X-Factor Forever

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It’s no secret that I’m a super fan of Louise Simonson’s work, so getting the X-Factor Forever collection was a must buy for me. The book resolves plot-lines that she had set up nearly twenty years ago!

The first part of the story pretty much reestablished the dynamics of the characters. Cyclops (and his son Nathan, who, you know grows up to be Cable) are adjusting to life with a newly returned from the grave Jean Grey, and the rest of the team is enjoying themselves.

At first, it seems like the kidnapping of young Nathan by Caliban and Mister Sinister is the worst that will happen. But instead, X-Factor finds itself in an uneasy alliance with Apocalypse to find the child, for he is the proof that the cosmic Celestials need to deem mutant-kind a worthy species.

The resulting story has to be the best written Apocalypse I’ve ever encountered. Through the main narrative (and a back-up feature that chronicles his life) we learn that he has been subtly influencing the direction of mankind into evolving, ensuring its survival among the planet’s other species, the Deviants and Eternals. Apocalypse had appointed Mister Sinister to be his apprentice who unfortunately has his ideas on how humans and mutants should evolve. It’s a race against time and whoever has Nathan will control the outcome of the Celestial’s judgement.

Again, the writing on this is amazing. Louise is able to conjure the feelings of Jack Kirby style cosmic drama with Grant Morrison-like sensibilities, all the while not sacrificing her own style. I highly recommend this. And if you pick up the collected version, it includes X-Factor #63-64, which concluded her run on the original series. Get this…you won’t be disappointed.

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Uncanny X-Force: The Apocalypse Solution

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Rob Liefeld wasn’t the artist for this series, but he did contribute artwork for a variant cover for Uncanny X-Force #1.

I really enjoyed the set concept of X-Force being a more forceful, covert branch of the X-Family. So the continued adventures of Wolverine and Archangel’s secret task force in Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña’s Uncanny X-Force was a bit of a must read for me.

The previous volume ended with the team being seemingly disbanded by Cyclops. Wolverine and Archangel didn’t. I mean, who takes Cyclops seriously? Especially at this point in the characters’s existence. The group is based out of Cavern-X, which is basically Archangel’s version of the Batcave. It’s even decorated with X-Memorabilia. The new roster of this team adds Fantomex, Psylocke (who makes sense since she’s been the on again, off again love interest of Archangel) and Deadpool.

The purpose of this team has been to track the movements of the Apocalypse-worshipping Clan Akkaba across the globe. It turns out the group has reincarnated Apocalypse, now in the form of a young child. Knowing that he will eventually grow up into a tyrant that will eventually destroy both mankind and mutantkind, X-Force has the gruesome task of killing him. It’s the only way to be certain that he won’t be a threat to the planet. So it’s off to the moon to find him and fight the latest version of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The battle sequences are what you would expect, but there is a lot of foreshadowing seen through the interactions of the members of X-Force. Fantomex is pretty much sexually harassing Psylocke the whole time, much to her and her boyfriend Archangel’s disdain. Speaking of the guy with the big metal wings, he is having his own problems dealing with a darker split personality trying to overtake him. With all this drama going on, Wolverine is put in a position where he has to be the peacemaker and that is a role is foreign to him. Aside from the intentionally bad jokes that Remender wrote for his dialogue, Deadpool is the straight man in this book. Go figure. 

The book ends with X-Force having dispatched the Four Horsemen and finding Kid Apocalypse. There is only one problem…no one seems willing to kill him, other than Archangel. There’s a lot of pleading from Wolverine and Psylocke to not do it, and the team reaches a consensus to take him back with them. If he has the chance to be properly educated and integrated into society, he won’t be a threat.

And then Fantomex kills him.

So much for that. 

I like the way Uncanny X-Force is heading. There is a lot of foreshadowing, not only with the repercussions of killing Apocalypse but with the strained relations among the members of the group themselves. Opeña’s art is a little different, but it reminds of Leinil Yu. I can’t wait to check out the next volume.

X-Factor #66: A Really Bad Day

There is a lot of stuff going on in this issue. If there was ever a day where the X-Factor should have stayed in bed, this would be it.

The team’s headquarters is a sentient floating battleship, literally named Ship. Before it was X-Factors mobile base of operation it belonged to Apocalypse. He’s deployed a squad of his minions to not only attack X-Factor, but to infect the ship with a virus that makes Ship lose control of itself and start attacking Manhattan. X-Factor are trying to get Ship back under control while other Marvel characters are helping evacuate people from Ship’s path. What’s remarkable to me is how everyone is so understanding of Ship being out of control. Ship eventually decides that the only way it can get back under control is to commit suicide, which no one in X-Factor is happy about.

As this Ship story unfolds, Apocalypse’s plan to abduct Cyclops’ son Nathan is revealed. It turns out destroying their headquarters was an elaborate distraction. The story leads to the first appearance of the Askani Clan from the future, as a woman member has been sent from the future to protect the baby. People from the future travelling back in time to protect a child was a huge theme in 1991, between this plot and Terminator 2.

The issue is interesting from a creative standpoint, as it was written by the combined efforts of Whilce Portacio, Jim Lee and Chris Claremont, with art from Portacio. It’s like a meeting of the minds of the X-creators in this issue. The backup feature is called Apocalypse Manifesto, with profiles of the powers and dangers of Beast and Iceman from Apocalypse’s perspective. These were written by Fabian Nicieza.