Monday, August 11, 2014

CBR Peter David's X-Factor


Here they are... The all-new, all-different... X-Factor!

More X-Men reviews below!

Comic title: X-Factor - Visionaries: By Peter David Vol. 1
Art by Larry Stroman
Written by Peter David  

Published by Marvel Comics
From 2005   
Lineup Marvel Universe/X-Men/X-Factor sub-series
Format: Trade paperback collecting X-Factor issues #71-75.

This is not your regular Cyclops-lead team, these are the All-New X-Factor! But the weirdos way outside anyone's attention!

The X-Factor comic was originally a 1986 X-Men spin-off featuring the original five X-Men, following the return to life of the character Jean Grey to life (one of her first many returns from the dead actually). Featuring Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Marvel Girl (Jean Grey) and Iceman!

Instead of ending the fan-favorite book, Marvel decided to keep the book running and put writer Peter David in charge of it, mostly know by that time for his work on The Incredible Hulk (and later on the awesome Spider-Man 2099 series). David re-imagined the X-Factor team as a corporate-sponsored super-team and managed to turn this little corner of the X-books into one of the better superhero books from the big two at a time during which comics began their slow descent into those infamous awful 1990s comics. Yes, this one of the most fun and original books back then.

This 2nd team, in the 90s, lasted from 1991 to 1998 for about 149 issues. When the original X-Men returned to their main regular series, the X-Factor team was relaunched as this government-sponsored team of super heroes, picking several mostly unused X-Men characters to put them together, with or against their better judgment.

A new team is put in place. Some mutants will work for the government as their very own special mutant team, under an agent, Valerie Cooper, originally acting as their liaison and giving them their missions. The team?

Energy blasts-powered Havok, brother of Cyclops, Polaris, long-time lover of Havok, the Multiple Man, who would end up becoming a fan favorite, super-speedster Quicklysilver, who ends up on this team despite his best attempts to have nothing to do with these clowns, Wolfsbane, a Scottish werewolf-like mutant and former New Mutant, and finally the big guy, the wise-cracking super strong guy, simply codenamed Strong Guy - who can absorb kinetic energy but has to immediately release it if he doesn't want to deform his own body, which explains is sort of monstrous stature.

It was a pretty fun book, mostly revolving around its core team of characters and their interactions.

This first volume collects Peter David's first issues on the series, from 71 to 75. 120-page worth of story! This first "arc" mostly revolves around getting the team on its feet and officially announced to the world.

The team is already having some trouble at their new headquarters, when it's not about where they are going to live, let alone getting along each other! Guido (Strong Guy) invites them to stay at his estate. Pietro is instable and always boiling with rage at annoying comments. Jamie Madrox (the Multiple Man) is supposedly found dead! But turns out that was just another duplicate copy of his... A dead clone who took a shot for him. Jamie has some troubles with the dead clone body.

We are introduced to some evil villain trying to come up with these elaborate schemes to have his revenge on mutankind and the X-Factor, only to end up trapped or worse, dead! This would become a recurring joke throughout the series, these sort of related guys popping up only to promise to kill all mutants... and failing to just get out of their home...!

Finally a press conference is organized to finally make X-Factor official! But someone wants to ask a question for Multiple Man... is that another Multiple Man? Or the real Multiple Man!?? Who is that impostor!?

This is mostly Peter David wanting to deal with the concept behind Multiple's powers, the first time Marvel ever properly dealt with these dead dupes. Are they individual beings with their own identities? (Something David would get to later explore again in a Madrox mini-series)

Each issue is packed with story and action.

Each character was so unique and fun. Most of the humor comes from their interactions directly. Quicksilver who hates everyone. Jamie not taking anything really seriously. A subplot with Wolfsbane/Rahne's on-going attachment to Alex Summers (Havok) would be introduced as early as the beginning of this team, serving as a love triangle of sorts with Polaris/Lorna. The main villain of this arc is Mister Sinister and his oh, so silly Nasty Boys! A bunch of disregarded enemies against a team of heroic misfits!

The book has a great tone, lots of humor and snappy dialogues. It all revolves around these big personalities, characters making snarky comments at each other. In a way it reminded me of the better good ol' days of the JLI in the DC Universe.

Every character had its own unique traits and personality. A later iconic issue would actually deal with the entire gang going to therapy at the Hulk's personal psychiatrist, Doc Samson!

Everyone's personality is made pretty unique and related to the powers they manifest. For example, Quicksilver is always frustrated by a world going so slowly around him, Polaris has a sort of bi-polar personality, Jamie fears being alone, growing up on a farm by himself after the death of his parents (sending dupes doing all the chores for him and having been his only company for a really long while).

Sure the name did not change but they were all new faces taking over this series in this now government-funded team. However at its core they still protected the innocent and tried to solve everyone's problems.

Peter David really made a sensational quality series when he took over this series from the original X-Men founders (both in-story and in real life) and decided to use the spotlight for a bunch of unused characters from X-Men, New Mutants and Avengers titles.

Peter David would sadly leave the series in 1993, once incessant epic crossover-events began at Marvel (for the worst in my eyes). He would only be shortly coming back for a short time, for an annual playing with previous left-open threads. I'll remind you the X-Men books went through non-stop year-long-spanning events such as the Age of Apocalypse first and then Onslaught...

Speaking of the Justice League International, the first one to take over the title was J. M. DeMatteis (none of the following writers' run have ever been collected thus far). Picking up after David, his work was mostly consistent in tone but he would change the roster a bit. He kept the humor tone but had some trouble making the title stand out amongst the other X-books at the time. Perhaps the most notable thing to come out of it would be having Multiple Man die from the Legacy-virus (until it was later revealed to be another dupe, a plot point explored by Peter David again during the 2000s relaunch of X-Factor through the Madrox mini-series preceding it).

Next up would be writer John Francis Moore, shaking up the line-up once more and only really retaining Cooper and Polaris from the original series. Cooper was changed into a more capable field agent. The rest were completely new faces to X-Factor such as Mystique and Forge.

Finally writer Howard Mackie ran the book into an early grave, turning it into a satirical more political/spy angle. Which the less said about the better...

Back to Peter David's X-Factor!

The book had a pretty decent art and unique style, courtesy from Larry Stroman.

Which could both be typical 90s flair or also go into more abstract style at times. Stroman has a very distinct personal design. He wasn't really trying to copy the likes of Jim Lee unlike most. And had a background in graphic design, which sometimes shows in his backgrounds.

His art on X-Factor is pretty interesting. People looked like real people, with real faces, no generic comic book style-people. But he also experimented a lot with exaggerating attributes, this worked great on Guido.

And let's not forget his sometimes pretty dantesque challenging page compositions.

All in all, it's a very fun book, a solid read with a unique visual!

Overall, Peter David's original X-Factor had a lot of humor.

When it's all said and done, it seems barely anything actually happens in this first volume.

David love using lots of repetitive gags and long-coming punchlines.

The art is pure 90s superhero art, with overexaggerated anatomy, while it looks great on characters like Guido/Strong Guy, it also kinda comes off on other members of the team.

They each had lots of personality.

The series was off to a great start for what would become one pretty unique Marvel series, featuring a team just as unique. Sure, using this Mr. Sinister and his Nasty Boys was a weird decisions for real first foes, but it quickly showed this series wouldn't simply be about an usual cliché good vs. evil conflict.

All of Peter David's run has been collected into 4 different trade paperbacks.

In which we see X-Factor getting into a battle with the Hulk (whom Peter David still has a lot of affection for) in the Middle East. Then a big plotline would be introduced, regarding a Mutant Liberation Front. Next up is a fight for Washington DC against the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants! And finally the downfall of the series, or at least David's run, a crossover with the X-Cutioner's Song Saga which barely made readable that last trade with all the summary of things happening in the other books, putting an end for good to "PaD's" run.

Later on Joe Quesada would join in on the art (he was still an active artist at the time). He also gave Polaris a ridiculous costume update... Sigh...

X-Factor though would last well into the 1990s. Like I said before, it continued through several different hands until 1998, before being put on hiatus for a while. Then Peter David came back and shortly revamped the series through a Marvel Knights Madrox mini-series first until a more Jamie Madrox-centered series was launched in the 2000s. Ditching the original premise, Multiple Man would open a detective agency for humans and mutants alike following the events of Marvel's big successful modern event, House of M. The new book would have a more distinct pulp/noir detective-vibe and would actually survive many, many crossovers into all these new epic Marvel events starting with Decimation and Civil War.

This new series ended this time on David's term not long ago and X-Factor was relaunched since then under the current Marvel NOW banner as All-New X-Factor. Still in Peter David's hands who is now one of the rare authors on such a long continuous series. And the team is back being a corporate-sponsored team!

I give it:
2 / 3 Howards!

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