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Thursday, June 4, 2020

X-amining X-Factor #118

"Havok's Fall"
January 1996

In a Nutshell
Havok battles Random as Roma & Naze battle the Adversary

Writer: Howard Mackie
Penciler: Bryan Hitch
Inker: Paul Neary
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

As the Adversary attacks Naze & Roma, Naze insists Roma focus on protecting Forge as Naze holds the Adversary off. Meanwhile, Havok & Random battle at a coal plant near X-Factor's base, their confrontation monitored from afar by Dark Beast & Fatale. Eventually, they cause part of the factory to collapse on them. In the desert, Naze is blasted off a cliff by the Adversary as he uses the last of his energy to save Roma. At Fall's Edge, Forge is in a training session with Polaris when he is overcome by a strange feeling he attributes to Naze. At the coal plant, Random regains consciousness. Fatale teleports in and takes the unconscious Havok, telling Random he did well. Random is not happy, though, and warns Fatale that Polaris will be trouble when she finds out what happened. Fatale tells him she has already taken care of Polaris. At Fall's Edge, Roma suddenly appears via portal before Forge & Polaris, followed closely by the Adversary. Roma manages to repel the Adversary and close the portal before collapsing. Forge tells Polaris to gather the team, but when she goes to find Havok, she instead discovers a note telling her he had to leave the team, and asking her not to follow after him.

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue concludes with Polaris finding a note from Havok saying he needs time away and asking her not to look for him. It was written & left by Fatale in order to prevent anyone from looking for the captive Havok (something which is handled with subtle relativity; Fatale tells Random she's done something to prevent Havok's capture from being noticed; later Polaris reads the note, but there's no overt mention of it being from Fatale and we're meant to piece together that the note represents Fatale's action), and it marks both the end of Havok's tenure with the team and the Havok/Polaris relationship for the foreseeable future. Havok will next appear as a brainwashed agent of Dark Beast and won't be a regular fixture in the series until it relaunches as Mutant X, and the Havok/Polaris relationship won't resume for even longer after that (and will never really ever be as consistent or significant as it was up to this point, where the two characters have been romantically linked - if not always able to act on that connection and actually be together - almost since their respective creations).

Random insists to Havok that his buffed-up, tough guy bounty hunter look isn't who he really is, and when he emerges from their battle, he assumes a more trimmed down, younger-looking form, which will be his default look going forward, part of the whole "Random's previous appearances were much more of a role he was playing than his actual self" retcon that ties in with his involvement with Dark Beast.

Fatale also mentions that delivering Havok to Dark Beast is why Random was planted with X-Factor in the first place (which doesn't really make sense, given Random probably had better chances to grab Havok earlier if that's really all Dark Beast wanted, and also, Fatale was sent specifically to get Havok from Scarlet in issues #112-113).

Naze is seemingly killed in this issue, but he'll return in issue #120.

A Work in Progress
Havok is able to channel the cosmic energy he's absorbed into his punches, something he's never done before.

The Danger Room-esque training area Forge has built into the Fall's Edge base is dubbed the Game Room.

Austin's Analysis
This is pretty much an all-action issue - in which both the A-plot and the B-plot involve characters fighting each other - and while at this point, any issue of this series without Steve Epting (easily the book's best element right now) seems like a step down, Bryan Hitch (paired with Paul Neary on inks, a combo that will eventually take superhero comics by storm) fills in ably (though the Havok/Random fight is much better than the Roma/Naze/Adversary stuff, which seems, at times, almost like it's drawn by another artist). Beyond that, there's not a whole let else here: it's hard to get too worked up about the Havok stuff since its still not entirely clear WHY Dark Beast wants him so badly (nor why Dark Beast waited until after X-Men: Prime to go after him, aside from, you know, having not existed prior to "Age of Apoclaypse"), and while the end of Havok's role in the book and his relationship with Polaris is, in hindsight, a big deal (bringing to a close one of the relationships which defined this iteration of the series), it's not even clear here that it really IS over for the foreseeable future, as there's nothing to suggest this isn't just a turn in the current plot and not the long-term shift in the character's status quos it will turn out to be.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, Nate meets Rogue & battles the X-Cutioner in X-Man #11. Next week, X-Men #48 and X-Force #50!

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  1. I'm thinking it's curious that Havok is taken out the team when the Adversary is coming, because they were enemies during Fall of Mutants.

    I guess the Roma/Naze/Adversary stuff was penciled by Stefano Raffaele, who did the second stories in Onslaught issues of X-Factor, even if he is not credited.

  2. Has been explained somewhere how Naze survived the events of Uncanny X-Men 187, where he was supposedly killed by a Dire Wraith that immediately tried to summon the Adversary?

  3. Random was tickling my AoA Morph itch (not exactly scratching), but at least stringing me along. had the 4 issues of Slapstick 3yrs before - who might have been the template.

    had feverish dreams that I'd eventually nab a Random figure with 20 or more exchangeable parts - hands and heads are the norm these days.

    feels like Dark Beast musta sliced a piece of Morph's tissue to cook Random up, but doubt any issue/writer tipped that hat when the surviving(AoA) were being slotted in retcon-style. guess he would've needed to have the sample on his person when making the leap to 616.


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