Monday, January 25, 2010

X-FACTOR #134 - #135, May - June 1997

The Child

Credits: Howard Mackie (writer), Eric Battle (penciler), Art Thibert (inker), Glynis Oliver & GCW (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters)

Summary: Bowser loads a disc of what he believes to be Forge’s secrets into a government computer. The disc releases a virus that gives X-Factor access to all government databases. The team travels to Bowser’s home, where Mystique interrogates him over the whereabouts of Trevor Chase. Trevor emerges from a back room, releasing monsters created by his reality-warping powers. One of the monsters consumes Bowser and disappears. Meanwhile, Guido awakens from his coma. After causing a ruckus, he’s placed under arrest.

Review: Is it too much to ask for two issues in a row that actually make sense? Just one issue after a story mostly dedicated to the heroes faking their deaths, they reveal to the government that they’re actually alive. So, what was the point? Allowing the team to live as “ghosts” opens up a lot of possibilities and ties into the new “underground” direction of the book. Going out of your way to set the idea up and abandoning it the very next issue doesn’t make sense. Even if the team just had to invade Bowser’s home, Mystique could’ve easily impersonated anyone she wanted to and completed the mission. Aside from the squandered opportunities, the story is essentially the same as most of the issues of this run. There’s some alleged “humor” at the expense of Wild Child falling over himself on the team’s jet, the dialogue is clunky, and characters are often saying and doing things that make little sense (Shard repeatedly refers to her future as “alternate.” Technically, it is, since Onslaught killed the X-Men in her timeline. However, would she really think of her own timeline as “alternate”?). The fill-in art comes from Eric Battle, who has vastly improved from his previous issue, but is still turning in a subpar Matsuda impression.

A Virtual Reality

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

Summary: Mystique drops Trevor Chase off at his parents’ home, but Trevor is upset that Mystique is leaving him to rejoin X-Factor. Meanwhile, X-Factor learns that Madrox is planning on retrieving Guido from government custody. Because Madrox is unaware that Guido still has a weak heart, Forge orders the team to stop him. Madrox does rescue Guido from the government agents, but Guido collapses with more chest pains. X-Factor saves Guido and gets him help, while a distressed Madrox disappears.

Continuity Notes: Mystique knew Trevor Chase’s grandmother, but says it’s too painful to talk about her. This might be a hint that Destiny is supposed to be the grandmother.

I Love the 90s: Trevor Chase has a Tom Cruise “Mission Impossible” poster, and a Nintendo 64.

Review: So, this issue, X-Factor is back to playing dead. I guess the disappearance of government agent Bowser in the last issue gives them cover, but it’s not as if they knew he was going to disappear when they revealed themselves at his home. Plus, shouldn’t they be concerned about finding this guy? Aside from that, how long does Forge expect X-Factor to stay “dead” when his computer virus sent out a message bragging that he was hacking into the government’s databanks? Why would he need to know this if he was dead? There’s not a lot to say about this one, as it’s typical X-Factor. The shadowy government agents in this issue appear to be working for Bastion, which I guess is a step up from keeping them in total obscurity. Wild Child and Madrox are treated as comedic relief, although neither has anything particularly amusing to say. Another forced romance subplot is introduced, as Forge begins to have feelings for Mystique again, apparently because she’s growing more compassionate. (I'll say it again...Marvel really had no idea what to do with this character in the ‘90s. She went from reformed villain, to “crazy,” to outright villain, to amoral government agent over the course of five years, and is now heading back to “reformed villain.”) Using Trevor Chase, a jealous kid with god-like powers, as a budding villain at least has potential, but he’s only a small part of a story that’s virtually identical to the previous issues.


rob said...

Your comments on the lack of direction/immediate reversal of direction after Underground hint at how much of a mess this book was at the time. These few Underground issues are the worst the book got. All this are they/aren't they believed dead nonsense is especially annoying considering the whole premise of the book is thrown out in a few issues time and the team is dismantled.

One thing that never worked about these issues is why this group even bothers to stay together after going underground. They all constantly belittle each other and have no purpose as a group.

wwk5d said...

I wish you'd review some of the X-force issues you missed, like the Road Trip issues...some good stuff there. This is just abysmal. The writing, the art...damn, Mackie's X-force is probably some of the worst the x-offices produced in the 90s.

G. Kendall said...

I'll eventually get to those issues, but I want to review the other titles that haven't reached OZT yet.

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