Friday, September 21, 2007

X-FACTOR #78 – May 1992

Playing With Fire!

Credits: Peter David (writer), Larry Stroman and Brandon Peterson (pencils), Al Milgrom (inks), Dave Sharpe (letters), Mike Thomas (colors)

Tempo of the Mutant Liberation Front warns Dr. Tucker about the MLF’s upcoming attack. X-Factor is called in to protect Dr. Tucker, but Quicksilver and Wolfsbane object. The remaining members of X-Factor fight the MLF in Dr. Tucker’s clinic. The MLF mortally wounds Dr. Tucker, but are chased away before they can locate his research. Wolfsbane destroys Dr. Tucker’s research before the information can be saved on disc.

I Love the ‘90s
Guido brags about dating Sean Young.

Commercial Break
“Dissing fellow pros in print” is at the bottom of the Bullpen Bulletins Coolometer. I wonder if this is a reference to Erik Larsen’s notorious “Name Withheld” letter in CBG.
In the Stan's Soapbox column, Stan Lee announces the X-Men cartoon. He lists James Cameron as one of the producers, but that never happened.

I’ve always remembered this as a great issue, and it holds up very well. The idea of detecting mutation in fetuses is a smart use of the mutant concept, and it’s the type of thinking that the other X-books weren’t doing at this time. Peter David is able to give the characters strong points of view while remaining true to their established personalities. Wolfsbane isn’t arbitrarily chosen to present the opposing viewpoint; her stance is consistent with what we already know about her. Quicksilver’s opposition displays his evolution as a character. His monologue on the last page is really touching, and it ties together his past continuity with the current plot in a clever way.

You can begin to see this storyline’s editorial intervention with this issue. The story now says that Dr. Tucker can find the gene that creates mutation and remove it. This wasn’t stated at all in the previous issue. In the last issue, Tucker could only determine the possibility of a mutant birth. The implied conflict was that Tucker’s research could lead to the abortion of suspected mutants. If Tucker can actually remove the gene for mutation before birth, that creates a different conflict. One parallels issues relating to birth defects and abortion. The other involves genetic engineering. Both are interesting, but having the story switch midstream is awkward. It definitely reads as if editorial had last minute problems with the story. The abortion parallels are still evident in this issue, though. There’s a lot of talk about a mutant’s right to live, making decisions, and standing in the way of people’s choices.

I’ve never read any of the MLF appearances in New Mutants, so I don’t know if Tempo had been given any type of a personality before this issue. She’s revealed to be a former patient of Dr. Tucker and betrays the team by warning him of their attack. I always liked Tempo during the ‘90s, even though I don’t remember seeing her that often outside of this story and a few X-Force appearances. The idea of her reforming was brought up in almost all of her appearances, but I don’t know if Marvel went through with it. I’m actually surprised Fabian Nicieza never used her in Thunderbolts.

Brandon Peterson draws a lot of the later pages in this issue. His style doesn’t really blend in with Storman’s, but it’s not bad. Peterson would later pencil Uncanny X-Men after the Image exodus, before leaving for Image himself. Joe Quesada does this issue’s cover, but I don’t know if he had been named as the new artist at this point. I should point out that in spite of the cover, Sinister only appears on one page of this issue.

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