X-Factor #26 (1988, March)
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Today, I wrap up Fall of the Mutants! By the Simonsons, Wiacek, Scotese and Rosen, “Casualties.”
X-Factor is standing on the downed Ship, with reporters and cops around them. One cop wants to arrest them. An explosion goes off, and X-Factor heads off to save lives. The reporters try to get inside the Ship, but there’s a force field. Apocalypse laughs, saying it’s going to make humans suspicious and fearful.
X-Factor goes to help with a building burning. Iceman tells Beast to hang back, but Beast feels guilty about damaging the Ship so it caused the damage. With that building shored up and the fire smothered, they head off to the next. Beast wonders where Trish is, and Iceman tells him to forget her because she’s a “snoopy reporter witch.” Yes, a snoopy reporter witch who tried to expose X-Factor as frauds. You know, the same thing Iceman’s spent the past year or so wanting to do? Beast even points out that she figured out the scam before anyone else did. Jean and Scott save a redhead, which gets Scott thinking about Maddie. He tells Jean he keeps thinking maybe Maddie isn’t dead. Of course, he hasn’t actually seen the video of her sacrificing herself in Dallas. Jean asks if he loved Maddie, and he says he only thought he did, but he feels really bad about abandoning her.
He goes on to say he can’t accept how he abandoned her, and that he thought he’d go mad. Jean’s response is pretty much perfect: “You . . . nearly did, Scott. We were worried.” That is a vast understatement. He was having hallucinations! He tried to prove his love to Jean by blasting her! He went pretty goddamn crazy for the first 2 years of this series.
Elsewhere in the hospital, intrepid reporter Trish Tilby gets out of her bed to make room for other patients, and comes across Beast crying in the hallway. It’s a pretty heartbreaking scene, I’ll admit. Iceman comes to chew her out, accusing her of running anti-mutant editorials. How does he figure that? I don’t get the hate X-Factor had for Trish! She was denouncing X-Factor for feeding on anti-mutant hysteria! Yes, she reported on a couple dangerous mutants. Because she’s a journalist and it was her job. But the bulk of what we saw from her was actually criticizing the mutant-hunters. And X-Factor was right there with her in hating that scheme, so I don’t get why they treated her like an enemy. Anyway, when she explains that she was anti-X-Factor, Iceman does concede and warm up to her a bit. She also reveals Candy Southern tipped her off to the scheme. Though, as Iceman and Beast walk away, we do see Trish writing something down, and what she writes will be justification to be mad at her.
The next day, a cop who’d previously wanted to arrest X-Factor declares they’re now under orders to treat them like heroes. And the cop is totally fine with that. The cops take X-Factor back to the Ship. People crowd the street to catch a glimpse. A TV shows Maddie’s farewell to Scott, with the people in the bar not caring about some dude in Dallas. Yeesh. A little girl gives Jean some flowers. Aww. In the Ship, Scott talks about Maddie again, saying that he’s going to find out who killed her and lay her ghost to rest. Jean wants him to let them help, and also declares she won’t let anyone stand between them now that they’ve found each other again. Aww some more. They’re official again!
Later, once they’ve had sex, Iceman and Beast come to them with new costumes from a guy they rescued. Apocalypse continues to be pleased with developments. Everything fits into his plans. Seriously, just everything. No matter what happens, he sees it as all part of his plans. It’s always “I meant for this to happen!”
This issue’s pretty good. Better than usual. I think because it’s a quieter one. It’s not as ramped-up, and there’s room to breathe. Even the melodrama is tuned down a few notches. There’s a lot of great moments throughout the issue. Beast breaking down in tears is a rough one, and very well-done. Jean and Scott reconnecting was also nice. We get some good exploration of Scott’s feelings of guilt over abandoning Maddie. And Weezie does work to make sure he’s sympathetic, despite his actions, which is important. It is also nice to see mutants get some acceptance, though it’s still never explored as well as it should have been.
I’m still not a fan of Walt’s lines. He’s not expressive enough here for my tastes. He draws Heroic People, and unfortunately, that means they tend to be a bit stone-faced. There’s not a lot of emotion in faces, or in body language. And this is an issue where an expressive artist would have elevated it to a whole other level, because there are a lot of great emotional beats in the writing, but the art just doesn’t really capture them.
Nonetheless, this is probably my favourite issue of Weezie’s run so far.
There’s a couple tie-ins I should talk about, too. There’s Captain America #339, by Mark Gruenwald, Kieron Dwyer, Tony DeZuniga, Gregory Wright and Jack Morelli. Famine is in the Midwestern US, killing crops. And farmers. After some stuff that doesn’t involve her (but does include Blob gloating about the X-Men being dead), we get back to Famine, as she crashes a couple military helicopters. Falcon goes after her and drags her off her mount, and she uses her power on him so he gets starved and emaciated. Cap – going by the name the Captain at this point, as a result of the Captain America identity being stripped from him – Nomad and D-Man fight her. Cap ends up beating her. It’s a pretty good tie-in. Gruenwald’s run on Captain America was a great one, for the most part. This issue is just a fun bit of interconnectivity, really. Doesn’t add much to Fall of the Mutants, or to Cap’s own story. It’s just cool.
Daredevil #252, by Ann Nocenti, JRJr, Al Williamson, Max Scheele and Joe Rosen. This, like the previous month’s Power Pack issue, involves the blackout caused by Apocalypse’s ship. The focus is on how the people in the street react. There are explosions, and then the streets go black, and then a giant obelisk appears in the sky, and figures fly around hurting people. Everyone freaks out, and pretty justifiably. At Matt’s legal clinic, he takes command, creating a torch for light and leading everyone in the clinic to safety in the subway. In the streets, there’s a lot of tension, which eventually breaks out in violence, with Daredevil getting involved.
This comic? This comic is fantastic. This is so good! Nocenti had a weird, wonderful run on Daredevil. This issue does a brilliant job tying into Fall of the Mutants, by showing how the people on the streets feel about the crazy shit that goes on around them. Nocenti was very much a thematic writer, and the theme here is how quickly we give into the darkness in our souls when disaster strikes. And it’s a really powerful issue as it explores that stuff. Stories like this are rare, and I think it becomes more powerful for that. So, yeah, this was fantastic.
Speaking of fantastic, Fantastic Four #312, by Steve Englehart, Keith Pollard, Joe Sinnott, Gregory Wright and John Workman. The Fantastic Four at the time consisted of the Thing, the Human Torch, the Charon Ventura Ms. Marvel, and Crystal. They return to New York, with Black Panther and Doom, as X-Factor is being thrown a parade. The FF head down to check it out. Some of Doom’s old stormtroopers attack, under the orders of Kristoff, who’s posing as Doom and ruling Latveria. He was brainwashed into believing he was Doom. You know how people say the X-Men are complicated? I kinda think the Fantastic Four might be worse. Anyway, X-Factor helps in the fight. After the fight, Doom asks X-Factor to help him reclaim his throne. That goes as well as you’d expect, so he kidnaps Beast and Sharon. He takes them to Reed’s lab in FF HQ. Beast tells Sharon about his problem with losing intelligence when he uses his strength, then yells at her for moping about her own problem (being turned into a Thing). They escape, Beast freaks out, Doom’s defeated but still escapes. This is OK. I’m not a fan of Englehart’s FF. Actually, I’m not a fan of Englehart. I especially found his treatment of women to be often problematic. His use of X-Factor here is OK. Beast’s rage-out was a bit odd. On the whole, this is the weakest of the tie-ins, I think.