Issue(s): X-Factor #5, X-Factor #6
Part of the problem with the Layton issues is that he seems to be fighting his own premise (if indeed it was his own). The premise of this series was the return of the original X-Men, and with that seems to come a desire for a more lighthearted approach than what was going on in Claremont's Uncanny book. Certainly it's what a lot of older fans attracted to the return of these characters would be looking for. But the reason Marvel opened up another X-Book was because of the growing popularity of the X-Characters, and that meant Layton had to appeal to Claremont's readers as well. In that regard, former X-Editor and friend of Claremont Louise Simonson was a much better choice as writer.
But you can see Layton going for the Silver Age appeal, as evidenced by this very old school splash credits page...
...these old school antics...
...reverting Beast back to his classic form and vocabulary and having some fun with him...
...and the fact that issue #5 introduces the new team of bad guy mutants as the Alliance of Evil on the cover (although not in the issue itself). In fact i'm still not sure if Jean's repeated references to "evil mutants"...
...which just sounds so corny for 1986, is meant to be in line with that sort of tone, or reflective of Jean having been in hibernation since a more innocent time, or just Layton using the word earnestly.
But in any event, that nostalgic tone runs up against the fact that the X-Factor concept is fanning the flames of mutant hysteria, as has been increasingly acknowledged in-story...
...and in the lettercols. In issue #5, editorial responses say "One thing's for sure, X-Fans, things aren't going to go nearly as smoothly for the "Old Mutants" as it appears in our first issue." and "As everyone seems to have noticed the entire concept of X-FACTOR is fraught with potential for exciting action-packed drama!" [emphasis in original].
That's a nice spin, but it does seem that the book was overwhelmed with letters criticizing the premise, causing Layton to perhaps devote more time to that aspect of his originally intended goal of having the group rescue and train new mutants (pretty well symbolized by the "training" sequence in this issue, which just has Cyclops standing there pitying himself while Rusty and Artie look on, befuddled).
The problem with the secret IDs is also acknowledged: "wait till you see how all the media exposure affects our cast members!".
The lettercol in issue #6 first hints that there may be a surprise in store regarding Cameron Hodge, and then says:
As for Cameron Hodge and his innovative "Mutant protection" scheme, rest assured that we're only too well aware of the effect this ad campaign is having on the general public. (And our audience, for that matter!).
It seems pretty clear that changes were in the works that were in reaction to fan complaints as opposed to being planned.
The other big blocker for having a light tone in this book is the Scott/Madelyne/Jean problem, which wasn't necessarily Layton's fault (he proposed using Dazzler, not resurrecting Jean) but which he's already pushed off addressing for too long...
...probably because he didn't know how to deal with it, and possibly also because Chris Claremont, who was known to dislike the very existence of this series, wasn't working with him (Maddie was even seemingly killed off in Uncanny X-Men #206).
Note also in that scene above that Layton was beginning to develop some outside interests for Jean; i don't think anything becomes of that after he leaves.
I feel like i might be doing more excuse-making for Layton instead of saying what i like about his issues, so let me get on with the plot summary for #5.
The story introduces a mutant named Michael Nowlan with the interesting power to boost the abilities of other mutants, although it causes a drug-like addiction that causes withdrawal symptoms when the effect wears off. Nowlan himself is a heroin addict, in part because the drugs prevent him from using his powers. Nowlan has been a prisoner of the "master" of the group that we've been seeing pieces of so far - Tower (beginning in issue #2), Frenzy (last issue), and Timeshadow (voice only, last issue). Nowlan escapes at the beginning of issue #5 with the help of a mysterious benefactor, but the "Alliance of Evil" know to track down his ex-wife and former drug dealer Suzy to get him back.
I noted that Frenzy and Tower were pretty generic as far as powers go, not that it was necessarily a bad thing, but Timeshadow and Stinger round out the group pretty well. Stinger is, like, a totally tubular valley girl with electricity powers, and Timeshadow, well, i've never been able to fully articulate what he can do. Some similarity with Omega Flight's Flashback, but his duplicates are also slightly out of phase, making them intangible.
Prior to getting accosted by the Alliance, Suzy tried to deal with the fact that her ex-husband was calling to get some drugs from her by calling X-Factor in on him, so soon X-Factor and the Alliance are both converging on the motel room where Nowlan is hiding out.
X-Factor gets there first (with growing evidence of a rift between Scott and Jean)...
...but their reputation as mutant hunters freaks Nowlan out, so he unconsciously activates his powers, revealing the team's secret IDs.
Note that Beast and Angel are essentially unaffected by Nowlan's power, at least not in a negative way. We'll see that with Frenzy and (should i spoil it?) Apocalypse in issue #6 as well. Presumably the Beast gets stronger and more agile but just doesn't spaz out. I'm not sure if Nowlan makes Angel "fly better" or what (Angel's power is that he has wings; his ability to fly well with them is due to training. Maybe Nowlan's power increases the strength of the muscles that control the wings? Maybe i shouldn't think about it so hard?).
Beast calms Nowlan down and convinces him that they can protect him and even synthesize a drug to control his powers until they train him better, but then the Alliance show up with Suzy, and all bets are off. They force Nowlan to power them up, and then they stomp the good guys.
I praised Beast's vocabulary before, but i think he's wrong in his use of "zoftig" here. That word means "pleasantly plump", which surely doesn't describe Frenzy.
I love that twice in this issue, Frenzy tells someone to shut up (the first was Stinger, in a scan above). Frenzy thinks everybody talks too much. Frenzy probably shouldn't be in a book scripted by Bob Layton.
The X-Factor team is soundly defeated...
...but the Alliance leave them behind. They take Michael and Suzy back to the headquarters of their master's base, and he's revealed to be
The Owl joke above is due to the fact that Bob Layton's original intention was for the "master" of the Alliance to be the Owl (or possibly a new Owl). And that's about where everyone in the world says that it was a good thing that Louise Simonson came along, because there's no doubt that Apocalypse makes a lot more sense, especially if it really was meant to be the original Owl or someone following in his footsteps. And i can't disagree with that. Trying to even imagine what the Owl would be doing leading a group of mutants and being especially interested in a mutant that boosts the powers of others is a challenge. I keep going to the idea that Brian Michael Bendis eventually used of having the Owl harvesting mutant growth hormones to sell on the open market. Whether you think that's a good idea or not, it's much more in line with the Owl's character than whatever might have been going on here. Of course the Owl is a crimelord, and he might be inclined to employ mutants for his criminal pursuits, and we've seen that Tower at least has no problem acting as a mercenary. But that doesn't seem to have much to do with the mutant themes that this book was meant to explore.
Of course, a lot of the above speculation is irrelevant if the intention was to introduce a new Owl completely unrelated to the original, but in that case, what would the point have been? And could any villain called the Owl really have served as an arch-villain for X-Factor?
That said, i think there's a lot to like about this issue. The Alliance of Evil won't be used again and Timeshadow and Stinger especially will not be used much going forward (Frenzy, by contrast, later becomes an Acolyte of Magneto and even later an X-Man), but i think they are a good little group. Stinger is of course as 80s as you can get but she's got a nasty personality to go with it and her energy powers balance out the raw strength of Tower and Frenzy. Timeshadow doesn't have much of a personality but his powers are unique and also provide canon fodder, making the four members of this group more than capable of taking on the five members of X-Factor. I also like the idea of the mutant Nowlan, whose powers aren't useful on his own but who can provide a kind of support role even while serving as a metaphor for drug use. More to the point, while Layton is wordy, i think his dialogue is natural and often fun, and the plots are nicely structured and very dense, so that he can devote time to lots of subplots and a large cast of characters. As i've mentioned before, i think Jackson Guice, who remains on this series for the first two issues of Louise Simonson's run, is a reason for the latter point. His work here is excellent and he makes great use of space so that Layton's plots are fully developed. Interestingly, his art here is very different than his work on the New Mutants series that he was doing at the same time. I credit that to good synergy between Layton and Guice.
All that said, whether it was due to the premise interfering with his intentions, or just the premise collapsing on itself, or Claremont's inability to accept the book (a crossover between titles was inevitable, and is forthcoming), or editorial interference (Jim Shooter's involvement in the early issues was well known and were the cause of original editor Mike Carlin leaving the book, and Layton and Shooter did not get along)(or so it seems to me, but see Chris' comments below), it was probably time to shake things up. So Layton left and Simonson came on board, and the image of the Owl was swapped out for that prototype image of Apocalypse (there seems to be some hazy recollections about who designed Apocalypse, with some thinking that it might have been Walt Simonson, but the general consensus is that it was Guice. The concept was Louise's.), and we can see right from the beginning that he is much more in-theme for this book.
I'll tell you right up front that i am a big fan of Apocalypse. First of all, all i have ever asked for in life is that someone give me his powers, because they are awesome. Sure, he's very powerful, but he's more limited than, say, the Molecule Man, and i all i really want is to be immortal and turn my arms into hammers, which isn't a lot to ask. (And don't tell me any nonsense about him having to take rejuvenative baths every few centuries!)
But even beyond the fact that he was a character that was introduced and built-up at a time when i was beginning to get serious about collecting comics, he's really a great new type of arch-villain for the X-books. We've had the struggle between Professor X and Magneto, and that's a good conflict. And we've had the anti-mutant authority represented by Sentinels and the like, which serves the metaphor of mutants as a struggling minority well. Beyond that, though, X-Villains have mainly just been evil or self-interested. What Apocalypse represents is something beyond, and different than, Magneto's vision of a world where mutants violently fight back for their rights or even rule the world. Apocalypse wants to further advance mutants, to initiate scenarios where mutants are culled and forced to evolve in a Darwinian struggle. Evoking Darwin and evolution, even if not necessarily in a real-world biologically accurate way, is perfect for the themes of the X-Books. And his motives allow him to be an over-powered villain without ever having to be defeated by the heroes; he's going to initiate conflicts, and the heroes can win or lose or find a third way out of the situation, but Apocalypse himself continues to survive and even "wins" those conflicts because the heroes prove themselves worthy. So he's got a built-in reason to never reach that Repeat Defeat problem that so many great arch-villains like Magneto or Dr. Doom (and especially lesser tier villains) eventually run into. Apocalypse never really loses, per se, and so he always remains a credible threat. And we see all of that right here in his first appearance.
His goal in this story is to use Nowlan to accelerate mutant evolution (again, i can't see how Nowlan would have worked with the/an Owl).
But we begin back with X-Factor in Nowlan's motel room, after their defeat.
And that tone shift that comes with Louise Simonson's run is immediately noticed. We see Jean get suddenly weepy, and blaming her own loss of telepathy for Scott's angry behavior.
Then there's some angry infighting, with Scott blaming Angel for the formation of X-Factor, which is now an obviously stupid idea.
The infighting is noticed by the gathering crowd outside the hotel, and raises the question of the team's secret identity (since they entered the room as X-Factor and have now been replaced by mutants), even though it's said Angel is moving too fast to be caught on film.
Cyclops' meltdown gives Angel an opportunity to move in on Marvel Girl.
Meanwhile, the Alliance are tormenting Nowlan, trying to get information on X-Factor (if they cared, they should have taken at least one of them with them when they had the whole team unconscious last issue).
Stinger hits on the idea of torturing Suzy to get info from Michael, and that causes Michael to lash out with his powers.
But as mentioned above, that doesn't affect Frenzy or Apocalypse. Apocalypse tells the Alliance to knock off their crap, though.
Angel, using his eagle eyes (wait, what?), sees the explosion caused by Stinger's out of control electric powers...
...and the team heads off to investigate.
They don't just burst in, though. They're given time to case the joint so they can split into various groups and talk about their feelings.
In addition to the budding romance between Jean and Warren, what's interesting is the idea that Jean thinks the problem is that she's not the Phoenix. It's coming out of nowhere. And maybe tying in with something we'll see contradicting that a little below. But really, Jean is barking up the wrong tree entirely here, and it's intriguing that Simonson is doing that when she obviously knows the real problem is Madelyne. From Jean's perspective, of course, having telepathy would solve a lot of problems. But Jean had telepathy as Marvel Girl prior to the Phoenix incident, so that's not an explanation.
Eventually all of X-Factor except the Beast go up against the Alliance...
...while the Beast encounters Apocalypse.
Beast is easily defeated, and Apocalypse brings him and Nowlan to the battle. And when Suzy is killed by a stray bolt from Stinger, Nowlan explodes again.
Notice the bird-like flame image over Jean as she fights Stinger. Everyone's powers are being amped by Nowlan, and Jean seems to be drawing on the Phoenix force. Only Scott observes it.
After Cyclops destroys the machine that was controlling Nowlan...
...Nowlan pulls back the power that was feeding the Alliance, allowing X-Factor to face them on even terms, although it kills him. Apocalypse withdraws, and the Alliance flees after Angel transparently attempts to make sure that they'll think that they are a separate group from X-Factor.
Scott's "Are you nuts?" line sounds more like Jack Power than Cyclops to me.
The other big metaphor with Michael and Suzy is that Michael won't abandon her to the Alliance. "How could he just... abandon her", Jean asks earlier, when Scott suggests that Nowlan was at fault for helping the Alliance. "No one who loves anyone could do that!". Scott dismisses the guy as a junkie loser; Jean sees him as acting for the woman he loves. It all makes sense, and it's a nice additional use of the characters. But there's definitely a turning point here where the characters are just more angry and miserable going forward. It would have been fine if this was leading to a quick resolution, but it's really something that doesn't get resolved until Inferno, if even then. The tone shift may have been inevitable, and it's definitely a natural progression based on the undercurrent of tension that's been going on.
Still, i liked Layton's run and i like Simonson's start here as well. It was especially helpful to keep Guice on art for the transition, which helps smooth over the changes in writing styles. If i have any "complaint" about his art, it's that Apocalypse's design isn't fully settled yet and his face looks pretty weird.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place after the Iron Man and X-Factor annuals, and the former has some dependencies based on Iron Man, so i've pushed this forward a bit in publication time.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showAngel, Apocalypse, Artie Maddicks, Beast, Cameron Hodge, Cyclops, Frenzy, Iceman, Jean Grey, Rusty Collins, Stinger (X-Factor villain), Timeshadow, Tower, Vera Cantor
The Alliance is a very thinly veiled attempt to bring back a Brotherhood of Evil Mutants for the original team. But the name is just awful. "Alliance of Evil" just seems bad to me in a way that the Brotherhood's name never was. Fairly generic powers as well, although I had a difficulty quite understanding what Timeshadow's power really was just like Flashback. The effect is easy to discern, but the temporal explanation makes me shake my head.
Apocalypse's mentality elevates him above most villains, and creates a very different villain than Magneto. He works well.
One thing I like about Layton's X-Factor is you can feel these characters are friends and go way back. It is a much different dynamic than the new X-Men. There's also a strong element that these people are devoted to Professor Xavier's dream in a way that wasn't as noticeable in X-Men which became much as a paramilitary outfit fighting other factions in a mutant civil war or weird aliens and demons. Simonson would continue this theme as well.
Posted by: Chris | December 26, 2013 8:35 PM
About Angel's "eagle eyes"- Warren's been written as having better vision than a normal person in several stories. Check out X-Factor 1, for example- after Jean tears a hole in the wall, Warren finds her and reminds her how good his vision is.
Posted by: Michael | December 26, 2013 11:28 PM
Did this book have some rule requiring the male characters to be undressed as much as possible? We've had Warren in his briefs twice so far in earlier issues, and then there is this workout scene at the start of #5!
Warren's workout 'outfit' is just as skimpy as his underwear (in fact, I wonder if it IS his underwear, and he simply didn't bother to change into workout clothes), Scott and Hank are both in nothing but trunks, and even Bobby is showing some skin (not as much as his New Defenders-era costume, I'll grant you, but still).
While equal-opportunity "eye candy" is becoming more common in today's comics, it just strikes me as a bit unusual that an 80s comic would have that much male skin on display so often (we're only up to issue #6, and Warren's had his clothes off in at least 3 of them).
Posted by: Dermie | December 27, 2013 1:24 AM
I've always assumed the Alliance member that helped Nowlan escape, as Michael alludes to, was Timeshadow, since he'd previous met Nowlan in rehab and (if I recall) had been helped by him. I hadn't given any thought to Frenzy, but Michael may be right.
Re-reading the Layton run, I think it's quite likely the mutant-hunter premise was always going to be of limited duration, and possibly Hodge's villainous turn was planned from the start. Nothing definite, but there are clues that seem to raise doubts about the whole set-up, and I don't think it was all just because of bad fan reaction.
The one unrealized storyline I've seen Layton refer to was one in which the team had to fight/rescue Madrox, who was being hunted down by a multitude of evil duplicates. That's apropos of nothing, really, other than the end of Layton's run here.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | December 27, 2013 3:14 AM
Why does Apocalypse and his gaping mouth in these first appearances keep giving me images of Frieza?
Posted by: Ataru320 | December 27, 2013 11:03 AM
Dermie, maybe it's a Guice thing. He often had the Flash hanging out in his underwear in the Mike Baron-written series too. There were a lot of opportunities for skin, as Wally was nearly a sex addict at that time, sleeping with different girls every issue. DC got some criticism over this, in the AIDS plague years, but it felt like good characterization.
Nowlan looks suspiciously "based on" someone. I have no candidates, but I wonder if they were getting a dig in at some bearded comic-book writer, artist, or editor with drug issues.
Is there a point to Jean's comment about Angel flying higher than he used to? Was he being affected by Nowlan, or were we supposed to think she was checking him out (I don't remember her ever reciprocating his interest in this title), or was it just supposed to be a wistful moment reminding us she had been out of commission for years?
Posted by: Todd | December 27, 2013 3:19 PM
I think the point was that we were supposed to think Jean was attracted to Warren.
Posted by: Michael | December 27, 2013 7:36 PM
There were references to Angel's ability to see farther than regular humans (eagle eyes) in the New Defenders run as well I seem to remember.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | December 30, 2013 3:29 AM
I wanted to like the original X-Factor, but it never quite clicked for me.
The Layton issues attempted to be lighter-hearted than the very dark X-Men and New Mutant issues of the time, but were still too intertwined with their plots. Besides, it also had to deal with a lot of dark themes of its own - spouse and child neglectment, orphanhood, deliberate paranoia fueling, and even drug use here in this last story. And the writing was... not particularly skilled either.
Then came Louise Simonson. And boy, did she ever make X-Factor a dark book. It was very suffocating. I tried to the utmost, but I just could never enjoy it. It was a book were the nicest characters were those who made a point of just killing three people in a single story instead of misleading, corrupting and horribly mutating them. I kept hoping for it to be a turning point, but it was the regular status quo.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | January 9, 2014 3:23 AM
Most people remember Simonson's run fondly and have forgotten Layton even wrote the book. I never found Layton as bad as some, but he didn't write the book long enough to really have much of an opinion.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | January 9, 2014 9:02 PM
FNORD12, you mentioned Shooter did not get along with Layton. At the time this issue came out, Shooter and Layton were friends. Shooter routinely mentioned Layton in his Bullpen Bulletins. Layton also had multiple gigs at Marvel. Neither would have happened if Shooter disliked the man. Layton would eventually follow Shooter to Valiant. It was not until Shooter was pushed out of Valiant, and Layton replaced him after the coup that Shooter felt betrayed and his comments became hostile.
I'm not sure why Layton left X-Factor, but he would show up again soon in the second Michelenie-Layton Iron Man run which was a thousand times better plotted and scripted than Layton's X-Factor. Layton is a great idea man, but he needs someone more skilled with the craft to make it work.
Posted by: Chris | January 9, 2014 9:39 PM
I link to Shooter telling a story about Layton showing up in London with no money because he expected Marvel to pay for a vacation for him after (Shooter's words) Layton "butchered" his two issues of Secret Wars. And there's more in the comments from Shooter here where he says Layton went through a 12 step program after which they were on good terms again until the Valiant blow-up.
These more recent comments could all be through the lens of the Valiant situation, of course.
Shooter has also said he didn't like Mantlo but continued to give him work, for what it's worth.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 9, 2014 10:19 PM
I read that link you originally posted, and also read the Shooter blog when he was regularly posting. I admit I am not in a position to accurately depict the state of Shooter's and Layton's relationship at this time. However, even in the post where Shooter writes how angry he was at Layton, he specifically said he considered him a friend at the time (I'm also assuming Layton did pay Shooter back before the AMEX bill). It sounds like the friendship had its ups and downs until completely blowing up, but I have had friendships like that myself. I don't think all the language Shooter uses now is what he would have used back in 1986 or whenever. However, these are both our subjective opinions on something both of us hear secondhand from the same source. So if you have a different interpretation that is fine.
Posted by: Chris | January 9, 2014 11:45 PM
All the early problems on this book are forgiven thanks to the debut of Apocalypse.
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 28, 2015 8:23 AM
As Fnord comments, the Layton/Guice seemed to work quite well in issues 2-5, and I wouldn't have minded seeing more of this team before Louise took over. Not amazing, but fun, and underrated in a lot of people's memory. Layton seems to get a lot of the blame for the "mutant hunter" concept, but it's already made clear that this was an error they made, and there might have been less melodrama in how this ended up being resolved. Not sure whether it was Layton's idea in any case.
The only really bad thing I can say is that planning to make Owl a serious villain seems a terrible idea, though hopefully this was intended as a one-off appearance where Owl hopefully looked a bit cooler, rather than an intent to have the Owl as a regular villain/mastermind like Apocalypse ended up being.
Layton on why he left: "when I brought back the original X-Men (with the newly resurrected Jean Grey), it became a lightning rod for inter-office politics. Jean Grey’s resurrection opened up a vicious can of worms. In the initial premise that Jackson Guice and I submitted, Jean Grey was not part of the group. It was the Dazzler. But Kurt Busick and John Byrne came up with a way to revive her and, of course, why would I refuse to use her? But from that point on, the rest of the story devolves into inter-office bitch-fest. Things didn’t go smoothly from “Boo”. My Editor, Mike Carlin, was wrongly fired off of the series after the first issue. The Editor-In-Chief insisted on having a third of the first issue rewritten and redrawn (and not for the better, in my opinion). Controversy and problems continued from issue to issue until I had simply had enough." ... "The X-Offices hated that an outsider was usurping what they believed to be “their properties” and made my experience on the book a living Hell. So…I finally dropped X-Factor and moved on. My tenure on the series was mostly tumultuous… at best. It was one of the few, bad experiences that I’ve had during that era at Marvel. My first rule of thumb was: “Always have fun doing comics”. And X-Factor had ceased to be fun very quickly."
Posted by: Jonathan | March 1, 2016 7:44 AM
Slight correction - turns out it was going to be a new Owl, not the old Owl, but still seems hard to take seriously. And he wasn't going to be the regular villain, a guy called Doppelganger might have been. As per Marvel Age: "A coming of age story is in the works for Iceman that will explore his relationship with Darkstar. His Russian teammate from his days with the now defunct Champions will involve him in an adventure that will introduce a villain who just may become X-Factor’s major adversary. His name is Doppelganger and he is incredibly evil! ... We will also be introduced to the new Owl. This high flying bad guy will be more evil than the original Owl, and will also have a new look."
Posted by: Jonathan | March 1, 2016 8:01 AM
Layton did end up using Doppelganger in X-Factor Annual #1.
Posted by: Red Comet | March 1, 2016 10:00 AM
Oh yeah! I never had that annual as a kid, and found the story quite forgettable when I eventually read it. (As you can tell by the fact I had completely forgotten it.)
Doppelganger does seem a bit of a Mimic retread, and I don't know if he'd have been interesting enough for frequent use. Still seems preferable to anyone called the Owl though.
Posted by: Jonathan | March 1, 2016 10:21 AM
I think my main issue with X-Factor is that a lot of things had to be broken in order for it to happen.
Even overlooking the terrible Jean Grey stuff (what is the appeal of bringing back the character if in the process you're going to rob her of her major - and practically only major - storyline?), the rest also suffers from exactly the same problems. In order to get Cyclops into the book, he has to be pretty much trashed as a person completely and cross a line that people still can't (and sadly shouldn't) forgive him for. All this just to have him appear with freedom and to pander to nostalgia more by revitalising the romance with zero chemistry with Jean "No, She's So Great, Really, Look Everyone Who Ever Meets Her Fancies Her" Grey (and it will be a long time before Emma Frost finally fixes him out of that boring relationship). And Beast being transformed into a human again wasn't necessary either. It wasn't like him being in beast-form was a major obstacle in the face of eliciting nostalgia.
It acts as if reuniting the original X-Men was a huge Herculean task that only they could pull off but instead they just overburdened most of the characters (and the team's concept itself) to the point where it would be a Herculean task to fix them again.
Posted by: AF | March 1, 2016 11:20 AM
@AF - I don't disagree with anything you've said, and as a Cyclops fan I do agree X-Factor ruined him for a long long time, arguably until Morrison and Whedon tried to bring him back from the brink of "he's just this uptight boring guy who won't let Wolverine party! Wolverine thinks he's a dick!". (Others would say he still hasn't recovered. Your mileage may vary.)
Mostly I was just agreeing with what Fnord already said in some of his reviews on the Layton run - that it's slightly better than the received wisdom. While Weezie taking over made some improvements, there were downsides as well (her method of "fixing" the characters took about 3 years, including much melodrama, and the stories actually got worse after Inferno had supposedly fixed things). My quote from Layton above says (to me) that things might have been different if the internal politics had been less toxic.
As for bringing Jean back, at the time I thought it was great to see Jean back, but yes no writers found anything interesting to do with her that didn't involve the Phoenix, and yes no writers made the Scott-Jean relationship interesting (a common problem in superhero comics, obviously), so I agree Morrison did the right thing. The actual return of Jean didn't live up to the promise, under anyone's writing really.
Layton isn't to blame for the return of Jean though, he just wanted to bring the other 4 back and replace her with Dazzler. But Byrne & Busiek suggested bringing Jean back, and editorial approved it, so Layton went along with it. (Even once it was approved, Layton wanted to bring the other 4 together for the first 10 or 12 issues, saving the return of Jean as a surprise, but he didn't get any choice in that either.)
I'm also in favour of blue furry Beast, I guess returning him to "human" was part nostalgia and part making it easier to disguise the mutant hunters as non-mutants. I don't know how much Layton was to blame for either the mutant hunter idea, or how Scott-Maddie was handled, though it's worth remembering that X-Factor 1 was subject to massive rewrites. Not to say none of the blame is Layton's, just saying it's unclear who to blame for what when so much editorial and office politics are involved.
Posted by: Jonathan | March 1, 2016 1:29 PM
I am generally a fan of Bob Layton's work. I enjoyed his various collaborations with David Michelinie on Iron Man and his contributions to Valiant Comics in the early 1990s, as well as the all-too short lived Future Comics line in the early 2000s. In fact, I would have to say that the early issues of X-Factor are one of the very few projects Layton was involved in that I did *not* enjoy.
Layton has always struck me as a no-nonsense straight-shooting type. He's sort of like Byrne in that regard, except he's much less abrasive. So I definitely give credence to Layton's accounts of the tumultuous behind-the-scenes events taking place when X-Factor was conceived. It sounds like it was a far-from-ideal situation in which to be working, and I don't blame Layton for leaving the book so quickly.
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 1, 2016 7:39 PM
Is it safe to assume that the only reason Jean lost her telepathic abilities was so that the creators could do a 'she doesn't know Scott is married' subplot? Warren, Hank and Bobby were at the wedding, first time she mindlinks with anybody else on the team, there's a real chance (or a 'comic-book' chance) that she'll learn the truth.
The X-characters are horrible at telling anybody information that might be useful, no matter what. Jean deserves to know why Scott isn't picking up their relationship where it left off, but none of her dearest high school friends will tell her? Jean herself isn't capable of deciding 'he's moved on'?
At least giving her a 'this would be so much easier if I were Phoenix' inferiority complex is doing *something* with her. I don't think it's a good idea, this will lead to unhealthy storylines in the Scott/Jean relationship, and I certainly wouldn't want to read about Jean being the weakest link just because she isn't Phoenix, but at least it's *something.*
I'm beginning to rethink my stance that comic book superheroes are models for romance.
No, that's just crazytalk. Scott and Jean, Peter and MJ, Reed and Sue, Steve and Peggy Carter, how could you have any healthier examples?
Posted by: ChrisW | March 1, 2016 10:11 PM
I think it's safe to assume they took her telepathy away for the same reason Beast was regressed - they weren't like that in the beginning. The book started that devoted to the nostalgia, despite reading nothing like the earliest X-Men comics.
This was a serviceable comic, but I got bored and dropped it about eight issues in - for this they dismantled New Defenders?
Posted by: BU | March 2, 2016 10:57 AM
It has often been observed that Jim Shooter, in spite of his abrasive management style which alienated or drove away a number of talented creators, did shepherd in a period from the late 1970s to the mid 1980s where Marvel produced a number of series that were both high quality and which sold incredibly well. After several years of editorial instability and the Dreaded Deadline Doom striking with embarrassing frequency, he transformed Marvel into a well-oiled machine.
However, it is *also* often observed that despite these accomplishments, Shooter's reign at Marvel seemed to very quickly go off the rails between 1985 and 1986. Secret Wars II, the New Universe, and X-Factor are a trifecta of poorly-received, ill-considered projects in which Shooter played a very significant role.
I think that the major reason why X-Factor is specifically criticized is not only for the damage to the long-term character of Cyclops, but to the various storylines that Chris Claremont had been developing in Uncanny X-Men, which was pretty much Marvel's biggest seller. In hindsight, it's clear that Shooter's editorial directive to bring back Jean Grey and have Cyclops abandon his wife & son knocked Claremont for a major loop, and it was the beginning of things starting to spiral out of control for him. Yes, he remained on Uncanny X-Men for another five years, but it just seemed like he never completely recovered his bearings.
Obviously in the 21st Century this type of things is (unfortunately) standard operating procedure at both Marvel and DC, with editors or management or the marketing department or somebody coming along and yanking the carpet out from underneath a successful writer for really ridiculous or insignificant reasons. That's just one of the reasons why so many writers have gone the creator-owned route in the last decade and a half.
But back in 1986 that sort of behavior by editorial was almost unheard of, and I think that's what makes Shooter's decision to creatively kneecap Claremont so glaringly awful, especially as the book that resulted, X-Factor, was a near-disaster. It really was not worth throwing a wrench in Claremont's plans to produce this mess.
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 2, 2016 1:28 PM
I'm not sure if that theory really works... At this point Claremont had long since written Cyclops out of X-Men, so whatever was happening to him and Jean in X-Factor didn't really affect the X-Men's plots at all before Inferno. And even after Inferno the two books were kept separate until the end of Claremont's run. I can imagine he was pissed off for how Jean, Madelyne and Scott were treated by X-Factor, but having to do one crossover to clear those things up was hardly the worst editorial interference he had faced, or would face before his run was over.
Posted by: Tuomas | March 2, 2016 5:30 PM
I think the theory works because it puts a serious kibosh on any plans Claremont had for Scott, Rachel, and Maddie. At the mid to end of 1985 (before X-Factor was announced), Maddie, Rachel, and Scott are all factoring greatly into Claremont's subplots and plots in the X-Men - with the birth of Nathan Summers it certainly doesn't seem like Claremont was prepping Scott to move on to X-Factor. Why saddle him with a child if you know he's then going to have him leave his wife? Rachel's relationship with Scott is teased all through these issues and then nothing ever happens for years. Rachel's character growth from the end of 1986 to the arrival of Excalibur is severely curtailed, Jean Grey coming back to life severely disrupts the impact of Claremont's and the X-Men's greatest story, and Scott leaving his wife and returning to action ruins the happy ending Claremont had planned for him and any future plans he had for his use in X-Men.
Posted by: Mark Black | March 2, 2016 6:23 PM
Ben, the reason the train began to be derailed in 1985-1986 was because of the need for Marvel as a business entity to fund its parent company with cash. Cadence Industries was going to sell Marvel, and he needed the accounting books to show as much money as possible. Shooter admits it was a very difficult position to be in. Since this is the same time where Shooter's relationship with various editors and writers completely broke down, it sounds like the stress got to him and affected his judgment. Instead of trusting the team he assembled, he went over his subordinates' heads to interfere. Whether it was because he thought this was necessary to boost overall income (my theory) or to take credit for other's success (something John Byrne has stated), it was a bad managerial decision and not like his previous acts.
X-Factor was an obvious ploy to boost income, and it worked. However, none of things we complain about in terms of the depiction of Cyclops, Maddy, or Jean were inevitable given the concept. It just wasn't done well. The most obvious solution (perhaps two obvious?) was Scott to tell Jean up front that he was married. He stays with his wife who is then tragically killed by villain-of-the-week a few issues later, thus allowing Scott and Jean to honorably get back together given enough time. It would have been hackneyed, but it would have preserved the characters.
The New Universe was handicapped because of last minute cash restraints and that Shooter initially let Tom DeFalco handle the concept. But yeah, it was a mess.
Secret Wars II was just really bad in terms of quality.
Posted by: Chris | March 2, 2016 9:21 PM
Mark is right- look at the issues. First Claremont had to get rid of Rachel in X-Men 207-209 to avoid complications with X-Factor. Then, in X-Men 215-216 Wolverine dealt with the knowledge of Jean's return. Then, in X-Men 219, Havok returned to the X-Men, and one of the main reasons for that was probably to develop some sort of relationship between him and Maddie. Then, in X-Men 221-222, the X-Men fight the Marauders over Maddie and Maddie joins the team. Then in X-Men 227, the X-Men fake their deaths, one of the main reasons for this probably was to avoid a meeting with X-Factor. X-Factor had a major impact on Claremont's plots.
Posted by: Michael | March 2, 2016 9:49 PM
@Michael - as always you are a fountain of knowledge. I was trying to piece together when I thought Claremont found out about X Factor coming out and thought it was around issue 200. I was a little off. Thanks! This is insightful.
Posted by: Mark Black | March 2, 2016 9:55 PM
Chris, interesting thoughts on Cadence preparing to sell Marvel, but I don't see how Shooter's decision would have been different whether or not Cadence was going to sell. I like Mark's point about the damage this did to Claremont's storylines, but Shooter didn't have anything to do with that, either.
Shooter's job (besides keeping the bullpen running) was to look out for the characters and the company. Whoever it was who first brought the "X-Factor" concept to him, I'd be willing to bet he asked "Can we get Claremont to write it?" Then he learns that the whole point is to cut Claremont out entirely, and he's willing to go with that. He still has to play office politics, including with Claremont and Byrne, who have gone off in drastically-different directions since their collaboration.
I've never heard of "X-Factor" being a reason to blame Shooter for anything. Yeah, it wouldn't have happened if he'd said 'no' but the project could have been derailed any number of ways regardless of his input. 'Bring Jean back, I'll handle Claremont,' he didn't really do much more other than approve editors and art or whatever else he did at the time.
I do like how Ben Herman points out that "X-Factor" debuted at roughly the same point as "Secret Wars II" and the New Universe, as failures of Shooter's reign. I don't think "X-Factor" falls into the same category. Shooter permitted it to happen, but didn't contribute anything. New Universe and "Secret Wars II," those were his babies.
I think "Secret Wars I" is where Shooter reached his peak and started heading downhill. I think he mentioned at some point that the reason he wrote it was simply to keep the peace, and avoid the 'why is Byrne/Claremont/DeFalco/Stern/Mantlo/etc. writing *MY* characters?' argument. And it was a monster hit. I was reading comics before "Secret Wars," but it is a major touchstone of my early comics reading, and I do have affection for it.
After "Secret Wars," Shooter had, well, turned to the dark side. Before, he may have had a reputation as a tyrant, but he was also an editor, and had lots of experience as a freelancer. He knew what he wanted, but he would work with his writers, artists and editors to get what he wanted instead of firing them and hiring whoever would do what he said.
This is a guy whose first day on the job involved answering the phone and being screamed at about what he intended to do about the Copyright Act of 1976, which had taken effect two days earlier, and he knew nothing about. I'll say many bad things about Jim Shooter, but he can work under pressure, and take the blame even when things don't go wrong.
After "Secret Wars," I think he started to make mistakes. I think he focused less on the comics than he did on what he thought the comics should be. In 1980, killing Jean Grey was an important decision, and only he could make it. In 1986, bringing Jean back is just part of the job. Shooter had too much micromanaging to do to care about the consequences of Jean's return.
"Secret Wars II" was supposed to be his personal life and beliefs written into comic book form. The New Universe was supposed to prove that he had reached Stan Lee's level and could casually toss off characters that people would love decades later. "X-Factor" was more about putting another book on the schedule, and if you have to run over Claremont to do it, fine. Get Byrne to help you, and they'll run over each other several times just for fun. I've got a meeting upstairs at 11.
Posted by: ChrisW | March 2, 2016 11:00 PM
Personally, I love SWII.
That said, he probably should have started his own company earlier. Would it be a conflict of interest to be Marvel's EIC while also publishing Valiant?
That way he could have had Marvel for "what the fans want" and Valiant for "what they need"/"what I want to write."
Posted by: Thanos6 | March 3, 2016 12:14 AM
To be fair to Shooter, the comic he originally gave the go-ahead to was the original four guys plus Dazzler. Jean’s return wasn’t necessary to the comic existing, it just happened to make commercial sense once Byrne and Busiek proposed it. As Fnord points out in his X-Factor 1 review, there’s some clear signs that Jean’s return was added fairly late: the first issue specifically refers to the Dazzler : The Movie plot as a cause of anti-mutant hysteria, and Dazzler’s last issues feature The Beast telling her about X-Factor in the hope she will join them. Dazzler’s foreknowledge is one of the many plotholes about the current X-Men mistrusting X-Factor. Speaking of which, it’s fairly convenient that Magneto takes a leadership role at this point. This is also a plothole (Scott, the Avengers & FF are still shown as untrusting of Magneto despite working with him in Secret Wars), but I wonder how they’d have kept the X-Men & X-Factor apart if it wasn’t for Magneto providing an easy answer.
With the benefit of hindsight, since Maddie was going to end up being made into a clone anyway, they should probably have just "fixed" it in one of these early issues by saying she was some reborn version of the Phoenix that had replaced Jean. It would have been a terrible idea, but Phoenixes (Phoenices?) come back, right? No worse than what they eventually came up with. The whole "plane crash at the same time Phoenix died" thing is far too convenient not to be suspicious.
Posted by: Jonathan | March 3, 2016 7:24 AM
@Jonathan- the Avengers' and FF's mistrust of Magneto can be explained by their resentment of how he treated Wanda and Pietro when they were in the Brotherhood. In real life, people DO find it difficult to forgive someone for mistreating their friends, even if they act like a saint for the rest of their lives. And Magneto has tried to kill Scott and his friends many times, so his reluctance to trust him is understandable. The larger problem is not Scott refusing to trust Magneto but Scott deciding that Magneto is only pretending to be good but arguing that they should leave the New Mutants alone with him and not check on them, especially (a) after the X-Men "die" in Dallas and (b) considering that Magik, Warlock, etc, are potentially very powerful and have traumas in their pasts that could be used to manipulate them.
Posted by: Michael | March 3, 2016 7:52 AM
I do think that is a very good point about the New Mutants, you wouldn’t want to leave an evil guy training his own teenage militia, especially not a demon sorceress and the alien son of a guy who tears suns in half.
I didn’t make the Magneto point very clear, what I was saying was it’s hard for Scott/the FF/the Avengers to claim the X-Men must have been corrupted to work with Magneto, when they’d all worked with him during Secret Wars, and had seen some evidence both during and after Secret Wars that he was at least trying to change. It’s fine and reasonable for them to be suspicious of him, or dislike him, or want to see him brought to justice for previous crimes, but a blanket dismissal that “he’s totally evil, so everyone working with him should just be left alone and we won’t bother communicating with them at all, even to persuade them that they're making a mistake” makes no sense.
Anyway, that isn’t a major point, I was just saying that Magneto joining the X-Men was a very convenient reason for the writers to keep the heroes apart, even if it didn’t make complete sense on inspection. If Claremont hadn’t decided to do that, it would have been even harder to keep the two teams apart.
Posted by: Jonathan | March 3, 2016 10:26 AM
Okay, thinking over the various comments here, in retrospect it seems probable that even if Jim Shooter had not mandated the return of Jean Grey in 1986, and Chris Claremont had been allowed to continue his plotlines for Uncanny X-Men unimpeded, at some point he eventually would have still run into these types of problems and seen his plans derailed.
Just three years later Claremont was regularly clashing with Bob Harras, an editor who was much less sympathetic than Louise Simonson and Ann Nocenti. Hot artists Marc Silvestri, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld and Whilce Portacio would still have come along, becoming mega-popular, prompting Harras to give them more and more creative control. Ron Perelman would still have become the new owner of Marvel, and under his directive to turn the company into a cash cow, plus the influence of the speculator market, more and more X-Men spinoff titles would have been ordered by editorial and marketing and the suits upstairs.
So, yeah, due to the sort of company into which Marvel was transforming, sooner or later Claremont probably would have eventually have found himself getting shafted, one way or another.
I guess that it just seemed to readers at the time that Claremont's case, due to the fact that he'd enjoyed relative carte blanche for nearly an entire decade from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, the subsequent interference by editorial and management appeared particularly egregious. But, really, for a long time Claremont was the exception to the rule, and he was fortunate enough to dodge getting screwed over the way numerous other creators, including Kirby and Ditko, had been. But eventually his turn came.
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 6, 2016 2:58 PM
But Harras might have never become a major editor without X-Factor- this was his first chance at editing a major title.
Posted by: Michael | March 6, 2016 4:52 PM
No doubt. Whether it was by way of the editor or the characters, "X-Factor" served its purpose as a Trojan Horse into Claremont's well-defended mutant titles.
I also wonder how much work really went into trying to make Dazzler one of the team and how much was just trying to avoid the elephant in the room of reuniting four of the five original X-Men and adding a character who came along much later. People knew Claremont would never approve and probably assumed Shooter would side with him, the whole reason there were so many mutant characters not being used in the first place.
Dazzler's series was being cancelled and Marvel may have still hoped to manufacture her as a star, so she would have been considered. References to the movie that were in the first issue, I would guess were more an example of those attempts to make her a star, as well an attempt to show 'mutant prejudice' as it affects the rest of the world.
Bringing Jean back would be the most obvious solution. Who else could they use? Scarlet Witch? Boom-Boom? A brand-new character who magically makes Scott leave his wife and newborn son in Alaska? The point is to get all these characters out from under Claremont's thumb. It might have taken John Byrne to be the one suggesting it to Shooter, as far as office politics go, since no one else would dare. [Although that may just be hearsay; Byrne has always said he was the one who suggested how to bring Jean back and credited Kurt Busiek with the idea, but do we know if he was actually the one who got Ali out and Jean in?]
To check, I just skimmed through all the 'character appearances' from the old and new X-Men, and it's staggering how they almost never appeared outside of books that Claremont wrote [issues like "Iron Fist," "Spider-Woman," "Marvel Fanfare".] The few exceptions are books where *everybody* appears ["Secret Wars," "Contest of Champions," "Death of Captain Marvel," a "Two-in-One Annual" where the Thing fights Champion] or books written by people Claremont liked [Bill Mantlo, Louise Simonsen, Jo Duffy, Ann Nocenti.]
Even the few guest-appearances that don't fall into that category, we can assume Claremont didn't oppose some of them. Not with results like Denny O'Neill using Wolverine in "Daredevil" for the first appearance of Lady Deathstrike (which I did not know; thanks, fnord) or John Byrne having Logan show up to see Heather after James Hudson died. Very few books written by Mark Gruenwald or Tom Defalco or whoever, and as often as not, those were just generic appearances that could have been removed without harming the story.
Even Magneto didn't appear much outside of Claremont's titles, right from the start, and he's the father of two classic Avengers. There's no 'Kitty Pryde takes a tour of Stark Enterprises' or 'Nightcrawler runs into Spider-Man' or anything. [Well, there is the latter, but Claremont wrote it, so...]
I know there's office politics, and there were policies that creators could 'reserve' characters for projects which never came to pass - I think John Byrne said that was the reason Jean's funeral was the only time Iceman appeared during his run - but it's hard to comprehend nowadays how much of a lock Claremont had on all these characters. It would be one thing if he left the title after a few years like almost every other comic book creator, but he just stayed there, year after year, and the books kept selling...
I'm going to push 'post' now. Funny, I only intended to write the two-sentence paragraph I started with. Is it any wonder I'm a fan of Claremont's run?
Posted by: ChrisW | March 6, 2016 9:12 PM
@ChrisW - Claremont, attempting to change Shooter's mind, suggested that Jean's sister could be the fifth member of X-Factor...
"The pitch I made to Jim Shooter was that we utilize her older sister, Sarah. For me, as a writer, that was a far more intriguing reality, because we'd introduce a Grey back into the team, but we would introduce a Grey who was a mutant, who hated the idea of being a mutant, who hated the idea of being an X-Man, yet accepted the responsibility. More importantly, she was uninvolved with any of the four guys."
But, yes, it is amazing how much of a lock Claremont had on the X-Men characters for over a decade. One example that comes to mind was Magneto. In the mid-1980s Roger Stern wanted to utilize Magneto on a couple of occasions. As was related else where on this site, Stern's first attempt in the monthly Avengers book, with Quicksilver going after Magneto for his assault on Bova, got axed before it could really progress. The other was in the X-Men vs Avengers miniseries, ended with Stern getting removed from the final issue because it would have seriously clashed with Claremont's plans for Magneto.
I can certainly understand why Claremont became so proprietary towards the X-Men characters, considering how much time & energy he spent developing them. On the other hand, in the end they really were *not* his characters, they were Marvel's. I've always felt that it was regrettable that after Image formed in the 1990s that Claremont didn't develop a creator-owned series there. He would have been free to do whatever he wanted with the characters, without having to worry that at some point down the line another writer or editor or corporate executive would torpedo his plans.
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 6, 2016 10:38 PM
I forget the name of the title [Hunter-something?] but Claremont did try to do a series through Image, and scripted a few issues of "WildCATS" to make it happen (and presumably to show he held no grudges against Jim Lee.)
The Sarah Grey idea runs into the same problem as the original developers of "X-Factor" would run into, she's effectively a brand-new character that nobody knows anything about. 25% of her appearances so far are in "X-Factor" #12, and they can't agree on how to spell her name.
Hank, Bobby and Warren will drop everything going on in their lives for Sarah? Whom they've never met (except maybe off-panel at Jean's funeral)? Scott will leave his wife for her? Or Madelyne will quit her job and bring her baby boy just so she can be with Scott on... whatever it is he's doing?
There are plausible ways to make that work, but I don't think they would have worked any better than making Sarah a demon-possessed clone of the Phoenix Force, and I have the benefit of thinking outside the box of 1986 Marvel Comics. You can't reunite John, Paul and George and then say the drummer will be Keith Moon, Ginger Baker, or whatever session musician is available, and expect people to believe that's the Beatles. A lot of effort would be spent to alter the rhythms and the loudness enough to convince people. At least we'd buy tickets to see John, Paul and George playing onstage together. Who's going to want to see Scott, Warren, Bobby and Hank together with a studio drummer?
Posted by: ChrisW | March 6, 2016 11:08 PM
In terms of the derailment of Claremont's plans, an additional factor is that all of his original plans for the Mutant Massacre and Fall of the Mutants was derailed by Alan Moore's objection of using the Fury and Jim Jasper. It's been noted on this site in a few places but CBR has a good summary. That had at least as much of a concrete effect on his long term plans as the return of Jean and the changes in editorial control. Claremont salvaged the plans that were derailed by Moore's objection, but i don't think it went as well as it could have (e.g. Mr. Sinister's reason for the Mutant Massacre is still not all that clear, especially compared to the original idea that it would have been perpetrated by a merged Nimrod/Fury). I agree with what Ben Herman wrote above that Claremont seemed to have "never completely recovered his bearings". The Jean / Moore things must have felt like a one-two punch, and it almost feels like Claremont gave up on serious long term plotting after that.
I just wanted to pipe in that the problems weren't all about editorial dictate, with the Moore thing being a big example. It is still definitely a case of an 'outside influence', but as Ben also notes, Claremont "would have still run into these types of problems" eventually. Hazards of working in a shared universe.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 7, 2016 8:34 AM
Well, the Beatles did use a replacement for Ringo when they toured France once...
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 7, 2016 11:04 AM
And Phil Collins did a great job filling in on drums for the Led Zeppelin reunion at Live-Aid.
Posted by: Erik Beck | March 8, 2016 11:37 AM
Not to mention that the Beatles managed to replace Paul after he died without skipping a beat.
Posted by: S | March 8, 2016 7:53 PM
Well, Phil Collins AND Tony Thompson at the same time...and the remaining members of Zeppelin made clear that their performance was so horrible that they forbade its official release...
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 9, 2016 11:23 AM
Guys, you're trying too hard to quibble with the analogy. I'm a comics fan and I get that's how we roll, but I'm jus' sayin' is all... A one-off concert or tour is different from a reunion that includes someone new. A couple days ago, I read an interview with Pete Townshend where he points out that The Who is long-gone. What you get is Townshend and Daltrey doing their best to recreate the experience of The Who for the audience's sake.
Or, in comic book terms, the founding Avengers get back together, only the Wasp is replaced by Storm or the Black Cat. Quibble with that if you must - I probably would if I were you - but don't try so hard. ;)
Posted by: ChrisW | March 11, 2016 12:41 AM
According to Brian Cronin, here's Layton's original plan for the updated Owl: "In my story, set up to be sort of a Gothic thriller, he had been double-mutated, much like how Hank McCoy became the blue Beast. However, the second mutation turns him into a cannibalistic Nosferatu-like creature that feeds only on mutant flesh."
Posted by: Andrew | December 17, 2017 3:31 PM
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