Belles of the Ball
Credits: Peter David (writer), Larry Stroman (pencils), Al Milgrom (inks), Kevin Tinsley (colors), Richard Starkings (letters)
Madrox discovers that Rhapsody did accidentally kill Sharp and leaves her in jail. He returns to Washington with Quicksilver. Guido takes an antidote to Cyber’s poison and the team has a rematch against Cyber and the Hell’s Belles, leading to a conclusive victory for X-Factor.
I Love the ‘90s
Guido jokes about the Dan Quayle/Murphy Brown and “I didn't inhale” stories from the 1992 presidential campaign.
On page 20, two word balloons obviously not lettered by Starkings explain that Quicksilver and Madrox will be acting as back-up. This wouldn’t be so bad if Madrox’s later appearance wasn’t treated as a surprise.
The Hell’s Belles story concludes, ushering the characters away to obscurity. This has been the most traditional story arc in the book so far, and Guido even comments on the fact that they actually have a clear victory for once. It’s not a bad story, but it’s not nearly as interesting as the earlier Madrox and MLF storylines. Stroman’s art isn’t up to his usual standards, but most of it still works. When the Image exodus first happened, Stroman was announced as Marc Silvestri’s replacement on Wolverine, but that never happened. He left for Image not long after the other artists, did a few issues of Tribe, and then disappeared from comics (until recently, that is).
Guido isn’t very heroic in this issue, but not in the creepy X-Force “shoot the villain in the back” way. He’s more than willing to trade Shrew back to the Hell’s Belles in exchange for the antidote, rationalizing that they can just save her later and that her testifying against drug lords won’t change things anyway. Rather than making Guido unlikable, David actually makes Guido more human and uses it as an opportunity to expand his characterization. There’s also a great scene with Havok on the last page.