Issue(s): X-Factor #54
This begins not long after the end of last issue, with Beast, Cyclops, and Jean (i still can't bring myself to call her Marvel Girl at and i wish she'd get a new code name at this point) being brought to the hospital to deal with Archangel, who is freaking out thanks to poison in his system from the fight with Sabretooth. One thing i do love about this comic at this particular time is how X-Factor are public heroes, so when they arrive you have people saying, "Hey, it's the mutants - X-Factor! Thank heaven you're here!". And the doctors and police at the hospital are generally helpful and in now way blaming X-Factor or even just Angel for the destruction he's causing during his mindless rampage. X-Factor decide to take him back to their Ship since it's said that hospitals bring up bad memories for him, since that's where his wings were cut off.
Meanwhile, Iceman and Opal are concluding their date, and Opal invites Bobby to a party, although she tells him to come in human form since "sometimes people... even my friends, don't look any deeper than a person's surface".
As Iceman is skating away, he's noticed by the amnesiac Colossus and his friends in a nearby loft. It turns out the party Iceman will be going to is Colossus' artistic debut.
We're then introduced to the villain of the issue.
I think the narration there must be courtesy of Ann Nocenti. I can't be expected to read all of that, but the gist of it is that "Scarlet" is some kind of non-mutant psychic vampire.
Back at X-Factor's ship, Jean, reacting to Cyclops' marriage proposal from last issue, is taking a leave of absence. Per the Beast's thought bubbles, Jean has "incorporated the Phoenix's memories... plus those of Scott's late wife, Madelyne... both purloined versions of herself... both of whom loved Scott passionately, and died tragically. Their memories... her own desires... are shoving her into Scott's arms... and she's fighting them stubbornly." I saw Inferno as a necessary bit of surgery to untangle the various retcons and poorly written situations that arose from Jean Grey's resurrection, but they should have ended with a fully integrated Jean/Maddie/Phoenix. Louise Simonson keeps picking at the scab here, preventing it from healing. And that just means more and more angsty drama.
On the other hand, there's something to be said for the continued metaphor of a character resisting her own narrative. We saw a lot of that during Inferno, with both Jean and Madelyne more or less fighting against the plot and the roles that were written for them. There's something to that idea, especially when the plot is "merge all the girlfriends and have them live happily ever after with the boy that can't choose between them". But i wish we could let Jean find her own self in a more direct way. Her departure here is really to allow for her upcoming (and weird) appearance in Claremont's X-Men.
If nothing else, i do like the integration of characters between X-Factor and X-Men. Colossus is appearing here and Jean (and eventually the rest of X-Factor) will appear in X-Men. We had to get through Inferno and then tread water with Judgement Day waiting for Claremont to catch up, but now the mutant corner of the Marvel universe is more tightly integrated.
But back to our plot. "Several days later", it's time for the party, and the Beast goes along with Iceman. I initially assumed the dark haired woman was Trish Tilby being a little playful with Beast, but that doesn't seem to actually be the case.
Bobby sees Crimson, prompting a short discussion with Opal about what his "type" is.
The Beast sees and recognizes Colossus.
Colossus has no memory. But he knows that he has no memory. So i'm a little surprised to see him just walk away from someone that claims to know him.
Anyway, Crimson starts to figure out that some of the people at the party are mutants, and she realizes that they have more life energy than regular humans. So she tries draining Beast's energy...
...and then goes for Colossus. After what Crimson did to him, the Beast keeps an eye on her, and breaks up Crimson's attack on Colossus on the roof.
Back at X-Factor's ship, Archangel wakes up, but he's still under the influence of the poison.
And it turns out that being in the ship of the guy that turned him from Angel to Archangel is no better than being in a hospital.
Honestly, it probably didn't matter where he was. He's messed up thanks to the poison. He manages to break away and fly out of Ship. The issue ends with Crimson turning her attention to him.
It's pretty slight, plotwise, and i'm about as interested in Crimson as i was Infectia (they are different characters, right?).
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 297,575. Single issue closest to filing date = 291,800.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Following her leave of absence here, Jean Grey will next appear in Uncanny X-Men #261.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAngel, Beast, Cable (Baby Nathan Christopher Summers), Charlotte Jones, Colossus, Crimson, Cyclops, Iceman, Jean Grey, Jennifer Ransome, Opal Tanaka, Phillip Moreau, Ship (Prosh)
The problem with Jean's identity issues and Scott and Jean's relationship issues is that this is the wrong time for them to be moping about them. Warren's poisoned, Rusty and Skids are missing- it just makes them look like self-centered jerks.
Posted by: Michael | May 4, 2015 12:30 PM
I wonder if Marc Silvestri's work here was because they were carrying on the Colossus subplot, or because Bob Harras was getting ready to push him off "X-Men" and wasn't sure where to put him yet.
Either way, it feeds my theory that the merging of the X-teams was in the works for quite a while.
Posted by: ChrisW | May 4, 2015 4:53 PM
I though Crimson was stealing/draining painful memories, not life energy. More like a psychic vampire. This is why she couldn't succeed with Beast, because he has made peace with his painful memory (The irony, of course, is that she should have just waited until 2001 to attack.)
We'll get more of the themes regarding Jean you were talking about, fnord, when you get to Days of Future Present.
Another (unintentional) theme is women telling Iceman what his "type" is.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | May 4, 2015 4:57 PM
I felt the merger of Jean, Phoenix and Maddie in Inferno was way too neat, and too unrealistic, a way to resolve the plot. So I understand the desire to do a story about what it means to be a merger of three psyches, in a way. It should've been done as a trippy dreamquest ruminating on the basis of identity though, not as an annoying love story.
Posted by: Berend | May 4, 2015 7:08 PM
Harras decided to begin reintegrating the X-teams at this point, which is why Jean moves to X-Men for a few months on a flimsy pretext and Colossus, Beast, Forge, and Banshee also start hopping between books (while no one actually looks for the X-Men, the plot Claremont had intended). I suspect Crimson's vampire clan and yet another story about Archangel going bad are all Louise Simonson could do in the face of editorial demands rhat the cast prepare to merge back into X-Men. I wouldn't blame her for the poor quality of the coming months' stories.
I think ChrisW is right about Silvestri: at one pont X-Men readers were told Jim Lee would be Silvestri's fill-in artist. But it seems that as soon as Harras saw the sales numbers for "Lady Mandarin" he offered Lee Silvestri's job. So Silvestri gets an issue here as a sop, and he'll eventualky get Wolverine as a permanent home.
Why does Uncanny have sub-par art for months? Because Harras took the book bimonthly, which would have been a strain for Silvestri (who had Leonardi and others help with fill-ins during the ladt two years' biweekly runs) and was flat-out impossible for Lee. My guess is that Lee was supposed to draw Gambit's first appearance in Uncanny 265, but the biweekly schedule ruled it out. Lee's run starts as the biweekly run is finishing.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | May 5, 2015 1:16 AM
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