X-Factor #18: The Enemy Within!

Cyclops, Marvel Girl and Beast return to the X-Factor complex with Rictor and a frozen Iceman. Rusty helps to thaw Iceman, who collapses shortly after, affected by his encounter with Loki. When Marvel Girl asks Cyclops if he knows what is wrong with Iceman, he comments dryly that “Hank’ll try analys[ing] it”, as “rising from ashes”, not water and ice is her “speciality”. Skids is confused by Cyclops’ weird behaviour since he returned from Alaska. Rusty thinks Cyclops is talking about the Phoenix. Skids gets second thoughts about continuing a romantic relationship with Rusty if they are going to end up with messed up lives like Scott and Jean.

Rusty and Skids confine in Hank about the suspicious activity going on recently: Scott talking to himself, Boom Boom’s disappearance and Hodge’s strange phone call. Hank assures them he’ll look for Boom Boom while Scott will talk to Hodge tomorrow. In the meantime, he urges them to befriend Rictor.

The next day, Rusty is training with Scott. Rusty asks Scott about his personal experience falling for a team mate. Scott did not dare pursue Jean when they were teenagers under Xavier’s tutelage. He only professed his feelings when they got older. While recalling his happy memories spent with Phoenix, he upset Jean who was passing through the hall and had been listening in. She drops the bed she had been moving and runs off. Hodge, monitoring Scott and Jean through security cameras, is planning his next move to take down X-Factor.

Scott goes to talk to Hodge about his concern with “X-Factor’s advertised policies” causing people to fear mutants more than ever. Hodge tries to convince Scott that there’s nothing wrong with their present campaign, and suggests that with his wife’s death, Scott’s judgement has been off. Hodge brings up Scott’s past with Jean, Phoenix and Maddie as they observe Hank engaging Rictor in a training session. Suddenly spooked, Rictor runs off.

Scott is annoyed with Hodge, and distracted by Rictor, goes after him instead. Hodge tries to get rid of Hank by pressing him to go in search of the missing Boom Boom. Bobby offers to join Hank and Caliban in the search, as Bobby can’t stand to be around Hodge anymore.

Scott finds Rictor alone and shaking really badly, and the whole building with his powers. Scott suspects that Rictor is afraid of Hodge. Rictor tells him he doesn’t recognise Hodge, but Hodge’s voice sounded like the “leader” of his captors. Jean walks in and thinks Scott is being hard on Rictor as he is trembling. Scott lashes out at Jean. Leech and Artie follow Jean in. Rictor’s powers are temporarily dampened. Scott storms out without explanation. Jean goes after him, leaving Leech and Artie to look after Rictor.

Scott decides to do some digging on Hodge on the computer. A holographic projection off the Dark Phoenix appears, taunting him with the deaths and resurrections of the three women in his life. Jean walks in on him and the hologram disappears. Scott is overcome with grief, and thinks that Jean’s been playing him this whole time. Jean has had enough of Scott’s unbecoming behaviour and throws him across the room. Skids hears the commotion but is shooed away by Scott and Jean, who continue to fight each other.

Scott claims to have only loved the original Jean, and is under the impression that Jean, Phoenix and Maddie are one and the same. Jean is upset by Scott’s earlier conversation with Rusty and thinks he prefers the Phoenix to her, knowing herself she isn’t the Phoenix and that the Phoenix stole her identity. Remembering how Phoenix was able to hold back his powers, Scott wants to prove that Jean is the Phoenix and without thought takes his visor off before her.

Scott’s powers are held back, and he believes for a minute that Jean is instead Phoenix. Until he sees that Skids has brought Leech with her to stop the fighting. He realises that he could have killed Jean, now that Leech has proven that Jean isn’t the Phoenix. Rusty investigates the computer Scott used and finds a hologram that activates when something is typed. they immediately conclude that Hodge is behind it.

Meanwhile, it is revealed that Apocalypse plans to turn Warren into his fourth horseman, Death.

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