The Peter David Factor:

Part 7

X-Factor #76 (March 1992) — X-Communication — Well, I guess it had to happen sooner or later, with Peter David writing X-Factor: that’s right, a Hulk crossover. The first part of the crossover took place in Incredible Hulk #391 (which I didn’t read), but apparently it went something like this: in the (fictional) country of Trans-Sabal, X-Factor is fighting on behalf of the government against rebels led by the Pantheon and their ally, the Hulk. (The Pantheon are a bunch of super-types with hi-tech armor and weapons who are named after mythological Greek heroes.) After a big fight between the two super groups, Alex (Havok) and the Hulk have disappeared, and Rahne (Wolfsbane) has been knocked miles away. That’s where we come in.

Rahne lies unconscious in the rocky desert, until she is found by a guy named Jolel and his sister Sandah. Sandah says Rahne may be a demon of some sort (since she’s in her half-wolf form), but Jolel thinks she may be an enemy of the government. Jolel (who is very religious) seems to think that finding Rahne is an omen of some sort. So they take Rahne back to town, where they plan to tie her up and await instructions from the Farnoq. The Farnoq is the political leader of the country, but also seems to be the religious leader. Jolel speaks of the Farnoq with reverence, almost as if he’s a god. Just before Jolel and his sister take Rahne to town, she comes to momentarily and, while hallucinating, sees the face of Rictor, her former boyfriend. So in spite of her recent attraction to Alex, it seems as though she hasn’t completely forgotten Rictor.

We next see the rest of X-Factor searching for Alex and Rahne. They aren’t having much luck, but manage to figure out which direction Rahne was sent flying. Before they can look for her, they hear the Pantheon and the rebels launching a fresh attack on the government forces, whom X-Factor are supposed to be aiding. While Quicksilver goes to search for Rahne at super-speed, Lorna (Polaris), Jamie (Multiple Man), and Guido (Strong Guy) confront the Pantheon and the rebels.

In town, Rahne wakes up to find herself tied to a chair. Her captors Jolel and Sandah tell her she’s not going anywhere until Farnoq Dahn sees her. She tells them she’s working for the Farnoq against the rebels, but Jolel doesn’t believe her; they are at an impasse, and when Rahne tries to appeal to Sandah, Jolel informs her that his sister is “merely a woman”, and has no say in the matter. Naturally, this doesn’t sit too well with Rahne, and she wonders if Jolel’s attitude comes from his “worship” of Farnoq Dahn, who is apparently something of a chauvinist himself. Jolel doesn’t take criticism of his idol too well, which creates even more tension between him and Rahne. Interestingly, as Rahne comes to in this scene, she again says Rictor’s name; perhaps Peter David is preparing us for an appearance by Rictor.

We now see the object of Jolel’s reverence, Farnoq Dahn himself. He is at his palace, offering wine to Valerie Cooper, X-Factor’s government liaison. This guy looks like Errol Flynn, but he seems like a smarmy bastard. I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him; in fact, even though this scene is brief, I get the impression that he may have drugged the wine he’s offering Val.

Back in the desert, X-Factor is getting the upper hand against the rebels when Ulysses, Ajax, and Atalanta show up. Guido and Ajax mix it up, Atalanta uses her arrows against Lorna, and Ulysses gets a surprise when he fights Jamie. Meanwhile, Quicksilver is still looking for Rahne and heads for town. Unfortunately, Prometheus (another Pantheon member) is tracking him.

At Jolel and Sandah’s house, Rahne is using her claws to work on the rope binding her to the chair. She contemplates changing into her full-wolf form, but apparently she’s had trouble controlling herself in that form lately, and is afraid of hurting Jolel. I haven’t seen any evidence of Rahne’s lack of control, but she hasn’t been in full-wolf form too much lately. She and Jolel are still arguing about their respective cultures and religions, when Rahne hears Quicksilver calling for her as he searches the town. She has loosened her bonds enough to stand and crash through the window, even though she’s still attached to the chair. As Quicksilver comes to help her, he is intercepted by Prometheus in a hi-tech vehicle.

Back on the battlefield, X-Factor are rallying against their opponents. Guido smashes Ajax, and Lorna takes control of Atalanta’s arrows. When Ajax inadvertently hurts Atalanta, he smashes through his own ranks to get her to safety. (Apparently he has a thing for Atalanta; he’s also an idiot.) With their tanks smashed, the Pantheon is forced to retreat. X-Factor decides not to give chase, but to continue the search for Alex and Rahne.

In town, Quicksilver is dodging Prometheus’s pulse cannon, as Rahne struggles to free herself from her bonds. Jolel comes out with a knife, but before he can harm Rahne, his sister Sandah conks him with a bottle. Sandah then cuts Rahne loose. Rahne prepares to go to Quicksilver’s aid, but before she can, she’s distracted by the sight of Jolel stabbing his sister. He seems horrified at what he’s done, and says he can’t control himself when he’s angry. Apparently, neither can Rahne, because when she sees what he’s done, she turns into her full-wolf form and attacks him. We don’t see exactly what happens, but the implication is that she kills him, probably in a somewhat bloody fashion. She changes back to her half-wolf form, and she and Quicksilver leave. When he asks her what’s wrong, she says she’s going to burn, which again suggests that she killed Jolel.

This issue had a bit of a “filler” feel to it, since it was a crossover with Incredible Hulk, but it was still ok. Tom Raney did the art, and I like his stuff better than Larry Stroman’s work; it’s a lot less scratchy and more realistic. The fact that Rahne is having trouble controlling her wolf side may be related to her seemingly uncontrollable “crush” on Alex. Also, the fact that she’s killed in cold blood is sure to have future repercussions. Even though there’s no mention of it at the end of this issue, I think this storyline may have been continued back in Incredible Hulk #392 (which I also didn’t read). It’s kind of weird, but in this Incredible Hulk crossover, which was written by Hulk scribe Peter David, we never even got to see the Hulk! Anyway, X-Factor’s regular storyline resumes next issue with a visit from the Mutant Liberation Front; don’t miss it!

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