November 1985: X-Factor 1 – Think maybe Ghostbusters gonna sue somebody?

Synopsis: X-Factor #1 was written by Bob Layton with pencils by Jackson Guice and inks by the two of them along with Joe Rubenstein and opens with Scott Summers the former X-Man called Cyclops using his powerful optic blasts to chop wood in his Alaska home. His wife Madelyn calls him in and there’s clearly tension there as he is less interested in his wife and baby son Christopher than how bad things are for mutants like him elsewhere in the world.This reminds Madelyn that Scott only moved to Alaska because he was beaten by Storm for the right to lead the X-Men.

In the home of Warren Worthington III the former Angel some construction work is going on at the same time, Robert Drake and Dr Henry McCoy are leaving for New York. They realise as the masked heroes Angel, Iceman and Beast they aren’t doing so well and it’s time to do other things with their lives. They are present enough to save a builder from a fall, but soon Bobby and Hank are gone. Despite putting on a brave face, Warren is fairly bummed over the whole affair, until he gets a call too. He immediately rushes towards the airport.

Elsewhere two sailors, Chief Petty Officer Fisher and Rusty Collins are enjoying some shore leave.

The senior of the two sets Rusty up with a local girl who’s known for liking sailors and he’s pressured to get intimate with her. He panics and we and he learn that he is a mutant and his thing is fire. The woman he is with is badly burned and his life as it was is over. At the airport, a shirtless Warren is met by Reed ‘Mr Fantastic’ Richards of the Fantastic Four, who informs him that Jean Grey is alive.

Time passes and Scott arrives and is face to face with the love of his life Jean Grey, once more. Jean explains what happens, with Phoenix replacing her, completely believing itself to be Jean whilst she lay recovering in a cocoon in Jamaica Bay, recently revived by the Avengers and Fantastic Four, she knows of nothing that has happened since X-Men #100. Scott is visibly distraught, learning that the Jean that he knew since X-Men #101 wasn’t really Jean and the woman he lost and grieved over wasn’t Jean at all.

Jean is also distraught that both Angel and Cyclops are no longer active and storms out, Angel follows and calms her down telling her, that maybe they should do more for thge mutant cause andmhe has a plan. Two weeksass when we learn that Hank has been unsuccessful at his 15th research job interview and both he and Bobby are thrilled at the chance to meet with Warren when he asks for them. The gang are mostly back together, but no one has seen Scott.

The gang catch up with Scott at Jamaica Bay and it’s clear that he’s not doing well. He’s adrift and looking for anything familiar, the rest of the first graduating class of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters is back together and there’s a plan as what to do next.

The plan as laid out by Cameron Hodge, an old school friend of Warren and an expert in public relations, is that the team will rescue, teach and potentially recruit new mutants under the guise of capturing them for payment. Halfway between a con and a Ghostbusters type operation. There’s advertisements already for this group, called X-Factor. They even have their first case. Whilst Rusty Collins is in the brig, Chief Fisher attempts to kill him, which causes Rusty to panic and use his powers again, leading to an escape and an out of control fire. Realising that if Rusty was taken alive, Fisher would be in trouble, he calls X-Factor.

As X-Factor, the team meet with Fisher and learn where Rusty was heading, then they change into their costumes and use their powers to keep Rusty free from the Navy and then contain him. Then they show Chief Fisher the bill and at their headquarters free Rusty and offer to help him, the way Charles Xavier helped them and in Anchorage Alaska Madelyn Pryor fears for her marriage.

Notes: This is the end of Scott Summers as a hero. Chris Claremont wrote Scott Summers something of a happy ending. After heartache, years as a super hero and a very difficult journey to manhood, Scott married and had a son, he was leaving the only life he ever knew and that was a good thing.

Then the X-Men got really popular, Kurt Busiek saw the loophole in bringing Jean Grey back, Marvel saw a chance to sell another spin off and the assassination of the heroic nature of Cyclops had begun. Now he wasn’t the leader of the X-Men, he was the guy who left his wife and baby son to get back with his ex. Not the first guy who’s ever done that and this is not a man who had an emotionally healthy upbringing, but this series started with stuff that has followed Cyclops ever since.

But, you may ask, what about the actual comic?

Well the actual comic was good. Layton plots a good story and most of the dialogue works, his characters are dripping in melodrama, but that is the story he has been given to tell and the idea of the original X-Men wanting to do something with their legacy is an interesting one. The ongoing plots of the Scott\Jean/Madelyn triangle, the Scott/Jean/Warren triangle as well as the duplicitous nature of X-Factor is all kicked off nicely and gives the writer(s) plenty of places to go.

Jackson Guide is something of an unexpected delight, excellent consistent character work and exciting action scenes. I particularly liked that using his powers, you can’t tell if Rusty is on fire or is part fire, which is a great visual.

This is the story of what happens when school friends meet up a few years later and life has done some damage to them. They were jaded, disillusioned or broken and come together when they meet again. Cyclops points out that only with the team is he himself. Can’t hurt that the love of his life is back and is a few years younger than his almost identical wife.

X-Factor was the first non-Claremont X-Title and despite this came out strong right out of the gate.
Next Time: No Amazing friends here due

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