Tuesday, June 7, 2011

X-FACTOR #149 - September 1998

Times Change

Credits: Howard Mackie (writer), James Fry (penciler), Scott Koblish (inker), Comicraft (letters), Glynis Oliver (colors)

Summary: Havok calls Cyclops to make amends, as Greystone works on a time machine. Archer decides to leave the team to take care of Jude Black’s family, while the remaining members of X-Factor and the XUE meet. Havok proposes a new X-Factor that will stop super powered criminals and aid the public. Greystone suddenly lashes out at Madrox, and then returns to work on his time machine. Fixx realizes that he’s suffering from temporal insanity. Havok sneaks onboard Greystone’s vehicle and tries to talk to him. Suddenly, the unstable craft explodes.

Creative Differences: X-Factor was originally supposed to go to issue #150 and beyond. A Marvel house ad earlier in the year even promised that #150 would resolve the mystery of Graydon Creed’s killer.

We Get Letters: The letters page is still vague about the future of the title, even though this is the last issue. The editors boast about Tom Raney, the new regular artist, and encourage readers to come back next month to see more of (presumably) Archer’s redemption. However, a blurb on the bottom of the page announces that X-Factor subscriptions will be carried over to X-Men. Why exactly the subscriptions didn’t carry over to the replacement series Mutant X is unclear, but this does lead some credence to the theory that Mutant X was originally intended as a miniseries. Some of the details surrounding X-Factor’s odd cancellation are covered in this edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed, with the editor providing some more information in the comments thread.

Review: After a twelve-year run, this is how X-Factor says goodbye. No retrospective, no tribute to the past, no massive finale that sends the series off on a high note…just more aimless wandering followed by a tacked-on explosion on the final page. The characters still have the personality of oatmeal, the scripting is still dull and occasionally robotic, and of course, virtually none of the mysteries introduced during Howard Mackie’s run have been resolved. This is what happens when a book is kept alive by completists; it sells well enough to stay afloat, but isn’t a high enough priority for editorial to pay it too much attention. I can’t imagine anyone at Marvel was thrilled with the previous three years of this book, but since it wasn’t losing money, it’s allowed to continue with virtually the same creative team under a new name. And, to be fair, the early issues of Mutant X sold fairly well and received decent reviews. However, it wasn’t long before the book slid down the charts, as the stories and characterizations became increasingly arbitrary and occasionally just ridiculous. The fans who suffered through the final years of X-Factor could’ve seen this coming, yet Marvel allowed Mutant X to creep along for years. A brand new regime at Marvel is what it eventually took to end this nonsense. And, if we’re to believe the rumors, “New Marvel” gave Howard Mackie another chance with The Brotherhood. That’s a book that’s been largely forgotten, but it’s another poorly received, for-completists-only title with nonsensical plots and no direction. Mercifully, this one died after only twelve issues.

13 comments:

Matt said...

I've heard the rumor before that Howard Mackie was "Writer X" on The Brotherhood, but I have no idea where it originated. Is there anything that backs it up besides speculation? Obviously there's nothing concrete or wouldn't be classified as a rumor, but I just don't know what makes people think it could be true in the first place.

dschonbe said...

Your summary is entirely in English, yet I barely understand a word of it...

Thanks for the reviews. I am enjoying them.

Will you be covering Mutant X?

Edward said...

indeed a sad end to a series I really enjoyed
Mutant X next?

G. Kendall said...

Are you guys cruel enough to suggest I review Mutant X, too?

I don't know where the Mackie/Brotherhood rumor began, but I remember Rich Johnston claiming in a column that the writer of Brotherhood's first name was "Howard." Of course, he even speculated that it could be Howard Stern!

When Mackie was asked if he wrote Brotherhood, he said something like "That's ridiculous" -- which isn't a denial.

The most common rumor from the time was that Mackie was writing the book with Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada.

irwin said...

IIRC, Quesada said something like "Who said that the writer is a he?", which resulted in some people assuming that it definitely had to be a female writer. Because Quesada and Jemas were so well-known for their trustworthy statements at that time...

MrXorn said...

I've been waiting for this review. Like dschonbe said, pure nonsense.

As a completionist coming back to comics (stuff like X-Factor and Excalibur from this era drove me away), I bought every issue of The Brotherhood. After it was over I had no idea what had happened. I wish someone (hint hint) would read that convoluted mess and try to find *some* excuse as to why it needed to exist in the first place.

Do you think Writer X kept his/her identity hidden because of reader backlash? I sure think so. My money was on Quesada being the writer, but Mackie makes sense as well.

Adam Farrar said...

The only issues of The Brotherhood I read were the ones that crossed over with X-Force/Statix. I was confused by everything that happened and was glad when I reached the end and Guy and the others were just as confused about what was happening around them.

I wasn't reading X-Factor at this point but I did pick up Mutant X because I liked the hook and as a Warren Worthington fan I enjoyed seeing him as the Fallen. I remember only a few details from the first few issues, but my database says I have almost the entire series which is a surprise.

dschonbe said...

Are you guys cruel enough to suggest I review Mutant X, too?

Yes.

Your reviews are too much fun.

Thanks again.

PC Bernard said...

Actually I remember quite liking the first 12 issues (and the first annual) of Mutant X, discovering this new alternate world was enjoyable to me. It was after the one year mark that the series started dragging.

Teebore said...

The reasoning I recall hearing for Mackie as the writer of The Brotherhood was a sort of process of elimination, as people knew/believed he was still working for Marvel but he wasn't credited with writing anything, so people assumed he must be Writer X.

There's probably about a billion things wrong with that reasoning, but I guess it was enough to fuel the rumors.

Also, I remain saddened that this issue is how X-Factor ended, and as much as I think Marvel's "cancel a series/restart it/lump the issues of the restarted series in with the issues of the old series at a convienant number" policy is somewhat shifty, at least it (kinda) saves X-Factor from going out on this note.

Bibs said...

I was wondering, does Cyclops ever gets informed or reacts to his brother "death"?

G. Kendall said...

Bibs,

Alan Davis' run on the main X-titles briefly addressed Cyclops's reaction to Havok's death, around a year after this was published.

Bibs said...

Thank you Kendall.

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