X-Factor #13 (1987)

X-Factor #13 (February, 1987)

“Ghosts!”
Writer – Louise Simonson
Pencils – Walter Simonson
Inks – Dan Green
Letters – Joe Rosen
Colors – Petra Scotese
Assistant Edits – Bobbie Chase
Edits – Bob Harras
Chief – Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.75

Today I’m going to start a project that I’ve wanted to start for… literally years.  It started life as an episode of Weird Comics History… shifted over to an episode of Chris and Reggie’s Cosmic Treadmill… and then, well… we just never got around to it.  Listeners of X-Lapsed might know that there’s this weird topic that I sometimes wax nostalgic over… one that, I perhaps romanticize more than I should, because… really, it’s not all that important.

It’s just that, during my late-teen years, when I was a USENET addict – trying to absorb as much as I could about “everything X”, I remember sitting under the learning tree of more seasoned X-Fans… who would write at length about some “what could’a beens”, and dangling plot threads, and aborted storylines.  These tales were always fascinating to me… but none more so, than that of THE TWELVE.

Of course, “The Twelve” would eventually pay off around the turn of the century… but, not in a way anyone would’ve expected… and, for the most part… not in a way anyone really dug.  That’s probably the innate problem with “armchair plotting” these stories that might actually happen… they never wind up being anywhere near as good nor as memorable as we plan them to be in our minds!

And so, today – we’re going all the way back to where the very concept of The Twelve originated – and over the course of the next little while, follow along with the handful of twists and turns that lay ahead for this topic.

I’d like to say I’ll be updating this regularly… I really would… but, ya see… nuBlogger still sucks eggs, and is wildly user-unfriendly.  Wish I wasn’t such a coward, so that I could just jump to a different platform!  Guess that’s the problem of having already logged like two-million words on this page.  Oh well – let’s kick off the coverage with X-Factor #13 (if only they started it one month earlier!)



We open with the Master Mold slamming down into the Bering Strait from the orbiting observatory where it had been defeated.  It sinks like a stone… where it will surely just harmlessly remain, right?  From here, we shift scenes over to the X-Factor Complex in Manhattan, where some of the younger folk (and Beast) have themselves a game of… I dunno, dodge ball?  There’s a ball involved, but that’s really all we know.  Anyhoo, Cyclops is preparing to head out to try and reconcile with his estranged wife, Maddie Pryor… and says his goodbyes.



We follow Scott as he enters a cab, intending to swing by the hospital to check in on Warren’s recovery after their Mutant Massacre run-in with the Marauders.  During the ride, he thinks a lot about everything that’s happened of late… re: Maddie and Jean.  This is a man who is familiar with the sensation of regret.


At the hospital, Warren is joined by Jean, who is also talking a thing or two about regret.  She’s very upset about everything going on with Scott’s family… and also, she and Warren were just recently “walked in on” by Candy Southern… who assumed her beau was cheating on her with the redheaded returnee.  During this conversation, Scott approaches the door… but decides not to enter.


As luck would have it, Jean happens to peek out the window just in time to see Scott’s cab pulling away.  She uses her TK to halt the rig, and heads into the parking lot to have a chat.  She gives Scott a hug and kiss… and says she’s only here to say goodbye.



Once Scott’s on his way, Warren is visited by Cameron Hodge who reveals that Worthington Industries is being sued due to Angel not being completely forthcoming with his finances, re: his X-Factor holdings.  Hodge pretty much tells him that he’s on his own here… 



We return to Scott after he arrives back at his and Maddie’s place.  He’s surprised to see that the house is up for sale.  Scott can’t blame her for moving on with her life, but stews about how often he’s left alone all the same.  He then worries about what baby Nathan will think about him as he gets older.  Oh buddy, you just wait…



Scott tries to get inside his own home, only to find out that Maddie changed the locks.  Lucky for him, he has something of a “master key” in the form of his optic blast.  He proceeds to shoot the lock to gain access.  In so doing, however… PINGS the Master Mold, stirring it back to sentience!  And, we’re looking at this book today simply because of this single panel.  Master Mold awakens… and makes the first-ever reference to the fabled Twelve!  Ya see, old Double-M is here to stop them from… well, doing whatever it was they were supposed to do!



Inside the house, Scott finds diddly and squat.  The whole joint is empty.  He decides to head over to the “Anchorage Hilton”, which looks like it shares a building with Larry and Balki’s apartment.  Hank calls him to check in, while the kiddos are still roughhousing.  They destroy some furniture, which gives us the opportunity to chat up another obscure mutant… the young fella known as Ape!  Ape has a close pal who shows up for a bit, but this other one’s got a pretty problematic name.



Back to the Master Mold — who has just risen from the, assumedly, cold waters of the Bering Strait.  It takes chunks of material from an oil rig, and proceeds to rebuild itself.  Oh, and apparently, this mechanical bugger is mentally “Steven Lang” now.



Later, we rejoin Scott as he checks in with the Real Estate Agent about his house being on the market.  The associate he chats with claims to have spoken to a “man named Summers” on August 5th… which, just so happens to be the same day Scott left to join X-Factor.  Our man gets a bit lippy, and so, the young lady sets off the silent alarm to have him dragged away.



Back to Master Mold… where the big bot tries out its hand blasters.  Looks like they’re working just fine!



Next, Scott heads over to North Star Airlines, hoping to check in with his grandparents.  Welp, they sold out… someone came in and made ’em an offuh dey couldn’t refuse… on August 5th!  Whatta coinkidink!  Oh, and what’s more… the new owner fired everybody else as well!  Scott, once again gets (awkwardly) uppity (I mean, really dude – a cross-face chicken-wing)… and gets tossed.



After a stop at the bar, Scott gets an idea — he’ll head to the Anchorage Hospital where his son was born and try to dig up the records.  After breaking in and scouring the files, however, he’s still got bupkis.  Worth noting, he had to use his optic blast to break into the filing cabinet… which, once again, pinged the Master Mold.  Ya see, Scott — is one of The Twelve!



Next stop for Scott is the public library, where he checks out the ol’ microfiche doohickey looking for records of Maddie’s crash back on September 1st of whatever year that was.  If you recall, everybody in that crash perished… except Maddie, who walked away without a scratch.  He once again… finds nothing.  It’s as though she never existed in the first place! 



Flippin’ through the fiche, Scott happens across the news item for another crash on the same day… one in Jamaica Bay.  One that resulted in an apparent death of one redhead.  Scott digs into the retcon a bit more, and deduces that – hey, if the Phoenix Force could’ve tricked everyone into thinking it was really Jean – could it also have manifested Madeline Pryor into the world?  Scott freaks out at the notion, and rushes back to the house.



There, he’s met by… Maddie and Nate!  But, he knows better.  He calls them fake, and blasts away at them.  Maddie, smiling, doesn’t deny anything – but mentions how convenient it must be for Scott for her to enter his life upon Jean’s “death” – and for she and baby Nathan to vanish into thin air upon her return.



She then shape-shifts from Madeline… to the Phoenix… to Jean… to Dark Phoenix, all the while taunting Scott with her fakeness.  Scott blasts her again, this time taking out a radiator in the corner of the room.  This is a radiator that Nathan would always lose his rattle behind, and – check it out, his rattle is right there!  Maddie and Nate do exist.



We wrap up with a pair of epilogues.  First, a body of a redhead is found, facedown in the drink.  The police officers wonder if this might be the same woman that weirdo with the shiny red specs was asking about.



The second, is the Master Mold… getting ever closer to his target.  Mister One-Twelfth himself: Cyclops!




Loved this issue!

What a great character-piece for Cyclops.  Here’s a guy, who – muddled with regret – is trying to make things right with his estranged family, only to learn that – this family might never have existed at all!  Makes you wonder just who might be screwing with him like this?  For a sorta-paranoid fella like myself, this is completely up my alley.

It reminds me a bit of one of my favorite underrated television shows, Nowhere Man starring Bruce Greenwood.  In the pilot episode, Bruce’s character is out for drinks with his wife – he leaves to use the restroom – and upon return, it’s as though his entire life has been erased.  His wife is gone… when he returns to their house, he finds that she’s married to another guy… and, in fact never even knew him.  It’s a pretty wild ride… until the network (either UPN or WB) totally gave up on it.  That’s the sort of story that really gets into my head… and, it manages to do so here as well.

I love how Scott was able to find Nathan’s rattle.  Whoever is screwing with him, didn’t do a thorough enough job cleaning things up.  Really clever way to give Scott a little bit of assurance that his family actually did exist… and weren’t just manifestations of the Phoenix Force (or whatever).

We get some bubbling subplots here, which are always a delight in these 80’s X-Books.  Warren getting sued, Cameron Hodge not being all that great of a help, Beast trying to keep the kids in line… really good stuff.

Then, there’s the Master Mold – and the revelation that there are Twelve strong, pivotal Mutants “around which others will gather”.  We haven’t the slightest idea what that’s all about just yet… and, we know how disappointingly it’ll all wind up – but, hey… let’s pretend and be blissfully optimistic!

Overall – it’d been a long while since I’d last read these early X-Factor issues.  At this very moment, I’ve actually got the first Essential X-Factor volume sitting on my nightstand – just waiting for me to actually pick it up and read it again.  Maybe one’a these days.  Heck, maybe one’a these days I’ll figure out how to just read comics for fun again!  Fingers crossed…


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One thought on “X-Factor #13 (1987)

  • October 24, 2020 at 12:34 am
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    I've been outta the blogloop for ages now, but what a great post to "come back to"!

    I've yet to ever read this early run, but you've put it back on my radar!

    I think I've got all the X-Factor Essentials, though been thinking of getting the Epic Collections…yet hard to justify since I know I've got the singles fairly easily accessible thanks to the spring "Sort of X" project. (made that term up just now for my having sorted my X-collection) 🙂

    Also seems like some of the early-Apocalypse stuff may be coming back into play for Sword of X? (based on the Sword of X Handbook…only X I've actually read since X-Men #1 last year)

    Reply

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