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X-Factor Annual #4 (1989, October)

September 30, 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). More Atlantis Attacks suffering, but luckily, this is the last X-title to tie into it. So, by Byrne, Walter Simonson, Tom Vincent, and Jim Novak, “I Must Go Down To the Sea Again. . . .”

I Must Go Down To the Sea Again . . .

Does Attuma’s helmet have bunny ears?

Beast is clinging to the ankle of a hypnotized Jean Grey as they’re pulled through the air at high speeds by a tractor beam. Then the beam abruptly cuts off and they fall into the ocean. Ghaur is angry, and calls Jean the 6th Bride. I honestly don’t remember what other women he’d captured at this point. It doesn’t really matter. I know Dagger was one of them. She-Hulk. Storm got grabbed at some point. I think the Invisible Woman? Who cares who else. Anyway, they fall into the ocean, with Jean’s telekinesis keeping them from being killed, but they do end up unconscious, and captured. Attuma recognizes Jean as Phoenix, from the time he tried to make her his bride and she rejected him. So he takes her, and leaves his men to kill Beast. Luckily, Andromeda, the daughter of Attuma, shows up in time to save him. Fun fact: Beast and Attuma served together in the Defenders, where Andromeda seemingly died. Andromeda just brushes aside her resurrection, saying she doesn’t have time to explain it. Because even back then, the Revolving Door of Death was established well enough that writers and readers alike felt free to just shrug and accept it.

Meanwhile, Jean wakes up, dressed in a weird Atlantean bikini, and Attuma enters her chamber to rape her. There’s absolutely no doubt that that’s what he has planned. She tries to resist, but he just breaks the glass to flood the chamber and starts to choke her out, when Beast and Andromeda arrive to save her. Andromeda challenges Attuma as his first-born, he says that only applies to first-born males, so:

X-Factor Annual #4

Would’ve been cooler if this had led to her being a trans man.

Beast takes Jean to shore, but can’t revive her, so Ghaur offers to save her, and Beast reluctantly lets her. Ghaur also grabs a defeated Andromeda.

This is not great, either. A tie-in to a crappy event, and a follow-up to a story few people would have read. This also ends up feeling vaguely pointless. It starts with Jean being kidnapped, and ends with her being kidnapped. And in between, she gets captured by someone else. Who tries to rape her. Beast doesn’t do much in any of the fights. Andromeda’s main role is to get her ass kicked by her father. So it feels pointless. No one actually accomplishes anything. It just feels like a story that’s there because they needed a story to tie into Atlantis Attacks. And this is what Byrne half-assed. The writing and art alike. It’s not that it’s bad, just that it’s ultimately dull. I mean, obviously, even half-assed Byrne art is great. But there’s still nothing the least bit memorable about this whole thing. It’s forgotten as soon as it’s over. I really can’t think of anything to say about it. Except that the rape attempt is not a good idea.

There’s also a couple back-ups. By Macchio, Byrne, and Novak. “. . . That I Be Bound In A Nutshell.” This takes place just after X-Men vs. Avengers. Magneto goes to meet with Doom, as Doom wants to know why Magneto’s changed from world domination to teaching. He has a young telepathic girl to ensure Magneto would be honest. Also, he’s reconstructed Magneto’s shattered helmet, the one he was going to use to mind-control the world. Doom says the helmet could only have controlled a few minds and that Magneto was full of shit. Doom sets a challenge: They’ll both use the circuitry in their helmets to search the other’s weaknesses and dominate the other. So, just a lot of flashbacks going over the history of both characters. Which I won’t bother getting into here. I will talk about this, though:

X-Factor Annual #4


What a stupid retcon. Magneto gets fed up with the whole thing, destroys the helmet again, destroys the robot girl, and leaves. And the whole thing is really cheesy and stupid. Again, there’s no real purpose to this story, except to imply that Magneto let his daughter die so he would have an excuse to be a villain. Which is gross. It’s a gross retcon. And luckily, one that’s been ignored since then. It’s clear that Macchio and Byrne wanted Magneto as a villain, so he inserted something into his history that would make him irredeemable, in order to justify Magneto returning to villainy. Byrne did come out as being opposed to Magneto’s redemption, and felt he always was, as Morrison would put it, “an old terrorist bastard.” So I think this story was to try to make him less sympathetic. But, like I said, it’s been ignored, and forgotten, because it’s another lame, boring, pointless, totally forgettable story.

And, an odd one, by Mark Gruenwald, Jim Fern, Joe Rubinstein, Gregory Wright, and Joe Rosen, “Inferno Aftermath.” The FBI sends two agents to investigate the reports of Inferno, and for some reason, they’re the Blues Brothers. They look exactly like the Blues Brothers, and even have the same first names as the Blues Brothers. It’s the Blues Brothers. And for some goddamn reason, they work for the FBI. Why? What is the point of making them exact visual duplicates of the Blues Brothers? It’s such a bizarre, arbitrary choice.

X-Factor Annual #4


Anyway, they talk to people. The dentist from the Daredevil tie-in. Some cops. The scientists who were eaten by an elevator and later became M Squad. They explain that it was hallucinations. Next is the Daily Bugle, who say that no photos anyone took actually came out. They try the Avengers, and talk to Gilgamesh, who just says he slew monsters. Finally, they get through to X-Factor, who have decided to say the whole thing was a hoax. A hypno-ray from some villain they defeated.

So, this one was reasonably fun. It mostly wipes away any fatalities that might have happened during Inferno. Which is fine, I guess. Whatever. It’s the most memorable story in the book, but that might just be because of the weird Blues Brother looks of the FBI agents. SStill, pretty meh and forgettable, once again.

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