The Transparent Fox:
Issue(s): X-Factor #96, X-Factor #97, X-Factor #98, X-Factor #99, X-Factor #100
Well, it starts off with a terrorist bomb explosion at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and after that Alex is pulled away to talk privately with Forge. We check in on the other members of the team, including Random, who we see at home with his wife for the first time.
Random has gotten on the bad side of the government agency that hired him to attack Polaris last issue. He really was supposed to kill her, and they think he held back while fighting her. So they send troops to attack him. This winds up driving him back to X-Factor where he'll get hired by Forge.
Some of the things we see during this portion of the story is not as new. For example, Wolfsbane is now back to being obsessively fixated on Havoc. And Madrox is having problems with his personality. His "core" self is in deep depression, and there are also manic and cynical duplicates of himself running around. In some ways it feels like a repeat of things that were resolved (or, in Wolfsbane's case, about to be resolved) during the Peter David run. I'd like to have seen Wolfsbane's situation cleared up by now instead of it getting worse, but i think there's some logic to a new writer sticking to characterizations and scenarios that readers were familiar with.
But the main point is that things seem to be moving along just fine. Some fun characterization, a terrorist threat, a government conspiracy. And there's also this interesting commentary in the aftermath of the bombing. Havoc is also reacting to the bombing at the World Trade Center (which seems to be about the real one in 1993, not the one in X-Force #3).
I heard very similar commentary after September 11th, 2001, so it seems prescient (or we live with a history we are doomed to repeat).
Anyway, all stuff this seems right up this incarnation of X-Factor's alley, and there's none of the New Age-y nonsense that DeMatteis inevitably messes up his stories with. And then, fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.
This is Haven. She is a mutant that wants to accelerate the Mahapralaya by causing a mass extinction event on Earth. She believes in a prophecy that says that after the Mahapralaya, man and mutant will live in peace. And she is as New Age-y as can be.
The good news is that half the characters here also think that Haven is talking "spiritual psycho-babble" and "New Age nonsense". But some characters are intrigued. Haven has even written a book and made sure that all of X-Factor and even Professor X have copies. With Havoc still locked in a meeting with Forge, Polaris, as a favor to Professor X, takes the rest of the team to investigate Haven. Polaris finds herself believing in Haven, and so does Madrox's more manic dupe. But then Havok shows up with Forge to try to arrest her for being a terrorist. Polaris defends Haven, weirdly declaring that Havok is saying that he's acting as if she's "guilty until proven innocent" (so she can't be arrested until after her trial?).
Claiming that she doesn't want to see X-Factor fight itself, Haven teleports away. Havok and Forge then spend some time showing Polaris evidence of Haven's crimes, but Polaris is in a weird state of mind (granted, she's been targeting by a government agency) and won't believe it. With Polaris' attitude, it's hard to imagine her continuing to work for the government for long.
They are welcomed and allowed to stand around and listen to Haven's speeches for an entire issue.
Havok eventually placates her by saying that she'll get to make the final call, and then they all go to Haven's base in Northern California. It turns out that Val Cooper is already there, and is seemingly a convert. Haven confirms everything that was said about her; she really does want to wipe out a good portion of the Earth's population to bring about the prophecy.
And yet Val and Madrox's dupe still side with her. Wolfsbane is won over as well, and one good thing that comes out of this is that she is cured.
Eventually it turns out that Val is faking her loyalty to Haven. She's been working with Haven's brother, Monsoon. And Polaris was seemingly buying into Haven's prophecy but that actually ended when it was confirmed that Haven planned to kill people. So X-Factor work to stop Haven. Madrox really is sick, though. His duplicates aren't even coming out right.
X-Factor are able to destroy Haven's machinery, preventing her from triggering the earthquakes and such. Even after that, she tries to heal Madrox.
It doesn't work though, and Madrox seemingly dies. Haven teleports away, fleeing an enraged Havok. She says that the Legacy Virus may be the Mahapralaya she's been hoping for.
Killing a guy with the ability to duplicate himself seems just about impossible in a fictional universe, but his apparent death is the big event for issue #100.
Haven's actual mutant power seems to be the ability to teleport people away into a reality warp or something.
She'll be seen again.
This started off ok and i do think DeMatteis can do well with these characters with the right plot. The art by both Greg Luzniak and Jan Duursema (who alternate issues) is kind of cartoony, which feels right for the downtime moments, but is kind of off-putting when things get more serious. Regarding the plot, at least most of the characters are skeptical of Haven's philosophy, so it's not like in some DeMatteis stories where we're supposed to be taking his stuff at face value. But it's still pretty tedious when it comes right down to it. There is a lot of standing around and not much for most characters to do, and Haven having a gigantic organization out of nowhere is not very credible. I asked in the entry to last issue if X-Factor was just going to be one giant slog going forward, and some people said that DeMatteis' run was good or at least better than what follows. I can see why people like some of the elements here. I'm also realizing that we're almost done with DeMatteis' "run"; Todd DeZago begins co-writing with issue #103 and DeMatteis is completely gone by issue #106. So this is really the bulk of DeMatteis's X-Factor. And i mean if it only gets worse from here then the Mahapralaya can't come soon enough.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 423,808. Single issue closest to filing date = 665,700.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: This begins during the conflict in Genosha in the Bloodties crossover, and continues after that crisis is over. Note that Val Cooper is seen representing X-Factor (along with Forge) in X-Force #27, which also takes place soon after Bloodties.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showForge, Haven, Havok, Madrox the Multiple Man, Polaris, Professor X, Random, Strong Guy, Valerie Cooper, Wolfsbane
Good lord. Between Blood Ties and this maybe I should actually thank Scott Lobdell for killing off Illyana and bringing Magneto back to life and making me quit comics and being spared this.
Posted by: Erik Beck | March 6, 2017 4:43 PM
Haven seems to be partially inspired by the Jewish legend of Joseph della Reina. He sought to bring about the Messianic Age prematurely and he winds up corrupted. In some legends he winds up becoming the husband of Lilith- I'm surprised they didn't use him in Siege of Darkness, since it seems like they threw in everything else in that mess. The point, as Haven's brother points out, is that trying to bring about a utopia before the proper time is such an act of hubris that it's inherently corrupting.
Posted by: Michael | March 6, 2017 10:28 PM
And i mean if it only gets worse from here then the Mahapralaya can't come soon enough.
Careful what you wish for; I believe another name for the Mahapralaya is "Howard Mackie".
Posted by: Austin Gorton | March 7, 2017 3:43 PM
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