48: X-Factor V1 17 - 26 (Archangel)

What’s Covered?

X-Factor V1 #17 - 26 (June '87 - March '88), Thor 377 - 378, Power Pack # 35, XF Annual # 2


Roster Watch


Synopsis


Thor # 377-378: I'll take the Bobby Drake Blizzard please...

Loki kidnaps Iceman right out of the pages of X-Factor and transports him into Thor # 377 - 378. He wanted to use his ice powers for some nefarious plan. I didn't really follow, but what does matter is that Loki amplified his power and this will be the new status quo for quite some time (Still the case in my current reading which is a few issues ahead of the issues covered in this blog).

Thor eventually rescues him (of course) and he is safely deposited back with X-Factor.


XF # 17: Rictor!

Writer - Louise Simonson

Pencils - Walter Simonson

This is the last issue in a series of issue that was not uploaded to Marvel Unlimited, therefore I'm not going to share any specific panels. Here are highlights:

  • Iceman returns to earth frozen over and needs Rusty to thaw him out and Leach to keep his powers off in order to heal properly.

  • Angel's funeral takes place, but it's really downplayed. I, of course, knew that Angel would come back soon as Archangel, but if I didn't see that writing on the wall as a first time reader, I would probably be pissed that they didn't more energy into his funeral and the team's grieving process.

  • Boom-Boom messes with one of Hank's experiments by dropping a time bomb in it, then disappears into a closet with Ariel, jumping directly into the Fallen Angels limited series (briefly covered in 47: NM 52 - 61 (New Mutants Dropping Like Flies))

  • Caliban officially joins X-Factor!

  • I find it interesting that X-Factor seems to make it a priority to always have 5 members like Uncanny X-Men used to always try to keep the team to 6 members.

  • I never knew that Caliban joined an X team, so I found this pretty damn cool.

  • This entire issue focuses on X-Factor going to San Francisco to free a young mutant from an anti-mutant group called "The Right."

  • FIRST ALERT - The young mutant they save is Rictor! I know Rictor (a mutant with earthquake powers) from my time reading X-Force in the 90's so I was pleasantly surprised to see him pop up here and actually stick around with Rusty and the other youngins for the immediate future.

  • Cameron Hodge starts getting REALLY SUS

  • Hodge tries to tell the Governor of California that XF isn't available to stop the city from being shaken into the sea.

  • Hodge gives an interview to the press and says "Warren Worthington used his vast fortune to finance X-Factor, because as a mutant, he understood our need to rid society of a dangerous element…"

XF # 18: Hodge is evil and Scott is dumb

Writer - Louise Simonson

Pencils - Walter Simonson

Scott is really off balance while dealing with the (believed) death of Maddie, his son (still un-named), and Warren. He snaps at Jean, making a passive aggressive comment about her really being the Phoenix. All the while, Hodge smiles like an asshole at the dissension.

Later, Rusty is talking to Scott about his love for Skids. Scott talks about his love for Jean and discusses the time they made whoopie whoopie in a desert, only to realize this was actually Phoenix. Of course, Jean overhears, because...comics.

Hodge is watching and clearly being evil, egging this all on.

Hodge tells Scott "I know about Phoenix. I've got all sorts of important info on my computer. You should totally go play with my computer..."

Scott thinks he's being sneaky by breaking into Hodge's computer and suddenly the Phoenix pops out of the screen and tells Scott that the Phoenix, Maddie, and Jean have all been one from the beginning. Because Scott is dumb, be believes this and picks a fight with Jean. They start duking it out in the penthouse.

Scott is so certain that Jean is the Phoenix that he takes off his visor and looks at her, knowing that he would kill her if she wasn't as powerful as the Phoenix. It works and Scott has the evidence he needs!

Lol. Suddenly, Leach is like "No Powers, bro!" Jean's not the Phoenix, but her life was just saved by Leach! Of course Scott's gonna have an episode over this too. Dumbass. Am I supposed to start liking Scott at some point!?

The issue ends with Rusty showing Scott that Hodge's computer was connected to a hologram of the Phoenix. Dude's evil now and they all know it! Or at least they should. Scott's a pretty big dumbo though so who knows.


XF # 19: The three Amigos!

Writer - Louise Simonson

Pencils - Walter Simonson

A few things to dig into here. First, Scott is being a whiny baby. Second, Scott brings up whether they should disband X-Factor or not, which is pretty big deal.


Third, Jean is trying to say this is all Hodge's fault. No, Warren and the team have no responsibility here...

Beast, Iceman, and Caliban (sporting his new X-Factor costume which covers his face) are out looking for Boom-Boom (who they aren't going to find because she's in another galaxy with the Fallen Angels crew) when they are attacked by 3 of the 4 Horseman!

Caliban is pretty much useless in a fight so they pretty much get their ass handed to them.

The only way to stop the attack is to have Bobby go nuclear with his ice powers, which ends up freezing half of Central Park.


XF # 20: JV Filler Issue

Writer - Louise Simonson

Pencils - June Brigman

The team comes back in terrible shape. Beast was touched by Pestillence and he's incredibly sick. Iceman is overfrozen and once again Rusty and Leach need to de-thaw him.

While Bobby's on the mend, he's angsting about how much trouble he made. The youngins recall Angel sounding depressed and ultimately committing suicide (so they think), so they decide that they need to do something to cheer Bobby up.

Rusty goes out first to try to melt the ice, but accidentally starts a forest fire.

Eventually Artie, Rictor, and Skids show up to support Rusty. Rictor shakes the snow off the trees onto the fire and Skids uses her force field to smother its oxygen supply. They successfully stop the spread of the fire and Bobby's mood is dramatically turned around.


XF # 21: Warren's will and the Smiley Faced Goons

Writer - Louise Simonson

Pencils - Walter Simonson

So Jean, Scott, and the team confront Hodge about the hologram. While I'm glad they are finally confronting him, they are mostly "accusing" and "asking" if it was him. The dude clearly created a hologram to mess with you. There's no accusation here, lock this guy up!

Once again they are contemplating disbanding. I'm actually glad that they are considering it even though they obviously won't. Things are pretty messed up so it's definitely worth considering. Plus, look how mopey Scott looks here!

Ut oh. Warren's fortune is being left to X-Factor, but Hodge will be the one controlling the finances! I love how they make this seem so treacherous and evil, but everyone trusted the man a few issues ago so it's not a stretch to think that Warren might've though this was a good idea.

As the team walk's out of the will reading, a bunch of anti-mutant mercenaries show up in smiley-faced armor and start firing on both the team and any human bystanders.

Trish Tilby, the reporter who is always hovering around the team is shot down. (She'll live, don't worry).

Cyclops and the team fight back and are able to drive them away.

The issue ends with these guys breaking into the X-Factor Headquarters and attacking the kids.


XF # 22: The Kiddos vs. the Goons

Writer - Louise Simonson

Pencils - Sal Buscema

Rusty, Skids, Artie, Rictor, and Leach are kidnapped by the smiley-faced goons. Boom-Boom had just returned from Fallen Angels and follows them onto their ship.

It turns out that this is the same group that was experimenting on Rictor in Issue # 19.

The smiley-faced goons are part of an anti-mutant group called "The Right" and here we learn that they are led by none other than Cameron Hodge!


There was also a small subplot where Rictor would freak out whenever he heard Hodge's voice at the complex, and this was the payoff of that moment.



XF # 23: Adventures in Babysitting

Writer - Louise Simonson

Pencils - Walter Simonson

Using Caliban to track down the kiddos, X-Factor breaks into the Right's Headquarters, but Hodge is waiting for him and they are all captured.

As part of the Right's method to control Bobby, they put a power dampening belt on him, however they didn't think this through!

Bobby was actually over-powered and all the power dampening belt did was help him to control it more, not turn it off as expected. This allows the team to fight off the goons, free the kids and escape, before being teleported away by Apocalypse.

FIRST ALERT


This is the first unveiling of the 4th Horseman, Archangel! Warren was saved from death at the last minute and given new metallic wings that have the ability to shoot knives out his wings.

The 4 Horseman have a little skirmish which Archangel easily wins. Apocalypse officially crowns Archangel as the field leader of the 4 Horseman.


Checkin' in with Caliban

And so begins the story of Caliban feeling guilty about his power not helping much in a battle. He connects his inability to help Hank and Bobby fight the 3 Horseman to his inability to fight off the Marauders during the Mutant Massacre.

Caliban decides that he needs a way to get power in order to fight to protect his friends. Bobby offers to teach him how to fight as a way to increase his power set.

You see here that Caliban tries to use his new fighting skills against the smiley-faced mercs but they easily swat him aside. They didn't even deem him important enough to kill directly.

Caliban's anger is growing as he was powerless to stop The Right from taking the kids.



XF # 24: Who is Apocalypse

Writer - Louise Simonson

Pencils - Walter Simonson

Immediately after freeing the kids from the Right, the team is teleported to Apocalypse's floating spaceship.

I love this. We are starting to get into Apocalypse's rich history. We learn that he was the world's first mutant (however I wonder if Selene was alive longer?) and that he has been revered as a God throughout time and the ages.

Archangel is unveiled and the team freaks out.

They have a fight with the 4 Horseman but are quickly defeated. The issue ends with the 4 Horseman setting out to destroy New York while the team has to lay there and watch.

Big moment here. Caliban sees what Apocalypse did for Warren (and all 4 Horseman) and asks if he can be given great power as well. At this moment, Caliban betrays the team and pledges himself to Apocalypse.


On a personal note, I find this very interesting. I recall learning about this in the 90's cartoon, but Caliban wasn't a strongly established character, so this about face didn't carry as much weight. I kind of wish I didn't know this was coming because it would been interesting to see if this surprised me or not.


XF # 25: The Final Battle

Writer - Louise Simonson

Pencils - Walter Simonson

The 4 Horseman are officially unleashed on New York. Their only order is to create chaos. Apocalypse is trying to force a fight between humanity and mutants, pushing the strongest to unveil themselves.

Some good villain monologuing here. I'm not sure how Apocalypse knows so much, he does. We learn here that Hodge was also behind Angel getting his wings amputated, which is a pretty low blow.

Beast is able to flick Iceman's belt off (or on?) which allows him to free the team and let X-Factor face the 4 Horseman above the city.


Notice that Apocalypse tells Beast that when he was infected by Pestilence, his intelligence will disappear each time that he uses his brute strength.

Cyclops and Jean take on the Horseman while Bobby and Hank take on Apocalypse. With Hank losing his intelligence, he goes a little beserk destroying the ship, sending it into a freefall.

The ship is falling, taken down buildings left and right.

Jean works with Power Pack (which you get a lot more about them in PP # 35) to stop the ship from destroying the Empire State Building (but it does take off the antenna).

Archangel ends up destroying Iceman (it was actually a snowman built to look like him) and this is what it takes to break Warren out of Apocalypse's control. He snaps out of it after thinking he killed his friends.

The ship's destruction of New York is minimized, but the ship does land squarely on their old X-Factor complex. This is quite on the nose here as they are looking to leave their old X-Factor ways behind them and will start a new era living within the ship themselves.


XF # 26: An X Parade

Writer - Louise Simonson

Pencils - Walter Simonson

This is truly a "clean-up" issue, but the biggest idea here is that this is a major turning point for the team. Scott and Jean are together. The public sees the team as heroes (as evidenced by the parade they get). The team starts living in Apocalypse's sentient ship. The mutant hunting PR theme is officially dead.





XF Giant-Sized Annual # 2: Quicksilver and the Inhumans

Writer - Jo Duffy

Pencils - Tom Grindberg

This was definitely an interesting read, bringing X-Factor in the middle of Quicksilver and the Inhumans, but I don't believe it has any major impacts on the overall plot so I'm not going to go much into detail about the story.


My Connections

This is a pretty action packed set of stories that I really didn't see coming. More Apocalypse (yay!), Caliban joins (and leaves) an X-Team, a villain hiding right under our nose, Archangel makes his first appearance, and Rictor is introduced!


The opening run of this series was so vanilla that I keep expecting to hate it, but looking back there is a lot of important stuff happening that I'm pretty into. So maybe I don't need to wait 90 issues for the new team member's to take over before this gets good. You're still on watch though, X-Factor!


The whole team starts questioning the X-Factor concept and it all starts getting blamed on Cameron Hodge. Ok, X-Factor comic, I see what you're doing here. Again! Did you think I forgot when you tried to gloss over Scott taking responsibility for his dumbassness by making everything about Maddie and his son being kidnapped, instead of her just leaving him for being a bad husband/father. Now they are trying to do the same thing here by making it look like Cameron Hodge was responsible for the X-Factor concept. Let's not forget that Warren and pretty much all 5 team members thought this whole mutant hunter premise was a great idea for the first few issues. I don't blame Louise Simonson for trying to make us forget that and correct her predecessor's bad decision, but I'm not letting them get away with it that easily.


Creators

Louise Simonson had the following to say in Comic Creators on X-Men:

“One of the goals that we had was to try to increase the powers of some of the X-Characters. Rather than Angel being able to fly at sixty miles per hour or whatever he could do, we wanted to give him powers that were more in keeping with the inflated power level of other characters.”

In hindsight, this seemed like a pretty good idea because Angel was definitely one of the more boring characters, so it was a wise decision in my view to shake things up with him.


Character Beats

Scott and Jean

After Bobby iced up Central Park, Scott is angsting about how he's a terrible person and doesn't deserve anything. Yea man, you messsed up. Stop whining though and start doing something about it, you big jerk! (Anyone getting annoyed with my Scott hate yet? I like picking on him, but it is possible he could redeem himself with me if he gets his shit together).

I love this too. Jean's like "Snap out of it you big baby!" Maddie is dead (she's not), your son is dead (he's not), and Phoenix is a thing of the past (she's not) but I'm actually alive now so why don't we just bang and forget about all that other stuff?


Beast

Before Apocalypse tells us that Beast is losing his intelligence (Issue # 24), there are these little things being done where Beast is acting more impulsive than he typically acts. I actually didn't even catch it the first time through and it's fun catching them now.

Apocalypse is such an asshole. He's specifically pushing Beast to use his strength to make him dumber. He also goads him into destroying the ship for some reason.

I don't know for sure, but there seems to keep being a bunch of intimate scenes between Trish and Beast. The two of them keep pairing off and talking. There might be a romance brewing here that we'll need to keep our eye on. (I really don't know if this is a real thing or not at this point).


Also, didn't Beast have a girlfriend who was basically living at the X-Factor complex? Did she fall off the face of the earth or something?


The Kids

Rusty and Skids are officially a couple and talking about whether or not they will end up like Scott and Jean. Nice try you two, but I don't think you two are Mutantville's next top couple.

After Leach stops Scott from killing Jean, he is embraced by Jean like a mother. I love this. It's a reminder that Artie and Leach are very young.


My Rating 7/10


What I'm looking forward to


Every once in a while I like to stop and talk about what I'm looking forward to in my comic reading journey. Last time I did this I had talked about wanting to meet Apocalypse, Mr. Sinister, and Sabretooth. By this point I have met all of them and while none of them have really disappointed, I feel like I need MORE.


The strongest thing I am looking forward to at the moment, which I've been talking about a lot, is Excalibur. I'll probably be them in about a week or two (of my reading which is a few weeks ahead of the issues I blog about). Kurt and Kitty are officially removed from the X-Men and we've been getting a little intro to Captain Britain and Meggan through Psylocke.


I'm also slightly ready for the Wolverine solo series, which will also begin imminently.


We're also only a few years away (in publishing) from the 1990's, which is the period of the best comic sales in history, the best art on X-Men (Jim Lee), and what I used to read as a kid. I read a lot of 1990's comics, but I never read every issue and rarely collected every part of crossover's, so I recall constantly feeling like I was missing something. This time through I will have ALL of the context. Here's some questions I want answers to and just general other things from era I'm pumped for:


  • With a new X-Men comic line, what happens to Uncanny X-Men?

  • How does Psylocke turn into a sexy asian? Is that even addressed?

  • Are X-Factor and the X-Men ever going to meet!? Wolvie needs to see Jean! Will Rachel see Jean!?

  • How do the original X-Men (now X-Factor) come back into the fold with the larger X-Men team.

  • We still need to meet Cable, Jubilee, Bishop, and see Forge as a permanent team member.

  • Even though I've now met most of the second wave of X-Factor (Havok, Polaris, Wolfsbane, Strong Guy, Multiple Man, Feral), I've NEVER read a single issue with this lineup and I'm excited to get to know them as a team.

  • How does Rahne end up with this group instead of staying with the other New Mutants when they form X-Force.

  • Speaking of X-Force, I consider X-Force to be my favorite comic line of all time (I love Cable and Domino), however I don't think I ever even read that series past issue # 30.


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