Credits: Peter David (writer), Terry Shoemaker (penciler), Mark McKenna (inker), Lois Buhalis (letterer), Joe Rosas (colorist)
As a child, Charlie Ronalds watched as a mutant murdered his parents. Years later, his friend Guido Carosella accidentally puts Charlie in the hospital when his mutant powers emerged. Charlie spends the rest of his life hating mutants and studying the occult. The devil Cloot gives Charlie mystic powers if he agrees to attack X-Factor and force them into selling their souls. Renaming himself Charon, he recruits the souls of X-Factor’s greatest enemies, the Chalker family. Charon and the Chalkers confront X-Factor, but the team’s never heard of them. All of the Chalkers accidentally killed themselves before they could ever attack X-Factor. The team defeats the Chalkers, and Cloot takes Charon to Hell with him.
This issue comes polybagged with a Charon trading card.
The mutant who kills Charlie Ronalds’ parents is heavily implied to be Random. Their death scene is an obvious nod to Batman's origin.
Peter David uses the “new character” annual gimmick to finally conclude his Chalker family subplot. Ever since the beginning of his run, various subplot pages were devoted to the Chalkers vowing to destroy X-Factor and then accidentally killing themselves. It’s a funny parody of the “mysterious villain plotting in the background” cliché, but it certainly went on for a long time. Their storyline is tied into the debut of Charon, a character from Guido’s backstory who was briefly mentioned in X-Factor #87. It’s not a bad issue, but even after a lengthy setup, Charon still comes across as a disposable, one-shot villain. He barely knew Guido as a child, so there’s not even a lot for the characters to say to one another when they finally meet again. The Chalkers are predictably weak opponents, but their fight scene with X-Factor isn’t really that amusing, either. The scene with Random killing two innocent people seems odd when you consider the fact that Marvel thought that he had great potential and wanted him to join the team. Even after this issue, a lot of fans were eager for Random to “finally” join the team.
What Have You Got To Hide?
Credits: Skip Dietz (writer), Buzz (penciler), Al Milgrom (inker), Dave Sharp (letterer), Carlos Lopez (colorist)
Val Cooper, for ominous purposes, reviews the histories of each X-Factor member.
This is typical annual back-up material, brief origin recaps of the cast, yet Dietz is able to make it worthwhile. Considering the fact that many of these characters are pretty obscure, it’s surprising that it took almost two years for a story like this to happen. Rather than resorting to bland flashbacks, Dietz adds a human element to the story. The flashbacks address the psychological impact previous stories have had on the characters, while alternating scenes show how the team feels about government employees looking into their pasts. Dietz picks up on Havok’s established insecurity and Peter David’s idea that the team members don’t really understand each other. It’s not bad, especially for annual filler.
Crawlin’ From the Wreckage
Credits: Skip Dietz (writer), Chris Batista (penciler), Jeff Albrecht (inker), Pat Brosseau (letterer), Joe Rosas (colorist)
Guido searches for survivors of a subway wreck, but only finds a small dog. Guido’s lack of tact offends the rescue workers and victims’ families. A dejected Guido walks away with the puppy.
I loved this story as a kid, and still enjoy it today (even if it is pretty gruesome subject matter for a brief annual back-up). It’s actually my favorite story in this issue, reminding me of the better Classic X-Men back-ups. Dietz writes a very human portrayal of Guido that’s still generally consistent with his established personality. I don’t know if Dietz went on to do more work in comics, but I wish he‘d done more work for the X-office in this era.