Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and forty-second week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.
As we’ve been doing it for some time now, one legend today, one tomorrow and one Sunday.
Marvel had an issue of X-Factor about abortion drastically re-written to remove all mentions of abortion.
Peter David’s run on X-Factor was notable for not only his sharp sense of humor and his strong character work, but for his interest in doing stories that you didn’t typically see in the X-Titles of the early 1990s. The problem with that, of course, is that being TOO out there often leads you to being smacked down and David certainly had plenty of that during his run on the book. In fact, he was interfered with SO much during his run that he just gave up and left the book. Luckily, he was able to re-launch X-Factor a decade later and do a much longer run on the book with an excellent series of stories that lasted years.
But anyhow, in X-Factor #78 (by Peter David, Larry Stroman, Brandon Peterson and Al Milgrom – Stroman and Peterson are SO different that Milgrom was probably killing himself trying to make the book still look artistically cohesive), the government-sponsored mutant strike force, X-Factor, were called in when they were warned of an attack on a special clinic. A doctor had discovered a way to not only identify the mutant gene in fetuses, but he could REMOVE the mutant gene from said fetuses. Wolfsbane was aghast at the idea…
X-Factor arrived too late to stop the Mutant Liberation Front from attacking the doctor and fatally wounding him…
However, the doctor lived long enough that he could save his research. He turned to Wolfsbane to ask her to get his research to the government and she debated what to do next…
The whole Wolfsbane/Polaris scene there seemed to call back an argument they really didn’t have in the issue itself.
Anyhow, the book ends with a great scene from Quicksilver talking about the dangers of messing with your kids’ genetic code…
Now, I think you’re all bright enough people to get the abortion SUBTEXT, but in reality, it was originally TEXT. The doctor initially found the way to identify the mutant gene but then he was helping people get abortions if they didn’t want mutant children. This led to a big debate between the pro-choice Polaris and the right-to-life Wolfsbane.
Otherwise, the issue would have continued in basically the same fashion, with Wolfsbane making her “choice” to destroy the doctor’s research.
Marvel, though, was way too concerned about blowback over the story (this was in the era of the whole freakout over the Northstar being gay) so they made David re-write the story to take out all mentions of abortion and come up with, instead, the whole “removal of the X-Gene” aspect of the story.
The final issue was still a good book, but yeah, it certainly would have been a more memorable issue with the original plot.
Thanks to Peter David for sharing the story of this issue a number of times in the past.
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Check back Saturday for part 2 of this week’s legends!
And remember, if you have a legend that you’re curious about, drop me a line at either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com!
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