“The End of X-Factor” continues to feel rushed yet be full of good ideas.
“The End of X-Factor” continues to feel rushed yet be full of good ideas.
Peter David’s X-Factor, like a lot of ensemble superhero books (particularly books relating to the X-Men franchise), is half insane sci-fi action storytelling and half soap opera. But very, very few writers can blend those two tones as well as David, or with as much humor and heart. Like any good soap opera, David’s book is filled with sex, rejection, betrayal, brain-washing, sex, kidnapping and dopplegangers. Unlike many soap operas, though, David occasionally took the time to stop and catch his breath, lest we forget that these are characters rather than interchangeable plot-driving devices.
Look, for example, at “Re-X-Aminations”, the thirteenth issue of his X-Factor relaunch. After two solid arcs introducing us to many of the core conflicts that would drive the series, X-Factor #13 steps back a bit and asks us this: how has this affected the characters and their relationships to one another? The answer, gleaned from a series of interviews with superheroic shrink Doc Samson, is illuminating.
Hello again, read/RANT fans! Cal here. I know updates have been few and far between around here, but now that I FINALLY have a) an internet connection (well… kind of) and b) the ability to purchase comics, I hope to start posting a little more regularly.
I’m still working on a way to revamp The Unread Canon, to move the focus away from ongoing story-arcs and towards a more coherent look at some ‘classic’ books, but for now, I hope you folks enjoyed my One Shot colums (from the number of readers I got on the Astro City and Animal Man issues, I’d imagine you did). I’m going to ease back in, and the first part of that will involve starting up my looks at standalone issues of comics, some great, some merely okay, once again.
This, hopefully, is what my schedule will look like for One Shot this year…
6/12/11 – The Unwritten #5, “How the Whale Became”
7/10/11 – All-Star Superman #10, “Neverending”
8/14/11 – X-Factor #13, “Re-X-Aminations”
9/11/11 – Ex Machina #40, “Ruthless”
10/09/11 – Tales of the Slayers, “Righteous”
11/13/11 – Daytripper #8, “47”
As ever, any suggestions for future issues are more than welcome, and hopefully I’ll get more writing coming up soon!
I apologize that life has pulled so many of us away from the site, particularly given how exciting things have gotten with DC’s recent announcement – more on that later.
Glad to be back!
- Cal Cleary
Coming out of retirement because this shit just blew my mind. What is the origin of Layla Miller’s power?
Of course! Her future self came back in time to blast her with all her future memories!! DUH!! That explains everything!!
…but wait, that’s not all.
So, my new books came in yesterday and I’ve already started digging in… but wait! I still got some reviews to do. Well, I got some books to bash, actually. This, from now on, is what we will call “The Give-Away-Pile!”:
Dream War #6
Foolkiller: White Angels #3
I Kill Giants #3
Moon Knight #22
Stormwatch: Post Earth Division #14
X-Men: Legacy #216
Most of these books weren’t horrible, like Zero-G or Powers, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t all boring. Some of them were super-boring.
• Memo to 1985: go back to being good! Oh, too late. Only one issue left.
• Okay, Air—you’re done! No more Air for me.
• That goes for all things Foolkiller and anything written by that writer as well (his name escapes me at the moment and it would seem poor form to Google it just to bash him, yes?).
• I Kill Giants? YOU KILL MY BRAIN!
• Dream War made it so I never trust Wildstorm again. Speaking of…
• I’m dropping all my Wildstorm books (Stormwatch, Wildcats, Authority), which is super-sad because I really loved the story that set-up the new “World’s End” status quo. LAME.
• Somehow X-Factor is STILL holding on… why?!?
• So, issue 30 of Powers was the last issue of this volume? Thank you, Jesus! Now I have an excuse to drop this book!
• Moon Knight, we’re totally breaking up after this arc is over. You know this. I told you many times. Don’t cry. Stop crying!!!
• Which brings me to…
X-Men: Legacy #216 – I had planned to write a RANT/review about this comic, but time passed and most of my anger subsided and then the 3.0 patch was released and I disappeared into “The World” for a week and a half and I forgot all about it. Until now.
Why did I hate it so much? OMFG!!! How many times are the X-Men writers gonna go to the “This Is Your Life Charlie Brown” well?!?!?! SERIOUSLY!!! Stop all the mind-control memory lane bullshit!!! Tired! Tiring! Sick! Over!
Whew… better now. That’s it for last shipment’s books, look for the new reviews to be posted soon. Okay, gotta write up an awesomely wordy review of the latest Captain America and head over to the DCBS site to adjust my order—I gotta cut all these shitty books!
…oh, hey. I didn’t see you there. How’s it going? Enjoying your Marvel Evolution previews?
In a little over a month the latest Vs. System expansion, Marvel Evolution, will be hitting stores. YAY! It’s been kind of a long wait, hasn’t it? Sorry about that. But! The unbearable wait is over, and like last time (and the time before that, and that, and…) a new set brings new preview articles. This time, almost all exclusively written by you, the fans!
TBS Is The Master Of Good Ideas!
Billy: “Hey, great idea extending the blog preview action from MUN.”
TBS: “I mean, evil genius?”
Billy: “If you say so.”
Andrew: “Why are you talking to TBS and not logged into the World?”
Billy: “Crap, let’s go pwn some noobs!”
TBS: “WoW has stolen your soul, Billy Zonos.”*
As If I Needed To Tell You!**
Here’s a quick list of the X-Factor cards previewed so far:
• Cyclops, Mutant Messiah – Look for this version name to repeat four more times throughout Marvel Evolution. It was kind of a theme.
• Concussive Force – The image for this card changed more than four times. Also, it’s a very powerful card… as many of you have pointed out.
• Jamie Madrox, Multiple Man, Jamie Prime – This image, to me, cuts down to the core of Jamie Madrox’s personality. Love it. Also, TBS did a fine job figuring out all that messy identity crap. Kudos.
• Re-Absorption – UGH, we hated the art for this for the longest time and always meant to find something better, but then I never did and at the time of the deadline we’d kind of gotten used to it.
• Cyclops, Man of Action – I wrote that version months before Fraction and Brubaker started referring to Cyclops as a “Man of Action” in their X-Men interviews. I mean, great minds think alike. :)
• Polaris, Back in the Fold – This card makes me so happy… for obvious reasons.
• Multiple Man, Hydra, Army – Admittedly, his connection to Hydra is pretty suspect, but hey, it was an opportunity for subtle Crime Lords legacy and TBS loved it.
• Multiplicity – That movie was so lame. Sorry for referencing it.
• Strong Guy, Guido Carosella – I misspelled this guy’s name the most. I always wrote “Casserole” first.
• Iceman, Jack Frost – “Catch a cold.” Get it! Wait ‘til you see his other flavor text.
• First Class – the art for this became “available” at the last minute, and by that I mean, the latest Marvel Previews supplement came out days before the art deadline.
• Fearless Leader – the flavor here is extra cheese, but he actually says stuff like this!
• One Man Army – I regret not naming this card “One Man Gang” or “O.M.G.”
• Jean Grey, Jean Grey-Summers – You know, I KNOW this is Ethan and not Phil and yet somehow that fact slipped by me.
• Cyclops, Astonishing X-Man – for the longest time, this was not the art for this card. Thankfully, I pulled my head out of my butt and fixed it. One of my favorite cards.
What To Expect From The “X”
In my mind, there are three unique versions of the X-Factor team, and as I was the one in charge of sorting out the team lists, you can expect to see all three versions of X-Factor represented in Marvel Evolutions. Do you require more detail? Sure.
• You’ll see at least two of each of the members of the original group: Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Beast and Angel. However, the character art on the cards may not match exactly the look and feel of this incarnation.
Unfortunately, that is just one of the many harsh realities of using recycled art. Marvel allows us access to thousands of high quality images in their online database, but since said database is relatively new most of these images were uploaded from recently published comics. I mean, X-Factor was first published in the 80’s, folks, and the archivers just haven’t gotten around to scanning them in yet. Of course, we also have access to my rather large collection to pull images from, and we surely did, but scanning these comics myself came with its own set of unique problems. For one, no matter how killer my scanner is, using printed comic pages from the 80’s (or older) as source material is rough. Basically, when scanned, the pages look like crap… and retouching images is NOT my forte. But enough already, I’m sure I’ll find time to speak on this more at a later date when I get all my excuses in order.
• The second incarnation, the government sponsored team, will also be present: Valerie Cooper, Forge, Multiple Man, Havok, Polaris, Quicksilver, Strong Guy, Mystique, Sabretooth, etc… this is probably the least represented version of the team since finding art for them proved the most difficult. Believe me when I say I tried really, really hard. Obsessively hard.
• The third, and most current incarnation, that being “X-Factor Investigations”, will OF COURSE be featured prominently. I mean, we know who butters out bread, if you know what I mean: Multiple Man, Strong Guy, Siryn, Wolfsbane, Rictor, Layla Miller, and M.
…and then a couple of odds and ends characters to satisfy those continuity minded fanatics.
As far as the X-Men dual affiliation goes, we used it pretty liberally, but only because most of the above character were in fact, at one time or another, card carrying members of the X-Men. But, that doesn’t mean we gave it to every single member of X-Factor. That would be lame. So, all the original members of X-Factor are dual-affiliated with the X-Men, but characters like Layla Miller and Valerie Cooper are not. And then there are some characters (Polaris, Caliban) who some of you will undoubtedly point out did not receive said most deserved dual-affiliating (that was an attempt to confuse with odd sentence structure). Well, that’s because for variety’s sake we decided to dual them with another team, and Hump was adamant about not breaking the “only two printed affiliations per character” rule. Sorry!
Okay, beside roster infos, what else can I spoil? Card names (and one piece of flavor) that I love and hope you love too!
• Fall’s Edge
• Cracking The Case
• Optic Blast
• The “X” Factor
• Vocal Minority
• “Please. This demeans us both.”***
Spoiling Art, It’s What I Do!
And now, I give you the art for one of the cards that will undoubtedly become very annoying in drafts (if you can get him):
“He lost a finger on each hand. I’m sure that’d make anyone crazy.”
TBS: “I liked these better when they were on the main site.”
Billy: “Why? I’m my own editor here!”
1. Astonishing X-Men Vol. 1: Gifted
2. Astonishing X-Men Vol. 2: Dangerous
3. Astonishing X-Men Vol. 3: Torn
4. Astonishing X-Men Vol. 4: Unstoppable
5. X-Factor Vol. 1: The Longest Night
6. X-Factor Vol. 2: Life and Death Matters
7. X-Factor Vol. 3: Many Lives of Madrox
8. X-Factor Vol. 4: Heart of Ice
9. X-Factor: Madrox – Multiple Choice
10. X-Men: Endangered Species
11. X-Men: Messiah Complex
Also, feel free to hit up the Wiki page, a great place to start.
That’s it for this week’s installment. If you have anyone questions, feel free to post them here in the comments section. The way my e-mail is setup nowadays it’s much easier for me to find (and reply to) your questions and comments about Vs. here. So yes, Ken Williams, if you wish to bitch at me, you’re gonna have to read and (OMG!) comment on a (THE HUMANITY!!!) blog.
*Yes, TBS often refers to me as “Billy Zonos”. Weirdo.
**I guess it’s tradition at this point to use these articles to redirect to previews, so why stop now? Also, special thanks to Captain Spud for maintaining this thread. It makes writing these up much easier.
***A phrase that has, after writing it, entered my everyday bag of tricks. Heh. It’s perfect for any occasion!
The New Avengers #44 (****1/2): This was the much needed issue to explain how the Skrulls did what they did. But here’s the thing, I think it makes the Skrulls look too smart. Like, these guys got cloning down to a perfected science? Shapeshifters, genetic manipulators, interstellar space travel? Dude, how the hell can Earth win? They can’t. They really can’t. So now, after reading this issue, if Secret Invasion ends in any way that isn’t total victory for the Skrulls then it’ll just ring false to me.
The Mighty Avengers #17 (***1/2): This was an okay issue, but in no way a must-read. Hank Pym is hard to mimic… who cares? Unless… unless this means that the Skrull Pym over in the main title plans to betray his people. Interesting…
Avengers: The Initiative #16 (*****): OMG! This book was sweet! The Skrull Kill Krew was never this awesome! The art! The dialogue! This book was just too much fun! Can you guys imagine an event book written by Dan Slott? Poor Robert Kirkman, now I understand his bitterness. Marvel replaced him with Slott!
Black Panther #40 (*****): You know what this arc reminds me of? It reminds me of the very first arc of the series; the arc that made me love the Black Panther. It’s as if Aaron went back and read those first six issues, and nothing else, and then sat down and wrote this wonderful tie-in. It’s sad that it’s taken 30 odd issues to get the Panther title back to this level of good.
Captain Britain and MI13 #4 (*****): Finally got a copy… wow, this was good. Should I be watching Dr. Who? Also, I’m glad I read the Wisdom trade before picking up this series. Continuity is great when it works!
Guardians of the Galaxy #4 (*****): It took four issues, but they got me. I’m hooked. Something about the character dynamics this issue makes me feel like this is a book worth reading.
The Incredible Hercules #120 (*****): Herc rises to the occasion and beats up a god. Not much more to say than that. Also, it was brilliant!
Nova #16 (****): Indeed, this was one of the better issues of Nova, and I like how it tie-ins with Secret Invasion, but what bugs me is how horribly it seems to sync up with…
She-Hulk #32 (****): … so I guess Nova gets away then? As for She-Hulk, I’m still enjoying the new artist but as for the story, I’m kind of wishing this Skrull Pope guy would just go away. He’s annoying. And unnecessary.
Secret Invasion: The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (***): Meh, why did this even need to get published? And the title is total lies. It’s a story about Jackpot (jack-who?), not a story about Spider-Man. Waste.
Thunderbolts #123 (*****): Christos Gage, you are a master.
X-Factor #34 (*): Larry Stroman, you are not.