UXM # 242 - 243, X-FactorV1 37 - 39
X-Factor # 37: Daddy Issues
And now we enter the Inferno Endgame. It starts ordinary enough as the X-Factor team is continuing to fight random demons and demonically possessed inanimate objects.
We're reminded that N'Starih has now been infected by the Transmode Virus and can fire off his spells more efficiently.
After all this time, Cyclops and the team finally come face to face with Madelyn. She tells them to address her as the Goblin Queen from now on.
The rest of the team are urging Scott of the seriousness of the situation, but he clarifies that they are not to hurt her.
Scott asks for his son and she calls him out for abandoning him.
Madelyn continues to spur hatred, calling Scott out some more, insinuating that he hoped she was dead so he could be with Jean again.
Nathan (the baby, referred to by Jean as Scott as Christopher) can sense the danger he's in and reaches out to Jean for help. Maddie can sense that and doesn't like it one bit.
Beast finally ditches the spandex and prefers to fight in his underwear. You be you, boiiiii.
She's getting a little flippy with that baby. Tossing him around like he's unimportant. If you couldn't tell she was unhinged, this is dead giveaway. She tells them that she learned she was a clone.
N'Astirh is still pretending to be allies with Maddie, but she's really just using her to help him sacrifice her son to keep the passage open from Limbo forever.
They realize that Maddie may be willing to kill Nathan, so through tears Scott tells the team that they should try to spare her, but saving his son is the top priority. Maddie sees the attack as confirmation that it's all of them against her.
Madelyn reverts back to her pilot suit and start whining about X-Factor picking on them. It's almost as if she's play acting, trying to get sympathy from someone. But who? Wait, who's hand is that!? Is that Wolverine!? OMG are the two teams FINALLY going to meet? We'll find out next issue!
UXM 242: A fateful reunion
The two team's are all together and Logan is kissing Jean! Making out, making out. Making out, making out!
So much fun stuff here. First of all, Wolverine just kissed Jean. He hasn't been able to fully trust his senses as he keeps smelling her but not being sure if it's real. Now he knows it is. Also, I feel like the original comics didn't really have a strong Jean/Logan connection, but recent issues (and Classics) have been pushing this theme heavily trying to retcon it in.
Second, I love how Logan is just rubbing this in Scott's face. I'm kissing your girl, what are you gonna do about it. Then he adds "You already got a redhead, remember? Your wife!" Oooh, burn!
Finally, this reminds us that some of them used to be good friends. Also, some of them have never met, like Longshot and Dazzler so they don't really have any strong connections to X-Factor.
Two things to comment on here. First, Jean is noticing how different this team is. This version of the X-Men are much more bloodthirsty, which is a deviation from the original X-Men under Professor Xavier's tutelage.
Second, Jean is obviously impacted by that kiss with Logan. She likey. I know this was a major theme in the 90's cartoon and I hope we continue to see it moving forward.
Havok is easily being manipulated by Madelyn. He fires on Iceman and Beast. You can also see that the whole Mutant Hunter thing is playing into the animosity here. The X-Men clearly think that X-Factor has truly been hunting down their own kind, adding to the tension between them.
Also, lol, Wolverine chastising Jean about her loving that kiss. It's worth nothing that this exchange probably wouldn't fly in the post Me Too movement with kissing a woman without her permission.
One thing I LOVE about Claremont. He really understands his characters and always does a great job of thinking about how each characters eccentricities and history would play out in new situations. I love here that they are bringing back up that Angel was filling in on the X-Men, but left over his disapproval of Logan's methods. Back when this originally came up, I'm pretty sure it was a convenient excuse to have him leave the team so they could stick with 6 members, but Claremont brings it up here with Warren saying "I was right about you from the start" and having these two duke it out.
I love how Rogue absolutely does not need to kiss people to steal their powers, but that's her preferred method. Why doesn't she kiss girls? Speaking of kissing people without their permission, I wonder if Rogue still does this in modern comics? Anywho, in the last panel Wolverine senses that Archangel has great pain and here Rogue learns about Apocalypse. This is a subtle way of bridging the gap between the two teams as they start to feel sympathy for each other.
I love this too. Iceman's like "Warren, stop being evil, dude!" Then thinks to himself "Is it really a part he's playing?"
Madelyn once again trying to manipulate the X-Men and especially Alex. "Scott, you're hurting me. I'm innocent, stop trying to take my baby!" Alex walks right into the trap and so begins a feud between the two brothers which will carry on.
Two demons (Jean's transformed parents) are attacking Jean. Longshot and Dazzler are both showing signs of being twisted by choosing to run off and make out (not a joke) instead of helping Jean.
N'Astrih shows up and takes Madelyn away. Madelyn tells Scott that he has to choose between her and Jean.
Scott chooses Jean. While this does indicate where Scott's heart truly lies, Scott had to of known that Madelyn wasn't in any real danger. I don't think he had seen it yet, but clearly she's in league with the demons.
Alex isn't so convinced and jumps onto the wagon taking N'Astirh and Madelyn away. This rips apart his costume and opens up his temporary label as the Goblin Prince. At this point Alex officially gives up his heroic ways and agrees to do whatever Madelyn asks of him.
The two team's duke it out. Lol, Dazzler makes Scott say "Uncle."
Nathan reaches out to Jean for help once more. Again, this REALLY pisses Madelyn off. As she's getting twisted, you'll see that she starts to get madder at Nathan as well as the rest of the world. This reminds me of how my wife was a stay at home mom for a while and I could tell she would be offended if our kids would say "dada" before "momma," as if it was a personal affront.
Guess what I'm going to say? I love this! You were right.
Storm pulls the "Kitty maneuver" and uses her winds to bring Jean up into the sky with her so they could have a private chat. Another great move by Claremont. These two are good friends and Storm knows all of the original X-Men well. We hadn't seen Storm fighting at all, as she was probably hanging back unsure what to do. Here these two hugs and we see that a reconciliation between these two teams is likely.
Speaking of a reconciliation, the two teams finally stop fighting and agree to work together to take on N'Astirh. They are conflicted about Madelyn, but they can all agree to take on the demon.
Storm uses her wind to send Colossus at him while Archangel agrees to proper Wolverine in a fastball special.
Everyone attacks the demon at once and Storm decides to send a strong bolt of lightning at him. She is thinking that he is a computer system, currently being pushed to the edge, so a bolt of lightning would push him to short circuit. She's right and he is blown up. I believe he dies for real here.
Scott is like "you killed him? I thought we don't kill?" And Storm's like "Don't hate the player, hate the game." I like that this is an opportunity to further show how extreme the X-Men have gotten, does Scott really care about murdering a demon???
N'Astirh is now dead, but the portal remains open and the Empire State Building is still warped. The final enemy is Madelyn, who has now captured Jean.
XF #38: A redheaded brawl
I just like this pin up of both teams. Also, all the sudden Wolverine has demonic ears or something?!
I like this little rivalry between these two. However, remember back when I thought these two might have hooked up? They were very close but it doesn't look like it here. I do like though that now that Madelyn is the enemy, the team's are turning back into rivals. They are no longer joining forces against a common enemy.
What an unnecessary retcon. Supposedly Madelyn's powers had kicked on and she had influenced the battle between Scott and Storm that resulted in Storm staying on as team leader and Scott retiring with Maddie (as covered in 36: UXM 201 - 202 (Secret Wars Vol. 2 # 6 - 7) ). I feel like there's a 0% chance that Claremont knew this long ago that Madelyn would go bad.
Now here's a retcon that I think may have actually been intended. We learn that the X-Men were getting their news from Maddie (since she had been controlling the Reaver equipment) and she was intentionally keeping the teams apart, only giving the X-Men info showing them as mutant hunters. This is a salient point that helps the X-Men to cool their jets again.
Scott is still unwilling to hurt Madelyn at this point.
Alex and Scott are shooting each other with their powers to on effect, so they start slugging it out. Alex is chiding him about never truly loving Madelyn. I'm still not thrilled about this idea that "she was never real" and "Scott was only attracted to her because she was a clone of Jean, created to seduce him." This helps Scott get away from the decision HE MADE to abandon his wife and child. I still think that it doesn't matter what happened to Jean or how Madelyn was created, he had a responsibility and doesn't get off this easy.
So Madelyn makes the final heel turn here, agreeing to sacrifice her own son to complete N'Astirh's plans. She's officially all in on being evil.
Madelyn tells Jean (and everyone else) the truth. She's a clone, etc. etc.
Jean (who hasn't shown much personality thus far), is realizing that she keeps getting impersonated. First by Phoenix, and now by Madelyn.
Here's a new piece of information. I'm SURE this is a retcon and not the original intention, but...apparently the Phoenix brought Jean's memories and powers to Maddie. This is a cool way of showing that Jean rejected the Phoenix and Maddie didn't (thus is flawed). We did always have those missing pieces about Madelyn, like her not having any memory before the plane crash that took place the same day Jean died. I mean, this does fit in perfectly with that, but I believe Claremont had no intention of resurrecting Jean nor making Maddie an evil clone originally.
Now that Maddie is openly admitting her plans to kill her baby, Alex has snapped out of it. I like here that Logan is being a friend to him, especially after how hard of a time he's been giving him since he joined the team.
Longshot is acting all depressed because he was easily manipulated and he feels bad about it. Eventually they have the bright idea that if there is a weak spot (Madelyn keeping everyone but Jean away with a telepathic shield), then Longshot would be the one to find it.
After Longshot identifies a weak spot, all of the ranged damage dealers focus on that spot, and the effort proves successful.
Everything comes down to one final battle between Jean and Madelyn. With the X-Men now surrounding her, Maddie gives up in a final explosion. Madelyn (and Phoenix) are now absorbed back into Jean and Maddie is officially dead. Maddie has been with us for a long time and I felt sad when this happened, however I also felt exerted and exhausted and was pleased for it to be over.
Jean and Scott are rationalizing it all to themselves. Setting the stage for the Maddie distraction to be over and opening things up for Jean and Scott to have a normal relationship.
With Maddie's death, the Empire State Building finally goes back to normal. Jean's parents are returned to normal. The demonic inanimate objects are back to normal (for the most part as we'll see in future New Mutants issues).
Beast officially names Warren as Archangel. Oops, I've been calling him that for the past 3 blogs, but I guess I shouldn't have until here.
Maddie is dead and the two team's can live in harmony. One thing I'll say is that it was so exciting seeing these two teams come together. It would have been GREAT if this event directly led back into the two teams coming back as the X-Men. I know that will happen in 1991 with the release of X-Men # 1 (The best selling comic of all time, which I can't fucking wait to get to), but that definitely doesn't happen here. The rest of 1989 is spent meandering in pointless, segregated storylines and I don't know yet what goes down in 1990. We're almost there though!
Oh, and Inferno isn't over. We killed N'Astirh and Maddie, but they still plan on dealing with Mr. Sinister during this event. Let's get into that...over the course of 2 more issues.
UXM # 243: Jean's psyche
I love these big shots that include all of the characters.
We're not out of the woods yet. Jean suffers some sort of psychic attack.
You see someone say "Who the devil is that?" It's hard to believe that none of the X-Men have seen Mr. Sinister before! Mr. Sinister himself is the one attacking Jean, infiltrating her mind and destroying her memories.
Both the Phoenix and Madelyn are alive within Jean, something she'll deal with for some time in the pages of X-Factor. Maddie is working against Jean, still trying to get her and the others killed.
There are a lot of shenanigans in Jean's mind, but eventually she takes back over control.
We hear that Sinister is truly evil. Psylocke is able to help and they locate Sinister. He's in Nebraska at Scott's orphanage!
They run into Blockbuster (who has been killed twice) and this time he looks like a demon. Demons were so last issue Blockbuster, come on.
Alex kills the mofo without any hesitation.
Sabretooth renews the rivalry with Psylocke and she downs him immediately, leaving him comatose on the floor with his tongue rolling back into his throat. This is not a Sabretooth issue.
Oh man, love this. Storm is just like "bitch, please!" and slams Polaris into the ground telling her that they've had enough of her.
Storm's like "Malice, you either leave Lorna or we kill you both!" And you see true horror on Lorna's face. Before we get to see whether she would follow up on it, they are all caught up in an explosion that blows up all surrounding buildings, but not a single human is harmed.
Polaris/Malice is like "WTF boss, no warning?"
XF # 39: Sinister End Game
I love how Sinister is the only one showing up in the top left picture.
Everyone is unconscious at the start of the battle. Except Longshot, who Sinister says to ignore.
Rogue tries to absorb Sinister (without kissing!) and she's fucked up royally. She essentially becomes taken over by him immediately.
We get more exposition, learning that Cyclops wasn't really in a coma when he was young. Sinister was experimenting on him.
He had planned to groom Scott.
Sinister planned on bringing Jean to the orphanage too but Xavier got to her first. When Jean died, he grew Madelyn hoping she would develop powers and her offspring would be powerful.
Apparently Sinister was the first to give Scott his Ruby Quartz glasses.
Archangel (comparing Sinister to Apocalypse) takes out Lorna.
Wolverine puts Sabretooth down quickly, mostly off panel.
Everyone converges on Sinister, but he is able to keep them all off until...
It turns out that there was a reason why Sinister took an interest in Cyclops and his brother. His optic beam is his only weakness! Cyclops strikes a murderdeathkill on Sinister! I know he comes back eventually, so I'll guess...cloning?
Next week we'll stick with X-Factor and see how they spent the rest of 1989. Spoiler's it was boring!