The Small Lebowski:
X-Factor annual #6
Issue(s): X-Factor annual #6
X-Factor fight a bunch of 3-D polygons...
...and i mean for pages and pages, and then finally are zapped into a Limbo with the already huge cast for this story.
Then it's determined that the only way to stop Proteus/Piecemeal is to convince him to commit suicide and go back to the peace he had while he was dead. Then a debate ensues among the legions of heroes to determine if that is ethical. It's noted that both Proteus and Piecemeal are the product of bad parenting. A big point is made of the fact that Cable is on the side of those that argue against convincing Proteus to kill himself, which surprises characters that think of him as a lethal expediency kind of guy. I guess Cable knows all about bad parenting.
Anyway, the heroes talk to Proteus and some try to tell him that he could overcome his hardships and live a normal life, using one of the AIM developed casings so that he doesn't have to possess bodies any more. Proteus worries that he'd still be a freak, but the heroes point out that they are for the most part "freaks" themselves. In the end, Proteus and Piecemeal opt for suicide, or at least they pop out of our universe.
So basically this issue is just a lot of fighting with, and then yelling at, shapes.
In the end, Toad and Gideon just kind of shrug their shoulders over the whole affair, noting that Piecemeal's mother Harness also has a young daughter that may also turn out to be a mutant.
This whole story was pretty mundane, the sort of plot that i'd expect to appear in a Marvel Comics Presents feature or something, not real comics. And then the ending is just bewildering, a lot of pop psychology babble with no drama and really nothing for anyone to do but yell. From the "Kings of Pain" title and Piecemeal's Toxic Parents sweatshirt (which the camera lingers on at the end of this issue), it's clear Nicieza was inspired to write something about abusive parents, but especially with this final issue it comes across more like a bad essay on the subject that just happens to be illustrated with super-heroes shouting at floating blobs of color. It's not a story and definitely not a satisfying ending.
Quality Rating: D
Historical Significance Rating: 1
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is the fourth and final part of Kings of Pain. See the Comments regarding placement of this issue vs. X-Factor #65-68. The back-ups from this issue are covered in separate entries.
Crossover: Kings of Pain
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAndrew Chord, Angel, Beast, Boom Boom, Cable (Adult), Cannonball, Captain America, Captain Britain, Copycat, Cyclops, Feral, Firestar, Gideon, Harness, Iceman, Jean Grey, Justice, Legion, Madrox the Multiple Man, Moira MacTaggert, Namorita, Night Thrasher, Nova (Rich Rider), Piecemeal (Gilbert Benson), Polaris, Proteus, Red Guardian (Steel Guardian), Shadow King, Shatterstar, Silhouette, Siryn, Speedball, Toad, Warpath
I am required by geek protocol to remind you that a "3D polygon" is a polyhedron.
Posted by: Andrew | October 23, 2015 6:44 PM
I do remember being a little disappointed- I was looking forward to the fight because Proteus against X-Force and the New Mutants sounds like a cool fight. Instead, we got X-Factor fighting geometry.
Posted by: Michael | October 23, 2015 9:31 PM
Shoemaker is trying to imitate the work ofPortacio here with all those extra lines. A dumb idea, as Shoemaker was a far superior artist.
Posted by: Bob | October 24, 2015 1:17 AM
@Andrew, as a tabletop RPG-er, you'd think i would have thought "polyhedron" right away. But my brain said "polygon" and i said "oh no, if i write that someone will complain that polygons are 2 dimensional". So i quickly made it "3-D polygon", but turns out i got burnt anyway. ;-)
@Michael, regarding placement: i did think about this and i should have laid it out in the Considerations. In X-Factor #65, X-Factor are talking about Lila Cheney teleporting away the X-Men like it happened relatively recently, and they even consider going after them in Ship. Granted they could be rehashing an old conversation, but it reads better if it's their first appearance after X-Men #277. Now, in this story, X-Factor are piloting a plane that doesn't look like something that Ship would have generated for them, so it could have been something that was in mothballs at a hanger at Warren's place in Colorado. Their encounter with Proteus takes place in polyhedron land, so i don't know how public it is. And while Wolverine says that X-Factor are thought dead based on news reports, it seems like Val Cooper knew they were alive (even if she had trouble tracking them down) in X-Factor #65, which may be because X-Factor was in contact with the government affiliated super-hero groups at the beginning of this issue. So this placement seems to work ok, and i actually like it a little better.
That said, it would be easy enough to push X-Factor #65-68 forward a bit, so if there's anything i'm missing, let me know.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 24, 2015 11:44 AM
What I was thinking of was this- we see a scene where some AIM guys are watching the news and a newscaster basically says "X-Factor arrested Harness". So clearly the media was aware of X-Factor's presence in Edinburgh. Now, if this takes place after X-Factor 68, then Wolverine should be aware that X-Factor survived the destruction of Ship, although, granted, it's possible he missed a broadcast announcing X-Factor was alive.
Posted by: Michael | October 24, 2015 11:50 AM
No, that's hard to ignore. Thanks for pointing that out. I've pushed X-Factor #65-68 up.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 24, 2015 12:14 PM
It's like editorial decided they had to have annuals, but since Claremont had the X-Men up in space, they would just throw some crap on the page and see if it stuck.
The "photo" splash is just stupid. It's one thing if they were posing for a picture. But for them to actually supposedly be standing there? Ugh. Just awful.
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 8, 2015 11:27 AM
Another reason for moving XF 65-8 up is that Jean specifically laments not having telepathy in this issue, but she regains her telepathy in the course of the XF 65-68 story.
Posted by: Austin Gorton | January 28, 2016 3:29 PM
I guess I'm one of the few who loves the Kings of Pain storyline.
I quite like the cast of characters (give or take 2 or 3 of them) and I think the ending is decent for not copping out and feeling like something that's not being done to death. Plus no Claremont rubbish. Lame chess metaphors and Part 1 definitely could do with better art, but I think it's easily the best of the 1991 Annual Crossovers.
Posted by: AF | March 17, 2016 5:34 AM
Also continuity error: Vance is depicted wearing his old costume/mask (before Firestar redesigned it in New Warriors #10). I'm guessing they hadn't updated the model sheet for him yet. He wears the correct mask in the other 3 parts though and even here you could be forgiven for not noticing since the mask is shown torn which makes it look a bit like the redesigned version. But if you look on the flashbacks to Parts 1-3 at the start, it depicts him wearing the full mask that covers his hair that he didn't actually wear in those issues.
Posted by: AF | March 17, 2016 5:42 AM
So it seems like some of this story is being collected in an upcoming volume of X-Men Epic - the solicits mention the X-annuals, but not New Warriors(?). Whether or not this story is any good, or complete, might decide if I buy that volume, as I already have X-Factor 65-68 and X-Men 1-3 that are included, but it's also collecting the Muir Island Saga in paperback for the first time. Looks like I might be better off trying to get the single issues of MIS.
Posted by: Dave | April 2, 2017 9:04 PM
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