Monday, March 15, 2010

X-FACTOR #-1 - July 1997

A Summers Tale

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

Summary: Forge and Mystique talk about their feelings and embrace for a kiss. Suddenly, Stan Lee interrupts and tells a flashback story. Thirteen-year-old Alex Summers has been adopted by the Blanding family. Their son Todd has died, and the parents are unwittingly molding Alex into his image. Neighborhood bully Vince targets Alex, and with Mr. Sinister’s encouragement, kidnaps Alex and his foster-sister Haley. Vince admits to triggering the accident that killed Todd and boasts that he’ll kill the Blanding parents. Alex and Haley escape in time to discover Vince aiming a gun at their gas tank. Alex uses his powers for the first time and accidentally kills Vince. Mr. Sinister erases his memory of the event.

Continuity Notes: Mr. Sinister claims that young Alex could potentially be more powerful than his brother, but he lacks all control. This is presumably an explanation for why Sinister has focused more on Cyclops than Havok.

Review: This is one of the “suburban” Flashback issues, as it focuses on a character’s childhood before he developed powers and doesn’t involve superheroic action. As far as I know, no one had done a story about Havok’s childhood, so it’s a logical avenue to explore during Flashback Month. Howard Mackie’s dialogue is still unnecessarily clunky in places, but he is able to make Alex’s adopted family believable enough. Tying Alex’s conflict at home, his inability to live up the Blanding’s biological son, with the action elements that come later is a good idea. (How exactly Todd died isn’t very clear, but apparently Vince threw a rock which caused the car accident that killed Todd. I have no idea how a rock could do this, unless Vince was throwing boulders around.) Vince is more evil than the standard neighborhood bully character, but that works to the story’s advantage. Not only does Vince stand out amongst typical bullies, but his death also doesn’t come across as this horrible sin Havok committed in the past. That might have been the story’s intent, since Havok was supposedly a villain during this era, but instead it comes across as a fairly innocuous part of his backstory. Thankfully, they didn’t have him kill his sister or parents, which is where I could see this story going today.


wwk5d said...

That is one horrible cover.

This story seems somewhat pointless, especially as Havok's foster family was never seen or referenced since, and was pretty much created for this story. I guess since Sinsiter was obsessed with the Summers DNA, they had to eventually explain why he ignored Alex all this time...

Dengakuuman said...

Oh, good, I'm glad to see you're still currently skewering X-Factor. I've been trying to get the complete run from cons (even at 30 cents an issue it's idiotic) and I can't wait to read about it spiraling further down the drain..

In context, this issue doesn't seem so bad. Pointless is an improvement over the mess that X-Factor had become.

Teebore said...

That is one horrible cover.

It really, really is.

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