facto

Okay, I finished this series a while ago, but was having blogger login issues.

Looks like Cyclops is about to eat it

X-Factor probably starts out worse than any other X-title I've read. It is also the first branching series to have no Claremont control upon inception. The initial idea behind the series is pretty simple, why don't we bring together the original team of X-Men? Well that's easy enough, we just have to bring Jean Grey back from the dead, get Cyclops to leave his wife and newborn baby, and get Angel, Beast, and Iceman away from the Defenders. Oh wait, the Defenders disbanded, never mind. Well Jean gets brought back to life in one of the worst retcons to date, and then Cyclops indeed leaves his wife and child to see if Jean truly is alive. Then they form up in the horribly thin-veiled scheme by a lawyer "friend" of Angel's to "hunt" mutants in order to save them from persecution, etc. How they don't understand that a mutant hunter organization will lead to worse treatment of mutants is just beyond stupifying.

Anyways, seven or so issues in, Bob Layton, the writer, gets ditched for Louise Simonson who gets to try and salvage the series after the damage is done. She does a competent job, but still suffers from an over abundance of woe-be-mes. You come to like the mutants that get saved and live in the X-Factor complex over the melodramatic team itself. This group is made up of Rusty Collins, Skids, Artie Maddicks, Leech, Boom Boom, Caliban, and Ship at different times. Artie and Leech specifically are a golden duo.

So, once the initial mutant hunter status quo gets broken down the series starts developing a strong enough growth to be consistently entertaining. The Angel to Archangel development proved to be very necessary. The Inferno storyline doesn't quite redeem the Madelyne Prior incident but you can kinda chalk it up to a bad initial writer whose problems they had to fix. The Celestials' ship which they use for a base is kinda hokey but entertaining. The degree of celebrity which the team garners is a good change from the normal X-Men status. Two of the three Apocalypse appearances are worthwhile affairs. And watching Cameron Hodge turn into a drooling demony cyborg with a strong case of the crazies makes for a villain that's fun to hate.

Stroman's art is actually much cleaner than it looks here

But when that team gets folded back into the X-Men team, I shed no tears. In fact I get kinda happy because it means X-Factor hits its brightest point. They bring in Peter David of Hulk writing fame to create the new X-Factor and what he does would sound like the weakest of the X-books, but is probably my favorite of the time. He takes the X-Men castoff Havok, the oft-possessed Polaris, the former bodyguard of a rock star, Guido (to be named Strong Guy), a New Mutants castoff Wolfsbane, a Muir Island assistant Multiple Man, and a B-class Avenger Quicksilver. I am sure when people heard this lineup they assumed Marvel wanted to sink this book, but Peter David used lesser known characters to have the freedom to create something new and unique. While X-Force was selling books of big guns and angsty teens (plus an old balding half cyborg), and X-Men was breaking sales records and the market, X-Factor took an almost Postmodern step back to have a little laugh at the super hero genre, but never at the sacrifice of the characters.

Behind the great art of Larry Stroman and Joe Quesada, Peter David gave each of these characters his own personal stamp. He even finally gave a justification to Quicksilver's utter disdain for pretty much everyone else. The X-aminations issue (terrible title, great comic) is one of my favorite mainstream comics I've ever read. It uses a fairly cheap gimick but to fabulous effect (the team talks to a shrink).

The most horrible villain ever, the Psychiatrist!
Thanfully that was not the tagline

Anyhow, Peter David is on the book for far too short, and eventually the book starts to switch over to a completely new team, with even lesser known characters. But without the strong characterizations and revalatory moments of Peter David this new team doesn't take off and eventually spells the doom for the series. Howard Mackie was in the process of creating a new status quo/team when the book got abruptly cancelled, unfortunately at the expense of a few plot threads. There was even a promo in another issue that X-Factor #150 would reveal the assassin in a rather important event in the X-books. Well the series ended at #149 and I have yet to see another book bring up the assassination in question. There are a few other plot threads that just got outright dropped with the series ending.

Right when Havok comes back they end the series...

Basically the series has a bright center that is way too short. It has some other moments in the original teams life, and slowly shakes off Peter David's great run on the other side.

It should be noted however, that this series immediately jumps into an offshoot series called Mutant X (absolutely nothing to do with the show of the same name), focused on Havok in an alternate universe. I haven't started it yet, but I look forward to it.

Issues of note:
#24-26: The Fall of the Mutants storyline, Archangel in action.
#36-39: Inferno storyline
#60-62: X-Tinction Agenda storyline
#65-68: Apocalypse: the "final" countdo...err showdown.
#69-70: Muir Island Saga, ends original team
#71-91: Peter David's run, with Larry Stroman and Joe Quesada manning most of the art
#87: X-aminations, see above
Jeff Matsuda's art later on in the series was enjoyable, unfortunately it was for a boring batch of characters.

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