X-Factor #24 (1988, January)
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Before I get started: Eddie Berganza should be fired from DC Comics. He’s a serial sexual harasser. His ass should be fired. But now! By the Simonsons, Wiacek, Scotese and Rosen, “Masks.”
X-Factor has been teleported somewhere, and Caliban senses the Horsemen nearby. Apocalypse welcomes them to his Ship, and then they fight, while spouting their differing philosophies at each other. Apocalypse says he’s lived for thousands of years, and been worshiped by various cultures as a death god. Set in Egypt, Sauru in Persia, Huitzilopochtli of the Aztecs, Kali-Ma in India. Then a recap of X-Factor’s mutant-hunter scam and Angel losing his wings and the fight against the Right.
The three Horsemen are set against them. The fighting also has a lot of talking. Caliban is knocked down early from a brick to the head. Jean and Scott work together to beat War by collapsing a wall on him. Iceman turns off his inhibitor belt to freeze Famine. Beast takes out Pestilence by smacking her with a big metal bar. So that’s all three down. Apocalypse keeps trying to convince X-Factor that humans hate mutants, and to join him. Then he brings out his final Horseman: Death. Who doesn’t ride a horse! Not much of a Horseman if he doesn’t ride a horse, is he? Jeez, Apocalypse. I should note that, all during this entire battle, the bottom of each page has a long panel that gets increasingly closer to Caliban.
Anyway, the team recognizes Death as Angel. He rants about how much humans suck, while quickly taking them down with “feathers” from his metal wings, laced with synapse disruptors. They get strapped down to tables, and Apocalypse tells them they have a choice to make. And that they’ll join him in time. The Horsemen are sent out to cause havoc. Caliban is still free, and Scott asks him to free them. But Caliban instead submits to Apocalypse.
X-Factor remains a series where I enjoy the story more than the writing or the art. The writing is just way too melodramatic, too self-serious. Too earnest, really. It gets tiring quickly. Weezie’s always been a great writer, but I feel like X-Factor wasn’t a particularly strong work from her. It’s turned up way too high.
More specific to this issue, the Death/Angel reveal was done well. It was really obvious, but it still got handled well. Obvious doesn’t mean bad. It just means Weezie played fair with the mystery. She gave readers all the clues they needed to figure it out, rather than going for a shocking twist that no one could have expected because there was nothing pointing to it. This was a shock to the characters, of course. And their reactions were done very well. Caliban’s decision to submit to Apocalypse was also a very neat twist. Like I said, the story’s really good. I just dislike the writing.
And I also dislike the art. Look, I get why Walt’s popular. I get why people love his art. I just don’t. I find it too sharp-edged, and faces look weird to me. I say this about every issue, because I feel the same way about every issue. His action choreography is good. The costume design on Death is better than it has any real right to be. The Caliban panels during the action sequence are something I have mixed feelings on. I get why they were there, to keep people thinking about Caliban. But they don’t really end up working for exploring the character. More important, I feel like they end up detracting from the later scene. Caliban says everyone forgot about him. But the reader didn’t. The reader was actually pretty explicitly told not to forget about him. And I think the moment would have worked better if the reader had forgotten about him, because it would’ve really driven in the message that Caliban gets overlooked. And it would make his anger about that more effective, because then, the reader is just as guilty about it as the characters in the book. We would be forgetting and overlooking him. So we would be the ones he’s pushing back against when he asks Apocalypse for power.
On the whole, this issue’s only OK. Too melodramatic, and some choices that detract from the story.