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Overview:

James Maddocks: A good man. A family man. A man of God, who opens the door in his Minnesota home one day to discover himself face-to-face with his "maker"--Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man, come to remove the runaway dupe from the home and life he's created for himself. How far will Maddocks go to save his existence...and will Jamie be willing to destroy Maddocks' life in order to be whole once more?

Issue Summary:

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

Today’s sermon: Man’s Domination

“Be fruitful… and multiply,” the minister tells his flock. “That was the instruction the Lord gave Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28. ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the Earth, and subdue it… and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the Earth.’”

As a woman in the front pew tells her son, Daniel, to stop picking his nose, the minister continues, asking if it is really theirs. Really their property? Are they kings? Absolute rulers of all that they see? How presumptuous would that be, for them to consider themselves in that way? There is only one absolute ruler and they know who that is, don’t they? He provided them this world, but it remains His. After all, they do call storms, earthquakes and such “acts of God,” don’t they? They are not masters of this world. That’s been proven over and over again. No, the minister tells his congregation. They are merely caretakers. They live in this world at the Lord’s sufferance. Therefore they must remember, while they’re busy multiplying, having dominion does not come without its responsibilities.

Now, he continues, there are some who think that having dominion means that they can do whatever we wish. “Dominion,” after all, means “absolute ownership.” But they do not “own” the Earth. It existed long before… before the… the…

From the back of the church, having just entered mid-sermon, Jamie Madrox examines his dupe behind the pulpit and silently admits to himself that he cuts a fine figure up there. He looks calm, confident, serene in his convictions… Everything, in short, he himself is not. At least, he’s that way until he walked into the back of his church and brought his sermon screaming to a halt. Now he looks confused, uncertain… everything, in short, that he himself is. Guess his work is done. Except, of course, for the part about ending his existence. That’s next.

After a few moments of silent panic, the minister finally decides on his course of action. Apologizing to his congregation, he tells him that he feels unwell and immediately darts for the side door. Great, Jamie Madrox thinks. We got a runner. Darting back out the front door, Jamie races around the side of the church, doubting that his dupe is going to hole up in an office. More likely retreating out the back. Pity, he thinks, this nice, quiet church in Vermont… isn’t a bad place to live our your life. But he’s the one who gave him that life, and it was on loan at that. So…

Jamie comes to a sudden stop as he rounds the corner, someone waiting for him. “John?” she asks. “John, honey, what’s wrong?” Standing before him is the woman from the first pew, holding her toddler son, Daniel. The way he ran out of there, she says to him before stopping in mid-thought. When did he change into those clothes? she then asks. Where did those come from?

Before Madrox can answer, the woman presses the back of her free hand to his forehead, quickly surmising that he doesn’t feel feverish. Did he throw up? Still reeling from this unexpected turn, he replies that he didn’t. Uh… not recently. Taking his hand in hers, she suggests that they get him home. The way he ran out of there, everyone’s worried sick about him. If she doesn’t take care of him, she then adds, leading him to the car, everyone’ll be saying, “What kind of wife is she?” Surprising Madrox further, Daniel mutters to Jamie, “I pick nose and mommy mad. You mad, daddy?” Madrox is speechless.

(Paris)

From within prison, a weak voice asks in French for God to aid them. Another voice, belonging to Siryn, tells Monet that what she’s doing is horrific… not to mention sacrilegious. Undeterred, Monet replies that that’s nonsense. It was a penalty used by Persian kings and Alexander the Great hundreds of years before the church co-opted it. Reminding her of the man who is the target of her rate, Monet adds to Siryn that he killed helpless ex-mutants and then laughed about it. Their people’s blood was on his hands. It’s a fit punishment.

Without further ado, Monet declares it time to leave and punches a hole through the wall to the street outside. As Siryn follows her out the hole, she notices Monet pausing to consider a red balloon that is floating by. When she inquires about it, Monet tells her “nothing.” Then, when it pops a moment later, Monet then adds that it’s moot now.

Suddenly, the two are ordered not to move by a squad of armed Gendarmes, guns aimed at the ready. Declaring that she’s had enough of them, Monet suggests to Siryn that they get out of there. As the sonic scream of Siryn lays low the gendarmes, causing them to cover their ears, Monet remarks to herself that she really used to love Paris. The next moment, the two are airborne, Monet using her invulnerability to deflect the bullets fired at them.

Back within the cell, the gendarmes discover the mutant killer crucified against the wall, spikes rammed through his palms and blood trickling to the floor below. Above him, the word “Murderer” is carved in French into the brickwork.

Sitting in the living room of his pastor dupe, Madrox is asked in halting English for help with the six piece puzzle of Noah’s ark by his “son.” Calling from another room, his “wife” informs him that the phone call was the head of the sisterhood. She wants to know if he’s feeling better. He tells her yeah, a little, to which she asks if Daniel is bothering him. Taken aback, he replies no, but then stops as he realizes the name. Looking sown at the boy, he asks that his name is Daniel. When the boy confirms, Madrox smiles slightly. That’s his dad’s name… He named him after his dad. Ruffling the boy’s hair, he says that that’s… that’s really nice.

Entering the room, John’s wife says that it’s time for someone’s bath. Quipping back a question of whether it is his, he adds that he really doesn’t feel like it. Touching his chin lovingly, she suggests that, maybe later. During Daniel’s naptime, they’ll take a bath together. Get him nice and clean. A little uncomfortable, Madrox replies that that… sounds great. So promised, she kisses him on the lips and takes Daniel upstairs.

Now alone with his conscience, Madrox silently remarks that he’s going to hell for this one. Although… actually… would that be adultery? Technically she’s his wife, so maybe it wouldn’t be so… Incensed at his own train of thought, Madrox rubs his face in exasperation. What is he going to do? He sent this particular dupe out to stuffy religion and, a few years later, this is what he winds up with: a walking, talking moral conundrum.

Entering what he supposes is his dupe’s study, Madrox looks around. According to a subscription label on a magazine, he’s John Maddrox. A family man, he thinks, as he examines a framed photo of Mrs. Maddox and an infant Daniel. This woman, Madrox thinks, “Susan,” thinks she married a nice, normal man. She’s living a lie. He’s a duplicate of him. Whatever he’s told her about himself, it can’t possibly include the truth.

His thoughts are interrupted by the voice of John Maddox, telling him to put it down. That’s his wife’s picture, he reiterates, and he’s asking him to put it down. After complying, Madrox tells his dupe that it looks like they have a bit of a dilemma here. Unmoving at the doorway, John remarks that it’s an appropriate choice of word, “dilemma,” coming from the Greek, meaning involving two assumptions. The two of them… one wishing to “assume” the other. That is what he’s come for, right?

Remarking “pretty much,” Madrox asks John if he likes wordplay. Replying that he does, he then adds that he also likes his life. To this, Madrox retorts that it’s not his life, but John is resolute. It’s the life he could have had, if he’s ever had the patience to walk this path. And he’ll fight to keep it. When Madrox then begins to asks exactly how he proposes to do that, he sees the answer himself. Producing a handgun from beneath the coat folded over his right arm, john Maddox levels it at Jamie.

(France)

Back at the tenement building, Monet and Theresa are in gaping horror as they see the remains of the burned building. Remarking that the man wasn’t just boasting, they really did it, her horror grows to anger. They call them monsters… and look at their handiwork.

Looking down an alley, Siryn spots a young girl, sitting on a stoop and burying her face in her arms and knees. Recognizing her, Siryn points out to Monet that that’s the little girl who was at the window. The one calling for help before they trashed the place. Approaching her, Monet asks in French if she speaks French, to which Theresa asks if she speaks English. Looking up through tear-stained eyes, the girl answers that she speaks both. Are they… are they going to hurt her?

Bending down to her, Monet replies that they are not and introduces herself as Monet. When the girl asks “like the artist,” Monet replies “kind of” and then introduces Siryn as Theresa. When prompted, the girl replies that her name is Nicole and that her parents… The police… took their bodies away. They’re… She has no one. No one in the world.

Theresa tells her not to worry. They’ll bring her to the proper authorities. They’ll find the… Interrupting, Monet takes Nicole by the hand and leads her back to the street, telling Theresa, “Screw that.” She’s coming with them. Startled, Siryn follows, reminding Monet that this isn’t a bag of baguettes! This is French citizen! It’s kidnapping! Resolute, Monte replies that it’s not. She’s coming willingly. What does she have to look forward to there? When Theresa then states that it’s not their decision to make, Monet retorts that she’s making the decision and she can agree or disagree as she sees fit. Sarcastically calling it a good plan, Theresa adds that they’re not in enough trouble that they can’t take a little more.

As they depart, the trio is watched by a shadowed figure with glowing red eyes, lurking from an alley.

(the Maddox house)

The gun still pointed at him, Jamie Madrox quips that it looks like he’s in trouble. Hardly finding this humorous, John Maddox retorts that he’s lived in terror of this day… but he’s… he’s ready for it… because he’s fighting for his life… his family’s life. Responding incredulously, Madrox reminds his dupe that he knows that when he absorbs him, they won’t disappear. Still grim-faced, the dupe rejoins that he still doesn’t get it, does he? His family will end because he won’t be there for them anymore! And they won’t know why… because he’s not going to explain it, is he? There’s no way he cold, so he’s just going to hit and run, right? right?

Bluntly, Madrox replies that that’s pretty much the plan, yeah. To this, he then adds that here’s the thing: he’s not safe over there, because he can just reach out and absorb him from across the room. Considering this, Maddox replies that maybe he’ll shoot the second he feels it happening. Maybe he gets lucky. Maybe, Madrox replies, maybe if he;s really lcuk, he gets to be a murderer. Or would it be murder/suicide? Or just plain…

Interrupting with a snarl, Maddox tells Madrox to wipe that smirk off his face and go away! Why can’t he just… Why is he doing this? Because, Jamie answers, he’s not whole. Because, he tells his dupe, he’s a piece of his soul, and if a man doesn’t have his soul intact… he’s got nothing. And if he of all people can’t understand that… Then he should do it. He’ll live on… in him… and maybe that should be enough. How many damned lives does he need, anyway? Crossing around the desk, Madrox puts his head almost against the barrel of John Maddox’s handgun and yells “C;Mon! Do it!!!”

John Maddox takes a moment to consider, his pistol aimed at point blank range between the closed eyes of his progenitor. Finally, the answer comes as tears from his own eyes and a moment later he finds himself on his knees. The gun falling from his own hand, John Maddox tell Jamie that he has dominion over him. Make it quick.

At an airfield, the pilot of Monet’s private jet is told to make it quick. They may have company. Helping Nicole buckle in, Monet tells the young woman that everything’s going to be okay. Searching the world outside the window, Theresa reminds Monet that he lost her parents and she’s going to be an illegal alien. How is it going to be… Ohhhhhhh boy, she then says, interrupting her own thoughts. When Monet asks what it is, she replies “Company. Lots of…

The light from the approaching emergency lights of the French constabulary is suddenly drowned out by a more powerful flash, which blinds Theresa. By the time is subsides, the jet has taken off the runway and is in the air. Immediately, Monet asks Theresa what it was, but Siryn tells her that it beats the hell out of her. One minute, police cards were moving to intercept… and the nexty, there was this… blinding light… and poof! The cops were gone.

For a moment, Theresa considers that they should go back and figure out what happened, but she is overruled by Monet, who suggests that they get the hell out of there while they can and figure it out later. And, if that sounds cold, she says, then excuse the hell out of her, but she’s not feeling especially generous right now.

Back at the airfield, now very much alone, the red-eyed man from the alley in Paris returns his glove to cover his bare hand, which crackles with energy. Having done so, he departs, as the particulate remains of the police vehicles wafts in the night air.

(the Maddox house)

Holding the freshly bathed Daniel in her arms, Susan notices something amiss with her husband, John. Asking what’s wrong, she remarks that he looks… different. Smiling widely, John Maddox asks if he does. He… feels different, he then offers. For the first time in his life… he feels free.

Outside, Jamie Madrox watched the family moment through the living room window. Taking another look at the picture from the study, he remarks to himself that, day after day, he’s always second-guessing himself. Always seeing all sides of a question, and never sure if he’s doing, or have done, the right thing. Now placing the photo in his jacket pocket he then thinks that, today, for the first time in ages… he doesn’t feel that way. He made a decision, and instead of being strangled by its implications… he feels free. Walking away in to the night, he notes that that’s worth a small piece of his soul any day.

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X-Factor Continues to Please 0

I find that when it comes to Peter David's writing, I usually hate it, or love it. Thankfully I can honestly say that he has done no wrong so far in X-Factor in my opinion. The book has managed to set itself apart from the other X-Titles while maintaining a constant quality every month. I'm not saying this is the best X-Title out there, but it is different and a nice change from the norm.Jamie Madrox is still on his quest to track down his missing dupes and absorb them again. That plot might see...

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