Credits: Bill Rosemann (writer), Leo Fernandez (penciler), Dan Green (inker), Comicraft (letters), Ian Laughlin (colors)
Summary: Wild Child locates Val Cooper, who is spending Christmas with her ex-husband Edmond Atkinson. Val reveals to Edmond her first meeting with Wild Child as a young bureaucrat. She was assigned to look over Wild Child, not knowing her superiors were actually agents of the Secret Empire, a group looking to develop remorseless killers. Sabretooth abruptly enters, revealing that Val covered up for the Secret Empire in order to protect her career. After government agents chase Wild Child and Sabretooth away, Val reads the note Wild Child left her. He forgives her for not revealing the conspiracy, because he knows she’s used her government career to help mutants. Wild Child escapes into the night, as his feral mutation continues.
Continuity Notes: According to Val, Wild Child left Alpha Flight after the mutant Wyre went on a killing spree at Department H. I know Wyre was a character created towards the end of Alpha Flight’s run, but I don’t know if this event ever occurred on-panel.
Review: This is a fill-in issue, which apparently exists to explain away some of the mysteries that surrounded Wild Child joining the team, and to write him out of the book. Rosemann doesn’t have Mackie’s tin ear for dialogue, and the demands of a one-issue story require him to actually resolve the ideas he introduces, so we actually get a tolerable issue of X-Factor. I don’t like the idea that Val has been involved in a government cover-up (to the point that she witnessed a drugged out Wild Child killing a homeless person), but Rosemann does try his best to humanize Val and keep her motives sympathetic. How exactly Sabretooth knows this information isn’t clear, but I guess we’re supposed to assume he knows about these kinds of things due to his long life and various connections to numerous characters in the Marvel Universe. The art comes from Leo Fernandez, who decides to avoid following Matsuda and Rouleau’s example and instead draws the issue in an Andy Kubert style. It’s a little lifeless in places, but for the most part he’s able to tell the story, and I like his interpretation of Sabretooth.
The Fall of the Brotherhood
Credits: Howard Mackie (writer), Duncan Rouleau (penciler), Art Thibert (inker), Comicraft’s Kaff Schoil (letters), Glynis Oliver (colors)
Summary: Fixx, Archer, and Greystone assume the bodies of three bus crash victims. Following orders from their mysterious leader, they arrange to meet with Mystique. When she agrees to hear them out, they claim they have to stop Havok. Meanwhile, Shard is heading for the city when she senses the arrival of the XUE officers, as Havok and an injured Ever protect citizens from Dark Beast’s experiments. Havok tells Aurora to leave the Brotherhood’s hideout, before he finally confronts Dark Beast. Suddenly, Mystique enters with the XUE officers, as Shard arrives to protect Havok.
Continuity Notes: Mystique is willing to hear the XUE officers out when they deliver a message from their leader, telling her that this is the time Destiny foretold. Dark Beast claims that Fatale was “created by me, over and over again,” indicating she’s another one of his genetic experiments. The XUE characters are able to resume their true forms, even after possessing bodies in the present.
We Get Letters: Editorial response from a fan disgruntled by Wizard’s announcement that X-Factor will now focus on individual characters, rather than a team: “You can’t believe everything you read…after all, Wizard said X-Factor was going to be cancelled, and look at us now!”
Review: It seems as if X-Factor is starting to resolve its numerous dangling storylines, even though no one at Marvel seems to know they’re getting cancelled yet. Havok is fully in his “I was just fakin’!” phase, retroactively declaring that he was still under Dark Beast’s influence when he nearly killed Polaris months earlier. Never mind all of those narrative captions and inner monologues that proclaimed that we’re finally seeing the real Havok, of course. While I’m glad the grievous mistake of turning Havok evil has been rectified, we still have a lot of nonsense with Shard, Mystique, and the XUE. I have no idea what the point of the XUE is even supposed to be, but they’re apparently the new stars of the series. After damaging established characters like Havok, Polaris, Mystique, and Sabretooth for years, why not invent totally new characters to portray illogically and inconsistently? They want Havok “taken down” for mysterious reasons, they need Mystique to do it for mysterious reasons, and their leader in the future has to stay in the dark for mysterious reasons. Par for the course for this book. I’m sure they’ll be shown the same care as the mysteries surrounding the Hound Program, Bowser, Graydon Creed’s killer, and Trevor Chase.