Monday, November 5, 2007

X-FACTOR #84 – November 1992

Tough Love
Credits: Peter David (writer), Jae Lee (penciler), Al Milgrom (inker), Brad Vancata (colors), Richard Starkings (letters)

The members of X-Factor wait at the hospital for news on Xavier’s condition. To keep them preoccupied, Havok sends Strong Guy and Wolfsbane to Central Park to investigate the crime scene. While there, they run into X-Force. A fight breaks out as the remaining members of X-Factor arrive. X-Force retreats and Havok blasts their ship as it leaves. Meanwhile, the Horsemen deliver Cyclops and Jean Grey to Apocalypse, who is really Sinister in disguise. Back at the hospital, they learn that Xavier has been infected with a technovirus, transferring his living tissue into a mechanical organism.

This is part two of the “X-Cutioner’s Song” crossover. It comes polybagged with a Caliban trading card

Creative Differences
The last two pages are clearly done by a different letterer. On top of that, the last three balloons on the last page are done by yet another letterer. The final three balloons establish that Xavier is being moved to the X-Men’s mansion, leading in to the next chapter.

It’s no secret that Peter David left X-Factor because he didn’t like the impact that crossovers had on his ongoing storylines. This issue is a classic example of that problem. Remember a few issues ago when Havok dramatically declared that the team was traveling to Genosha? It still hasn’t happened. And it won’t happen until this crossover is over in a few issues. David tries to tie the X-Patriots story into the crossover, but it’s obvious that their storyline isn’t a priority at this time. Even if there can’t really be an organic connection from X-Factor’s ongoing storyline to this crossover, David does use past continuity to give certain X-Factor members an investment in this storyline. The characters with a history with Xavier react strongly to what’s happened, and Wolfsbane has a confrontation with her former New Mutants teammates. These connections between characters were a big draw for the X-overs of the ‘90s. As a fan, I was excited to see X-Force and X-Factor finally confront one another.

Jae Lee is the fill-in artist for the crossover issues, doing a bizarre amalgam of Bill Sienkiewicz and the exaggerated early ‘90s style. In some panels it works, but a lot of it is needlessly dark and ugly. Normally, Lee would be a terrible match for David’s approach to this title, but having him draw a crossover issue with X-Force makes for a smoother transition. As a kid, I thought that these issues looked pretty cool. Wolverine has a cameo on page twenty-nine, and he looks like a monster. I think that’s exactly what most twelve year olds want to see, but it just looks strange now.


Justin Boatwright said...

I'm a pretty big Jae Lee fan and these X-Factor issues are what got me hooked me on his stuff. Having probably never even heard of Sienkiewicz when this came out Lee's art had a crazy energy I had just never seen before and I loved it, and still do. Sure everything is overly exaggerated but every page offers a little different flavor with his panel layouts, use of blacks and camera angles. His facial expressions especially stand out and after the relatively cookie cutter approach Peterson took in Uncanny, Lee's style is that much more appealing. Maybe I'm just riding a nostalgia high but even the Wolverine cameo works for me. Xavier just got shot so "monster" is probably an appropriate state of mind for Wolverine at that moment and he certainly looks the role.

Finally, even if it is an obvious gag Guido's line about HBO and the Disney channel still makes me chuckle. Even if he wasn't happy about the cross-over at least David could still have some fun.

Teebore said...

For whatever reason, the first time around I completely missed this issue, and read the whole crossover without it while desperately trying to track it down.

To this day, anytime I see that cover, I'm reminded of how hard I hunted for it, and what a big deal it was when I finally found it.

(Of course, nowadays, you can't flip through a quarter box without tripping over it, but those were the days...)

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