Friday, March 21, 2008

X-FACTOR #101 – April 1994


Afterlives
Credits: J. M. DeMatteis (writer), Jan Duursema (penciler), Al Milgrom (inker), Richard Starkings & Jon Babcock (letterers), Glynis Oliver (colorist)


Summary
The members of X-Factor mourn the loss of Madrox. Havok, blaming himself for allowing Haven to “kill” Madrox, is the hardest hit. He skips the memorial service and goes to a diner. When the diner is robbed, he explodes in anger at the thief and blows out the building’s windows. Later that day, he finally visits Madrox’s grave. He asks Madrox to forgive him because he’ll never forgive himself. He tosses away his X-Factor membership card as he walks away.


Review
It’s yet another “quiet” issue, but unlike most of the others from this era, it does have a very brief action scene. It’s a nice character issue, as DeMatteis has the cast reflect on death and loss, while developing a character arc for Havok. Some of the scenes are a little cliché, but most of it works. It’s interesting that both Madrox and Illyana were considered expendable enough to be killed, but important enough to have entire issues dedicated to mourning their memory. That’s got to be an odd level of popularity.


Aside from building up the Legacy Virus storyline, DeMatteis uses Madrox’s death to turn the focus on Havok. He’s been the least developed since the David/Stroman relaunch began, mainly serving as the straight man for jokes or the generic team leader. David played with his insecurities about living up to his brother’s reputation briefly, but left before the storyline went anywhere. Now that one of his teammates is dead, Havok is given a credible reason to doubt himself, opening the door for the first storyline to really focus on his character. I don’t even remember how exactly Havok rejoined the team (I think Polaris just talked him into it), but at least there was an effort to go beyond shock value and explore the avenues created by Madrox's death.

2 comments:

rob said...

When I first read this as a kid, I absolutely loved the issue, even going so far as to call it one of my favourite comics for a while.

In retrospect, it's still very strong and has a lot of power. Duursema kind of overdoes it on the crying scenes, but it's well written and the strength of the scenes still stand out. Besides Havok, there's some great stuff with Rahne and Guido as well.

It's nice to see Havok get so much development at this point. I think his rejoining in a few issues (which does just come down to Polaris talking him back into it) is realistic, as this is a crisis of faith after a tough loss. Given the terrible portrayal Alex would get after AOA (power out of control, then becoming a villain), it's nice that he got this character arc.

Scott Salsman said...

This was my first issue of X-Factor. Havok has been my favorite character in comics ever since. Last year I built up a collection of every comic he's ever been in, and I've been reading through them slowly, really getting to know him (like Spider-Man fans would get to know him). I just read this issue for the first time since it came out, and now I remember how I became a Havok fan in the first place. I still don't know much about what happened to him between 1995 and 2006, but I will soon.

I've been lurking on your site since I re-read #71 a couple of weeks ago. Fantastic reviews, man. Thanks for all your insight and hard work.

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