Issue(s): X-Factor #41, X-Factor #42
The character is Alchemy, and his power is to transform objects into any element on the periodic table.
Unfortunately his power attracts the attention of the local trolls guild in London.
Meanwhile, X-Factor are trying to decide what to do about their increasingly large group of students. They are debating sending them to boarding school vs. training them for combat.
There's a nice scene where Boom Boom causes her usual mischief, throwing a timebomb into Cannonball's training session, and everyone pitches in to stop it.
And when she's getting chewed out as usual, Cannonball gives her a few compliments...
...and suddenly she's not so whiny.
Jean is still worried about having absorbed the "darkness" of the Dark Phoenix and Madelyne.
And Mirage is still dealing with headaches.
Louise Simonson has a large cast to deal with here, and she's doing a good job.
But for our main story, Alchemy is kidnapped by the troll...
...and the boy's mom calls X-Factor for help.
X-Factor decide to respond to the call (even though of course they aren't mutant hunters anymore).
Jean convinces Scott to take baby Christopher/Nathan with him. "Christopher needs security right now. He needs his father."
X-Factor meet Alchemy's mom...
...and then follow a trail of objects turned to gold.
All that is great set-up, and i quite enjoyed it. It kind of goes downhill from there, though. The trolls turn out to be less a local group of British trolls and rather a League of Extraordinary Trolls from around the world.
They're kind of annoying. One speaks entirely in quotes, one speaks with all the words out of order, and one speaks with all thees and thous. And one is really an abominable snowman.
I don't know if he's an addition to Marvel's already long list of yetis and the like or maybe he's from one of the existing groups, but either way he's not a troll, and between him an a shapeshifter and a genie, we kind of lose the fee-fie-foe-fum theme of a British fairy tale (even if the characters are named Phee, Phy, Phay, Phough, and Phumm).
The trolls' plan is to flood England with gold, causing massive inflation. As the Beast says, that's voodoo economics just like it was in Web of Spider-Man #6, but we'll go with it for the story.
X-Factor was soundly defeated by the trolls at the end of issue #41, so the majority of them leave to go enact their gold inflation plan...
...and while the two that remain have been instructed not to kill their mutant hostages, they decide that doesn't include baby Nathan Christopher. But when the shapeshifter tries to stomp him, a forcefield is generated around him.
Jean wakes up and uses her own powers to further protect Nathan...
...but while she takes full credit for the save, it's pretty clear that Nathan was generating that forcefield himself before she woke up.
Meanwhile, Alchemy learns that his powers work on living things, too (what is with all the dog killing in comics at this time?).
When the trolls see that, they abandon their plan to turn the Tower of London into gold and decide to go for the Queen instead.
Several back and forths later, Alchemy realizes that he could turn his troll captors into gold or some other element too, but he doesn't want to kill them and doesn't know enough to turn them back.
So it's not that he can only turn things into the basic elements. He's kind of like the Molecule Man, except he needs to actually understand the science behind what he's transforming things into.
I'm kind of skipping over some of this, but here's a cool scene.
Finally Alchemy does turn two of the trolls into gold.
And then he vows to eventually learn enough science to fix them.
The troll statues are taken to the park and changed into lead statues. X-Factor offer to take Alchemy back with them, but he decides to go to a real university instead.
It's a cute story and definitely not bad for something that might have come across gimicky. In addition to me not loving the group of trolls, which is i admit is probably just a nerdy taxonomical complaint on my part, their actual plan seems to be incoherent. Even accepting the inflation bit, why don't they just go out and force Alchemy to transform every random object into gold. Why waste time going for the Tower of London and then the Queen? I guess the answer is that they are trolls and aren't necessarily very bright or focused. In any event, better enjoy what was our last regular issue of X-Factor for a while, because we're going into Judgement War.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place after the New Mutants are welcomed into the family in New Mutants #76. Illyana Rasputin is not shown in this story but Boom Boom says they'll take her home while X-Factor are away, so she must be on Ship somewhere. For what it's worth, one of the Queen's Guards gives an order to summon Excalibur when the trolls attack, but nothing comes of that.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAlchemy, Angel, Beast, Boom Boom, Brightwind, Cable (Baby Nathan Christopher Summers), Cannonball, Cyclops, Iceman, Illyana Rasputin (Alt-Limbo version), Jean Grey, Mirage (Dani Moonstar), Mrs. Jones (Alchemy's mom), Phay, Phee, Phough, Phumm, Phy, Rictor, Rusty Collins, Ship (Prosh), Skids, Sunspot, Warlock, Wolfsbane
The sheer stupidity of X-Factor taking a baby into battle with them is beyond belief. Jean's logic makes no sense- it's too dangerous to leave Nathan with the New Mutants but it's okay to leave Illyana with them? Between this and X-Factor's handing the Inferno babies over to Mystique and Blob last issue, X-Factor clearly has no clue how to take care of children. More evidence Scott hasn't changed- he's still a horrible parent.
Posted by: Michael | October 1, 2014 8:12 PM
Can some one help me with this: is Art Adams drawing himself as Alchemy?
Posted by: JSfan | October 2, 2014 11:04 AM
Beast, Iceman & Angel encountered Asgardian trolls back in the New Defenders. Why are they boggled by these ones?
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | October 2, 2014 9:37 PM
The worst is that later in 92' when the X-men finally reunite with Excalibur they have to fight these goofballs and the story revolves around Alchemy, such a disappointment for me. Excalibur seemed to be the one X title unchanged by the 90's so far and this was underwhelming. Was there some sort of deal that Alchemy had to appear in more issues?
Posted by: Matt | October 2, 2014 10:59 PM
@JSFan, i can only find more recent pictures of Art Adams where he's bald with a red beard. I suspect the character design for Alchemy was based on the winner of the contest, who was from the UK.
@Jay, maybe they're boggled because aside from Phy, they look nothing like "trolls".
Posted by: fnord12 | October 3, 2014 7:57 AM
To be fair, Michael, I think Weezie was still dealing with the fallout of Cyclops looking like a deadbeat dad and this was her way of overcompensating do that ("See THIS Scott isn't abandoning his child! Look how he's not leaving Christopher! Look! Look! No 'bad father' here!") It's like he's become the superhero equivalent of a "helicopter parent." It should also be mentioned that Cyclops isn't the only parent that has brought his child into the field. Ironically, a recent Cable series has him do in the same thing. Fantastic 4 does it regularly too.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | October 5, 2014 3:26 PM
See, Scott set a bad example for Cable. :)
Posted by: Michael | October 5, 2014 3:43 PM
Like Michael mentioned, this ties in with The New Mutants #77 (where Ship tells the New Mutants X-Factor hasn't returned from England yet) and the opening pages of X-Factor #43 are directly connected to the closing pages of The New Mutants #78. That means there are really only 2 appearances of X-Factor that could possibly fit between X-Factor #42 & 43 and those are Cyclops's visit to Scotland in Marvel Comics Presents #17-24 and possibly Beast's & Marvel Girl's appearance in the Atlantis Attacks crossover (which will be much discussed when you get around to those I'm sure!).
All other appearances (like Beast's appearance in Avengers #305 and his appearances in Marvel Comics Presents #39-44 and possibly Marvel Comics Presents #85-92 as well) that take place before X-Factor return from space and start crossing over madly with the New Mutants & X-Men need to go before X-Factor #41.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | October 8, 2014 2:34 AM
Ok, thanks, Jay. I've pushed this past Avengers #305, but as i say in the Temporary Note in the Considerations, i'll adjust further when i get to the relevant issues.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 8, 2014 7:36 AM
It's ironic that I enjoy Weezie's writing of the New Mutants much more in X-Factor than in their own book.
Posted by: Erik Beck | September 1, 2015 12:18 PM
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