X-Factor V1 # 40 - 50
XF # 40: Inferno Wrap Up and...Nanny? Really?
Writer - Louise Simonson
Pencils - Rob Leifeld
X-Factor are the only people to attend Maddie's funeral. X-Men are too busy pretending to be dead. This does lead to a few questions, such as didn't Scott ever ask to meet Maddie's parents? Or her friends?
The X-Factor Youngins are happy to be re-united with the core team. Scott and Jean are essentially operating as Nathan's parents now (They still call him Christopher, after Corsair). Leach is happiest to see Jean. I really liked this. You had seen her mothering him and it's cool that they are keeping that vibe alive. I will be looking to see if this continues and I hope it does.
Jean's parents are back alive and acting like typical grandparents.
Taki, Leach, and Artie are excited to go back to school together.
Nanny shows up, for whatever reason. I don't really care. I think they explain her origin in this issue. I don't care, she's the worst. They fight or something. Did I mention that I don't care?
Jean's niece and nephew are saved! Hooray, that's a plot point. Is Sara (Jean's sister) dead? I really don't know.
Two things of note here. First, Rusty is being furloughed. This means he won't be hauled into jail for the time being due to him helping to save New York. Second, X-Factor is taking all of the babies into their custody on behalf of the government. We'll see this plot point come back up in New Mutants.
XF # 41-42: Alchemy and some trolls
Writer - Louise Simonson
Pencils - Arthur Adams
Ok, I need to correct my earlier statement. Judgment War (XF 43 - 50) isn't awful, but these issues...awful. So a group of English trolls (yes, really) kidnap a young mutant named Alchemy and bring him to their lair under a bridge in London (yes, really). Alchemy is a mutant who can trasmute any material, specifically turning things to Gold. I did read that Alchemy is actually the result of a contest where a reader could design a mutant who would show up in a comic. That's kind of cool. I totally would have done this as a kid if I knew about it.
The trolls are actually featured on the CNN business channel as their master plan is to create more gold than the world economy (or just Britain, don't remember, don't care) can handle and then put them in control...or something. It's pretty bad.
Jean thinks it's a good idea to bring the baby around and he unsurprisingly almost gets smashed, but we see that baby Cable (Oh, come on, you knew that) can create his own telekinetic bubbles.
A few other things of note. The New Mutants are officially staying with X-Factor, officially merging them with the X-Cutioners (Rictor, Rusty, Skids, and Boom-Boom). But since New Mutants is the group with a running comic, we'll be following them primarily in their comics. Boom-Boom gets a crush on Sam and Rictor starts to show a crush on Boom-Boom.
XF # 43-50: Judgment War
Writer - Louise Simonson
Pencils - Paul Smith (43 - 47. 49 - 50), Kieron Dwyer (48)
Setting the scene
Ship is suddenly thrust into space, carrying the 5 members of X-Factor (plus the baby) off to a planet. At this point we don't know why Ship is being brought here against his/her/their will. Shortly after arriving, the team is teleported down to the surface, slammed right in the middle of a battle. This new planet is populated by a 100% mutant population (everyone has powers).
The different cultural groups
The most politically powerful faction on the planet consists of the Perfects. The Perfects are normal looking humans with powers that are grown in a lab and raised by robots to look and act perfect.
The most populous group are the Rejects, who are essentially mutants who appear deformed. This group is clearly more poor, but lives a more free life. It kind of reminds me of the group that lived in the Sewer in Demolition Man.
A sub group within the Perfects is the Dualers, who look normal, but have a second form (like Iceman, Hulk Human Torch, etc. )
The final group is the Beginagains who are a combination of Perfects and Rejects who do not wish to fight and would like to help the planet find peace.
Following the Team
Scott finds himself with the Beginagains. Man, there really isn't a whole to say about Scott. He spends his time (over 8 issues) learning about this group and eventually convinces some of them to join a rebellion.
Jean spends most of the time unconscious and held captive. When she is awake, she is clearly plagued by multiple personalities. Both the Phoenix and Maddie take turns taking over her body. At one point Jean (as Phoenix) tried to fly into space and was surprised she couldn't breath without oxygen. Then Jean (as Maddie) took over and tried to use this incident to kill the rest of the team. Jean struggles mightily without this for 11 issues, but at the end she conquers both personalities and dispels. I haven't read past this story, but it seems as though Jean will no longer be plagued by these personas, however she will be keeping all of their memories. This completes the retcon, leaving Jean officially resurrected, back with Scott, and containing the memories of everything happened as Phoenix (when we thought it was the real Jean).
Beast is with the Rejects, easily able to blend in with them (as a deformed "freak" himself). A lot of things happen, but really nothing happens. He eventually convinces them to join in on a rebellion.
Iceman spends his time with the Dualers, especially one lady who can turn herself into fire (like the Human Torch). He spends most of the event without his memories but eventually regains them and convinces them to join in on the rebellion. They also make out a bunch.
Archangel, by far, has the most compelling story. When they were originally dropped on the planet, Warren swooped in to save a Perfect woman (Seera) from being killed. This is a big deal as the Perfect typically never touch other humans (they re-produce using science) and Seera specifically is supposed to be the most Perfect and in line to rule. Warren is imprisoned and forced to fight in an Arena, at one point in a battle against Iceman. Seera falls for him and he helps her realize the error of her culture's ways.
Seera also discovers baby Nathan and secretly takes care of him, furthering her desire to change her culture's ways.
Ship spends most of the time floating in space, slowly learning it's backstory. It turns out that Ship is one of a fleet of AI vessels created by the Celestial's. Ship alone was captured by Apocalypse and forced to work for him. Ship is the only vessel to have become sentient, but it hopes to train others. This won't backfire...
The story's conclusion
An army of the Celestials come down to the planet's surface to "judge" them. It is widely believed that the Celestials will deem them unworthy to exist due to their continued warfare and discontent. The fear of the common enemy, X-Factor's slow manipulation of each faction, and Seera's heel turn pushes the population to come together against the Celestials. Seeing them work together, the Celestials agree to let them live. Hooray! I wonder if we'll ever see the inhabitants of this planet again.
My Connections and Creators
Remember how great the Inferno event was? Yea, me too. The rest of 1989? Not so hot. (See what I did there?) Somewhat at Marvel must have said "I have a great way to follow up Inferno. How about each of these titles find one specific story that is mostly boring, and expand it over far too many issues? Yea, that's the best way to follow up this awesome event.)
I'm not the only one thinks this X-Factor run is trash. You know who else agrees? Marvel. They didn't bother to upload any of these issues to Marvel Unlimited (except for #50 due to it being a bookend to Inferno. Marvel is basically acknowledging this isn't necessary reading. Due to the issues being bad and not being on Marvel Unlimited, I'm only going to give a summary and not bother adding any panels from the comics.
You know who else regrets this arc? Louise Simonson. Read what she had to say in Comic Creators on X-Men:
“I have to say that I think I made a mistake. I now think that you shouldn’t have major characters away from Earth for more than three issues max. I think that readers like to have that contact with the familiar.”
I think this is an excellent case of self reflection. People get tired of the same old thing, but they also tune in each week expecting something and if you flip the script for too long, it grows tiresome. This immediately makes me think of the 3rd season of Battlestar Gallactica when there was a time jump and everyone was living on a planet for years. It was still great TV, but I just started to feel uncomfortable after a while and severely missed the old dynamics.
To be fair, the stories themselves are awful. They are bad, but they are not unreadable. It's just that after all the characterization and important plot movement we got in Inferno, these issues are just a complete standstill. You probably could skip every issue and move on without realizing you missed anything. I also haven't read anything past #50 so I guess I'm not 100% certain of that fact. Let's dive in!
We have a short check in with Apocalypse at the end of this series. Loki had been impersonating a presidential candidate. We see a transformed Caliban for the first time who helps Apocalypse with Loki. This is mostly set up (I'm guessing) for a future storyline. the next 9 issues (51 - 59) also aren't on Marvel Unlimited so I'm really helping this shit gets better before the team gets shaken up in 1991.
My Rating - 1/10
Next week we'll check in with the New Mutants to learn of their new Status Quo. They come under X-Factor's wing (even though they are off planet), merge with the X-Cutioners, break with Magneto and soon...Cable!
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