Issue(s): X-Factor #82, X-Factor #83
Larry Stroman is gone and we don't have a regular penciler on this series. And that hurts a bit. Even though Stroman has issues, his abstract style was deliberate, and whether or not you liked it was a matter of preference. With the fill-in artists here, the art just looks like, well, fill-in art. Rurik Tyler seems be trying to mimic Stroman to a degree, similar to how he mimicked elements of Greg Capullo's style when he filled-in on Quasar. And the fact that he can do that and that i can notice that he's doing it indicates a degree of versatility, which is admirable. But, as with the Quasar issues, his mimicry doesn't quite hit the mark. His lines are too solid, so he loses the amorphous quality that Stroman had, while still putting people in Stroman-like poses. The art just generally comes across looking too stiff. It's worth remembering that Tyler is doing a fill-in here, probably under deadline pressure. So i don't mean my observations as a criticism of him. Mark Pacella, on the other hand, is like the quintessential 90s Marvel artist (and i mean that in the worst way possible), and the only positive thing i'll say about it is that he's dialing back his most Liefeldian tendencies here, but the art is still cringeworthy.
Despite all this, Peter David is able to plow through with a strong story. There are limits to what he can accomplish through sheer willpower though. Peter David is setting up an interesting long term plot with a group of mutants seeking asylum from Genosha, but the long term plans crash into X-Cutioner's Song after these issues, and basically get lost.
The arc starts with Sauron pulling himself out of the water where the X-Patriots are being held. Sauron is weak from his recent battle with X-Force. He hears about the X-Patriots, initially thinking they are talking about him.
But when he realizes that they're not referring to him, he leaves to alert his compatriots in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants about these potential new allies.
Meanwhile, Val Cooper is chewing out Madrox for not following orders in the previous arc (he and Quicksilver were sent to capture Rhapsody, but instead they tried to prove that she was innocent, and in the end it turned out that she wasn't). But Havok comes in and stops Val. Note one of the most implausible uses of unstable molecules we've ever seen as Madrox merges with one of his duplicates (which is jokingly acknowledged as being impossible in the script a little later).
By the way, Marvel had just gotten the license to do Ren & Stimpy comics, and there are a lot of little appearances like that of the characters in various books.
Havok's point is that he is the leader of X-Factor. Val is their liaison with the government. But that doesn't mean she gets to boss the team members around individually. She has to go through him. Havok doesn't want to be treated as a hired hand. It's a good discussion, and a nice way to distinguish this group from their precursor, Freedom Force, where the majority of the team had to be subservient to the government because they were on the team in lieu of jail time.
Polaris then gets home from the hospital, and Wolfsbane's "whatever makes Havok happy" attitude is definitely creepy at this point.
Meanwhile, Strong Guy is waiting around outside the courtroom where Shrew is testifying (again, after last issue's arc). Shrew's testimony is said to be "unshakeable", and it will help "nail" the drug cartel that she was testifying against. There was concern that Cyber might show up again during the trial, but that didn't happen. When Shrew is leaving, she gives Strong Guy a kiss on the cheek, and gets his last name (Carosella), and that might have signaled Peter David's intent to start an ongoing relationship between them, but this is Shrew's last appearance.
The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants then attack the soldiers guarding the X-Patriots. Some good lines from Peter David justifying the name Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Of course, coming from this particular incarnation of the Brotherhood, it's less credible.
Quicksilver shows up, and if it wasn't for Phantazia's power-scrambling ability, i feel like he could have given the Brotherhood a challenge all by himself.
As it is, he was just the point person.
Havok blasts Phantazia, taking her out of the fight.
Another turning point is when Wolfsbane hears Sauron says that he's killed Cannonball (unaware that he came back as a
Meanwhile, Blob's immovability is negated by taking out the dock he's standing on.
When the fight is over, the X-Patriots come out. They've already been told that the government in Genosha has been forced to stop exploiting mutants, but they haven't believed it. But Havok was there, and he tells them the same thing, and then promises to go back to Genosha with them to help them confirm it.
The way issue #82 ends, it seems like there's no doubt that they're going to Genosha. And note that the next issue blurb also mentions X-Force. But in issue #83 they don't actually go to Genosha, and X-Force does not appear. Possibly things were already getting changed around due to the X-Cutioner's Song crossover. That said, issue #83 is a really good story, and it would be pretty incredible if Peter David were to be able to whip it together at the last minute after having his previous plans changed. So maybe it was the plan all along (maybe X-Force was just supposed to show up as a prelude to X-Cutioner's Song, and that's all that got changed/dropped).
In any event, issue #83 opens with the team still at the docks with the X-Patriots, who are upset with the gathered reporters and not happy with the "X-Patriot" name.
The arrival of two more Genoshans, one of them the son of the Genoshan Genegineer, does not improve their attitude.
The X-Patriot named Lukas has the ability to create illusions, and he attacks Phillip Moreau with an image of Cameron Hodge. Some members of X-Factor and some of the other X-Patriots try to stop him.
Meanwhile, Val Cooper is telling Havok that they can't go to Genosha. The conversation really plays on the idea of mutants as minorities, with the "you can never understand" type of conversation.
That debate is interrupted by the "Cameron Hodge" attack.
Meanwhile, Wolfsbane is exploring the X-Patriot's ship, and finds Genoshan mutates among the exiles.
She is surprised by an image of Sauron, but it turns out to be a "coldfire" sculpture created by a mutate named Taylor.
Taylor is Scottish, but he's also a Genoshan mutate, so i guess that's an indication that they kidnapped mutants from other countries.
After the Hodge situation is settled, Madrox gets the idea to give the X-Patriots a tour of New York. Val disagrees with that, noting that they are in the country illegally, but Havok insists, saying that he'll resign and that his team will probably follow him. So she is forced to agree.
What follows are a bunch of nice scenes of X-Factor splitting up and taking the X-Patriots around New York. In the course of that, we also see that Madrox is still hurt over the Rhapsody situation.
There's a scene with Quicksilver that seems really great, showing that he has the ability to handle anti-mutant situations diplomatically.
But that's not really in character for Quicksilver, and indeed it later turns out that he's not being as nice as it seems.
Meanwhile, Havok and Polaris take Prodigal to the Statue of Libery, and Strong Guy takes the X-Patriot named Pirouette, who has spinning powers, out dancing. But things go bad with Wolfsbane and Taylor. Wolfsbane has taken Taylor to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Havok and Polaris had Madrox send a duplicate with them to keep an eye on Wolfsbane, since she's been seemingly unstable. And Wolfsbane is upset about that, and gets into an argument with Madrox, and they both don't notice Taylor leaving the museum and getting attacked by an anti-mutant mob in Central Park.
Also in this issue, Rick Chalker, brother to the comedy character Vic Chalker, has devised his own tech power suit. But, in what seems like a parody of characters like Razorfist, he accidentally kills himself by slapping himself in the forehead after realizing that he's trapped himself in a room thanks to his blade hands.
The Chalker stuff has always felt a bit more like Steve Gerber-ish random weirdness. It's funny, but it interrupts the more serious stuff that is going on. Peter David uses a lot of humor in the book; the humor normally provides balance to the more serious topics and just feels like characters reacting according to their own attitudes, but it does occasionally diverge into zanineess. But this Chalker scene is funny in isolation, especially if you are familiar with Marvel's weapons-for-hands characters. And regardless of that scene, these issues are really strong overall. A very credible use of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, a nice use of the mutant metaphor with the X-Patriots, and some very nice character moments during the tour of New York. The fact that David is accomplishing all of this in the face of both artistic and editorial challenges is all the more noteworthy.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: At the start of issue #82, Val Cooper is chewing out Madrox for his decisions regarding Rhapsody from last issue, but i don't take that to mean that this immediately follows the previous arc. The soldiers guarding the X-Patriots at the start of this issue are bored and have clearly been doing it for a while now. And enough time has passed for the trial that Shrew was testifying at to conclude.
The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants explicitly appear here after their appearance in X-Force #6-10, and (if you accept that there's a typo in a footnote) they explicitly appear in the crossover between Darkhawk #19-20 and Sleepwalker #17 after this. Cable's face is damaged during X-Force #6-10, so his appearance with an undamaged face in Captain America #402-408 must take place prior to that. And Captain America #408 takes place during or just prior to Infinity War #1. Meanwhile, Sleepwalker #17 ends with a scene that leads into Sleepwalker #18, which is a tie-in with Infinity War #5. There is potentially a gap before the end scene in Sleepwalker #17, but even taking that into account, Sleepwalker #17 has to take place sometime during Infinity War, due to the appearance of the Brotherhood. And therefore this story also must take place during Infinity War, after Captain America #402-408, after X-Force #6-11, but before Darkhawk #19. X-Force are shown dumping Sauron's body with the Morlocks in X-Force #11, so that must take place before he resurfaces in this issue.
This story ends with Wolfsbane examining Taylor, but next issue is part two of X-Cutioner's Song. We'll see in part one of X-Cutioner's Song that X-Factor are "still" in New York because of the X-Patriots, but see the Considerations on Uncanny X-Men #294 regarding that.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): showBlob, Havok, Jennifer Ransome, Lukas (X-Patriot), Madrox the Multiple Man, Number One Fan (Rick Chalker), Phantazia, Phillip Moreau, Pirouette, Polaris, Prodigal, Pyro, Quicksilver, Sauron, Shrew, Strong Guy, Taylor (X-Patriot), Toad, Valerie Cooper, Wolfsbane
The doorknob on the Danger Room falling off was in issue 78. Does that count as a reference?
Posted by: Michael | March 28, 2016 10:23 PM
I had made a note in the entry for issue #78, but i guess it qualifies as a reference and i've added it here.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 29, 2016 9:44 AM
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