Monday, January 14, 2008

X-FACTOR #92- July 1993

The Man Who Wasn’t There
Credits: Scott Lobdell & Joe Quesada (plot), J. M DeMatteis (script), Joe Quesada w/Cliff van Meter (pencils), Al Milgrom (inks), Richard Starkings (letterer), Glynis Oliver (colors)

After the Acolytes attack a hospice in Virginia, X-Factor interrogates their captured member, Spoor. He refuses to cooperate until Quicksilver enters. Eager to please Magneto’s son, he tells them about the Acolytes’ plans to attack a military base. Val Cooper takes Quicksilver and Random to the base, but refuses to bring the rest of X-Factor along. The remaining members follow Cooper to the military base, where it’s revealed that the government is manufacturing Sentinels again. Havok is angered that Val Cooper knew about this project, but Quicksilver speaks up for the government’s right to defend its citizens. The Acolytes attack, and their leader Fabian Cortez attempts to draw Quicksilver over to his side. After a brief fight, the Acolytes teleport away, including the tentacle creature living inside Val Cooper. The Acolyte was controlling Cooper, and she apologizes for leading X-Factor into a trap. When X-Factor learns that Val Cooper already knew about the Sentinel project before she was possessed, they walk away from her.

Like all parts of the Fatal Attractions crossover, this issue has a cardstock hologram cover.

Continuity Notes
Exodus briefly appears for the first time. He observes X-Factor in their ship and then flies away. I seem to recall that this issue was promoted at the first appearance of a major new X-character, but that certainly doesn’t sound like Exodus, does it?

Madrox is forced to kill the Acolyte Mellancamp. Who came up with these names?

Val Cooper was attacked by the tentacle creature in issue #87. I have no idea what Peter David originally intended it to be, but I doubt it was supposed to be an Acolyte.

Just a few months after the X-Cutioner’s Song ends, the next X-crossover begins. Looking around the internet, it seems like a lot of fans still have fond memories of X-Cutioner’s Song. Fatal Attractions, on the other hand, looks like it was forgotten by most readers and outright loathed by the ones who do remember it. Most of the rancor comes from the portrayal of Magneto, which is still a few months away. Rather than tightly interconnecting between four titles for three months, Fatal Attractions produced mostly standalone issues that all contributed to a larger story. I would consider this a preferable way to handle a crossover, and it does allow X-Factor to maintain its own identity, unlike the previous crossover.

In order to build up the Acolytes as legitimate adversaries, it’s not a bad idea to have a satellite team like X-Factor face them. It creates a feeling of a cohesive universe, while also creating a sense that the Acolytes are a threat to all of the mutant teams. Quicksilver’s connection to his father is a logical angle to explore if you’re participating in a crossover about Magneto, and the beginning of the issue does a good job of showing Quicksilver’s feelings about his father’s legacy. However, the purpose of this issue appears to be moving Quicksilver closer to the side of Magneto. In that respect, it fails pretty badly. Quicksilver is rightly sickened by the actions of the Acolytes, and even defends the government’s right to build Sentinels for protection. After two pages of conversation with Fabian Cortez, Quicksilver has suddenly changed his mind, and even calls Val Cooper a “genetic slur” as he abandons her. If Cortez had a legitimate point about anything, this wouldn’t bother me. Instead, he just babbles about Quicksilver’s true fate as Magneto’s son, Quicksilver gets mad at him, then he teleports away. Why would any of this sway Quicksilver?

For no reason outside of Marvel’s insistence that he was comics’ next superstar, Random also shows up. Why exactly a possessed Val Cooper would bring him along is never explained. The story moves briskly so his presence isn’t really distracting, thankfully. I don’t want to be too hard on this issue. The opening scene with the Acolytes attacking the hospice is disturbing, and DeMatteis’ script is able to treat it as more than just shock value. With the exception of the ending, I like Quicksilver’s characterization in this issue, and wish more would have been done with the idea of a mutant siding with the government on the Sentinel issue. Most of the artwork is strong, and the actual fight with the Acolytes isn’t bad. Fatal Attractions doesn’t really fall apart until Magneto himself shows up.


Anonymous said...

"Fatal Attractions," objectively, is probably the best X-over of the '90s, mainly because the "crossover" aspect is coincidental and most of the individual issues are character pieces.

X-FACTOR is one of the standouts of the event. Granted, Peter David jumps through all sorts of nonsensical hoops to position the plot, but that's all secondary to the social/philosophical commentary. Fifteen or so years before CIVIL WAR's "Stamford Incident," X-Factor is presented with the question of just how far society should go to protect itself in the wake of a supervillain massacre. But unlike CIVIL WAR, David goes one step further, asking the question: "Might the villains be...right?" It's an age-old dilemma in the X-verse, but David gives us the most immediate, intimate portrayal of it. Again, the plot doesn't quite match up with what he's presenting--Pietro seems to be struggling with his father's TRUE message, but it looks like he's being tempted by Cortez's twisted version, and the massacre doesn't shoehorn into the debate very well at all--but David is a strong enough writer to steamroll over the editorially-mandated crap and find something worth saying beyond it.

Unfortunately, the point of "Fatal Attractions" seems to be to demolish Magneto's argument altogether, which makes this issue ultimately pointless, and also has the unfortunate side-effect of making long-time Avenger Quicksilver look like a borderline-sociopathic sycophant akin to the Acolytes for having even considered it, which clearly isn't the point in the issue itself.

But what stands out to me more than anything is the Acolytes. For all their ubiquity in the first half of the decade, this is their stand-out appearance (as villains, anyway; they have some better "neutral" appearances later). The writers all bungled the religious angle--they never found a groove with Magneto-as-messiah, and Mags never seemed to abide the Acolytes when he returned--but David managed to get one good portrayal of them as fanatical racists before mediocrity finally caught up with them.

Speaking of the Acolytes...anyone find it weird that Magneto got an international cult of racial supremacists, while Apocalypse--you know, the ACTUAL RELIGIOUS FIGURE--got a non-dogmatic group of disgruntled Inhumans? Imagine how much better the decade would have been had Magneto and Poccy simply switched places: Poccy "dies" in space, Mags teams-up with the X-teams against Stryfe, the Acolytes worship Poccy, Poccy returns as a mutant messiah, infects Xavier's Onslaughting brain, and becomes a world threat in Genosha (with shades of a 616 AoA), and Mags seeks to unite the Twelve leaders of mutantkind (in their original purpose, not the weird one we got). Might've saved both their characters.

Austin Gorton said...

I have fond memories of Fatal Attractions (then again, as we often see here, memories don't always live up to reality). It seemed like big things were happening, that we were on the cusp of something huge, and the threat seemed palpable.

Of course, that huge thing we were on the cusp of was the return of an oddly characterized Magneto, and then just one more crossover after another. Still, this storyline shouldn't be faulted for what came after it.

cove west: I like your version of the 90s villains much better than what actually happened, if for no other reason than the way it prevents us from ever having the crappy Twelve story we got and instead gives us the cool one teased way back in that issue of X-Factor that introduced the concept.

Luke said...

I remember enjoying "Fatal Attractions," for the most part, when it was first released. It was the first time that I bought ALL of the mutant titles, including X-Force and Wolverine, so it had a "big time" feel to me as a 12-13 year old reader (these issues came out right around my birthday). I think it was also helped by the fact that this was the first X-men story I ever read which actually had Magneto in it. The other part I remember was thinking that Lobdell had a decent direction in mind for Excalibur and wasn't just running it into the ground... of course, time proved me wrong on that one. Are you planning on covering Excalbur #71?

G. Kendall said...

Yeah, I started buying Excalibur regularly around #71, so I'll start doing full reviews of the series with that issue.

Anonymous said...

Fatal Attractions was the last gasp for my regular purchase of X-Books. Uncanny had devolved into nonsense after Claremont left and X-Factor was pretty much over for me after David departed. I came back to check out Age of Apocalypse, but that was it for me regarding the X-Titles until Morrison's run on New X-Men. I'm looking forward to reading about all the stuff I missed.

Hey Cove,
Nice analysis, but you know that Peter David didn't write this issue, right?

katelyn said...

I recently bought a copy of X Factor #92, and completed my Fatal Attractions set, but when I got home and opened it up, I noticed something was horribly wrong. See, my X Factor cover holds several misprinted copies of "Justice League Task Force #2". It hadn't been tampered with, so I checked out my other copies from the Fatal Attractions series and it turns out that both comics were printed in Canada. Have you heard of any other strange misprints like this before?

katelyn said...

I recently bought a copy of X Factor #92, and completed my Fatal Attractions set, but when I got home and opened it up, I noticed something was horribly wrong. See, my X Factor cover holds several misprinted copies of "Justice League Task Force #2". It hadn't been tampered with, so I checked out my other copies from the Fatal Attractions series and it turns out that both comics were printed in Canada. Have you heard of any other strange misprints like this before?

G. Kendall said...

No, I haven't heard of that one. There was a rumor in the early '90s that inside one of Marvel's collectible polybagged comics were copies of "Camp Candy", but I doubt that's true.

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