Characters Appearing: Angel, Banshee, Beast, Colonel Alexei Vazhin, Colossus, Cyclops, Forge, Gambit, Iceman, Jean Grey, Jubilee, Legion, Madrox the Multiple Man, Moira MacTaggert, Mystique, Polaris, Professor X, Psylocke, Rogue, Shadow King, Siryn, Wolverine
Issue(s): X-Factor #69
We start in Washington, DC, where a group of protesters are at the gates of the White House. The protesters, clearly egged on by the Shadow King and like similar groups around the world, are upset about a "random" variety of things, hating "races, creeds and colors" and even "disagreements over fashion tastes". They're also anti-mutant. X-Factor have been summoned there by Val Cooper (or so it seems) and they rush the crowd when someone gets shot, rescuing the injured party and helping arrest the shooter, but they don't disperse the crowd. Jean Grey says that she almost wishes that her telepathic powers hadn't been restored.
After the shooting incident, it's revealed that Professor X is the one that got "Val" to call X-Factor.
Meanwhile, add Banshee to the list of X-Men that Forge has freed from the Shadow King's control.
Note that despite Wolverine having no irises or pupils, he's one of the X-Men that isn't mind controlled.
Banshee says that Polaris has become a catalyst for negative emotions, and the Shadow King has turned her into a nexus between our world and the astral plane. Getting her out of that situation will disrupt the Shadow King.
Back to Professor X and X-Factor, and Colossus, who are on a submarine heading to Muir Island, with the idea that the ocean depths plus some psi-shields will keep them hidden from the Shadow King. No one seems to notice that Federal Agent Reisz's head is on fire.
But he is indeed the Shadow King, and he secretly confers with "Val" who (he thinks) is under his control.
X-Factor launch their open-mouthed assault on Muir Island against their open-mouthed opponents.
Meanwhile, the Shadow King makes his move on the sub, but Val Cooper turns out to really be Mystique, and she shoots him in the head.
It seems Xavier knew all along that Reisz was possessed by the Shadow King (when Legion collapses, the Beast says that "the Professor's ruse succeeded". However, before X-Factor, joined by Forge's contingent of X-Men, can figure out how to break Polaris out of the nexus, the Shadow King takes Legion as a new host...
...and the issue ends with a big explosion.
Several times prior to the assault, Xavier says that he hopes that the Shadow King hasn't chosen Legion as his host, because that would just be terrible. I thought that was going to be a Br'er Rabbit kind of thing (please don't throw me in the briar patch!) where the characters had some special way of taking out Legion if he was the host. But that doesn't happen. And that's indicative of the entire story; it is very straightforward. But that is fine. At this point in time we need this story to get wrapped up, and this issue moves the plot along nicely. It's not breaking any new ground but it's getting the job done.
Whilce Portacio is actually looking pretty subdued compared to previous issues. Maybe "Task Force X" had to erase a lot of his stray lines in order to get the thing inked on time. I do like the way that Portacio goes for a Bill Sienkiewicz style when depicting Legion.,
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: X-Factor were said to have been resting at Angel's Colorado retreat since the end of the previous arc, recovering from their ordeal on the moon. This is part three of the Muir Island Saga, so it continues directly from Uncanny X-Men #279 and continues in Uncanny X-Men #280.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
The Mystique/Val Cooper subplot had obviously been in mind the entire time. I wonder if that what the 'with lots of help' line was about. Legally for work-for-hire purposes, Claremont had probably done a lot of work on this story, and a good chunk of it was exactly what he had intended from the start. Given that Marvel was ready to hit paydirt with the new X-titles, and possibly the slightest amount of shame at the way they were treating the guy who did more than anyone else to build them into the franchise they became, there was no sense opening themselves up to any legal challenges.
That said, you can feel the insularity of the Marvel mentality at this point. None of this would be understandable if you weren't already following "X-Men." Under Claremont, and even Weezie, the "New Mutants" and "X-Factor" at least existed on their own, even with the crossovers. ["Inferno" notwithstanding.] They may not have been good, and they may have started depending on each other's storylines more than they should [Illyana vs. Forge] but they complemented each other as much as possible rather than simply merged. Except for the panel where X-Factor goes in, and arguably Legion going nuts, there is not a single scan on this page that would make sense to someone who only followed the adventures of the founding X-Men.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 23, 2015 7:57 PM
Is one of the guys in the first scan supposed to be Gyrich?
Posted by: Michael | September 23, 2015 9:10 PM
There seems to be no rhyme or reason to how Portacio draws Warren's wings. They change in every panel, whether folded or out.
Apparently, the idea of keeping characters on model wasn't 90s enough for the Image boys.
Posted by: Bob | September 23, 2015 11:41 PM
@Michael, regarding Gyrich. It might be him but since he's not named i don't think i'll tag him. The guy on the other end of the panel is practically a clone of him, so he may just be meant to represent Generic Government Agent.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 24, 2015 7:40 AM
Michael, maybe Reisz thinks Xavier won't recognize him from Storm's description because Portacio's art makes him completely unrecinizable. And no one will notice his head's on fire as long as those massive word balloons are blocking out the flames.
Then again, even with Portacio's art as a disguise, his host body's name and status as an FBI agent was known to Storm. But I admit I didn't catch that at the time. What took me out the story and wrecked any suspension of disbelief was the idea that a shapeshifter could fool a telepath, when that's precisely the power that should trump a shapeshifter's. This is what Claremont intended, and we do get an explanation next issue, but coming after the fact it was too late: it seemed like making retroactive excuses. I'm sure Claremont would have set up the revelation more carefully.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | September 26, 2015 3:50 AM
This has to be Portacio's most intelligible work.
Posted by: MindlessOne | June 17, 2017 10:52 PM
I don't know why, but Legion reminds me of Malekith when he goes nuts. Must be the elf-like ears.
Wolverine having blank eyes without wearing his mask is just ridiculous, though.
I don't think one of these Generic Government Agents is supposed to be Gyrich. He would have been depicted with an angrier face. And he would have said something. That man can't shut up about bureaucracy.
Btw, it seems Psylocke's character tag is missing.
Posted by: Nate Wolf | December 11, 2017 7:33 AM
Added Psylocke. Thanks Nate.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 11, 2017 2:51 PM
Comments are now closed.
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