts talking. Longshot and Alex both want to be left alone. Beast gives Warren the name Archangel, so I can finally start calling him that. And they all decide to go find and take out Sinister.
This is actually a rather interesting conclusion to Maddie’s story. The whole Goblin Queen character arc she’s gone through was ultimately about agency. She was created with no agency. No choice in loving Scott, no choice in having his child, no choice in Scott leaving her. She was someone things happened to. As the Goblin Queen, she’d had enough of that, and made her own choices. They weren’t good choices, but they were her choices, even her death. She may not have chosen to live, but she chose to die, on her own terms. It’s weirdly inspiring.
That said, this is easily the weakest of the three big giant-size Inferno issues. Too much exposition, with too much of it being repetitions of information from previous issues. Also, the dialogue is back to being too melodramatic for my tastes. Even for Inferno, it’s a little over-wrought. There’s some really nice character moments, but the stilted dialogue drags it down. I also still don’t care for the art. It’s fine here, it just doesn’t really do as much for me as Silvestri/Green/Oliver on UXM, or Blevins/Williamson/Oliver on New Mutants. It lacks the same energy, and even the same sense of darkness and creepiness.
So, yeah, this is a good issue, but not great, and the weakest of the giant-size Inferno specials.