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The ’90s Revisited: X-Factor #109

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xfactor109The Waking

Plot: John Francis Moore
Script: Todd Dezago
Pencils: Jan Duursema
Inks: Al Milgrom
Lettering: Starkings/Comicraft
Colors: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: December 1994
Cover Price: $1.95

While this issue’s cover proclaims itself the start of Legion Quest, it’s still more of a prologue/lead-in than an official chapter…at least in my reading of it. The issue seems to be happening pretty much alongside Uncanny X-Men #319, though its labeling marks an official starting point from back in an age where stories were not “written for the trade” and neatly grouped in 4, 5, or 6 issue arcs with the eye on the collected volume.

The issue opens with Mystique in a hospital room being confronted by a couple members of X-Factor, where David Haller (Legion) has just awoken from a lengthy coma (I believe he’d been in the coma since the final pre-“adjectiveless” X-Men #1 launch). She’s there to kill him for (apparently) having killed Destiny, and X-Factor is there to stop her from murdering the boy. Finding herself outmatched, she makes to escape, vowing to return; and X-Factor pursues. The situation doesn’t go well, and eventually we’re left with Legion leaving the hospital and passing a message from Destiny (or *a* Destiny in his head) to Mystique. Legion then zaps X-Factor away, and leaves, talking about making things better.

The art’s a bit iffy for me–not bad, but there were parts (especially panels of Legion himself) that just look weird and exaggerated to me. Overall, no huge issue with the art, but it did distract me at a couple points, taking me out of the story.

The story itself isn’t entirely helpful–to me, it’s a “slice of life” sort of thing, with no “previously” page and not a LOT of context on stuff. At the same time…it’s not really needed…especially not for MY purposes here of reading the issue. This read-through is specifically for the issue being part of the Legion Quest stuff, and not for any specific story otherwise going on in the pages of X-Factor. But there’s plenty to give some context–Legion having killed Destiny, she and Mystique had History together, Forge was there when Destiny was killed, he and Mystique have some recent history, etc.

I really like that there’s some dialogue from Legion that I believe lines up with dialogue in Uncanny X-Men #319…this is the height of what I love about continuity in comics. In that issue, we see Xavier’s side as he dreams he’s interacting with Legion, and here we see Legion’s side, through the eyes of those around him at the time. This does not seem like anything that would truly fly in contemporary comics, from separate series not necessarily intended for collection in the same volume.

I also like that there’s lead-in to a story and it’s not just some sudden last-page reveal or epilogue sequence to something: we have at LEAST UXM 319 and this issue showing characters going about their business, the story unfolding in general but we get to key in on the specific “event” of Legion’s awakening and talking about changing the world for the better…which the main Legion Quest story itself is focused on as he actually executes his intentions.

The cover is a BIT misleading, showing a gleeful Legion standing over the unconscious (?) bodies of Mystique and X-Factor. But it fits the issue as we DO have Legion vs. Mystique and Legion vs. X-Factor, and Legion emerges victorious in both conflicts. Combined with the proclamation of Legion Quest beginning here, it’s a rather key image suggesting (among other things) that Legion’s taken out X-Factor before the X-Men even become involved…upping the threat-factor for the start of the main story itself.

Despite that, this issue is hardly essential to the core of that story, as I remember (not yet having read/re-read it recently). But this gives some good context, and alongside UXM 319 pads thing out pleasantly prior to jumping into the heart of the main story itself.

While not quite as enjoyable as last week’s UXM issue, I liked revisiting the X-Factor of this era, and getting a renewed sense of where things were at the time. Of course, even moreso I’m all the more eager to get into Legion Quest itself, and one of my all-time favorite single issues of a comic, as well as my all-time favorite X-Men story!

The ’00s Revisited: Captain Marvel #17

captainmarvel017Cheating Death

Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Jim Starlin
Inks: Al Milgrom
Colors: Steve Oliff
Letters: RS/Comicraft’s Wes Abbot
Assistant Editor: Marc Sumerak
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: 2.50
Cover Date: May, 2001

This issue grabbed my attention because of Thanos on the cover. Besides Thanos himself, there’s just something to the cover’s colors that I really dig…it’s so colorful without being gaudy or even all that bright…it’s just really nicely drawn and colored; the generic background sets Thanos, Thor, and Genis off quite well; and the coloring of the logo and such even fit nicely…though I might’ve gone with more of a gold for Captain Marvel to better match Thanos’s gold coloring.

This was another quarter-bin discovery, at least this copy of the actual issue–I’d bought and read it as a new issue back in 2001, and still have that copy…somewhere. So I do vaguely recall some context, both prior and subsequent to this issue, once I got to reading. But even sticking solely to this one issue by itself, I rather enjoyed the Thor/Thanos bickering, and even the dynamic with Rick and Genis and having to be aware of the environments they’re in when the swap places. And of course, the now-iconic “Klang” that I’ve come to appreciate in context of Quantum & Woody from Valiant.

We find Thanos recruiting Thor for some part of a larger plan…of course, Thor is not at all a happy camper, given his recent tussles with Thanos. But he’s convinced of his necessity in things, and goes along grudgingly. Meanwhile, Marlo (Rick’s wife) is being haunted by the ghost of…a friend, or coworker, I don’t recall exactly, she’s just here (the details were in earlier issues of this run). Rick finds himself in a bit of trouble, as the entity that has Thanos recruiting Thor to begin with makes his appearance, and the “big guns” duke it out.

Visually, I very much enjoyed the interior art. Starlin has–for me–defined these characters to the extent that just seeing his name on the cover would have drawn me in. As far as I’m concerned, “Marvel cosmic” doesn’t get much better than sharing involvement from Starlin.

Story-wise, David always did have a great feel for the characters he involved in this series, making them his own, and giving them quite a memorable voice. There are elements from this series that settled into the core of my thinking about comics, and this take on Captain Marvel remains my absolute favorite.

This issue reminds me of how much I’d enjoyed this run on the series, and has me remembering rather fondly other issues, and a bit of a rekindled interest in re-reading the entire run…and certainly wishing Marvel would put out an omnibus collecting this entire first run of PAD‘s Captain Marvel.

Fatal Attractions Revisited: X-Factor #92

xfactor092The Man Who Wasn’t There

Co-Plotter: Scott Lobdell
Penciler/Co-Plotter: Joe Quesada
Script: J.M. DeMatteis
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Starkings
Background Assist: Cliff Van Meter
Colorist: Oliver
Assistant Editor: Jaye Gardner
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Dated: July, 1993

This issue kicks off the Fatal Attractions story/crossover/event, and carries the cover title “Out of the Light and into thy father’s shadow,” which is an apt declaration of the interior.

After an attack on a bunch of humans in hospice, X-Factor is investigating the slaughter. Though they lose the last survivor from the attack, the team has a prisoner–one of the Acolytes–who doesn’t seem inclined to give them any information until Quicksilver shows up. As the Acolytes worship Magneto, they place great importance on The Son, which allows some answers to be coaxed from the captured Spoor. Despite orders to remain behind, the rest of the team follows Quicksilver and government liaison Valerie Cooper, and what they find at an apparently quiet military base shocks the team and creating a rift between them and Cooper. Lead Acolyte Fabian Cortez does the usual villain thing of spouting off about his plan to Quicksilver, and is angered when his offer to install the Son of Magneto as leader of the Acoyltes is rejected. After X-Factor’s battle with the Acolytes ends, the team is left to deal with Cooper, who has had a revelation of her own explaining her recent actions and attitude.

I know I read this issue when it first came out 19-some years ago, but this time through much of the issue read as “new” to me. I remembered the Acolytes’ attack on the hospital, and the woman crying at the end, but the in-between stuff hadn’t stuck, nor did I have any great grasp on who all these characters were or their context.

It’s quite interesting looking back from 20 years later, knowing where certain characters wind up, and knowing in general what I do today about them that I did not know then. For one thing, I feel like I truly appreciate the enormity of this story now, where back then it was just an extra-length issue with a sturdy cover, fancy “hologram,” and a nearly triple-sized price tag ($3.50, but I think an issue like this published today would–knowing Marvel–be at least $7.99 if not $9.99).

Story-wise, I’m not entirely impressed–though this issue seems to set stuff in motion for the rest of the Fatal Attractions series, there’s something to it that just doesn’t feel like it “matters” as much–perhaps because this is just kicking stuff off, and so the nature of the crossover isn’t yet apparent by this issue’s conclusion, so it winds up feeling like more of a prologue or tangential piece of things. While the Acolytes are present here and their slaughter of the humans will have other consequences later in the arc, this issue is very much an X-Factor issue, and seems very much like the “random” issue plucked from continuity and read out of context. Knowing what I do now about Quicksilver’s relationship with Magneto, this issue holds more meaning for me–all the familial relationships of Marvel characters were still mostly abstract to me in 1993.

I definitely like the art for the issue, and in the first few pages I found myself thinking there was something familiar about it–and had a momentary “ah-ha!” when I saw the credits box and realized this was Quesada‘s work–I’d totally forgotten that he was the penciler on this series back then. I don’t recall being at all put off by the art back in ’93, and at present, find that it holds up well, as the characters are distinct, the action’s easy to follow, and I even actually like the very-90s character designs.

I’m most used to seeing the front half of this cover, so I’m that much more impressed opening the issue and looking at the whole of the image. The trade dress for this series is the darkened overlay on the right-hand side with the Fatal Attractions logo, cover blurb/title, and of course the hologram. This overlay takes up nearly half of the front cover and for me has always been the dominant factor. The hologram image itself is about the size of a trading card, and even now remains quite impressive to me–I recall noticing how “deep” the image was, and in the right light I can still stare at it for a bit, marveling at the detail and depth. (Even with contemporary 3-D films, I’m far more impressed by the depth of purported 3-D than I am stuff popping out at me).

All in all, a strong issue that I definitely like. Though I paid full price for a copy back in the day, I’ve since snagged this issue from 25-cent and 50-cent bins, though considering its cover price is still cheaper than a contemporary 20ish-paged single issue from Marvel today, it’s well worth its full price. Heck, the hologram alone is worth the 25/50 cents to $1 price if you come across it in a bargain bin. Though this is part of a larger story, it stands alone well enough.

xfactor092wraparound_large

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