Characters Appearing: Avalanche, Beatrice Conners, Crimson Commando, Forge, Havok, Malice (Marauder), Moira MacTaggert, Polaris, Professor X, Random, Storm, Strong Guy, Wolfsbane
Issue(s): X-Factor #102
The order to kill Polaris was given by a Colonel Jefferson Malone. But the fight is cut short (although Polaris and Random were definitely winning, and Malone has committed suicide) when Malone's superior, Beatrice Conners, arrives. She says that "Project Polaris" was part of the Magneto Protocols. The idea was to approach Polaris and ask her if she would fight Magneto if it came down to it. But Malone was a mutant-hater, and so instead he used Random to test her powers, and ultimately was going to have her captured and brainwashed (and you can imagine what Polaris thinks about that). Conners swears that Malone will cooperate with the Congressional investigation.
And everything seems neatly wrapped up, but then at the very end we see Conners wearing the Malice choker.
J.M. DeMatteis has been doing a lot to humanize Random, mainly by having Polaris look beyond his bluster. She finds out that he's only killed people three times in all of his prior missions. We also learn that he's had an Untold Tale with Speed Demon.
Meanwhile, Strong Guy and Wolfbane spend the day hanging out with Professor X, Moira MacTaggert, and Storm. Strong Guy is particularly excited to be with Professor X.
Scenes like this just remind me of how much he's changed since his days as Lila Cheney's bouncer. That's not a bad thing, but i wish that the discrepancy between this puppy-dog Strong Guy and the original version was actually bridged somewhere. It should have been done in Peter David's run, really. The revelation that he's in constant pain seems to be a step in that direction, but it doesn't fully bridge the two versions of the character.
Along similar lines, Random seems to have been originally created by David as a hyper-parody of 90s Badass. DeMatteis is actually doing a good job fleshing the character out. He's helped tremendously by Jan Duursema's art, which is really great with the character interaction scenes.
But it's kind of a double-edged sword. I know that in realtime, when i wasn't following this series, the idea that Random was still being used was kind of a joke. Marvel took a parody character and is using him straight! God bless the 90s! (I am told by my DC-reading friends that this is called "the Lobo scenario".) But that overlooks the fact that DeMatteis isn't just throwing a guy with big guns into battle; he's doing real - and in my present-day opinion, successful - work to develop the character.
To be sure, we could live without a fully fleshed out Random, of all things.
In general, i'm pleasantly surprised by the DeMatteis/Duursema run so far, at least now that we're past the Haven plot. It's not as fun as the David run, but it's competent and readable and has some good moments. And ha ha, guess what, it starts to break down next issue (which is only co-plotted by DeMatteis).
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: X-Factor annual #9 takes place during this issue, after the conversation with Beatrice Conners but before the very end. I've pushed this slightly back in publication time since the next arc takes place concurrently with Avengers #372-375.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Hideous art from the just-grab-a-person-off-the-street-to-pencil-the-book school of art.
And I dont usually notice lettering, but this is one sloppy-looking book.
Posted by: Bob | October 27, 2017 7:24 PM
The art looks better to me than the majority of the art of this era. It looks like it's had some effort put into it and has a lot of character. It does at least look like professional work. It has backgrounds and everything!
Posted by: Benway | November 5, 2017 6:25 PM
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