The Man Who Wasn’t There
Credits: Scott Lobdell & Joe Quesada (plot), J. M DeMatteis (script), Joe Quesada w/Cliff van Meter (pencils), Al Milgrom (inks), Richard Starkings (letterer), Glynis Oliver (colors)
After the Acolytes attack a hospice in Virginia, X-Factor interrogates their captured member, Spoor. He refuses to cooperate until Quicksilver enters. Eager to please Magneto’s son, he tells them about the Acolytes’ plans to attack a military base. Val Cooper takes Quicksilver and Random to the base, but refuses to bring the rest of X-Factor along. The remaining members follow Cooper to the military base, where it’s revealed that the government is manufacturing Sentinels again. Havok is angered that Val Cooper knew about this project, but Quicksilver speaks up for the government’s right to defend its citizens. The Acolytes attack, and their leader Fabian Cortez attempts to draw Quicksilver over to his side. After a brief fight, the Acolytes teleport away, including the tentacle creature living inside Val Cooper. The Acolyte was controlling Cooper, and she apologizes for leading X-Factor into a trap. When X-Factor learns that Val Cooper already knew about the Sentinel project before she was possessed, they walk away from her.
Like all parts of the Fatal Attractions crossover, this issue has a cardstock hologram cover.
Exodus briefly appears for the first time. He observes X-Factor in their ship and then flies away. I seem to recall that this issue was promoted at the first appearance of a major new X-character, but that certainly doesn’t sound like Exodus, does it?
Madrox is forced to kill the Acolyte Mellancamp. Who came up with these names?
Val Cooper was attacked by the tentacle creature in issue #87. I have no idea what Peter David originally intended it to be, but I doubt it was supposed to be an Acolyte.
Just a few months after the X-Cutioner’s Song ends, the next X-crossover begins. Looking around the internet, it seems like a lot of fans still have fond memories of X-Cutioner’s Song. Fatal Attractions, on the other hand, looks like it was forgotten by most readers and outright loathed by the ones who do remember it. Most of the rancor comes from the portrayal of Magneto, which is still a few months away. Rather than tightly interconnecting between four titles for three months, Fatal Attractions produced mostly standalone issues that all contributed to a larger story. I would consider this a preferable way to handle a crossover, and it does allow X-Factor to maintain its own identity, unlike the previous crossover.
In order to build up the Acolytes as legitimate adversaries, it’s not a bad idea to have a satellite team like X-Factor face them. It creates a feeling of a cohesive universe, while also creating a sense that the Acolytes are a threat to all of the mutant teams. Quicksilver’s connection to his father is a logical angle to explore if you’re participating in a crossover about Magneto, and the beginning of the issue does a good job of showing Quicksilver’s feelings about his father’s legacy. However, the purpose of this issue appears to be moving Quicksilver closer to the side of Magneto. In that respect, it fails pretty badly. Quicksilver is rightly sickened by the actions of the Acolytes, and even defends the government’s right to build Sentinels for protection. After two pages of conversation with Fabian Cortez, Quicksilver has suddenly changed his mind, and even calls Val Cooper a “genetic slur” as he abandons her. If Cortez had a legitimate point about anything, this wouldn’t bother me. Instead, he just babbles about Quicksilver’s true fate as Magneto’s son, Quicksilver gets mad at him, then he teleports away. Why would any of this sway Quicksilver?
For no reason outside of Marvel’s insistence that he was comics’ next superstar, Random also shows up. Why exactly a possessed Val Cooper would bring him along is never explained. The story moves briskly so his presence isn’t really distracting, thankfully. I don’t want to be too hard on this issue. The opening scene with the Acolytes attacking the hospice is disturbing, and DeMatteis’ script is able to treat it as more than just shock value. With the exception of the ending, I like Quicksilver’s characterization in this issue, and wish more would have been done with the idea of a mutant siding with the government on the Sentinel issue. Most of the artwork is strong, and the actual fight with the Acolytes isn’t bad. Fatal Attractions doesn’t really fall apart until Magneto himself shows up.