Issue(s): X-Factor #71, X-Factor #72, X-Factor #73
What's more out of left field are the characters that are chosen. Some are more obvious: Havok and Polaris have at least been prominent lately, although for Polaris that means having been repeatedly under the thrall of villains (from Malice to Zaladane to the Shadow King). And just like with the other New Mutants it is time for Wolfsbane to graduate to a real team. Quicksilver is somewhere in the middle: he's an established hero and a mutant, but he's also been mind-controlled (or otherwise a bad guy) a lot, and he's of course more associated with the Avengers than with the mutant teams. The real oddball choices are Madrox the Multiple Man - who has done nothing but hang around on Muir Island since he's been introduced - and "Guido", Lila Cheney's bodyguard, who was just a weird minor character up until now.
So altogether it's a quirky team...
...and several if not all of the characters are damaged, which is something that Peter David acknowledges and intends to explore.
Really nice art here from Larry Stroman, who seems to have come a long way from the various fill-ins that he's done prior to this (or he had more time to work here). I don't always love Stroman's art but issue #71 is probably an example of his style at his best, and when that's the case it looks really nice. A kind of Mike Mignola-esque quality, good for the quirky characters in the book. It gets a little sloppier looking as this arc goes on, maybe because of the reality of deadline pressures.
The team starts with just Polaris, Guido, and Madrox, since they were the characters that were on Muir Island at the end of the Shadow King storyline. They're in Washington DC now, waiting to see if Valerie Cooper is able to recruit Havok, who is still working in Genosha after the X-Tinction Agenda storyline.
Val doesn't have a ton of luck with Havok, and a visit from Cyclops and Professor X doesn't seem to help either...
...but Havok does agree to join after hearing that Polaris is involved.
As for Quicksilver, he's looking for help with his powers, which cause him to age prematurely. He passes out when he first arrives.
Quicksilver has been traveling with the help of Lockjaw (although he has to use his powers to deal with a bomb planted in a Roxxon building during an environmental protest). That gives Peter David an opportunity to undo John Byrne's revelation that Lockjaw is really a ('human') Inhuman and not just a dog.
It's actually odd that David made this revelation here (and was allowed to). Lockjaw will not remain a character in this series, so there wasn't a pressing need to clarify his nature. I'm of mixed feelings about the re-retcon itself. John Byrne's original revelation served his story, and indeed was a critical piece of it. This revelation is what caused Quicksilver to change his mind about exposing his daughter to the Terrigen Mists. If Lockjaw really isn't a (for lack of a better word) human, then Quicksilver's decision was based on a lie, and it's not really a practical joke on the part of Gorgon and Karnak so much as an outright deception, and really directed at Quicksilver and not the Thing (there's also the practical matter of Gorgon and Karnak being in the room at the time, while Larry Stroman has depicted the flashback with them hiding behind a chair or something). Walter Lawson suggested in the comments of the Thing entry that maybe the Inhumans were really doing this as a way to resolve the tension with Quicksilver, and later framed it to him as a practical joke on the Thing when Quicksilver found out about. I like that best, because it somewhat preserves the intention behind the original story (which it feels like Peter David had only heard about but not actually read) while also allowing Lockjaw to be a dog, since outside of that one Byrne story, Lockjaw has never been depicted as anything other than a dog.
As to how his problem with his powers has brought him to X-Factor, he got a postcard sent from Washington DC from whoever is behind it.
The issue basically ends with Havok and Wolsbane (who is depicted as having a crush on him) arriving. But there is a epilogue with Madrox laughing about a jar of mayonnaise that was being passed between the characters during this issue. It turns out that he was doing some practical joking of his own; the jar could only be opened via a remote control device, and after all the super-heroes failed to open it, Madrox secretly allowed Val Cooper to open it with no problem. But while he's laughing about that, someone shows up and kills him.
Some dark jokes from both Quicksilver and Havok reacting to Madrox's death.
But then it turns out that Madrox isn't really dead.
Madrox reveals that he duplicated himself before answering the door, so it was just a dupe that got shot. But Madrox is surprised and unnerved to learn that he can't re-absorb the dupe, leading to jokes about him needing to pull himself together and being beside himslf. There are tons of jokes, puns, and silliness in this series. Peter David's Hulk and Spider-Man also have/had lots of jokes, but it's even more pronounced in this series, sometimes when it doesn't really feel appropriate. But it's still very funny.
Madrox and Guido are both pretty much blank slates, so Peter David has the opportunity to define them. For Madrox, that means exploring the nature of his powers (and that's really what this arc is about).
For Guido, it's more about giving the character a background. We know him as Lila Cheney's bodyguard, and that's about it. David invents a background that shows that he was once wealthy prior to going to work for Cheney.
Guido says that he's sticking with X-Factor for the paycheck. He chooses the (silly) super-hero name Strong Guy.
David also does some nice character work with Havok and Polaris, showing them trying to get to know each other again after all the time they've been separated. Wolfsbane isn't happy about that.
At the press conference where Strong Guy is debuting his new name, and, more importantly, Val Cooper is announcing the formation of the new X-Factor, another Madrox shows up, claiming to be the real one. This results in a huge battle across Washington DC by two sets of Madrox duplicates.
This is of course a PR disaster for Val Cooper, as the team causes tons of property damage due to what looks like an inter-team fight. But Strong Guy, of all people, deflects the press by complaining about their use of the word "mutant", saying instead that they should call mutants "genetically challenged", or "geecee".
Eventually the two prime Madrox's are captured, but they are only imprisoned for now, with Val having to call in an ex-husband to run a polygraph test so that they can figure out which one is the real one.
In issue #72, we are introduced to a villain named Vic Chalker.
We see in issue #73 that he's inept, having built an exoskeleton that is the wrong size for his body. He'll continue to be played as a joke character in various issues.
We also see that someone has been using "ricochet" powers to cause bad things to happen to X-Factor, and Strong Guy is the next target.
While there's a lot of serious character development in this book, there are also a lot of jokes. It's like a pun a panel. It's different type of humor, but it's therefore a lot closer in tone to Excalibur than the X-Men, and it's certainly starkly different than Louise Simonson's dramatic tragedies in the previous issues of this series. Peter David seems to signal that difference by having Polaris tell Havok to not be so much like his brother (which is good character work in its own right).
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The big question is whether or not to treat the screen in Excalibur #41 as conceptual. That story is indirectly tied to Fantastic Four #350, a story that puts Dr. Doom back on the throne of Latveria and restores the Thing to rocky form. And we also have the fact that Quicksilver doesn't leave the West Coast Avengers until Avengers West Coast #70. And in this issue, a footnote says that this issue takes place "just before" X-Men #1. All of this adds up to a lot of complication for trying to place this before Excalibur #41. I don't think it's impossible, but i think it would be messy, and it seems much easier to assume that Cable heard about Valerie Cooper's plans to recruit a new X-Factor team and programmed the X-Computer assuming that everything would go according to plan (it's notable/lucky that Quicksilver, the one wild card joining the team in this issue, is not shown on the monitor). So i am placing this at publication date, "just" before the new X-Men series (the consideration regarding the X-Men is really about the state of Genosha).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAriel O'Hare, Cyclops, Havok, Lockjaw, Madrox the Multiple Man, Polaris, Professor X, Quicksilver, Ricochet, Strong Guy, Valerie Cooper, Vic Chalker, Wolfsbane
This reminded me of the early issues of the rebooted JLA back in 1987. There was a lot of humor in those issues as well.
Posted by: clyde | November 4, 2015 2:22 PM
Guildo can speak for himself. He might prefer "geecee", but Havok prefers "Alex." :)
Posted by: Max_Spider | November 4, 2015 5:44 PM
Peter David has explained that he was actually asked to retcon away the Byrne scene by writers and his editor who didn't like that it made the Inhumans look like "assholes", and he didn't actually have that much of a problem with the scene itself. He specifically pulled it off in such a way that people who preferred things Byrne's way could say Quicksilver was lying to Madrox, bolstered by how absurd his explanation was and how little sense it made to anyone familiar with the original story.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | November 4, 2015 6:44 PM
Peter David's X-Factor was quality. Much better than a book about X-men C-listers had a right to be. The Vic Chalker running gag is really good too. And Larry Stroman (unintentionally) draws some of the scariest faces in comics.
Posted by: Red Comet | November 4, 2015 9:07 PM
Just to clarify, it was Kurt Busiek that suggested the explanation for Lockjaw talking. It's odd that Harras had PAD explain it away in X-Factor instead of doing it himself in Avengers, though, since he was writing Crystal.
Posted by: Michael | November 4, 2015 9:59 PM
What blork is describing this? PAD's "X-Factor" was awesome. If you don't think so, you're a blork.
Posted by: ChrisW | November 4, 2015 10:17 PM
Does anybody else see the need for a hashtag?
Posted by: ChrisW | November 4, 2015 11:18 PM
Peter Davis, the only readable writer Marvel had in the early 90s after everyone else left.
This book, along with Davis Excalibur return, were infinity preferable to the Image boys' stuff.
Posted by: Bob | November 5, 2015 12:02 AM
While we're on the subject of how Madrox's powers work, should a dupe die after being shot and knocked out a window? Shouldn't that just create more dupes there are still alive? For example, when Gambit hit Madrox with his card in X-Men 278, the result was several conscious Madroxes, not a conscious Madrox and an unconscious Madrox. Granted, we'll see later that the renegade dupe is working with someone that can turn a mutant's powers against themselves, so that might be part of the explanation.
Posted by: Michael | November 5, 2015 7:59 AM
Peter "Davis", a writer so good if he didn't exist we'd have to make him up.
And he doesn't, so we did.
Posted by: JC | November 5, 2015 9:28 AM
Posted by: Bob | November 5, 2015 10:25 AM
I agree that the character work on Alex and Lorna wasn't so hot -- but by contrast, the work on Madrox and Guido and Rahne and Pietro is amazing throughout. I really liked what David was doing here.
On the other hand, I found Stroman's art baffling. Some moments I really like, but at times it was incredibly hard to follow. Similarly to the Image crowd, his visual story-telling doesn't seem so good. And at times the layouts seem jumbled and the contents border on abstraction.
So I have rather mixed feelings here. I love the stories, yet I often find them difficult to get through.
Posted by: Matt | November 5, 2015 12:50 PM
An observation: the costumes of the New X-Factor are atrocious. They are even worse than what Lee came up for some of the X-Men...
Posted by: Piotr W | November 5, 2015 7:46 PM
Was Vic Chalker intentionally supposed to resemble Kenneth Robeson's Avenger from the pulps?
I can see how the "Lockjaw as deformed Inhuman" idea works as a defining moment for Quicksilver and Luna, but if it was supposed to be less of a practical joke, then what's the reason to keep the Thing ignorant of it after all this time?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 6, 2015 5:03 PM
My head-canon for Lockjaw is that the Thing revelation was the truth, but that Lockjaw has come to terms enough with his change that he simply prefers to be treated like a pet, and actively tries to keep it a secret. He and Quicksilver discussed this at a later date, and here Quicksilver is trying to help his friend by discrediting Ben (who is often the butt of such jokes).
Posted by: FF3 | January 20, 2016 10:04 AM
Michael, it' kinda ironic you mentioned Kurt Busiek's name since he's part of the reason X-Factor formed innthe first place.
Re: Rahne: If you had read the upcoming issues, you'd know that Rahne's mind is a little...ah...preoccupied at the moment with a whole bunch of different things. And given Val's"Kibbles and Bit" line, they don't exactly seem like they are on friendly terms.
Re:Havok: "Alex was a depressed borderline psycho by X-Men 249-251 and he was basically a screwup, not someone you'd want to put in a leadership position." But that's way Havok has ALWAYS been portayed. That's kinda hid "thing." Some writer comes along and tries to take Alex "seriously" as confident well-heeed leader sort, but then their mind wanders and get distracted from plot and he's back to being the ineffectual beta-male loser who fails at invoking leaderly discipline. He's the mutant version of Hank Pym. Peter David does "give it the ol college try" though.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | January 24, 2016 2:15 AM
Jon, I'm not buying that brainwashing Rahne to fall in love with Alex would make her ignore what Val might have done to the babies. It would do the opposite- "I must keep Alex away from this horrible baby-snatching woman". I could buy that if Rahne had been brainwashed to fall in love with VAL.
Posted by: Michael | January 25, 2016 8:42 PM
I wasn't aware of this series until X-Cutioner's Song, but I just found it unreadable when I went back to try and catch up. For me, I couldn't get past the art, no matter how hard I tried. #71 is better than most of what follows, but it just never worked for me.
Someone could correct me if I'm wrong, but it really seems like David's characterization of Jamie completely ignores everything that happened in Fallen Angels. For that matter, it seems like Siryn should have ended up in this group rather than X-Force.
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 26, 2016 11:24 AM
No, PAD didn't ignore it- in issue 75, he explains that the Jamie that appeared in Fallen Angels was a renegade dupe that drugged Jamie so he could go on his own adventures like with the Fallen Angels, and after being frustrated at not being completely in control, sought out Mr. Sinister to give him complete control.
Posted by: Michael | January 26, 2016 8:11 PM
I always thought that was the weakest part of the explanation. If a dupe has enough self-awareness to drug the [no idea for the term] main personality, then there are already problems with dupes. This explanation just extended the problems with "Fallen Angels." PAD would explain this in more depth in the "X-Factor" revamp, but at the time (and even now) it didn't answer the question of where the rogue dupe came from. And don't even start on Mr. Sinister got involved. At least that can be explained in hindsight with 'villains gonna villain.' But where did the rogue dupe come from?
At least it worked dramatically with the Death of Jamie Madrox in the first two issues, leading up to his triumphant return, but it doesn't really make sense if you think about it.
Posted by: ChrisW | January 27, 2016 11:46 PM
I loathe Peter David's attitude towards Fallen Angels.
I'm not speaking as someone who particularly loves Fallen Angels, and I actually quite like David's first X-Factor story here, but I think it is bloody terrible approach to writing a character.
Multiple Man's ONE major appearance prior to this was in Fallen Angels.
Peter David isn't jettisoning it because it messed up his story or because it complicated things, he's getting rid of it simply because he didn't feel like reading it.
The matter of fact is, the actual content with Madrox in Fallen Angels works very very well to compliment exactly what Peter David is doing here. Peter David is just one of many "beloved" creators who are reluctant to accept the fact that anyone else might ever touch or do something substantial "their toys" in a shared universe (see also: Chris Claremont, Jim Starlin, Steve Englehart). And this is pretty tame compared to when he came back to Hulk and revealed every run that happened between his two were all fantasy courtesy of Nightmare.
David's retcon that it's really a dupe (and evil one at that) also makes Fallen Angels broken and almost impossible to work. It's just selfish, lazy writing. Peter David didn't even have to refer to Fallen Angels, he could've ignored it and it wouldn't matter, but instead he decides to just toss it on the fire to save himself any sort of continuity problem or inconsistencies down the line.
Posted by: AF | January 28, 2016 5:02 AM
AF - I'm glad to hear you say that. That's exactly my reaction, though I haven't yet gotten to #75. Glad to know I'm not the only one who thinks that David throwing aside FA, which is far from great and often wasn't even good, is just stupid and obnoxious.
I know that a lot of people love David, fnord included. But I have not been all that impressed by him.
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 28, 2016 10:42 AM
Obviously this is subjective, but i didn't take David's use of Fallen Angels as a knock at the series. It's worth remembering that the dupe situation in X-Factor ends with Madrox absorbing the dupe, and therefore all his memories and experiences. So once we're past X-Factor #75, the Fallen Angels story really happened for Madrox. And there was never a point where the story was made fun of in a way that seemed malicious to me.
Additionally, the idea behind the dupe was that he wanted to live a life separate from his originator. As i understand it, he wasn't meant to be evil, at least until Mr. Sinister got a hold of him. So the Madrox in the Fallen Angels acted exactly how the real Madrox would have. I really think the scenario was really about exploring the nature of how Madrox's duplicates work, and since there aren't a lot of appearances by the character, picking one of the few stories he was in and saying "Hey, that was a duplicate and no one even noticed" is exactly the way to make the point.
As AF notes, the Fallen Angels story also raised the same kind of questions about the duplicates, and it would have been good if David had worked in a reference to that. Even the dupes of dupes want free will. It's an interesting problem.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 28, 2016 11:04 AM
During X-Cutioner's Song (I think?), he has Madrox meet with Siryn and has her still hung up on Jamie but he basically says it wasn't ever really him and he doesn't like her. Standard hokey Peter David daytime soap opera stuff.
The thing is, David's done this with so many things in his career, I think arguing that it's for any reason other than because he's Peter David is pushing it. Outside of the Fallen Angels retcon, we also have him ignore/undo a lot of Polaris stuff to basically just restore her to normal and he starts this run by dismissing a John Byrne Thing story.
And his future work will continue to do this like how he undoes basically every Wolfsbane development that happened between his X-Factor runs, he ignored the very few Genis-Vell appearances prior to his run on Captain Marvel, and the aforementioned writing off Joe Casey, John Byrne, Paul Jenkins and Bruce Jones' runs on Hulk as dream situations created by Nightmare.
I really believe it's just him continually not being interested in other people's work.
And for the record, he doesn't just retcon Fallen Angels, he also stipulates that it wasn't Madrox on Muir Island which probably means just the Muir Island X-Men stuff - but knowing Peter David could just as easily count for ALL of his appearances after his debut.
Posted by: AF | January 28, 2016 12:35 PM
I don't recall Peter David being particularly venomous against Fallen Angels in these issues. All I remember is Madrox making a lobster joke at one point while referencing the Coconut Grove.
I wouldn't call this a case of Peter David hating on a story he didn't write. I think him having Madrox against a renegade dupe and the team not knowing who is the "real" Madrox is just an obvious story angle to take with Madrox's powers. Basically it's an inevitable story for the character that some writer would eventually tell, therefore any story set before it could and would fall victim to not featuring the "real" Madrox. It just happened to be Fallen Angels here since that was the most prominent series with Madrox before X-Factor.
Posted by: Red Comet | January 28, 2016 1:02 PM
But the larger point is that PAD ignored a lot of things making X-Factor work- Alex's portrayal over the past couple of years, the Inferno babies and the question of Val's involvement in their kidnapping, etc. You can argue that it was necessary but there's no denying he did it.
Posted by: Michael | January 28, 2016 8:41 PM
Considering how directionless those last years of X-books were, I will file it under "necessary", all right.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | January 28, 2016 9:43 PM
I liked X-FACTOR for the first couple of years. After that it was okay here and there, but I didn't like David's stuff. I don't like most of his stuff right up to now, but this is because of a personal issue with the man himself as a person. I will admit, however, that I did like his SECRET WARS: FUTURE IMPERFECT and SECRET WARS 2099 minis.
I liked X-FACTOR again when DeMatteis came on, and then John Francis Moore. After that, I liked it enough to get the book until the end, but Matsuda's artwork was a turn-off. So was Rouleau's. Since #149, I haven't picked up X-FACTOR since, but I did keep up with the stories and got pretty pissed reading about when David totally wrecked the hell out of Polaris. I'd love for her to show up somewhere. Maybe in UNCANNY AVENGERS.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | May 20, 2016 3:39 PM
@AF: So basically Davis is one of those writers who gets a little, touchy, when others play with his toys, so to speak?
Posted by: D09 | June 3, 2016 11:23 PM
Well, I don't think he even reads when other people touch his toys...
Posted by: AF | June 4, 2016 6:11 AM
Wasn’t one of Jamie’s dupes killed (or nearly killed) by Proteus? I thought that was the event that set off rogue dupe...?
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | May 24, 2018 3:08 AM
Unless something was changed after I stopped reading, Proteus killing a dupe wasn't the cause of the rogue. I think Jamie alluded to dupes being killed before, but I'm pretty sure he didn't reference Proteus directly in this run.
Posted by: ChrisW | May 25, 2018 10:46 PM
You could handwave the issue of Wolfsbane not raising hell about the location of the Inferno babies to her being recently mindraped by Hodge (having been put in a mindless, amnesia state and being mindraped into loving Havok).
Also, the issue of Maddrox having rogue duplicates living lives in secret would be revisited in the 00s X-Factor series with Maddrox hunting down said dupes to forcibly absorb them. Sadly the arc never mentioned the Fallen Angels Maddrox, nor did PAD ever bring back up the issue with Siryn and Maddrox at all in the 00s X-Factor series.
That said, there could be some editorial reason for divorcing Maddrox from Fallen Angels. I do recall that Marvel purposely spiked productions on the follow-up mini (even though a couple of issues were finished) and had, prior to production, embargoed write Jo Duffy from using any of X-Men characters (meaning no Warlock, Sunspot, Siryn, Boom Boom, Maddrox, or Vanisher). The sequel would have revolved around Ariel, Gommi, Chance, Moon Boy, and a couple of new characters and would have been drawn by Colleen Doran.
Posted by: Jesse Baker | June 16, 2018 4:44 PM
The story was fine in and of itself, but two things made it pretty annoying for me to read.
1) The humor DOES often feel inappropriate. The jokes are funny, but they should really pump the breaks a bit when the situation doesn't call for jokes. It's like the plot calls for a mixed tone, but then PAD drives a joke steamroller right over the whole thing.
Posted by: Ghost | June 16, 2018 10:36 PM
Comments are now closed.
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