Issue(s): X-Factor #77
This tapped into real life concerns that i remember being raised at the time. I guess the possibility of mapping the human genome was getting real, and there were concerns that people might choose not to have a baby based on genetic problems. The more overblown argument was about the idea of designer babies, people choosing eye colors and ability to play piano and the like. But a more legitimate concern would be about the decision to have a baby that was likely to have Down syndrome, for example. I don't know if these things get discussed as much anymore - i don't hear about them but i may just not be listening in the right places. I think it also turned out that identifying traits on a gene by gene basis turned out to be more complicated than was originally thought (again, i may be talking out of my ass here).
The idea of a mutant gene adds an additional wrinkle. I assume the general population is pretty much anti-mutant regardless (as we can see by the father's choice of words) but even if a fetus is determined to have a mutant gene and if the results of the test are accurate (which even Dr. Tucker admits is not a sure thing), there's still the fact that being a mutant could either give you awesome super-powers or turn you into a radioactive freak. So there's no direct comparison to real world concerns, but this does seem like a very legitimate thing to be discussing in the Marvel universe. I also wish the status of the Mutant Registration Act was clearer, because it seems that Tucker's process could result in people being tagged by the government from birth.
Anyway, while this topic is raised in this issue, it won't become the main plot until next issue. So next we deal with the fact that two of the Nasty boys, Slab and Hairbag, are being held by the government.
Genetic testing of fetuses and super-villain due process, all by page six.
The due process debate becomes moot when the Mutant Liberation Front shows up to try to rescue Slab and Hairbag.
Ha ha! X-Force with a completely different line-up.
Mr. Sinister and Stryfe are working together, which explains the MLF showing up to help the Nasty Boys. But it's more than that. Thumbellina of the MLF turns out to be the Nasty Boys' Slab's sister.
The MLF manage to grab the imprisoned Nasty Boys and Zero opens a portal to teleport them away. X-Factor do almost succeed in reaching through the portal and grabbing Stryfe, but they're forced to let go.
They do manage to hang on to one of Stryfe's gauntlets. Wolfsbane says that it has a "vaguely familiar... but different" scent, but she's unable to place it.
Later, Val Cooper tries to debrief Madrox regarding the information his duplicate gathered while it was working with the Nasty Boys (after first sort-of apologizing for doubting his word that he was the real Madrox).
A few points about that scan above:
a) What the hell is going on with Val in that top panel? I've been saying that Larry Stroman's art is bad for fight scenes (and the X-Factor/MLF fight was hard to follow; i had to take the characters' word for it that the MLF managed to recover the Nasty Boys) but good for moody downtime stuff. That picture of Val has me doubting that, thought.
b) Note Madrox saying that he's fully absorbed the memories of the events from the Fallen Angels series.
c) It's here where X-Factor finally learn that they've been going up against Mr. Sinister.
Here is Stroman's art looking a little better.
That's Cannonball showing up in the final panel above. Cannonball is currently in X-Force, which is wanted for questioning. But of course he and Wolfsbane used to be in the New Mutants together. This is their first meeting since those days.
Polaris tries to apprehend Cannonball, but she and Wolfsbane have been burying the hatchet, and she lets Cannonball go at Wolfsbane's request.
I suppose Sam is still convinced that Rahne is brainwashed by the government. You could chalk that up to the paranoia inherent in working in an underground resistance organization, but Rahne is admittedly out of sorts due to the fact that the Genoshans turned her into a mutate. Plus there's her crush on Havok.
Also in this issue, the final corporeal appearance of Vic Chalker.
So there's a lot going on, all of it fun and/or interesting.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): showCannonball, Dr. Tucker, Forearm, Hairbag, Havok, Madrox the Multiple Man, Polaris, Quicksilver, Reaper, Slab, Strobe, Strong Guy, Stryfe, Tempo, Thumbellina, Valerie Cooper, Vic Chalker, Vicky Wang, Wildside, Wolfsbane, Zero
This is a weird thing to say, but - Havok remembering seeing Mr. Sinister die reminded me that at the time of Inferno, Havok was with the X-Men and Cyclops was on X-Factor. Since then they switched teams. Is there ever a point where they're on the same team?
Posted by: clyde | February 16, 2016 2:05 PM
I'm pretty sure they were on the same team for at least some of the time between Havok's introduction and Giant Size X-Men 1. Also in X-Men the Hidden Years. It's possible that that period was the only time, though.
Posted by: Stevie G | February 16, 2016 7:29 PM
LOL! I forgot how genuinely hysterical PAD's X-Factor was, as well as how he also made a genuine effort to offer nuanced debate on controversial topics.
It was a genuine shame that his storylines kept getting interrupted for crossovers (there was one issue of X-Factor during "X-Cutioner's Song" that ended up having NONE of the regular cast in it, which was infuriating) so much so that he finally left the series. As soon as PAD was gone my interest in X-Factor plummeted, and I dropped it from my pull list maybe two months later. I don't think the series ever recovered from his departure.
At least years later PAD finally had the opportunity to return to the characters, and to put together a long run.
Posted by: Ben Herman | February 16, 2016 8:00 PM
Fnord, as we'll find out later, Sam was right- Rahne had been brainwashed by the Genoshans into being Alex's love-slave. The dumb thing is this- Lorna objects to Sam taking Rahne with him in part because X-Force are outlaws, okay, but she also objects because Rahne doesn't want to go. But here's the dumb part- the only reason Rahne doesn't want to go is because she's brainwashed. Sam was just taking her so he could de-brainwash her and let her go. Saying that it's Rahne's decision not to get de-brainwashed is ridiculous. And Lorna doesn't offer to de-brainwash Rahne herself. Nobody seems to question whether Rahne should be on the team if she's not in her right mind. Rather dumbly, nobody on X-Factor seems to consider that Rahne's obsessive crush on Alex is due to her brainwashing. They finally realize it in the late 80s and start looking for a cure for Rahne. So all Lorna did was to delay the search for a cure for Rahne by months. I'm not sure what PAD's point was- Lorna's an idiot?
Posted by: Michael | February 16, 2016 10:07 PM
Gender-selective abortions are becoming more popular all over the planet. The gender being aborted are always female, but people who support abortions are fine with fewer females being born. Problems with an overabundance of males in society don't worry them. Kudos to Peter David for introducing the question of whether or not women should give birth to mutants or have an abortion.
Posted by: ChrisW | February 17, 2016 1:11 AM
Notice that both the pregnant couple and the doctor who has developed the cure are black. Abortion kills more blacks than even black-on-black violence. I'm not joking when I say kudos to Peter David for making a morally-complex comic book. There's lots of places to disagree without dehumanizing people who think differently. Unless you're a blork.
Posted by: ChrisW | February 17, 2016 1:14 AM
Testing specifically for Down syndrome has been in the news again lately here in the Netherlands. The government is considering greenlighting the so called NIPT test into full access for all pregnant women, where now it is only accessible in restricted form.
Posted by: Mormel | February 17, 2016 3:46 AM
I'm kind of regretting what I posted above, in case it looks like I'm trying to push people's buttons. It might have been Larry Stroman's decision to make parents and doctor black in the first place. My compliment to PAD's willingness to write morally-challenging comics notwithstanding - I love the problems he's giving Rhane in this series - I might be reading too much into things.
Posted by: ChrisW | February 17, 2016 6:05 PM
I think I'm on safer ground saying that the Mutant Liberation Front gets more characterization in this series than almost any other characters created by Rob Liefeld.
Also, I like Larry Stroman's art. It can be difficult to get through, and I'm not sure he was right for this book, but even looking at these pages, there's a sense of 'quality' which we aren't getting from the other X-books (or, increasingly, Marvel in general) at the time. I think it's his overall design sense. It doesn't work for a superhero book, it doesn't work for Marvel superheroes, and the comics field had not created a niche where his particular style would work. PAD tried here, and I quite like Stroman's attempt. It's just not successful overall.
Posted by: ChrisW | February 18, 2016 1:55 AM
By the way, quick question: Was it ever explained what X-Force was suppose to have done that warranted "questioning?" As detailed on the X-Force reviews, despite all the hyper-macho posturing, that team commited FEWER lawless actions that the X-Men proper. Just saying that Sam's status as an outlaw comes across as an informed attribute.
To be fair, Michael, I don't think Lorna or any other X-Factor member realizes thst Rahne is really brainwashed. Honestly I don't think Sam genuinely believes that either (After all, if you spend a day on an Internet forum, you'll be accused of being "brainwashed" too. They probably don't mean it literally) Right now, they all just think Rahne's acting "kinda weird" (I know I thought so when I first read this. Of course I didn't read X-tinction Agenda until after this issue cane out and only vaguely heard about it around this time.) Especially since "angry and bitter" characters were a big trend around this time, so it'd be hard to see this as anything more unusual than an attempt to "90s" Wolfsbane up.
Posted by: Jonathan | April 20, 2016 10:26 PM
X-Force's 'outlaw' status is really slippery, given the superhero genre's love of vigilantes and the ever-increasing body count. Proving in a court of law that Cable/Shatterstar/Feral/etc. killed anybody would be impossible. To prove they killed Masque, you'd have to prove Masque existed, determine his history, find his body, examine the underground X-Mansion where he died [if I remember correctly] and find some way to connect it to X-Force. All of which would be easier than convicting them for the dead MLF and invaders from Mojoworld.
They didn't sign the Mutant Registration Act, which puts them in the solid majority of active characters in mutant titles. But you're right, their 'outlaw' status makes no sense compared to the other teams (other than X-Factor, and maybe if you really squint, Excalibur.) It was basically an editorial wall to keep the characters apart and ready to fight whenever they teamed up. Nothing sensible about it.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 21, 2016 2:47 AM
I believe that while the X-Men were unofficially recognized by various government and military leaders (Val Cooper, Nick Fury, Col. Vahzin, etc.), X-Force was established as a group under the command of Cable, who had a reputation of outlaw (derived from its action with the six pack), and often above has been confused with Stryfe, who gave him the responsibility of many criminal acts (murder of Rictor father, for example).
Posted by: Midnighter | April 21, 2016 5:36 AM
By the way, this just a minor question, but why isn't this issue grouped with X-Factor 78, despite no real continuity breaks in between the issues (and despite it being a continuation of the plot here)?
Posted by: Jon Dubya | May 4, 2016 3:00 AM
I note in the considerations for X-Factor #78 that it takes place "the next day", and there isn't a direct continuation in the action, so i allowed a little space in-between.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 4, 2016 7:20 AM
By the way, Slab isn't mentioned in the "character appearing" section.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | September 21, 2016 12:34 AM
Added Slab. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 21, 2016 8:21 AM
I realise you need to take it literally for chronology purposes, Fnord, but I think Madrox's comment about Fallen Angels was meant to play mostly at a meta level - that PAD himself had now finished reading Fallen Angels, which he'd clearly been unaware of when he started his run, and the line is a bit of a mea culpa for launching into an examination of how Madrox's clones work without having read the only other significant Madrox storyline up to that point.
Posted by: Greg T | October 17, 2016 7:39 PM
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