Once Upon a Time…
Credits: Howard Mackie (writer), Cary Nord (penciler), Andrew Pepoy (inker), Gina Going (colors), Chris Eliopoulos (letters)
Summary: Madelyne sends a subconscious prompt to Scotty, giving him instructions on how to defeat the Goblin Queen. He then passes the information telepathically to Havok. Havok joins the X-Men and Dr. Doom’s UN brigade against the Goblin Queen. When Havok is drawn into telepathic combat with Madelyne, a portion of Scotty’s consciousness appears. The Goblin Force inside Madelyne is so afraid of him that it retreats. The Goblin Queen’s influence disappears, leaving Havok to contemplate a new lineup for the Six.
“That’s Crazy Because They’re Different”: Namor is a fierce anti-human bigot in this world. He agrees to help Magneto and Doom infiltrate New York because of a cryptic “blood debt” with Magneto, which he says is now fulfilled.
Continuity Notes: Havok’s research into this world has revealed that Rogue permanently absorbed Colossus’ powers during a confrontation with the Black Queen, and now lives with his memories. He also discovers that in this reality, Spider-Man rescued Gwen Stacy and accidentally snapped the Green Goblin’s neck during their battle on the Brooklyn Bridge.
“Huh?” Moment: Havok decides to tell his teammates the “truth” about where he came from, which is treated as a dramatic revelation. Have the creators already forgotten that Havok revealed his alternate reality past back in the second issue?
Better Than X-Factor?: No, “better” isn’t the word I would use. This is the double-sized grand finale to the first year of storylines in the title, and much like the previous issues, the execution is too rushed and frantic to convey the “epic” feel Mackie's going for. The book’s also sliding far too close to the realm of fan fiction, as the issue opens with a lengthy synopsis of the “Goblin Force,” an evil cosmic entity that’s so powerful it’s killed Galactus and consumed the Phoenix Force. Madelyne made a deal to save Scotty at some point in the past, bargaining with the Goblin Force, which has now consumed her. Yes, the storyline is now a direct “Dark Phoenix Saga” homage, and you can guess just how well it compares to the original. As opposed to Uncanny X-Men #137’s unforgettable ending, this story doesn’t even bother to tell us what happened to Madelyne after Scotty mysteriously compelled the Goblin Force out of her. She’s vaguely “gone.” I don’t know if that means she’s literally disappeared, or if she’s dead and Cary Nord just didn’t draw her body on the ground.
Is there anything to look forward to in this book? Havok assembling a new team has potential, and Mackie’s made the odd decision to begin a romantic subplot between Havok and Elektra this issue, but…how can I be optimistic about this title after seeing how quickly it went off the rails in its first year?