Credits: Kurt Busiek (writer), Pat Broderick (penciler), Bruce Patterson (inker), Joe Rosen (letterer), Tom Smith (colorist)
Spider-Man fights a new super-group called Shadowforce. Flash Thompson brings along kids from a Boy’s Club to watch the fight, angering Spider-Man. Distracted by the mimic Mirrorshade, Spider-Man is attacked from behind and kidnapped by Shadowforce. Flash Thompson calls the Fantastic Four and Avengers for help, but can’t reach them. He finally calls X-Factor, claiming that Spider-Man’s abductors were mutants. X-Factor examines hair follicles found at the scene and determines that they belong to six convicted criminals. Forge investigates why the convicts aren’t in prison, and tracks the address of a federal agency that won’t give him answers. Spider-Man wakes up and logs into a computer terminal to learn that Project: Homegrown is a government project designed to create superheroes. Shadowforce are criminals the government experimented on and brainwashed into service. The Shadowforce member Mirrorshade mimics Spider-Man’s anger at Flash Thompson and goes off to kill him. X-Factor arrives and confronts Shadowforce at their base. Spider-Man tries to leave and stop Mirrorshade, but is drawn into the fight.
There’s a note that says that this limited series takes place before X-Factor #100. There’s really no easy way to fit it into continuity, but this is where I decided it should go as a teenager.
Kurt Busiek would rather everyone forget about this mini, and I think he got his wish. Danny Fingeroth is the editor, meaning that this actually didn’t come out of the X-office, and it does have the same generic blandness that a lot of the early ‘90s Spider-Man titles had. It’s not offensively bad, and the plot mostly holds together, but nothing about the story is interesting in any way, either. It’s an entire miniseries dedicated to X-Factor and Spider-Man fighting goons from a cliché shadowy government conspiracy. Even though Spider-Man and the X-books are Marvel’s two largest franchises, it’s surprising that the two rarely meet. It’s more surprising that one of the few times Spider-Man starred in a miniseries with a mutant team, it was in this forgettable mini with X-Factor, going through its post-Peter David awkward phase. I guess the idea was that wisecracking Spider-Man would mesh well with the more lighthearted X-Factor, but that doesn’t come across at all. On top of that, Marvel had already decided to move X-Factor into a darker direction at this point (Madrox is dying of an AIDS allegory when this story is supposedly taking place!), so you’ve really got to wonder what they were thinking on this one.