The Peter David Factor:

Part 5

X-Factor #74 (Jan. 1992) “Politically Incorrect” — This issue starts off by showing us the various team members asleep. Most of them seem to be dreaming: Guido about Kim Basinger, Lorna about Magneto, Quicksilver about his estranged wife Crystal, and Alex about Lorna. Alex is awakened by Rahne Sinclair (Wolfsbane), who is sitting half-dressed at the foot of his bed. She seems upset that he was murmuring Lorna’s name in his sleep, but when he asks the (logical) question of what she’s doing in his room, she makes some lame excuse and takes off. This thing with Rahne and Alex is getting weird. It’s seeming less and less like a teenage crush and more and more like some strange obsession on Rahne’s part. Of course Alex seems completely oblivious to it, so it’s hard for us to estimate how long it’s been going on. Another thing I found interesting here: for all of Alex and Lorna’s talk about rekindling their romance and living together and all that, they’re still sleeping in separate rooms here. I guess they’re not quite ready to pick out china patterns yet.

The next morning, we see Alex and Lorna playing racquetball and discussing Rahne’s late-night visit. Lorna promises to have a “girl-to-girl” talk with her. Lorna also mentions having noticed that Rahne is repressed and edgy about sexuality. Maybe I’m obtuse, but when did Lorna notice this? I mean, it makes sense considering that Rahne was raised by a religious nut who taught her that EVERYTHING is a sin, and who, when he found out she was a mutant, tried to kill her because he thought she was possessed by the devil. But how did Lorna come to the conclusion that Rahne is sexually repressed? Or perhaps I should say, how did Peter David come to that conclusion? Is it something he just made up, or did he notice some hints in the way she had been depicted over the previous ten years? Does this “repression” have anything to do with the way she’s been acting toward Alex? As usual, David raises some interesting possibilities. Anyway, Guido comes in to tell them that the polygraph expert (who also happens to be Val’s ex-husband) has arrived at HQ, and they all have to head over there.

Next we see those shadowy mysterious figures from last issue discussing how well their plans have gone. One of the figures is revealed to be a U.S. senator (with Presidential aspirations) with a family straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Apparently, this senator is the one with the “ricochet” ability to turn people’s powers against them. I can’t help wondering where this guy got HIS powers from. If he’s a mutant, it seems hypocritical for him to hate X-Factor for being mutants, but if he just hates them for having super-powers that would be hypocritical too, since he has powers of his own. Of course hypocrisy in the government is nothing new, so maybe he’s just a typical politician who sees everything in black and white. His mysterious companion isn’t fully depicted here, but he seems to be the mastermind behind the whole plan, and in one panel we see that he has a glint in his eye and a diamond on his forehead. Gee, I wonder who that could be.

Back at X-Factor HQ, the polygraph expert arrives and gets ready to examine the two Jamie Madroxes to figure out which is the real one. Peter David gives us a clue as to one of his influences here. The polygraph guy is named Edmond Atkinson, and Val’s assistant is called Baldrick. Methinks I detect a Blackadder reference here. The proceedings are interrupted by Baldrick, who says that someone has taken hostages at the Washington Monument and is threatening to kill them unless Strong Guy (Guido) shows up to fight him.

When the team gets there, the bad guy (named Slab) says he’s planted a bomb in the Monument which he’ll set off if anyone interferes in the fight between him and Strong Guy. They start to rumble, and while they’re mixing it up, Alex asks Quicksilver to search for the bomb at super-speed. Unfortunately, the senator with the ricochet ability has affected Quicksilver so that whenever he uses his super-speed, he ages rapidly. Consequently, as he’s searching for the bomb at super-speed, he keels over.

Back at HQ, Edmond the polygraph expert concludes that the Jamie Madrox who joined X-Factor isn’t the genuine article; instead, the real Jamie is the one who came out of the crowd at the press conference. Edmond says the impostor may have actually convinced himself he’s the real Jamie, but apparently he’s just a wayward dupe. Nevertheless, he continues to maintain that he’s the real thing, even after the real Jamie mentions the “Coconut Grove incident”, of which the ersatz Jamie has no knowledge. Jamie says Moira MacTaggert can confirm his involvement in the Coconut Grove thing. (This refers to the Fallen Angels miniseries; I haven’t read it, but I know it involves hippy-chicks from space, sentient dinosaurs, and telepathic lobsters: ’nuff said.) Val says she’ll check with Moira to confirm Jamie’s story.

Back at the Monument, Strong Guy and Slab are still going at it, and Rahne brings an unconscious Quicksilver back to the others. Strong Guy manages to get the upper hand in the fight, and we learn that his power is to absorb kinetic energy, so the more someone (like Slab) pounds on him, the stronger he gets. Unfortunately, he gets carried away and reduces the Washington Monument to rubble, immediately after which he utters the immortal line, “Did I err?” (Yeah, I know it’s a Groo line, but it’s so useful; in fact, I used to say it all the time, but I stopped because nobody knew what the hell I was talking about.) Lorna saves the hostages from falling to their deaths and the bomb turns out to be a hoax, but Slab gets away and the Washington Monument is in a million pieces, so I guess we’ll class this one as a Pyrrhic victory. Quicksilver chooses this moment to wake up and ask Alex, “Did I miss anything?”

Right at the end of the issue, we see the evil senator (who we learn is named Steven Schaffran) show up and tell X-Factor that they’re in a lot of trouble. So does that mean that X-Factor’s destruction of the Monument and making a public spectacle of themselves was part of the plan all along? Maybe it was part of Schaffran’s plan, but seeing as how he was talking to that guy with a diamond in his head (and the title of the next issue is “Sinister Maneuvers“, according to the last page), I somehow think there’s more to this than meets the eye. I guess we’ll find out what’s going on in the next (double-sized!) issue

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