Credits: John Francis Moore (plot), Brian K. Vaughan (script), Steve Epting & Nick Napolitano (pencilers), Al Milgrom (inker), Comicraft (letters), Kevin Tinsley (colors)
Summary: Five years ago, Apocalypse’s men shot down an alien craft over Manhattan. Today, Christopher Summers escapes from Sinister’s custody and runs into the city. Sinister sends the Prelates to find him, but intentionally excludes Cyclops and Havok. When the Prelates fail, Cyclops and Havok search for Christopher. Christopher recognizes them as his children, and tells them the story of his alien abduction and eventual return to Earth. After facing a group of scavengers, the trio takes refuge during a storm. Later, infected humans attack their shelter. They’re rescued by Sinister, who explains that he hid Christopher from Cyclops and Havok because he was infected with alien DNA. Christopher suddenly mutates into a Brood Queen, and with his remaining humanity, begs Cyclops to kill him. As they dispose of his body, Havok declares he’ll never forgive Cyclops.
Continuity Notes: In the opening sequence, set five years ago, Beast is still human and Havok and Cyclops are training to become Prelates. Emplate and “the Monets” are Prelates in the present day, although Christopher Summers apparently kills Emplate. While on the run from Sinister, Christopher is aided by the AoA version of Joe Robertson. While under the Brood’s influence, Christopher kills him. He also infects Colleen Wing, who kills Misty Knight. During Christopher’s tale of his alien abduction, we see that the Brood have overtaken the Shi’ar in this timeline.
Production Note: This is a$5.99 prestige format book with no ads.
Review: Factor X was probably the most consistent of the AoA titles, so I’m glad Marvel revived these characters instead of presenting another underwhelming prequel story about the X-Men. Factor X’s John Francis Moore and Steve Epting return, aided by Brian K. Vaughn and Nick Napolitano. I know that Vaughn was a new writer Marvel was trying out in these days, but I’ve never heard of Napolitano. I can’t really tell where his art begins and Epting’s ends, which does at least give the book a consistent look.
The story is well-structured, taking advantage of the forty-eight page format. The opening “five years ago” scene is really only there to establish the arrival of Corsair (only called Christopher Summers in the story), but Moore also uses the space to establish the cast and set up the conflicts between Cyclops and Havok. The other cast members of Factor X aren’t the focus of the story, but they are at least given enough room to make more than cameos. Introducing the AoA version of Corsair is more significant than, say, the AoA Inhumans, which makes the one-shot feel like a legitimate story that’s perhaps deserving of the format.
I like the revelation that Corsair is actually a Brood Queen (for a second, I wondered if he would turn into the AoA version of Man-Wolf), although I have my continuity quibbles about the idea. The AoA diverged twenty years ago with Xavier’s death in Israel. Corsair was abducted by the Shi’ar a few years later, and as this story shows, they’re already Brood-infected by this point. How did Xavier’s death, years before he would’ve had contact with Lilandra and the Shi’ar, lead to the Brood taking over the Shi’ar? I realize this is kind of pedantic, but it goes against the basic premise of the Age of Apocalypse. The AoA isn’t just another alternate reality; it diverged from ours at a specific point. Xavier’s death would’ve had a large chain reaction on mutants on Earth, but it wouldn’t have impacted one alien race taking over another (especially if they’re doing it years before the X-Men had any contact with them). The inconsistency doesn’t hinder my enjoyment of the book, though. Besides, I’ve already come up with my own No-Prize explanation.