[Featurama] It Came From the Quarter Bin: Promised Vengeance
[It Came From the Quarter Bin highlights comics that time seems to have forgotten]
I’m probably not going to have a unique signed copy of a quarter bin comic for you guys every week with this feature. Heck, most will be pretty random issues. As always however, we will weigh the merit of these books as if we bought them full price. These authors deserve at least that.
This week we have a very important issue in Marvel history, even if it was attached to a crossover that most people have forgotten.
X-Factor Issue 108
Why I Bought It
Obviously because that cover is awesome.
More than that, I remember when Mystique was a full fledged member of X-Factor back when Wildchild and Sabertooth were on the team. I had no idea why she was on the team, but I remember her costume change complete with X-Factor jacket, thigh high boots with belts on them, and the always necessary one piece high cut bikini. This was a drastic change from the Mystique I grew up to know and I was always curious how she got on the team.
This being a mid-90s X-Factor book, I was hoping for something to help clean up my history on the character.
This book is actually the catalyst to one of the biggest books in Marvel history. Promised Vengeance is the issue that kick started Legion’s Quest, a crossover event that was responsible for creating the Age of Apocalypse. Any Marvel fan can tell you how big of an event the Age of Apocalypse was in the Marvel Universe. As a year long event, it replaced much of Marvel’s lineup with a single focused alternate reality tale.
It was a brilliant change to the status quo and it turned into a critical and financial success for the company.
Legion’s Quest started it all off with Charles Xavier’s psychotic psychic offspring Legion traveling through time in an attempt to prove his father’s message by killing Magneto well before the mutant race is revealed to humanity. He ultimately fails by killing Charles instead, prematurely revealing the mutant threat and allowing Apocalypse to create hell on Earth for Magneto and the remains of the mutant population.
It’s in this issue of X-Factor that Mystique and Legion’s return signal the biggest shake up that the X-teams have ever gone through.
What X-Factor Issue 108 is All About
This book is all about Mystique. The choice of X-book doesn’t really matter as the X-Factor team is unfortunately only a side story to the goal of bringing Mystique back to the forefront. Mystique is apparently alive, after miraculously surviving a fall off of this massive waterfall in issue 4 of X-men Unlimited. Forge is trying to piece together the mystery of her “suicide” by examining the evidence her children (Rogue and Nightcrawler) recall. With all the grace of a sinking ship, Forge brings these two in to force them to relive the event from a virtual reality created by their memory of the event. This obviously doesn’t end well.
Conveniently, Nick Fury happens to pop up with data footage of an embassy secretary showing up in two places at once. This moves the group in to action against Mystique’s former ally Avalanche, but they botch that up and losing all their leads. That is of course until they actually look into the information Mystique was pulling up. Apparently, she was digging around Legion’s mother and high ranking diplomat Gabrielle Haller’s file. It is here that we learn what her fascination with Legion is.
Legion murdered Mystique’s oldest ally Destiny “with no rhyme or reason.” This event sparked a blind rage in Mystique. Knowing full well that Legion wasn’t actually in control of his powers, she still is set on going after him.
See, Legion’s powers manifested when the boy was 10 in an overcomplicated story arc where he was the target of assassination and in this moment his life changed forever. It is at this age where he begins absorbing multiple personalities and eventually his father has to step in to stop him. Mystique knows this boy’s complex power is the cause for his predicament, but she is still dead set on exacting her revenge even as the boy lies brain dead before her. It is in front of Legion’s mother, that the final decision is going to be made.
She decides that she must euthanize him.
Just as the needle starts to pierce his throat, she tosses the needle away. Legion will live, but not from Mystique’s good will. The boy murderer has awoken, much to the surprise of everyone in the room.
Is It Good?
Not really. The book isn’t all that great in pacing or setting. The art is all over the place in quality. Conceptually however, it’s an interesting premise that leads into a huge storyline for Marvel. Using the thought to be dead Mystique to usher in the awakening of Legion is pretty smart. It brings back one of the more interesting mutants, it gives her a purpose, and it builds up her character a bit more. Here you have someone that has played both sides of the coin with her work for the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and Freedom Force, planning on killing a child that is clinically brain dead. Purely for revenge it seems as even as she rationalizes away the actions, it finally comes down to satisfying her pain.
It really is pretty messed up in that sense.
As an X-Factor book, it’s a showcase of how the team really isn’t all that good at their job. Strong Guy and Havok corner Avalanche in an abandoned warehouse and he gets away. Resident genius Forge isn’t the one who finds Mystique. Nick Fury handles that for him. In fact all Forge really does is trigger horrible memories for two people that just lost their mother. The whole team fails to find Mystique in the hospital before she finally gets within lethal distance of Legion himself.
The book is a long forgotten, but still necessary piece of Marvel history. It’s one with great ideas and a somewhat wishy washy implementation of them. As a Mystique book alone, it’s another great story to relate with her on and it ends on a fantastic cliff hanger. It might not be a surprising one, but it certainly makes me want to burn through Legion’s Quest again.
One nice thing I found out from this issue was in the art from that panel above. That image was reused on a Marvel collectible card I once owned. While “Promised Vengeance” never solved that question I had as to how Mystique fell in to X-Factor’s company, it does kinda answer why she was willing to go along with it for so long. Seeing as she was already an ally to the government in Freedom Force, this is just an advance on that foundation.