Thursday, April 9, 2015

X-FACTOR FOREVER #4 - August 2010

Credits:  Louise Simonson (writer), Dan Panosian & Eric Nguyen (art), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Jim Charalampidis (colorist)

Summary:  Caliban speaks to X-Factor, offering some insight into Apocalypse’s motives.  He lures the team to Mr. Sinister’s hideout inside a decommissioned nuclear silo in Nebraska.  While Sinister and his cloned army are distracted by X-Factor, Apocalypse enters with Christopher.  Cyclops briefly burns his powers out fighting Sinister, but Marvel Girl encourages him to keep fighting and reaffirms that she loves him.

Continuity Notes:  
  • According to Caliban (who’s received this info from Apocalypse), mutants are unable to create viable offspring.  The few examples of healthy mutant offspring all involve magic or science, such as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.  As for Legion, Caliban dismisses him as insane and now comatose.  Legion was actually quite active at this point in continuity, which is set before “The Muir Island Saga.”
  • Caliban cites the way Marvel Girl’s powers repel Christopher’s as evidence that she is his biological mother.  The fact that Cyclops isn’t repelled by Christopher’s forcefield leads Caliban to believe that Christopher was genetically manipulated by Sinister. The idea that the mutant powers of relatives repel each other is news to me; based on Cyclops and Havok, I thought mutant relatives were immune to each other’s powers, which isn’t quite the same thing.
  • Sinister’s cloned army includes a brown-haired Cable and a white-haired Wolverine.  Marvel Girl’s powers bounce off Cable; Sinister says this proves that Cable is Nathan (Christopher) all grown up.

Review:  Okay, more fight scenes, and more monologues intended to convince the reader that mutants can’t make babies, even though we’ve seen mutants make some babies before.  (Well, I guess we haven’t actually seen it, outside of a MAX book.)  To be fair to Simonson, it seems as if she’s already anticipated the readers’ counterarguments and is explaining away the exceptions to the rule pretty quickly.  (Claremont waited several issues before acknowledging the exceptions to Burnout, which is one of the reasons I had a difficult time buying into the premise initially.)  Since most of this exposition is delivered by Caliban, I had to pause and remind myself that Simonson’s Caliban wasn’t childlike and was pretty far removed from Jeph Loeb’s reinvention of the character.  His speech pattern does seem to have been toned down in order to deliver this info dump, however, and it’s hard not to notice that two issues in a row have consisted of characters making broad statements about mutantkind in the midst of fight scenes.  The only real emotion in the story is at the very end, when Jean spontaneously declares her love for Cyclops and inspires him to keep fighting.  The sentiment is nice, but the timing is questionable.  This all occurs in the middle of a fight scene, but judging by the staging, it would seem Sinister and his flunkies are just big softies since they stop the fight in order to give the lovebirds their space.  Ideally, this miniseries could’ve been structured in a way that enabled Scott and Jean to resolve their relationship issues over the course of more than one page.

Regarding the addition of Mr. Sinister, I confess that I had a bit of a fanboy moment this issue.  Sinister’s motivation for wiping out the Morlocks and other random mutants was never properly explained during the ‘80s.  While rereading the original “Mutant Massacre” issues a few weeks ago, I noticed that the only motive given in the actual storyline comes from the X-Men speculating that the Marauders want to “rule the world” and are eliminating mutants who might be in their way.  That’s rather lame, and I imagine it was only thrown in because Claremont just wanted to kill off the Morlocks and was going to come up with a story justification for it later.  This issue, Simonson has Sinister declare that his work will leave Earth “in human hands…where it belongs.”  Was this an idea Claremont and Simonson kicked around in the ‘80s?  Sinister is an anti-mutant human, one who uses mutant clones to wipe out the mutant population?  It might sound ridiculous now, but it does read as consistent with the way the Marauders were originally portrayed.  Whenever the Forever books come across as honest continuations of the old stories, that’s when they’re the most entertaining.

The Apocalypse Journal IV
Credits:  Louise Simonson (writer), Aluir Almancino (penciler), Terry Austin (inker), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Dan Jackson (colorist)

Summary:  Sinister grows impatient with Apocalypse’s slow, furtive attempts to advance evolution.  While Apocalypse is distracted, Sinister advances his own studies.  On the island of Genosha, he breeds more mutants and develops a way to enslave them.  Apocalypse realizes that Sinister resents his power and views mutants as a threat to humanity.  He imagines a future where Sinister’s actions threaten mutantkind.  

Review:  Apparently, Simonson introduced Sinister to use him as a foil for Apocalypse, the one who inspires him to ensure that mutants will rise above humans.  I don’t have a real problem with this, since I have to accept within the main story that Sinister is an anti-mutant bigot in the timeline Simonson’s created.  Ideally, Simonson’s Sinister would overlap more neatly with Claremont’s original plans for the character, but I recognize that’s a trivial thing to care about.  Simonson has also worked in an explanation for why Genosha had so many mutants, and it’s a rather painless one as far as continuity implants go.  (Plus, it’s a plot problem that I don’t recall anyone addressing in the past.)  Is any of this alternate continuity better than what we received in the mainstream universe?  Probably not, but there are moments that make you feel as if you’re getting the “real” origin of Apocalypse.  


wwk5d said...

Actually, the closest we got for a reason during the Mutant Massacre was a comment by Sabretooth during his first fight with Wolverine, something about how the Morlcoks were wildcards in Sinister's plans.

As for Simonson's "no mutants can have kids" idea...ugh. Just no. And waving off Legion as being in a coma and insane isn't really a counterargument.

Anonymous said...

I read in an interview with Claremont that had he stayed on X-Men, this was a direction he intende to take Sinister. That Sinister saw mutants as "merchandise", and mutants who served no purpose to him (like the Morlocks) were to be wiped out.

Yeah, I agree about how writers keep wanting to mess up the concept of mutants. It's pretty much accepted in the Marvel Universe that mutants are the next stage in human evolution. Why do writers keep wanting to mess this up?
"Oh, they all die at an early age!"
"Oh, they can't reproduce!"
"Oh, let's make mutants an endangered species!"
What do these ideas add to the concept? How is the next stage in human evolution?

I think Claremont just threw "burn-out" in to X-Men: Forever because he couldn't think of a big coherent theme to use in the series.

Jeff said...

I think putting Mr. Sinister behind Genosha is a big improvement over having Sugar Man be the one behind it. Mainly because Mr. Sinister is awesome and Sugar Man is crap.

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