Credits: Peter David (writer), Joe Quesada (penciler), Al Milgrom (inks), Marie Javins (colors), Richard Starkings and Steve Dutro (letters)
X-Factor undergoes a counseling session after the events of the X-Cutioner’s Song. Wolfsbane talks about her identity issues, Quicksilver reveals the source of his arrogance, Madrox explains his desire for attention, Guido talks about his childhood, Polaris reveals that she has body image issues, and Havok discusses his insecurities. While leaving the psychiatrist’s office, Val Cooper is kidnapped by mysterious tentacle creatures.
Guido reveals that his body has been disproportioned since his powers emerged at puberty. Unless his body releases the kinetic energy it stores, it stays distorted. His powers cause constant agony, which he hides from his friends.
I Love the ‘90s
Wolfsbane has dream where she is in the cartoon world of “Rahne and Simpy”. There’s also a chalkboard with the proper spelling of “potato” in Guido’s flashback.
There’s an ad for the Turbo Touch 360 Nintendo controller that has a very different subtext in this post-Clinton/Lewinksi era.
This issue seems to be one of the few X-books from this era to be held in high regard by almost everyone. Like the post-crossover Uncanny X-Men issue, this is an issue without any action, and not a lot of plot development. It’s a character study of the cast that draws upon past continuity and new revelations to make all of the characters seem more real. David pulls it off very well, succeeding where a lot of the “talky” post-crossover issues fail. Some of the characters, like Quicksilver, are so perfectly captured in just a few pages you wonder how anyone could ever screw them up in the future. Others, like Polaris, have revelations that come out of nowhere. Revealing that Polaris thinks she’s fat seems a little cliché at first, but in terms of comic book superheroines, it’s not an issue that I can remember being discussed that often. I wonder if Stroman’s “Baby’s Got Back” interpretation of Polaris influenced David’s decision to go in this direction.
This issue also marks Joe Quesada’s debut as artist. He drew an X-Factor annual a few months before, and did a few covers before becoming the regular artist. An article in Marvel Age from around this time actually listed Quesada as the new Uncanny X-Men artist, while claiming that Larry Stroman would be staying with X-Factor. This obviously didn’t happen, but it would be interesting to know why Quesada wasn’t given Uncanny X-Men. His art here is dynamic and interesting to look at, even though he’s mostly asked to draw characters giving monologues for a full issue. This could’ve been a visually dull issue, but Quesada keeps it appealing. My only complaint is that he seems to have a tendency to give all of his characters long, medusa-like hair, which really doesn’t work for someone like Havok. Quesada didn’t stay long as artist, moving back to Valiant Comics by the time the next crossover begins. I was disappointed to see him leave so soon. The fanzines were proclaiming that Quesada was going to be the next McFarlane at this time, but he's obviously better known as one of Marvel's longest running editor-in-chiefs now.