Monday, January 18, 2010

X-FACTOR #132 - #133, March - April 1997

Previously…in X-Factor: Havok declared that he was sick of being manipulated by others and formed a new Brotherhood team. Because this title rarely makes sense, he recruited the Dark Beast, the man who brainwashed him just a few issues earlier. Meanwhile, Mystique has somehow learned info on the shadowy government organization that’s conspiring against X-Factor.


Credits: Howard Mackie (writer), Jeff Matsuda (penciler), Art Thibert (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Glynis Oliver & GCW (colors)

Summary: Forge resigns X-Factor from government service, as Madrox arranges to meet with Shard in a cemetery. Upon learning that Wild Child was spying on their conversation, Madrox leaves in anger. Unbeknownst to Madrox, Shard arranged the incident with Wild Child to draw Madrox closer to her. Later, Mystique checks on the home of mutant child Trevor Chase. She learns that he was kidnapped from his parents by a mystery man with a grudge against her. When armed men attack her outside of the home, Forge tries to drive her to safety.

Review: Going “underground,” or breaking away from the government, is probably the most obvious story you can do with a government-sponsored mutant team. Casting the government itself as an enemy is another obvious route, which is the direction this title had been moving in for the previous year. I don’t necessarily mind using the old clichés, but Mackie really isn’t adding a new spin or making the characters engaging enough to keep the story interesting. There’s also the ridiculous idea that Forge is personally going to be looking after Mystique and Sabretooth from now on, independent of the government, which is stretching credibility too far. The rest of the story has more mystery men with vague motivations ordering attacks through telephones, and a rather ridiculous romantic subplot that expects us to believe that both Madrox and Wild Child are falling for Shard, the hologram.

Down Under

Credits: Howard Mackie (writer), Jeff Matsuda (penciler), Art Thibert (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Glynis Oliver & GCW (colors)

Summary: Forge and Mystique’s getaway car is destroyed in the chase. Val Cooper and government agent Bowser investigate the wreckage but find no survivors. Bowser insists on following Cooper after he hears reports of an explosion at X-Factor’s headquarters. The duo investigates the explosion with six masked guards. Most of the guards are killed by Forge’s defenses, and the surviving two accidentally unleash a chemical biohazard. Cooper and Bowser escape and seal off the remains of the headquarters. The deceased guards return to life, revealing themselves as the members of X-Factor in disguise. Meanwhile, Madrox visits Guido in the hospital. He’s greeted by Havok, who offers him a role in the Brotherhood, which Madrox declines.

Production Note: Eric Battle is incorrectly credited with penciling this issue.

Review: For the first time in ages, X-Factor has a twist ending that actually works. Reading through the issue, I didn’t like the way Forge’s defenses were casually killing soldiers, or Val Cooper’s somewhat nonchalant reaction. Revealing that no one died (and that Cooper was in on it all along) redeems the story, and it’s even a legitimate surprise. This is a much better example of how to deal with the tired “heroes vs. government” story than the previous issue. The subplot, however, is a disappointment. Mackie’s attempts at “humorous” Madrox dialogue all fall flat, and “new attitude” Havok is just as dull and pointless as ever. Plus, Havok’s already tried to recruit Madrox into the new Brotherhood, so I have no idea why this scene even exists in the first place.

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