The Polaris Plot!
Credits: J. M. DeMatteis (writer), Jan Duursema (penciler), Al Milgrom (inker), Richard Starkings (letterer), Mat Webb (colorist)
Wolfsbane and Guido spend time with Charles Xavier, Storm, and Moira McTaggert following Madrox’s funeral. Random arrives at X-Factor’s headquarters to lead Polaris to the government agency that hired him to kill her. He takes Forge and Polaris to their office where they find Crimson Commando, Avalanche, and the head of the agency, Colonel Malone. Forge decides that Malone won’t act in secrecy anymore and X-Factor attacks. When Forge captures Colonel Malone and threatens to expose him, he commits suicide. Another government official, Beatrice Conners, arrives. She orders Avalanche and Crimson Commando to stop fighting and explains “Project Polaris” to the team. The government wanted to use Polaris as a weapon against Magneto, but rather than recruiting her, Malone’s plan was to kidnap and brainwash her into service. Conners apologizes to Polaris and promises to cooperate in the Congressional investigation. Later, when Polaris boards a plane to find Havok, Conners is watching her. Conners is wearing the Malice choker.
Polaris was once possessed by Malice. Her victims always have a choker around their neck when they’re being possessed.
According to Polaris, Random has only killed three times, and only to save innocent lives. Later, Crimson Commando claims that Random’s powers only work against mutants.
This is another issue of X-Factor that seems to alternate between hand lettering and computer lettering.
Almost a year after it was introduced, the “shadowy government agency trying to kill Polaris” storyline is resolved. There’s not a lot of payoff, as it’s revealed that they never wanted to kill her in the first place -- they only wanted to use her as a weapon against a villain that had already been dispatched when most of the storyline was going on. There definitely seems to be some backtracking going on, as Random’s own thought balloons indicated that he was being hired to kill Polaris, plus the government agents sent after her implied the same thing. The inference that none of these people could actually kill her (or that Random wouldn’t actually pull the final trigger) is there, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Why tell the agents to kill her in the first place if they only wanted to capture her? What if someone got lucky?
There’s also some backtracking going on with Random, as Polaris reveals that he’s only had three kills, and that all of them have been justified. It’s not hard to see that this is done to make him a more palatable member of the team. This issue also keeps pushing the idea that Random’s “tough guy” attitude is an act, with Polaris inviting him to join the team at the end of the issue. This is really a lot of effort going into a character originally intended just to be a parody. It’s especially odd to read these scenes and know that Random never even joined the team. This is an awkward issue in retrospect, since it doesn’t offer a satisfying conclusion to one storyline and develops another one that doesn’t go anywhere.