Issue(s): X-Factor #40
Liefeld had already been doing work elsewhere, notably on DC's Hawk and Dove. His work on this year's Amazing Spider-Man and New Mutants annuals may also have been published prior to this, but they take place later.
Storywise, this issue features the funeral of Madelyne Pryor, a confrontation with and origin for Nanny, and the delivery of the Inferno babies to the US government.
Regarding Madelyne and Inferno, it's said that "we all" were caught up in an evil trap.
But it's only X-Factor that attend Maddie's funeral. The X-Men are not here, and i guess Scott's grandparents haven't been located yet. Scott also seemingly made contact with other friends of Madelyne's while he was searching for her, but at this point it's said that she "never had a real life beyond us... and the X-Men".
When X-Factor get back to their ship, they find that Jean's mother has mutated into some sort of horrible creature with granny glasses.
And is it just my imagination or did the colorist try to create some buildings in the background in this scene below to make up for the utter lack of background art? Same thing with the "floor" in the third panel, and even with that my brain can't understand how those characters are positioned.
X-Factor are not mad that Rusty broke out of prison, and they tell him not to go back, saying that they'll talk to the "powers that be" to see if they can arrange for some kind of leniency. The other X-Terminators have missed enough school that it's said there's no point in going back. So except for the three youngest being sent away, the whole set-up for the X-Terminators series is abandoned.
X-Factor then leave Ship in a smaller plane to take the Inferno babies to Washington. Jean seems to be reacting to fan reaction to her reaction to Madelyne in past issues.
On the way to delivering the babies, they are attacked by Nanny and her Orphan-Maker.
With this issue you can see the problems with Liefeld's art. Botched perspectives, random cross-hatching, no backgrounds, a disregard for character models. It's all in nascent form; Liefeld's art will get much worse as editors exercised less control over him and when he wasn't paired with industry vets like Al Milgrom (who, for all his faults, had an understanding of basic craft).
But during the fight...
...you can see what people liked about him. Namely, the Art Adams inspired dramatic poses and action, which i do think are pretty cool looking, even if the Beast suddenly has a much more pronounced mane than we've ever seen before.
Archangel slashes open Nanny during the fight...
...revealing that there's a woman inside, who we don't get to see. But with that reveal, we learn her origin. She originally worked for The Right, designing their smiley-suits, and when she objected to their treatment of mutant children, they sealed her up in a modified version.
She's subsequently been collecting mutant children in a misguided effort to save them. It's not a bad origin at all.
With Nanny defeated, Jean is able to locate her niece and nephew...
...although they are still brainwashed.
Nanny's other Lost Boys and Girls are said to be located as well, but they aren't shown. And all of those kids, along with the Inferno babies, are turned over to the loving hands of Freedom Force.
Blob's assurances, at least regarding the Inferno babies, will much later turn out to not be worth much. But X-Factor does secure a furlough for Rusty so that he doesn't have to sit in jail while awaiting trial.
Jean's niece and nephew don't recognize her, but they do for some reason recognize her parents.
At least it gets them out of X-Factor's hair. Although Jean has enough of that to go around.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 311,600. Single issue closest to filing date = 260,000.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Based on the timing indicated in a back-up feature in X-Factor annual #4, this takes place "two days" after Inferno and therefore after Captain America #350 (see Michael's comments there).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): show
I think that Jean's reaction might be more a reaction to fan reaction to the scene in X-Factor 38 where Jean accuses Maddie of not having Roma send her to the baby. That was suggested by a letter writer published this issue and Simonson apparently put it in without realizing that it raises the question of why the X-Men didn't ask to be sent to Nate and Lorna. We'll see something similar when you get to Streets of Poison in 1990- a writer implementing a fan suggestion and then backpedaling when other fans complained it makes no sense.
Posted by: Michael | September 19, 2014 8:50 PM
This is the first "regular" appearance of Scott in costume without a full cap, isn't it? Unless you count X-Factor #14, which I just noticed you have not indexed.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | September 19, 2014 10:09 PM
Never mind, #14 is indeed indexed. It is just that the character search isn't very reliable.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | September 19, 2014 10:17 PM
Liefeld could have been genuninely a cracking artist if he had not rested on his laurels. There's potential in there but no one pushed him to iron out his faults. When he got all the fame he must have thought that was it he'd made it, no need for him to get any better.
Posted by: JSfan | September 20, 2014 4:45 AM
I'm shocked Liefeld even drew feet here...I guess since Beast was used, he just wanted to emphasize claws...and you can't do that with a tiny diagonal.
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 20, 2014 7:27 AM
Orphan-Maker was not a Liefeld-design, but seeing him here makes me see that he easily could have been. O-M here reminds me of Shogun ( http://www.comicvine.com/shogun/4005-42504/ ).
Posted by: Erik Robbins | September 20, 2014 11:43 AM
Michael, thanks for confirming the publication order of Liefeld's early Marvel stuff. Wikipedia cites "The Comic Book Greats Episode 2: Rob Liefeld. 1991. Starbur Home Video." as saying that Amazing Spider-Man annual #23 was his first assignment at Marvel, but based on what you're saying it just wasn't published first.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 20, 2014 11:45 AM
That is weird, then. As per dcindexes, X-Factor 40 came out on January 24th and Amazing Spider-Man Annual 23 came out on May 2nd. It's unusual that they'd be working on the Annual before comics that came out three months earlier.
Posted by: Michael | September 20, 2014 12:00 PM
From the Statement if Ownership, X-Factor has been outselling early McFarlane ASM by about 40K over the last year, though their nearest-issue numbers are roughly the same. But Uncanny X-Men blows them both away, with an average 432,000 copies average, according to the statement in Uncanny 246. That seems like a big gap. These had to be just about Marvel's top-selling titles, unless some lousy Avengers stories were selling phenomenally well.
Does anyone know how other companies top contenders stacked up? Batman might be big, but DC didn't have any other powerhouses at this time, afaik. (Now that I think of it, GI Joe might have been a top a Marvel title around this time as well.)
My guess is that all the titles are losing about 40K readers over the year because of declining newsstand sales.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | September 20, 2014 8:36 PM
You know, as far as readable pacing and comprehensible storytelling, this is quite possibly the best Rob Liefeld art ever. I'm not one of those people who think he had potential early on, I think he was always bad. But I don't deny he had a certain quality that the people buying comics looked for. This issue may be where the two viewpoints coincide.
Too bad it has to be at Maddie's funeral. Say, did Rob ever do anything with her son?
Posted by: ChrisW | January 25, 2016 9:01 PM
The X-Men skip Warren's funeral, Scott's all upset even though there's no evidence that they were invited, or even informed. The X-Men skip Madelyne's funeral, nobody minds, and they worked longer and more closely with her than anybody else except Scott. Even the baby comes in a distant third.
Nobody wants to say goodbye or pay their respects. Nobody wants to heal old wounds (Alex and Scott) or rebuild old friendships (Storm and Jean, Logan and, ahem, Jean.) Nothing to compare notes about [Nanny, Hodge, Genosha, the whereabouts of Magneto or the New Mutants.]
The X-Men can't even be bothered to demonstrate that they aren't, you know, cold-blooded and demon-possessed by showing this basic human decency. What, did Rogue decide redecorating her house was more important?
Posted by: ChrisW | April 20, 2016 3:00 PM
That does look like a hazy pink skyline in the background, fnord. It is strange to see actual feet and near-normal posture here, of course considering the hands and feet of the Beast are such a part of his identity, Liefeld had to do them justice. The sparse backgrounds remind me of what John Byrne later did on his WONDER WOMAN run, of course he had the excuse of being nearly a one-man band on that title (plot, script, pencils, inks, and lettering all by Byrne). It would have interesting to see how Vince Coletta would have inked Liefeld,given Coletta's rep for speed enhanced by heavy erasing to meet deadlines.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | June 18, 2017 10:51 AM
The lack of background art and overdetailing of Jean's hair makes my eyes bleed.
Posted by: Jonathon | October 4, 2017 10:30 AM
I think it's almost poetic that Liefeld's first published Marvel work involved Cable, even tho the character wasn't conceived yet.
God, his art is awful. How could he have ever gotten a second assignment?!!
Posted by: will | December 3, 2017 10:07 AM
And so the Liefeet Era begins...
Posted by: Bibs | December 9, 2017 11:11 AM
Comments are now closed.
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