X-Factor Annual #3 (1988, August)
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I’ll probably say a little about SDCC on Tuesday’s pull list post, but: World of Wakanda! Roxane Gay! Writing the Midnight Angels! A queer black woman writing a comic about two queer black women. That’s such fantastic news and it’s worth getting excited about. But now! By Simonson, Shoemaker, Milgrom, Scotese and Rosen, “Unnatural Selection.”
In theory, I should probably give you a bit of explanation regarding Evolutionary War. But honestly? That crossover was a goddamn mess. Here’s the Wikipedia article on it. UncannyXMen.net also has an article, one that’s as long and overly-detailed as all their articles. The short version: The High Evolutionary wanted to evolve humanity into gods, but he was also busy doing all sorts of other things that were kinda only tangentially-related to that plan. This was Marvel’s first line-wide crossover spread through their Annuals. The fact that it was the first one is probably what hurt it. No one really knew how it was supposed to work, there wasn’t an overarching plot for each title to advance. A lot of writers just kinda did their own thing. Regardless, it was a stupid event. So let’s get on with this Annual!
A group calling themselves Purifiers are attacking the Moloids, and the Moloids are unexpectedly fighting back, even though they shouldn’t be. The Purifiers brought in a sterilizer ray but haven’t yet had a chance to use it. One of the Moloids get hit by a blast, and all the Moloids scream and clutch their heads. On the surface, various psychics hear the scream. That includes Jean, who’s so shocked that she drops the steel girders she was carrying. X-Factor’s working to fix the Empire State Building. Good for them. They stop the girders from killing anyone, then return to Ship to find where the scream came from. Elsewhere, Caliban tells Apocalypse he heard the scream, from the mutant Moloid.
In the tunnels, the now-peaceful Moloids are being sterilized in groups. The mutant wakes up, freaks out, gets the other Moloids freaked, and they run away. X-Factor heads into the tunnels to look for them. And X-Factor gets attacked by some Moloids who think they’re bad.
In space, the High Evolutionary is contacted by his Purifiers, and Apocalypse tracks the signal and teleports up to the station. And you’ve gotta give a guy credit for knowing how to make an entrance.
Evolutionary gets pissed at him and attacks and they both end up spaced. The Evolutionary is kind of an idiot, for a genius.
Back below, X-Factor is fighting the Moloids, until Jean is able to find the telepath and mentally explain things, and the telepath explains to her what happened. Then the Purifiers show up.
Back to space! Where Apocalypse and the Evolutionary debate philosophy and evolution while fighting. The High Evolutionary wants to gift humanity with advancement and progress. Apocalypse wants humanity and mutants to advance on their own, by being forced to fight for survival, to adapt or die. Apocalypse decides to take the Evolutionary to see the Moloids, to show that they are, in fact, capable of change. The Evolutionary still considers the Moloids an evolutionary dead-end. The Purifiers prepare to kill the Moloid, but he fights for his survival with a brain-blast, then he organizes the rest of the Moloids to fight. Apocalypse tells Evolutionary it’s more than an animal’s instincts, it’s intelligence.
Evolutionary decides to let the Moloids be for now, and teleports away with his Purifiers.
This is an OK story. Simonson does fine work with the crossover. The attempted sterilization of the Moloids doesn’t really fit the Evolutionary’s larger plans in the story, though honestly, none of the Annuals do. Sterilizing the Moloids is disconnected from the forced evolution of humanity. But hey, whatever, it’s fine. It’s still believable that he would want to sterilize them. If he feels they’re evolutionary dead-ends, then sure, he would do it. The debate with Apocalypse is really interesting, and lets Apocalypse actually be kinda morally superior. Sure, he’s trying to kill countless lives, but only so the survivors will be better. He’s still awful, of course. But honestly, his contempt for the Evolutionary makes him so much fun here. I love how he just trolls HE. “Hahaha! You are stupid!” It’s great.
X-Factor feels a bit sidelined, in a weird way. Between Apocalypse trolling HE, and the Moloid, X-Factor doesn’t get a lot to do. We get Jean being psi-sensitive, and having to adjust to hearing someone’s thoughts again. That was kinda neat. And we get Beast feeling sad about his stupidity, and relating to the mutant Moloid on that level. But neither of those character things really gets explored in the depth they should have been.
The art is fine. Shoemaker was always a reliable artist. Never a top talent, but he turned out books that read well. Good panel layouts, good flow of action, acceptable levels of expressiveness. The inks and colours are similarly adequate.
The second story, by Simonson, Tom Artis, Rubinstein, Scotese and Rosen, is called “Changes!” and focuses on the kids. They all decide to have a race, using their powers. Leech and Artie are smaller, so they decide to take a shortcut with the elevator. While the older kids race, they talk about the fact that X-Factor wants to send them to a boarding school. They all crash into each other, and Hank, who’s looking at a photo album. So we see some photos of the various changes Hank’s gone through, with expository dialogue from everyone. Hank feels bad and leaves, but the kids keep looking at photos of the other original X-Men and their various changes.
This is lame. It’s not a story, it’s just a recap of the lives of the X-Factor characters and how they got to where they are now. It also includes a plug for the upcoming X-Terminators mini, which was an Inferno tie-in. The writing is painful, and the art isn’t very good, either. It’s a stupid story.