Monday, February 17, 2014

X-FACTOR #69 - August 1991

 

Clash Reunion
Credits:  Fabian Nicieza (writer), Whilce Portacio (penciler), Task Force X (inkers), Dana Moreshead (colors), Michael Heisler (letters)

Summary:  Professor Xavier contacts X-Factor through Val Cooper, and soon they join him in a submarine manned by an international task force.  While X-Factor devises a way to reach Muir Island, Forge manages to free Rogue and Banshee of the Shadow King’s control.  After X-Factor invades the island and defeats a group of Shadow King-possessed mutants, FBI inspector Jacob Reisz reveals himself as the Shadow King onboard the submarine.  Mystique drops her disguise as Val Cooper and shoots Reisz.  On Muir Island, the united mutants discover Polaris is being used as the nexus between the physical word and the Astral Plane.  Shadow King possesses Legion and suddenly triggers an explosion.

Continuity Notes:  
  • Rogue is now wearing her third outfit of the storyline.  This time, she’s wearing her standard uniform from the late ‘80s.  More wonky continuity -- Colossus disappears this issue, as he’s with Xavier in Washington DC, but not onboard the submarine or with X-Factor when they reach Muir Island.
  • Marvel Girl’s telepathic powers have fully returned in-between issues.  Previous issues hinted that they might return, but the confirmation is treated as an already accepted fact.
  • Banshee refers to Polaris as somehow becoming a “human catalyst for negative emotions.”  The Shadow King is using this ability to connect her to the Astral Plane.  If you’re thinking that this doesn’t make a lot of sense, bear in mind that this ties into an aborted Chris Claremont plot.  Apparently, Claremont wanted to reveal that Polaris’ powers aren’t inherently magnetism, but instead the ability to imitate other mutants’ powers.  After being in contact with Malice for so long, her powers mutated once again.  (More details in this Comics Should Be Good column - http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2012/11/17/the-abandoned-an-forsaked-what-happened-to-polaris-powers/ )

I Love the '90s:  Iceman works in a reference to the Bon Jovi song “Blaze of Glory.”

Review:  Okay, I’ll give Fabian Nicieza credit.  His second chapter of the crossover is much, much stronger than his first.  The scripting is noticeably better, as Nicieza shows he has a handle on the X-Factor cast, giving us brief glimpses into their personalities and the dynamics of their relationships.  He also addresses the issue of Nathan’s disappearance as well as could be expected, and does a decent job handling the team’s quickie reunion with Xavier.  There’s obviously not a lot of room for these scenes, as The Plot must be fed, but he accomplishes what he needs to do without making the conversations seem unnecessarily rushed.  Regarding the main plot, thankfully we’re not forced to endure too many pages of heroes vs. brainwashed heroes on Muir Island.  The scenes alternating between the “free” heroes on the island and Xavier’s task force plotting their next moves are much more interesting to read.  Plus, there’s Jacob Reisz finally being exposed as the Shadow King, and the revelation that Mystique didn’t commit suicide a year earlier in Uncanny X-Men, which are great moments for fans who have stuck through this storyline from the beginning.  This is also Whilce Portacio’s best issue so far, as he keeps the ugly faces to a minimum and is able to alternate between the conversation scenes and the action scenes (packed with numerous characters) quite well.

8 comments:

Jeff said...

I really wish we had gotten Claremont's original plan of Shadow King/Hellfire Club/Reavers vs the X-Men. That would have been awesome. The only downside is I feel like trying to stretch it to issue 300 would have been a little trying.

Matt said...

I wish X-Men Forever had started partway through UXM #279, ignoring X-Men #1-3. And, if that had happened, I also wish it would've actually been what it claimed to be, a legitimate continuation of Claremont's original stories, as if he had never left. It's painfully obvious reading XFM that Claremont was writing to a modern day audience with modern day plot structures in mind.

If Marvel had given Claremont actual free reign to do whatever the heck he wanted, and if Claremont came at it pretending each issue corresponded to an UXM issue (i.e., XMF #1 would be UXM #280), with a distinct outline to get up to XMF #21/UXM #300, based on his real, original ideas from 1991, I would've been way more excited for it. Sure, we know a lot of what he had planned, but the execution would've been the interesting part.

It could've been amazing or it could've been a train wreck, but either way, I'm pretty sure it would've been much more enjoyable than the XMF we wound up with.

(How did I start talking about X-Men Forever...?)

Anonymous said...

Not really. He wasn't planning to keep this story-arc going for that many issues. You would have had to deal with all the Shadow King details as a sub-plot a lot longer.
Claremont's original plan was for a great mutant war in issue #300. It would have also brought Apocalypse into the story.
Plus, Claremont had a lot of other plans to bring in by #300, like the death and resurrection of Wolverine, and the details of Gambit/Sinister.
It would have been a number of packed and exciting months leading up to his original plans for shadows King/Hellfire Club.

Jeff said...

@Anonymous: Sorry, I meant stretching out the build up to the story line. I thought he was pushing it with the 50 issues it took to resolve the Naze/Forge dangler, too.

@Matt: The other downside of X-Men Forever was that even if Claremont had followed through on the premise and it was fantastic, we wouldn't have gotten to see it illustrated by Jim Lee/Andy Kubert/Joe Madeiura/John Romita Jr. like we would have gotten if he hadn't left the book

Austin 'Teebore' Gorton said...

Colossus' disappearance in this issue is one of those things I noticed as a kid (when I generally didn't notice things like that).

@Matt: I wish X-Men Forever had started partway through UXM #279, ignoring X-Men #1-3

Ditto. And I echo your sentiments about the structure of the whole thing. All the stuff he changed that had nothing to do with his jumping off point (like having Nathan around, and older, and writing certain character in and out without explanation between X-Men #3 and X-Men Forever #1) bugged the heck out of me too. It was less "here's what Chris Claremont was going to do if he hadn't left" and more "here's a new alternate universe of random X-Men stories sort of set after a specific period of time".

Matt said...

Jeff -- "The other downside of X-Men Forever was that even if Claremont had followed through on the premise and it was fantastic, we wouldn't have gotten to see it illustrated by Jim Lee/Andy Kubert/Joe Madeiura/John Romita Jr. like we would have gotten if he hadn't left the book."

Good point, though I thought some of the work on XMF was good. I really, really like Tom Grummett, for instance, though I know not everyone thinks he's as great as I do. And the Paul Smith issues were decent as well. But mostly, yes, it was a lot of "journeyman" level work. Not awful, but not spectacular, either.

wwk5d said...

yeah, even though the internet spoiled it, in a way, I do wish his X-men Forever had been what he originally wanted to do.

Well, so this is how the original X-factor goes out. I supposed the 4 issue Apocalypse story was the proper coda then. As a kid, I loved this issue, and while it does have it's moments, there are some scenes that are rushed through that I wish had been given more panel space, but oh well.

Jason said...

"... and the revelation that Mystique didn’t commit suicide a year earlier in Uncanny X-Men, which are great moments for fans who have stuck through this storyline from the beginning."

The tease wasn't that she committed suicide, it was that Val Cooper had killed her. But you're right. this WAS a great payoff to that bit.

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