Friday, February 13, 2009

X-FACTOR #129 – December 1996

Playing With Fire
Credits: Howard Mackie (writer), Jeff Matsuda (penciler), Art Thibert (inker), Comicraft (lettering), Glynis Oliver & American Color (colors)

Summary: Val Cooper demands that Forge turn over the mutant suspects X-Factor was ordered to arrest. Forge reveals that the mutants were actually Madrox, the Multiple Man, which shocks Val. Mystique morphs into Madrox and turns herself into the authorities. Meanwhile, Shard and Wild Child watch over Madrox in a secret safe house. Madrox reveals that only his body with the Legacy Virus died, but the shock of his death gave the rest of his bodies amnesia. He began work as a secret government agent while his memory returned. Madrox eventually grew uncomfortable with his government work and wanted out. Havok recently offered to help him escape, but he left on his own. He claims that the government invented charges against him in order to retrieve him. Meanwhile, Mystique escapes from custody and meets with Pyro. X-Factor searches for her, but she moves beyond the range of her tracking device.

Continuity Notes: The story mentions that Madrox had two other duplicates when he died in issue #100. Madrox claims that he was unaware that he had a “twin” for a while (what exactly happened to this duplicate isn’t revealed). Since the original Madrox was the one with the Legacy Virus (as far as we know), this means that the character that exists today is actually a duplicate of the original. Biologically, they’re all supposed to be the same, so I guess it doesn’t make a real difference.

I Love the ‘90s: Madrox and Wild Child are playing Super Mario 64 on the Nintendo 64, which was brand new at the time.

Review: The “mutant militia” era of the title continues, as we get closer to the final issue of X-Factor I purchased. The goal of this issue is to get Mystique in place for the upcoming “Assassination of Graydon Creed” story, while the rest of the issue is dedicated to justifying Madrox’s resurrection. I’m not thrilled with the execution of either element, but I do think this is more readable than the past few issues. Using Mystique to fool the government agents isn’t a bad idea, and her escape is nicely handled. It’s the idea that Forge can’t track her because she’s “out of range” that bothers me, since it’s a very obvious cheat that allows the character to remain free for the next issue. Forge is supposed to be the world’s greatest inventor, yet he can’t invent a tracking device that reaches more than a couple of miles? The explanation for Madrox’s non-death is very predictable, but I prefer it over an excessively complicated retcon. Adding even more evil government agents to his story doesn’t work, though, since it’s a tired cliché that’s already being overused in this title by now. Despite those complaints, I’ll give this issue credit for at least reaching a level of coherence. I seem to recall the next storyline sends everything off the rails again, though.

1 comment:

HardtravelingHero said...

Howard Mackie... I'm curious as to what has happened with him as I rarely enjoyed his writing (that I'm aware of). I've recently read a few of his Peter Parker: Spider-Mans's from when the title was restarted and I have to wonder why he was allowed to write both Spider-Man titles at the tile, especially after this mostly abysmal run on X-Factor.

It will be some time before I get around to rereading this era of X-comics, but I wonder if my opinions will be the same as they were when these issues were new, as I also stopped buying X-Factor around this time, picking up the final issue only to find out how it would end (or restart with Mutant X).

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