Age of Apocalypse Part 22
Factor - X Issue #3
Written by John Francis Moore
Art by Steve Epting with Terry Dodson
Inks by Al Milgrom
Lettered by Starkings & Comicraft
Outside the pens a beast is ripping apart Infinities like they are stuffed piñata at a child’s birthday party. When in steps Alex Summers to help break up the fight by blasting the beast with his cosmic energy blast. thereby, knocking out the creature so that the infinities can lock him back up in his pen.
Just then his brother Scott rolls onto the scene on his motorcycle. Scott checks on his brother and Alex is momentarily distracted with his thoughts of his brother; and how much he hates him. Alex doesn’t see the beast jump up. The creature slashes at Alex’s back. Scott is able to shoot the creature off his brother and give the feral beast a full shot of is optic blast, thereby ending it’s sad existence.
Scott offers to help Alex up, but he basically tells him to back off. Alex also hints that Scott’s days as leader could be numbered. Alex then walks off, leaving Scott with his own thoughts. “All I see is hatred in my brother’s eyes.” he thinks.
A transport crawls up to the gate entrance where an infinite stands guard. The rear door to the automatic transport opens and the guard walks up to the transport to unload it. The infinite is knocked out by a large metal object. Out steps the mutant Jean Grey, who was last seen in Weapon-X issue 2; and we get a quick flashback of her leaving Logan back in England.
Jean then uses her power to animate the unconscious guard to make it appear as though she is a prisoner. This façade allows her to enter the slave pens without interference from any possible guards in the area.
Inside the building, Jean tries to find her way to Sinister’s personal chambers in the hopes of convincing him to help the rebels stop Apocalypse. Suddenly, her mind is attacked by some psychic force. Jean attempts to fight it, and learns that it is something in the building. She discovers that a series of disembodied telepaths send out a signal to numb any trespassing mutant. To better fight the psychic attack she dumps her life size puppet of a guard. Jean feels much better as her focus is no longer split and she can easily block the psychic force.
Jean then walks further into Sinister's domain, and she comes across his personal chambers and see’s it devastated from issue 1. While she scans through the wreckage for clues to his location we get another flashback of Sinister, Logan, and Jean meeting.
Sinister appears to be the one that provided the information about the defensive wall. The very same info that Logan and Jean delivered to the humans in Europe. Jean is also unaware of a wolf sneaking up behind her, until it gives itself away by growling.
Jean hits the creature with a telepathic blast that knocks it down. She then scans the wolf to find that it has an intelligence of a human psyche. Just then Jean is blast from behind by the Prelate Alex Summers. He then makes a smug remark that today is a great day as he has captured the “gene traitor” Jean Grey.
Cut To the Nightclub Heaven:
Scarlett the human singer is freshening up her makeup after battling a wave of nausea in her last set. Hints that maybe our starlet is pregnant and doesn’t want to let her boss know just yet. She exits the restroom ad walks up to Angel her boss to discuss the usual matters after a music number. Just then the two Bedlam brothers walk into the club, and are greeted by the Angelic lounge owner.
They inform Warren and Scarlett that they are here to put Scarlett into custody on accusations of her being a human resistance spy. Scarlett feigns innocence and asks if there is proof. One of the brothers informs her that the bartender they previously arrested rated her out. Scarlett then runs to make a quick escape. She is cut down mentally by one of the Bedlam Brothers.
Scarlett pleads to Warren to help her, but he pours himself a drink and asks if Alex knows about the accusations. Obviously Warren knows how attached Alex is to Scarlette. One of the brothers point out the Alex is head of security and he will find out soon enough.
Back at the Slave Pens:
Alex finds his brother Scott and confronts him with an accusation that he is a traitor and tells Scott to follow him to McCoy’s lab to find out the truth. Scott follows if only to see what his younger brother has stirred up. Alex has led Scott to the Lab of one Hank McCoy a.k.a. the Dark Beast. There he has Jean Grey tied up in restraints and is interrogating her to find out why she is here and what she knows.
Scott is surprised, and Alex pouncing on that fact and lays out his accusations about his brother's activities. Accusation that he and Jean have been working together to help slaves escape the pens. That Scott is responsible for the recent breakouts and that Scott is a traitor to Apocalypse. Alex demands that if he is wrong Scott should be able to prove it. Scott answers with one word. “NO”.
At that, Alex signals the Guthrie siblings to attack. Cannonball is quick and knocks Scott off balance and off his feet allowing the Megamorph of Elisabeth to smash Scott into the ground knocking him out. Alex then gloats over his brother's demise. He then promotes the two mutants that assisted him and orders McCoy to take the former leader of the prelates and dissect him or “something”.
Scott comes to, to find himself trussed up next to Jean in Dark Beast's Lab. Jean has been keeping Beast distracted with small talk while attempting to work her restraints loose. She finally makes it possible for the restraint to be loose enough to allow her power to work. She manages to telekinetically move Scotts visor of his face to shoot Beast an unrestricted optic blast. After a quick discussion as to her next move jean and Scott escape from Beast’s Lab.
Apocalypse is sitting on his throne and calls Rex to him. Apocalypse has decide to destroy Mr. Sinister’s slave pens and orders the guards to kill or cull and prisoners. To be continued.
THOUGHTS ON THE STORY:
I really enjoyed this chapter in the Factor-X storyline. We get a well laid out narrative that tells us about some of the characters past, as well as motivation of characters in other books. We are shown several story beats and with editors assistance we understand how this issue ties into other Age of Apocalypse stories.
The one drawback I feel to the story is the interaction with Scott and Alex. Yes Alex is tired of being the younger brother that lives in the shadow of his older brother, but he is constantly telegraphing to Scott that he knows that Scott is a traitor.
It’s mentioned in the opening of the book, the middle, as well as the end. I would think that Alex would know to keep his mouth shut until it's time to take in Scott for being a traitor. But no there he is babbling away.
Steve Epting and Terry Dobson share penciling credits on this issue. With Steve taking the bulk of the work. After reading the story and then flipping thorough one can see the clear changes with the two different artists. Terry’s lines are more rounded line work giving women’s faces a more feminine fullness with little to know definition with cross hatching. It makes his pages really pop from Steve Eptings pages. Terry’s work is mostly used in flashback pages and any scene changes from the main story. I’ve always been a fan of Terry Dobson’s art it is beautiful to look at and has a warm glow to his pages.
Steve Epting has some really great line work. His style is more sharper and angular. It gives the feel of a dystopian feel to the world. His detail to background and defining shadows with his cross hatches lends to the books visceral feel of seriousness and dread at each page flip.
Although these two styles contrast to each other they really lend to the flow of the book. With Terry’s art as flashbacks and Segway from the main story it doesn’t pull you out of the story. The two blend well with the story’s narrative.
Score 8 out of 10