Friday, November 23, 2007

X-FACTOR #90 – May 1993


A Green and Tender Place
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Joe Quesada and Buzz (pencilers), Al Milgrom (inker), Richard Starkings (letterer), Tom Smith (colorist)


Summary
Polaris tries to comfort Wolfsbane after she learns that she was bonded to Havok while she was a Mutate. Havok discovers hidden monitoring devices that he feels are being used to gather information to create more Mutates. He confronts Genosha’s president and fights her Mutate bodyguard. The President agrees to tell X-Factor the truth; that there’s been a deadly virus outbreak amongst the Mutates, and that the government is gathering information on the epidemic. One of the Mutates escapes the hospital, and X-Factor chase after him to prevent the Gengineer, Sasha Ryan, from having him terminated.


Continuity Notes
This is the first real appearance of the Legacy Virus. Its existence was hinted at during the final page of X-Cutioner’s Song, but this is the first storyline to fully introduce the idea. The name “Legacy Virus” still hasn’t shown up, though.


According to Polaris, Wolfsbane is sixteen.


I Love the ‘90s
Val Cooper holds Socks the Cat. There’s also an ad for a Meteor Man comic book. You’ve got to wonder how exactly Marvel got talked into that cross-promotion.


Review
It’s the first post-Peter David issue, and his storylines are already being ignored. The X-Patriots, the reason why X-Factor traveled to Genosha in the first place, don’t appear at all in this issue, as the Genoshan story arc is hijacked to introduce the Legacy Virus. The Legacy Virus was a blatant AIDS metaphor, an idea that some readers found tasteless. Even as a kid, I always thought it was a cheat that the only characters to actually die from the disease were minor ones. The plotline was ignored for years and finally resolved during Scott Lobdell’s fill-in arc in 2001. Colossus was killed off in order to give the resolution more importance, but he was resurrected after a few years anyway, making it all seem rather pointless.


The disease itself is given a decent introduction in this issue. The image of sickly Mutates strapped into hospital beds while doctors in armored suits monitor them is disturbing, and it gives you the idea that this is a very serious problem. The rest of the issue is hit or miss. Polaris and Wolfsbane have a nice scene together that draws upon Polaris’ troubled backstory, but Havok is given an awful chapter that doesn’t make a lot of sense. He discovers monitoring devices in the President’s garden and assumes that it’s being done to gather info on creating new Mutates. Huh? It’s obvious that Genosha already knows how to make Mutates, so it’s strange that he would jump to that conclusion after spotting some Kirbytech in a bush. He also seems quite willing to kill the President’s Mutate guard, which is wildly out of character. Even if it’s a dumb scene, Quesada does a great job drawing it. It’s unfortunate that this is his fourth issue, and the third one in a row that needed a back-up artist.

3 comments:

Justin Boatwright said...

The fact that only minor characters seemed to get the Legacy Virus was echoed by House of M when the vast majority of the core X-Men were unaffected by M-day. Such tactics really neuter any chance the story has of being taken seriously.

izzat said...

One small thing that I remember from this arc: thought balloons are used. I am 90% percent sure that Peter didn't use any during his run, and used narrative text very sparingly. It was a subtle but effective tool, and I was sorry to see it go.

Laric said...

And suddenly all the fun is sucked out of this series.

What bothered me most about this issue is that all the characters are now snarling at each other and having shouting exchanges while talking in paragraph long sentences and using really complicated words.

I'm one of the fans who started collecting X-titles during X-cutioner's song and was simply blown away by X-Factor #87. As a kid, I don't think I realized when Peter David left, but in the span of a few issues he got me hooked so hard that I kept buying it in the vain hope that it would some day recapture that magic.

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