Monday, September 22, 2014

Waiting for the Trade: X-Factor


Waiting for the Trade

X-Factor: Scar Tissue
By Peter David, art by Valentine DeLandro and Emanuela Lupacchino
Collects X-Factor 213-219
 

Why I Bought This: It guest stars the Black Cat who is perhaps my favorite Marvel character. It is also written by Peter David, who is one of the all-time great Spider-man writers and who wrote Felicia particularly well back in the day.
 

The Plot: The main arc is about an assassination attempt on J. Jonah Jameson. He hires both Black Cat and X-Factor for protection. There are also a few single issue character studies on some of the regular cast.
 
(spoilers below)


Chapter 1 – Some dude is gambling in Vegas and when he takes off his sunglasses people see death and freak out. Madrox later approaches this dude, whom we learn is Darwin (of X-Men First Class fame). Darwin apparently had to fight (Asgardian death goddess) Hela in a prior trade and thus evolved beyond death but now feels without a place in the world so he quits the team to go find himself. We then get a lot of personal drama with the team whose members are Siryn, Strong Guy, Pip the Troll, Longshot, Shatterstar, Rictor, Wolfsbane, Layla Miller, and some other chick whose real name is Monet. The big personal drama is Rictor learns he is not the father of Wolfsbane’s pregnancy. She lied because she’s catholic and wanted to save his soul from being gay. They part as friends and he goes back to Shatterstar.

Chapter 2 – Darwin is wandering around the desert when he comes across a chick being chased by a dragon. Darwin kills the dragon. He takes her to the nearest town which ends up being a ghost town out of the Wild West. All the residents are trapped in the town by a sheriff, who then blows a hole in Darwin when they meet. Even when his head gets blown off Darwin keeps coming. When sheriff dude sees Darwin’s eyes he stops fighting and explains this town is in a kind of timeless limbo waiting for the apocalypse. The sheriff throws down some foreshadowing about an impending Hell on Earth deal and gives Darwin three magic six-shooters. He calls for the High Noon shootout before he will let Darwin leave. Sheriff dude reveals he is Wolfsbane’s son and shoots Darwin dead. The town the fades back into Limbo. Darwin wakes up in the desert thinking it was a dream but he has one of the magic guns with him.

Chapter 3 – Some chick from Ethiopia hires Madrox and Layla to investigate her father’s death as she believes he was murdered by her stepmother. The police believe her father was killed by a vampire as part of that X-men vs. vampires crossover I never bothered to read as his body had fang marks and was drained of blood. Layla and Madrox investigate and ultimately discover the chick that hired them is an African vampire, which has different rules than the traditional European vampire. This vampire projects out of her body when she sleeps and her conscious mind has no idea what its doing. The vampire tries to kill the stepmom and Madrox and Layla stop her when Layla performs an exorcism, which she says should cure their client for good. Madrox then proposes to Layla and she turns him down.

Chapter 4 – J. Jonah Jameson hires X-Factor to investigate the murder of some military dude who once saved Jonah’s life. Spidey happens to be spying on JJJ and warns X-factor about working with him but they just make snarky comments so he leaves. Also some blond chick asks some black chick if she remembers her. She doesn’t so blonde chick sets her on fire and the black chick regenerates into a spandex costume and recovers her memories.

Chapter 5 – Apparently Felicia (the Black Cat) works for Jonah now as a salaried employee so she wonders why he’s hired X-Factor when she is a licensed PI. Jonah explains she works for the Mayor’s Office and this is a personal investigation. Meanwhile three chicks (two of whom we saw last issue) are listening in on Jonah and are planning to kill him. Most of X-Factor is chasing down leads. Meanwhile there is a protest in New York about mutants and Muslims. This irks Monet since she is both. Monet and Guido are watching over the protest while Siryn is riding with Jonah in his car. Jonah gives a nice speech on equal rights in an attempt to disband the protesters. Felicia is on nearby rooftop watching as well when the black chick from last chapter wants to use the same roof to set up a sniper rifle. They fight and the black chick has super strength which gives her the victory. Meanwhile the blonde chick is in the crowd of protesters. Siryn recognizes her from a lead Longshot found earlier and goes on the attack but the police think she is attacking the mayor and nightstick her. Blonde chick then blows a hole in Guido’s chest with her finger-gun superpower.

Chapter 6 – Felicia recovers and takes on the black chick before she can fire her gun. Finger gun chick is firing on Jonah but misses. She attempts to attack Monet but Monet is apparently telekinetic and redirects the bullet into the blonde chick’s skull. Monet wants to get Guido to the hospital but blonde chick heals. She goes to fire on them but Siryn is able to make the save. Felicia tries to taser black chick but it has no effect and she throws Felicia off the roof. Jonah calls in a pair of mandroids but the third chick fires off an EMP knocking the mandroids from the sky. Guido is going into cardiac arrest and Monet flies him to the hospital. He tells her he loves her as he passes out. Felicia tagged the chick she fought with a tracer and begins to track them as the villains cut and run. EMP chick powers make her aware of the tracer as soon as black chick gets in the car and the villains decide they can use it to set a trap. At the hospital Guido dies but then he miraculously recovers.
 
Chapter 7 – Felicia falls into the villains’ ambush and is captured. Monet grabs Jonah in a fury and asks for the rest of the story. Apparently JJJ funded dead military dude’s attempt to revive the super soldier program and these three chicks are the result. At the hospital Layla tearfully leaves Guido’s bed implying she did something bad to resurrect him. Monet, Shatterstar, Wolfsbane and Longshot follow a lead on the villains. The super soldiers have captured a scientist from the program and intend to kill both him and Felicia and make it look like murder-suicide crime of passion as we get their back-story: they went psycho on some missions, general dude wanted to kill them but scientist dude argued for mind wiping them and giving them a normal life instead. At this point the four X-factor members arrive for the big fight. Finger-gun shoots Wolfsbane but she proves immune because her apparently child has an Asgardian protection spell cast on it. Monet uses telepathy to put Fingergun into a coma. Longshot and Black Cat learn their powers cancel out which gives the other two a chance to escape. 
 

Critical Thoughts: Not much here to be honest. Truthfully I don’t think I’ve ever read an issue of Peter David’s X-factor before this. Like when he took over 20 years ago and made the book about Havok, Polaris & Strong Guy as government agents I was like I don’t care about any of these characters and that hasn’t changed through any of the eras since then. Reading this I don’t feel like I’m missing much. This whole cast is a group of uninteresting people with uninteresting powers. They’re third stringers for a reason. The only subplot in this that I would be remotely interested in the conclusion to is David seems to be on the verge of answering the question of whether Shatterstar is Longshot and Dazzler’s son, which has lingered for two decades.

As for the Felicia story I bought this trade to read it’s hurt by lame villains. These chicks are so-non descript they don’t even seem to have codenames. David writes Felicia herself as fairly capable if under-powered in this fight. And I liked the little bit with her and Longshot’s powers cancelling out. But I felt like there was more potential here. Felicia to my knowledge has never been in an X-men story before (she’s had a pair on mini-series with Wolverine and met Gambit once since they are both thieves but that’s it) and so there could be some intriguing possibilities if they were actually teaming up and investigating together but instead they are more or less working parallel to each other.

I will say David still writes Jonah better than any other Spider-man writer ever. Jonah’s equal rights speech is a great tool for showing why Jonah is a respected leader despite his over the top Spider-man ranting. I know some don’t like politics in their comics but I’ll point out Jonah has been shown to be for civil rights since the Silver Age in stories with both Randi and Robbie Robertson including a famous incident where he kicks a political candidate out of his office when he learns the man is racist. I buy everything Jonah does here and why he does it. I buy he would fund a super soldier program as a favor to a man who saved his life; and in the past Jonah has been shown to admire Captain America. I buy Jonah would work with X-factor because unlike Spider-man they are not masked vigilantes. They are licensed private investigators working within law—none of them wear masks and more than half the team uses their real name instead of a codename. I’m not sure he would work with Felicia but that seems to be happening in Spidey’s book and not here so that’s out of David’s hands; but even so I like he won’t use government money to pay Felicia for a personal investigation. So on that front the big highlight is seeing David write Jonah again because as always he does it very well.
 

Grade D+ : Those first three chapters are filled with things I don’t care about and frankly are not particularly interesting; while even the chapters I care about are mostly underwhelming.

18 comments:

  1. The most amazing thing about this is both guys would have an almost totally different 5 star match 12 years later.

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  2. I love and miss PAD's X-Factor. This one with the noir setting. I know this particular arc wasn't exactly great and I liked the series better in general when it was in Mutant Town but Madrox and his crew were awesome man. Great book.

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  3. Tito: no-DQ match with Savage at MSG. The Valentine feud is GOLD, too.


    Martel: AWA title defense (not the title win) against Jumbo. Actually two of them--one from Green Bay and one from Sumo Hall.


    Dynamite: had a better match with Fujinami than anything in the generally vastly overrated Tiger Mask series.


    Valentine: TONS. Dog collar match with Piper, 1-hour draw with Backlund, all the matches with Tito (most underrated feud of the '80s, in any promotion), submission match with Garvin. Even had a really good MSG title match against Hogan.


    Boss Man: Vader at Spring Stampede.


    DiBiase: "Famous one against Dr. Death"? They were always partners in Mid-South, though a Ted heel turn was planned before the company was sold. The answer here is the coal miner's glove cage tuxedo match with Duggan.


    Dustin: Bunkhouse Buck at Spring Stampede (holy shit what a great show that was).


    Douglas: I seem to remember a really good TV title match with Scorpio.


    Orndorff: the stuff with Piper right after WM1 was awesome. Overall I'm partial to a Tito match in St. Louis, right after expansion.


    Jarrett: The Shawn match is a good pick, and probably the correct one. Also had a terrific Sportatorium match with Eddie Gilbert in '91, and an AWA title match with Bockwinkel that's pretty great.

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  4. "You still got it!"
    "I never lost it, baby!"

    One of my favourite Jericho moments from a recent Rumble.

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  5. Yeah that belly to belly was WAY out of place. There wasn't anything special about it at all and there was a bazillion other guys in wrestling throwing better suplexes anyway. Like Taz ..

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  6. Yeah a star but MR. WRESTLEMANIA~! THE SHOWSTOPPER~! THE HEADLINER~! THE MAIN EVENT~! MR. HALL OF FAME~!

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  7. Yeah, I had my rat pack members mixed up there.

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  8. Mmm, Emanuela Lupacchino...


    And her art is gorgeous, too.

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  9. CruelConnectionNumber2September 22, 2014 at 7:01 PM

    Douglas' best match is the 4-Way ECW TV Title win against Jericho, Pitbull, and Scorpio. It's the birth of the shitbag Shane/Francine team and the beginning of his most high profile run. And a kickass match.

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  10. Have you seen any of those Vader vs bossman matches from 94 when he was doing the Guardian Angel gimmick recently. A couple of those (and one of Taylor's matches vs Sting) are really good and, to me, his best matches.

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  11. Dude valentines best match seriously might be that Backlund match I was telling you to watch.

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  12. A few months ago I was at this PWG show and I'm a big fan of Super Dragon. I tried my hardest to get the crowd behind him with a "su-per drag-on"*clap clap clap clap clap* chant.

    I dunno why but no one else went with it, everyone in the crowd told me to shut the fuck up and super dragon got in my face and threatened me! What a wild interaction.

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  13. Tito Santana IC title loss to Savage
    Rick Martel IC title tourney finals against Razor Ramon
    Dynamite Kid first Tiger Match match
    Greg Valentine Ronnie Garvin at the 90 Rumble
    Big Bossman WM7 with Mr. Perfect.
    Ted Dibiase (Sr.) Wrestlefest cage match vs Savage
    Dustin Rhodes any random Barry Windham match
    Shane Douglas vs Cactus Jack on one of WWE's best of ECW dvds
    Paul Orndorff random house show match with Hogan
    Jeff Jarrett still haven't watched the HBK match. I'll go with his last WWF match against Chyna

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  14. Dude, you are MISSING OUT. Do yourself a favour and pick up volume one of the complete collection which has MadroX: Multiple Choice and the first two volumes of X-Factor Investigations. This incarnation was one of the best runs on any X-book EVER.

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  15. I was at the show. It was a regular match. I remember it being dull but Goldust was getting good heat. He got on the mic in the middle of the match and told the crowd he was going to ram his tongue down all of our throats.

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  16. I considered it a basically bogus belt for its entire run. It's the International Title.

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