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Thursday, March 8, 2018

X-amining X-Factor #99

"The Cure!"
February 1994

In a Nutshell
Haven cures Wolfsbane

Writer: J.M. DeMatteis
Penciler: Jan Duursema
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Starkings
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Corvese
Group Editor: Harras
Chief: Tom DeFalco

After an exhaustive night going over the government's data on Haven, Polaris remains suspicious of her terrorist intentions, but concedes the government may be right. Just then, Random arrives, seeking asylum from the government forces that hired him to kill Polaris. Forge proceeds to hire him on as extra muscle for X-Factor's upcoming mission to arrest Haven. Meanwhile, Haven shows Val Cooper more of her operation. Later, X-Factor arrives at Haven's estate and are greeted by her brother, Monsoon. When Random attacks him, a fight breaks out, until Haven quells it and invites everyone inside. X-Factor is stunned to see Val on the side of Haven, who doesn't deny the charges that she's trying to trigger a new beginning for humanity by wiping out large swaths of the population. When Wolfsbane, feeding off Havok's anger, attacks Val, Haven grabs her and manages to cure her of the mutate process, returning her to her human form and severing her bond with Havok, at which point a grateful Wolfsbane declares she is standing with Haven.

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue, Haven is able to restore Rahne to her original condition, giving her the ability to once again turn human without reverting to her mindless Genoshan mutate state, and severing the mental connection between her and Havok, removing the condition that had been the status quo for the character since "X-tinction Agenda".

Jan Duursema pencils this issue, and though this isn't her first, it's considered the beginning of her run as the series regular artist, giving the book a regular artist for the first time since #92. She will stick around through issue #111 (with a couple fill-ins).

This issue marks the first appearance of Monsoon, Haven's brother, who basically has Storm's power (focused, presumably based on his name, on extreme weather). This issue and the next (along with a flashback appearance in X-Factor Annual #9) constitute his only appearances to date.

In another reference to what will turn out to be the mutant fetus inside Haven, she declares that "he" showed her the future she is attempting to bring about.

Another comes when she references the "voice inside" her.

An editorial on the letters page announces that issue #87 was voted the Favorite Single Story of the year in Wizard.

The Statement of Ownership lists the average number of issues sold in the previous year as 423,806, with the issue nearest to the filing date at 665,825. Which is less than Uncanny X-Men, but unlike that series (whose numbers dipped a bit) is a slight increase over the previous filing (which was 448,558 and 324,100).

A Work in Progress
X-Factor flies their Polaris-powered magnetic ship, last seen in issue #92, to confront Haven.

There's another nice moment between Strong Guy & Wolfsbane this issue; as she freaks out to the point that she transforms into her full wolf form, it's Strong Guy who intervenes, saying she needs a friend while letting her bite his arm.

This issue makes it clear that the three Marox left standing are the still-morose Madrox Prime, the dupe who really likes Haven, and the one who absolutely hates her.

Madrox finds himself unable to create more than a few dupes, and the ones he does create (aside from the two he can't reabsorb), are listless and can't act on their own.

Strong Guy jokes that Monsoon may not be a mutant, he could have just been bit by a radioactive storm front. 

The Grim 'n; Gritty 90s
Polaris argues that the intelligence regarding Haven could be somewhat overstated by the intelligence community, much in the same way they trumped up the Red Menace of the Cold War to keep the military industrial complex humming, which is both an oversimplification of Cold War politics (though not outright wrong), and also a mildly surprising sentiment to see already in 1993 (certainly, already analysis had been done that showed how overstretched the Soviet Union was, particularly towards the end, but I don't feel like that sentiment had quite permeated the zeitgeist yet to the point where it would be casually referenced in a comic).

Austin's Analysis
This issue marks the occurrence of Haven's greatest contribution to X-history, the thing which, despite her relative short-lived existence as a recurring villain, keeps her remembered (at least as a footnote): the curing of Wolfsbane, ending her connection to Havok and inability to transform into her human form, thus bringing the character back to her pre-"X-Tinction Agenda" status quo. Beyond that, this is pretty standard penultimate issue stuff, moving the characters into position for the big climax in the shiny-divisible-by-25 anniversary issue next month, though having Haven cure Rahne here helps prevent this from feeling entirely like a water-treading exercise, and the ongoing deterioration of Madrox lends an ominous air to the proceedings.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, Wolverine #78. Next week, X-Men #29 and X-Force #31. 

1 comment:

  1. On the one hand, I’m partial to “shiny, divisible-by-25” landmarks myself, but on the other hand, I acknowledge that most are if not outright silly then at least hardly more than wafer-thin excuses for commemoration, although on a third hand or perhaps just back on the first hand, I’d submit that 100 issues really is a genuine milestone in our culturally accepted numbering system in a way that, say, 75 isn’t.


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