Wednesday, September 12, 2007

X-FACTOR #75 – February 1992

The Nasty Boys

Peter David (Script), Larry Stroman (Pencils), Allen Milgrom (Inks), Glynis Oliver (Colors), Michael Heisler (Letters).

The rogue Madrox absorbs his X-Factor counterpart and reunites with Mr. Sinister’s cronies, the Nasty Boys (Ruckus, Hairbag, Gorgeous George, Ramrod, and Slab). Sinister is revealed as the man behind last issue’s lie detector test. Madrox internally fights against his rogue duplicate and causes him to implode. Sinister allows Madrox to escape as part of his plan. During his battle with X-Factor, Sinister disguises himself as the Senator and outs him as a dangerous mutant. Before killing him, Mr. Sinister reveals that his actual plan was to prevent Senator Shaffran from becoming President.

I Love the ‘90s
You can see a pair of Pump tennis shoes on the first page amongst the Nasty Boys’ garbage.
Senator Shaffran says that he used his jinx powers to make President Bush choose Dan Quayle as Vice President.

Commercial Break
There’s an ad for the BMG Music Service, offering you four CDs or cassettes for just one cent. There’s even a place to tape your penny on the mail-in coupon. Some of the albums you can buy are Paula Abdul’s “Spellbound” and Enuff Z’Nuff’s “Strength”. Actually, one of the characters introduced in this issue, Ruckus, looks like he could’ve been a member of Enuff Z’Nuff.

In the Bullpen Bulletins, Marvel announces that prices are going up to $1.25, but that the quality will be increased by “100%!” This is the same company that will soon be publishing Mark Pacella’s X-Force run.

Continuity Notes
This is the second issue in the row that claims that Mr. Sinister has knowledge of the future. He states as an absolute fact that Shaffran would have become President, and that this would’ve lead to the deaths of Havok and Polaris. Sinister wasn’t given any type of origin at this point; and when the story was finally told, he was not revealed as a time traveler.
Sinister also refers to the domination of “our kind” implying that he’s a mutant, which also doesn’t fit in with his origin.

This issue is representative of the way a lot of storylines at this time were handled. Most of the immediate mysteries are answered, but there are still vague hints and mysterious characters that don’t offer a full resolution. Last issue revealed that Senator Shaffran is working with Sinister to discredit X-Factor in order to help his Presidential bid. It’s revealed now that Sinister is double-crossing him in order to protect Havok and Polaris, and to ultimately help X-Factor’s public image.

Why does Sinister want to protect Havok and Polaris? It’s a mystery. Why does he ultimately want the destruction of all who bear the name “X-Men”? It’s a mystery. Why does Sinister want to build up X-Factor’s image? It’s a mystery. Who is Mr. Sinister in the first place, and why didn’t he die in his last appearance? It’s a mystery. I’ve mentioned before that I found these mysteries intriguing as a kid, so I guess it’s not surprising that Sinister was one of my favorite villains.

The over-reliance on mysteries instead of straightforward storytelling is one of the most common complaints about ‘90s X-comics. I think that a lot of the resentment comes from the fact that the mysteries dragged on for too long, and often had anti-climatic resolutions. Sinister’s origin was finally revealed ten years after his first appearance, and it wasn’t even in one of the main titles. You had to buy a separate mini-series to get the answers. With all of that said, it’s worth remembering that X-Factor probably had fewer mysteries than the other X-titles at this time. The mysteries regarding Sinister weren’t the main focus of the storyline, so there is an actual resolution to the lead story.

The Nasty Boys are introduced in this issue as Mr. Sinister’s newest group of goons. They never became major characters, but were immortalized in the ‘90s X-Men cartoon. Their absurd names and powers make them good antagonists for this version of X-Factor, but I wonder if the other X-writers just considered them too ridiculous to be believable threats. Peter David comes up with another unique use of Madrox’s power by having him force his duplicate to implode. Larry Stroman does an impressive job with that scene, along with the rest of the issue. If you’re willing to overlook Sinister’s annoyingly vague motivations, it’s an enjoyable resolution to the first storyline.

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