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65: X-Factor # 51 - 59 (Sabretooth, Caliban, and Vampires)

What’s Covered?

X-Factor V1 # 51 - 59 (Feb - Oct 1990)

Roster Watch


XF # 51 - 53: Sabretooth and Caliban

Sabretooth is such as asshole. Issue #51 starts with him squatting in the Sewers, hunting any Morlocks he can find. He is no longer being assigned by Mr. Sinister, he's just doing it for fun. Again, what an asshole.

Meanwhile, Caliban announces his intent to track down Sabretooth and use his newfound power to get revenge. Apocalypse tells him no and then Caliban declares that he will break with Apocalypse because he needs to do this. After he leaves, Apocalypse laughs and says that this was what he really needed. I have to say this is a bit annoying. X-Factor steals his ship, Archangel and Caliban abandon him and he always kind of smirks and claims it was his plan all along. Kind of reminds me of a certain President in the real world who claims every event as a victory whether that's accurate or not.

Speaking of Ship, after returning to Earth, Ship parks in the old spot (where the X-Factor complex used to be), but this time lines up like a skyscraper. The result is that Ship now towers over New York, casting a large portion in shadow. This is a constant talking point of the New York citizens.

Archangel really gets the focus on these issues. He is interviewed by a group of reporters and freaks out. This causes him to angst about whether he's evil and if he can control his wings. It also starts an ongoing issue where the press covers him negatively.

Sabretooth shoots Archangel out of the sky (weird to see him using a gun) and the two of them have a vicious fight on a rooftop. The two of them end up knocking each other out. Sabretooth gashes Archangel open and poisons him. The poison will drive him a little nuts and act as an ongoing arc for the remainder of these issues. Warren's wing blades also hurt and knock out Sabretooth.

Caliban actually comes along and saves Warren, but then Warren is a little "off" and the two of them have a slight skirmish. Eventually Caliban and Sabretooth have a big fight. This actually crosses over with New Mutants and there is a cool scene where Cable tells the other New Mutants that this fight is worth watching. With Caliban's new strength and powers, he is a match for Sabretooth.

Meanwhile, there was a dumb plot going on with Jean, Scott, and Beast. They go out to a nice dinner (Trish with Beast) and a villain from the original run named Locust unleashes giant cockroaches on the threesome. This was just as cheesy as the original run in the 60's. I give Simonson credit for bringing back an old villain, but it was so cheesy and one and done that they could have skipped this altogether.

XF # 54, 56 -58: Dumb Vampires

After being poisoned, Archangel is on a rampage. The rest of the team is going out every night trying to find him. He keeps swooping in, taking out villains (by killing them), then flying off. The media is leaving out that's only attacking villains and portraying it as of he's gone evil again (because it wasn't too long ago when he led the attack on NY working for Apocalypse). In addition, we see that Archangel is in fact hallucinating and seeing Candy Southern and Apocalypse everywhere he goes.

While this is going on, we are introduced to Crimson and a group of 23 other characters who are all vampires that feed off people's life force. There's a lot of back and forth, but basically they set their eyes on Archangel and for a time you fear that he'll be lost to them, but be fights it off and the Vampires are stopped/killed.

Another development worth mentioning is that "Banshee and Forge from the X-Men" show up and are operating very closely with the team for the time being.

XF # 55 Solo: Mesmero

This is basically a fill in issue where Mesmero takes control of Vera, Beast's old girlfriend. Beast spends the entire issue seeing Vera in different settings (dressed as a prostitute, actress, etc.) and Beast is worried he's losing his mind. He eventually figures it out and Mesmero is stopped.

The only other comment I'll make is that Mesmero has been showing up in a few different X comics and I didn't realize he was a mutant before, born with green skin. I never thought much about him.

Jean and Scott

Scott proposed to Jean in # 53, but Jean tells him she can't commit. This plays out over all of these issues. While Jean may have gotten rid of the Madelyn and Phoenix psyche (meaning there aren't multiple personalities floating in her mind), she still has all of their memories and is struggling with that. When Scott asks her to marry him, she can't turn off her memories of him marrying Madelyn and them having a kid together. She feels as though fate is pushing her to marry him and she just needs to make sure that she's making her own decisions.

Jean tells Scott she needs space and actually spends a few issues off on her own. We see her pop up in X-Men (UXM #261-264) working alongside Forge and Banshee. We also see Beast pop up in X-Men for an issue or two. It's pretty cool to see characters crossing over seamlessly from one issue to another. We're getting close to the X-Men re-launch when the team's reconnect under the X-Men banner!

We also see that Jean is essentially acting as Nathan's mother. Nathan has a telekinetic bubble that he puts up during fights to protect himself.

Beast and Trish

As mentioned before, the media is covering Archangel negatively. This includes Trish Tilby and really ticks Beast off. He spends a lot of time angsting about his feelings for Trish. Simonson tries to turn this into a reflection about society and whether the media should be censored. I'm a former social studies teacher and I LOVE topics like this, but this still wasn't working for me and I thought it feel flat. Maybe because it's 2021 and this was written in 1990.

This relationship is further complicated by Trish's boss being her former husband.

Iceman and Opal

One of the Morlocks, Mole, breaks into a store and hides in the basement to escape Sabretooth. One of the employees, Opal, takes pity on him and helps him. Eventually Bobby Drake shows up to the store and asks Opal out on a date. Mole shadows them to protect Opal, but ends up getting found by Sabretooth and killed. This was a surprisingly dark ending to this story.

The love story between Bobby and Opal is strong though and is still continuing through # 59 (the furthest I've read to date). For those of you keeping track at home, Bobby sure seems to like Opal, making the news of him being gay a true retcon that doesn't really hold up during a re-read. But hey, good for you Marvel.

Archangel and Officer Jones

Of all the budding romances, the one I'm most intrigued by is Archangel and Officer Charlotte Jones, a black female officer who is a single mom. They keep running into each other, saving each other's lives, and clearly feel fondly about each other. Jones sees all the negative press coverage, but knows it isn't true. We actually see her pop up in other X-titles too and she is turning into an interesting character.

XF # 59: Tying up loose ends before X-Tinction Agenda.

I'm going to start by saying that this was a special issue for me. This is one of the random comics I collected as a kid. I bought most of the X-Force and X-Men (Volume 2) issues in chronological order, but I bought a few random Uncanny, X-Factor, Wolverine, and X-Factor issues. It was funny reading this because I recall reading this as a kid and not knowing what the hell was going on. Who is Officer Jones!? Who was Madelyn Pryor? Whose baby is this!?

This is as far as my current reading has gone, so I have no idea what happens next (other than knowing that the X-Tinction Agenda crossover is about to begin.) It sure seems as though this issue's only goal is to tie up loose ends before the event begins.

My Connections

Issues # 51 - 59 is another run that is not available on Marvel Unlimited, therefore I won't be providing my more detailed synopsis with screenshots of panels. While it totally made sense for the last eleven issues (#40 - 50 covered in 59: X- Factor 40 - 50 (The Judgment War)) to be missing due to the meandering nature of "Judgment War," this run of comics was actually pretty good. You could literally skip the entire Judgment War and not miss a single thing, except maybe for Jean expelling the psyche of Maddie and Phoenix. However, even that is probably ok because she is still dealing with their memories in these issues.

Sabretooth has officially been elevated to an A list villain, showing up in X-Men, X-Factor, and the Wolverine solo series. I have no problem with this as he's obviously badass and a pretty compelling villain. We also see a lot of the transformed Caliban, which is pretty fun. I only vaguely knew of him before starting this comics journey so I'm really enjoying see his path play out.

Character Beats

There's a lot of relationship drama as Archangel and Iceman get new relationships (Iceman is with a woman), Beast and Trish's relationship is on the rocks, and Scott proposes to Jean! There's certainly a number of boring filler issues, however even those issues contain elements that move the larger story and characterization forward. X-Factor has moved ahead of New Mutants, Wolverine, and Excalibur as my favorite series to run, however Cable's entry into New Mutants will give this series a run for it's money.

Archangel flies to the apartment of Officer Jones, meets her son, and they have their first date. This seems to be the thing to officially snap him out of his funk (poison, frustration with reporters, depression over Candy, anger with Apocalypse). The issue ends with him giving a happy go lucky interview to reporters, signaling that he is turning over a new leaf.

Scott tells Jean to forget the whole proposal thing. He basically suggests that they were doing well before, so he will just take the pressure off her. She accepts and they seem to be find after this (because there was a lot of awkwardness between them throughout this arc). I found this odd because the writers answer letters at the end of issues and they have been talking about an upcoming wedding a lot. I've done some research and it appears as though they decided this wedding should take place in the X-Men comic line (which it does during the X-Men relaunch) and this wedding idea must have been scrapped.

Beast sees Trish hug her ex-husband and Beast stalks off assuming they are done. I'm not sure where is heading, but while all these other plotlines are being wrapped up, it sure seems as though they're done. We'll see!

Iceman and Opal are still going strong!

Also worth mentioning that I haven't mentioned the kids AT ALL. They are almost completely relegated to the New Mutants comic now. Not sure if we'll ever see Artie and Leach again. We'll probably never see Taki.

My Rating - 6/10

Next up we'll check in with Excalibur, who I must say is getting pretty terrible to read. What a let down considering how excited I was to read them.


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