Saturday, December 19, 2009

Comic Review: X-Factor #200

This is the make it or break it point for X-Factor, as far as I can surmise. The book is being given a reboot of sorts, with new more Marvel-Universe (not just X-Verse) centric story line and a return to the original X-Factor numbering. The book has received quite a bit of buzz, and Marvel has seemingly given the title it's best shot at grabbing new readers.

I am one of those new readers, only jumping onto the series two issues before hand. I was quite pleased with what I saw in those two issues, and this newest one, issue #200, really did it's job in giving us a great new direction and a great story.

The main story consists of Franklin and Valeria Richards going to X-Factor because the Invisible Woman has Disappeared. It's a cleaver title, which the story points out in a nice way. Something is definitely up at the Baxter Building (home of the Fantastic Four). Sue has gone missing and Mr. Fantastic isn't acting worried at all. Something's up with him, if seeing him murder a man in the first few pages wasn't a clue. So Madrox, the Multiple Man, and X-Factor Investigations are on the case! This issue doesn't yet delve into the mystery a great deal, mainly building up suspicions and having the usual friendly fight between opposing teams. The fight between Strong Guy and the Thing is quite good, with Shatterstar making a great Gladiator-Inspired end to the fight. While the story mainly consists of that, it also weaves into the regular X-Factor situations - like Madrox pining over the missing Siryn, and Monet finding out her father is being held by terrorists. So while the series is stepping into the Marvel Universe more as a whole, it's still doing it's own thing as well, and making some good compelling storytelling to go along with it.

Lately I've been hearing about Marvel perhaps not living up to the promise these big anniversary issues deserve. I recall Thor #600 being stuffed so full of reprints that I passed on it. This comic, for you're hard earned five dollars, is well worth the price. You get a second story telling us about how Siryn is doing over in Ireland. She's still broken up about her father, the Banshee's, and his passing. (I'm quite interested in her soon finding out that he was resurrected just recently, in issues of X-Force, as part of a brain-washed mutant undead army.) Siryn runs into the last person she wants to see, namely Madrox - but not the Madrox she's actually mad at. It's one of Madrox's Duplicates who never came back, and subsequently became a priest. They have a nice philosophical discussion over why bad things happen to good people. Peter David has a habit of getting too caught up in these theoretical debates - but I did like his idea that the Lucifer beat God in Heaven instead, and all of this on Earth has been one long cover up. It's a nice story, and while it might be padding to fill out the issue - it didn't feel like a waste of storytelling space either.

This issue does have one Reprint, but boy was it a good one - reprinting Madrox #1, the first issue of the mini-series that began this new era of X-Factor. I had never read this issue, but I found it incredibly compelling and very informative about the series. Madrox basicly has to solve the murder of one of his Duplicates. It's a compelling concept from the get-go, with good character development. It makes me want to go buy the TPBs of the X-Factor series.

There is one problem with this issue, though, that I thought really should have been addressed, considering it's a relaunch of the series to draw in new readers. It didn't fully explain everything about these characters. I happen to know a lot about these characters, even if I haven't read a lot of previous X-Factor issues, and I was stilling asking myself "Who's Terry?", when mentioned in Madrox's internal monologue. Terry is sort for Theresa, aka Siryn. It's not a big deal, but if I know about these characters and didn't even realise her nickname, then what about fans who know even less about X-Factor? There are quite a few pages giving biographies on all the cast, but there are still some easier ways to introduce characters into new reader's minds. There wasn't even an explanation of Longshot's "Psychometry" (to read the events and emotions a person leaves on an object) It wasn't until recently this year, reading Essential X-Men Vol 8 that I even saw these powers in use, and knew they existed. A thought-box from Madrox would have cleared any confusion about that right up.

Those are small complaints, though. This was an otherwise outstanding issue, and I hope more fans will give the series a try. I promise you - if you give the series a chance, you'll quickly be caught up in the lives and adventures of these characters. This issue was a great deal, with great art and a whelth of content, and I can't wait until the next issue comes out.

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