Monday, September 6, 2010

X-FACTOR #140-#141, December 1997-January 1998

Going Home

Credits: Howard Mackie (writer), Duncan Rouleau (penciler), Jamie Mendoza & Hackshack Studios (inks), Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne (letters), Glynis Oliver & Matt Webb (colors)

Summary: Following her apparent death at Sabretooth’s hands, Shard is lost in time. She relives her first meeting with renegade XSE officers Fixx, Greystone, and Archer. Shard is invited to join them as a member of Xavier’s Underground Enforcers. With her help, they abduct Bantam from custody, in the hopes that his connection to Trevor Fitzroy will allow them to travel through time and correct a past mistake.

Continuity Notes: Fixx can create tiny psychic “fairies” that allow her to read minds. Greystone morphs into some sort of monster (that appears to be what Duncan Rouleau is drawing, at least). Archer can apparently cover his body with some kind of metal, and for some reason bears a strong resemblance to Cable. Shard first meets the XUE members while fighting the Exhumes, which are an undead group of mutants from her future. Based on her dialogue, Alaska is apparently as hot as a desert in her time, which I guess is a global warming reference, even though the New York of her era has never been portrayed as particularly warm. The XUE have a mysterious leader in the shadows (naturally), who declares that Xavier’s dream has failed and the X-Men are responsible.

Miscellaneous Note: The Statement of Ownership lists average yearly sales at 143,508 copies with the most recent issue selling 123,227.

Review: A solo story dedicated to Shard, the hologram-you’re-not-supposed-to-call-a-hologram who joined the team for no apparent reason months earlier. How lucky we are. I have no idea why this character was ever brought into this title, other than as a love interest for Wild Child, another cast member introduced for dubious reasons. Wild Child at least had a tenuous connection to the popular “Age of Apocalypse” event; Shard just has Bishop as a brother, and Bishop wasn’t really setting the world on fire by the mid-’90s. Shard and Bishop’s future is still underexplored by this point, so if you’re going to do a Shard solo story, it’s a reasonable enough place to start. The XUE are treated as a big deal, but the characters have little personality and the entire concept just feels like pandering. The XSE are already supposed to be the extreme future X-Men. Now we have the double-extreme splinter group of the XSE that takes orders from a mystery man in the shadows, who has some vague information on the X-Men that of course isn’t revealed yet. I’ll go out on a limb and guess that their mysterious leader is Forge (Rouleau partially reveals his face on the last page, but I can’t tell if this is supposed to be a character we already recognize). None of this is original, but a story that connects Shard’s future to X-Factor’s current status quo has potential. This, however, is X-Factor. The book hasn’t had a coherent direction or logically followed through with a storyline for years by this point. I’m not optimistic.

Dreams of Tomorrow

Credits: Howard Mackie (writer), Duncan Rouleau (penciler), Jamie Mendoza (inks), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Glynis Oliver (colors)

Summary: With Bantam’s reluctant cooperation, the XUE locate Fitzroy. After abducting him, Shard explains their need of his time travel powers, and hints that their romance could be rekindled. Greystone walks in as Shard releases Fitzroy and tries to stop her. Fitzroy absorbs Greystone’s life force and creates a time portal, but Shard prevents his escape. Fixx reveals that with her psychic powers, they don’t need Fitzroy’s willful cooperation anyway. Shard begins to question changing the past and breaks away from the XUE. She’s later killed in battle with Exhumes, and brought to life in the past as a hologram. Shard suddenly awakens inside Polaris’ body. Realizing that the XUE have now traveled to the past, Shard leaves X-Factor to find them.

Continuity Notes: Shard describes Archer as a straight “by the book” officer and wonders why he joined the XUE. Last issue, she grouped Archer in with the “XSE rogues…rejected and feared by the rest of the corps…good, but mavericks…regular Logans” during their first encounter. As for Sabretooth’s attack, Shard survived it by phasing through Polaris as Sabretooth “killed” her. She’s been inside Polaris’ body ever since the attack. Fitzroy is shown creating a portal after draining Greystone, but Greystone apparently survives. I seem to recall Fitzroy needing all of someone’s life energy in order to create time portals, but it’s possible he was always taking more than he needed because he’s sadistic.

We Get Letters: The editorial response to rumors that X-Factor is getting cancelled is “X-Factor being canceled? NOT!” They go on to promise a great new direction for issue #150, an issue that was never published (and was supposed to reveal the identity of Graydon Creed’s assassin, according to the ads Marvel ran). The X-Factor letter column has now been renamed “Factor Reactor” which I think we can all agree is terrible.

Review: Yeah, what a surprise. X-Factor can’t do time travel stories, either. For some reason, Mackie feels the need to overly complicate the way Fitzroy’s time travel works, even though we’ve already seen the way Fitzroy creates time portals and it’s not that difficult to grasp. He absorbs someone’s life energy and makes a portal. Other people can go through it. The end. Whilce Portacio didn’t even screw that one up. Now, Mackie gives the XUE the odd plan to only send one member back in time. He or she will serve as a psionic anchor for the others, and “should, in theory, be able to pull the others through.” What does this mean? Why don’t all of them just walk though the stupid portal?

On top of that, the ending reveals that the XUE actually need “the bodies of people alive in this time to travel back to it.” Where did that come from? I can’t make any sense of this, but because Shard was inhabiting Polaris, the XUE can now travel back to this era, which leads to the issue’s cliffhanger. It’s really hard to believe how dumb this book gets from month to month.


wwk5d said...

I gave up buying X-factor a few issues after the Onslaught story. Reading your posts, I have no regrets whatsoever. I mean, there is bad in a so-bad-its-trashy-good kind of way, and there is so bad it's just bad. This seems to fall into the latter category.

ray swift said...

Wait for it.
I think they used this two issues as a preperation for a possible Shard solo series. You know, like all the cool and most interesting characters gets like X-man and Cable. Cause all the kids would love to see another obscure character from the future hanging around the present for no reason at all.
I guess the premise didn't go well...

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