X-Factor #29 (1988, June)
Actually, the best part of this cover is pretty clearly the little corner box. The way Infectia’s holding it, with X-Factor locked up inside, is really cool. It was always fun when covers played around with themselves like that. You don’t really see much of that any more.
Anyway! Some guy is lifting a desk, having gotten powers from the Infectia. He quickly burns himself out, which annoys her. She complains that no one ever listens to her. Elsewhere, reporters are asking X-Factor about Ship, and the danger posed by mutants. Iceman does the talking, and actually does quite well, until the pier breaks beneath the reporters and dumps them all in the water. It’s hard to feel bad for them. Even harder today than it would’ve been in 1988, because public opinion on reporters has only gotten lower over the past 30 years. Probably on account of the news media turning into useless, sensationalist garbage. But just the same, X-Factor pulls them out of the water, rather than let them all swim to shore. Ship even does some repairs to the pier, before announcing X-Factor plans on moving it out over the Atlantic.
Infectia is unhappy to learn they plan on moving Ship, since she wants it. A guy in the bar flirts with her, and she offers to bring him home. Back to the press conference, where reporters are asking Jean exactly the questions one would expect reporters to ask a woman: Her costume, her hair, whether she’ll endorse a brand of jeans. You know, the really important questions. Reporters suck. Scott gets annoyed and heads back inside. Good choice, Scott, followed by Jean. Some of the reporters try to rush in, which does give this awesome bit from Ship:
Back outside, Bobby and Hank are still talking to the press. They ask Hank some questions, which he has trouble answering, and when he spots Trish in the audience, he turns to go. She gives chase to talk to him. It’s a sad moment. She does seem to care about him.
Back to Infectia! She’s taken the guy to her home, a rather lovely townhouse she inherited from her rich geneticist father. She locks the guy in a cage, then kisses him, and he transforms. Back to Ship, where Scott sees, once again, Maddie’s plea for Scott to find their son. He gets frustrated at his suitcase not opening, so he blasts it open. Which amuses me. The guy can level mountains with his eyebeams, and he uses them to pop open a suitcase. She asks what the real problem is:
Scott then explains his feelings of guilt about being with jean. Bobby interrupts by saying they need to find a way to restore Hank’s intelligence, while also complimenting Hank’s ability to still land women. Scott snaps at him, and then orders Ship to move. Hank waits outside, with Trish. She says she never said he was dumb, and to read her lips, and he says if he wasn’t so dumb he could think of something better to do with her lips. Damn, Hank, you smoothy you.
Back inside, Jean continues to bitch about Maddie. She gets so angry that she rips a TV screen out of the wall and hurls it across the room. Don’t piss off a telekinetic. Bobby jokes about her having a Lover’s Quarrel, so she tells him off. Man, everyone tells Bobby to shut up in this issue. Maybe Bobby should shut up.
Infectia’s Anti-Bodies attack, which leads to perhaps the best line of the issue: “Fred? What kind of monster’s name is Fred?” Jeez, Bobby, no need to be such a jerk about it. Fred’s a perfectly fine name for a monster. While the fight’s going on, Warren sees Trish and grabs her, to find out what she knows about Candy’s disappearance.
Back to the fight! Where Jean reflects that Scott’s slipped into automatic, a result of being trained – “twisted” – by Xavier. He learned to fight, but never learned to be close to people. Which is pretty accurate. And, frankly, one of many reasons why I dislike Xavier. The guy grabbed a bunch of kids and trained them as child soldiers. This included an orphan, who he trained in combat, but never made much effort to teach social skills to. She also thinks about how Maddie didn’t fight for Scott, and that Scott did what was right, and went looking for her, and found evidence she was dead. She even acknowledges that he went crazy for a little while. Because, yes, he was crazy. He was having hallucinations. Let’s not forget that, when he was looking for Maddie, he went completely batshit crazy to the point of having hallucinations. While she gets angrier at Maddie, she also beats the crap out of the Anti-Bodies. Seriously, don’t piss off a telekinetic redhead.
With the fight over, she continues to call Maddie a jerk, and says she’s going to help Scott find his son, and won’t take no for an answer. Ship tells Iceman they’ve gotten where they were going, and wonders if it should tell the others, and Bobby says they should probably both just shut up. He’s learned!
This is a pretty good issue. I feel like Weezie’s finally hitting her stride here. There’s a little less of the overwrought dialogue. The kids are pretty much absent, which helps immensely. Infectia, for all that she’s largely a throw-away villain (after this current arc, she doesn’t show up again until she dies of the Legacy Virus in ’93 or ’94), is a lot of fun. It’s a bit surprising no one did anything with her before then, because she actually is pretty charming. She’s so manipulative, using her femininity to make men do what she wants. It’s fun. I actually do like her. I don’t know how other people feel about her. But I do like her.
Of course, the Scott/Jean drama gets a lot of focus here. And it’s handled pretty well. Jean is a total jerk about Maddie, but it’s understandable from her perspective, as a woman who wants Scott to be happy. Interestingly, it’s a bit of a dynamic reversal. Maddie always felt like she was competing for Scott with Jean’s ghost. Now, Jean is competing for Scott with Maddie’s ghost. It’s interesting. And Jean makes a lot of really good observations about Scott. I also think Scott’s feelings of guilt make a lot of sense.
Also good is the Hank/Trish stuff. They both obviously have strong feelings for each other. But those feelings are mixed up with Trish pitying Hank and Hank’s sense of betrayal at Trish saying on TV that he’d lost his intelligence. Trish tries to defend herself by saying she never identified him in her report, but yeah, that’s bullshit, Trish. Sorry. You know I love you, Trish, but that’s a bullshit excuse for a betrayal of trust. She was in the wrong, no question. But what’s cool is that, when Warren grabs Trish, Hank immediately leaps to her rescue. He does still care! I think Trish might be my favourite of Hank’s love interests, even if he ends up being kind of a shitty boyfriend at times.
For the art, well, I’ve made my views on Walt’s art clear. He’s great at what he does, but his style just isn’t for me. I do love his Infectia. I think her visual design is part of why I like her. She’s really cute. She’s got a cute outfit and cool hair and is just cute. He also does a good job with Jean’s anger. But by and large, I’m just not a fan of his art style.
Still! Good issue!