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X-Factor #39 (1989, April)

March 28, 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I’m almost done with Inferno! Today, by the Simonsons, Milgrom, Wright and Rosen, “Ashes To Ashes.”

Ashes To Ashes

I do like the demonic X-Men.

Sinister tells Malice to kill the X-Men, while he taunts Longshot over his lack of confidence, and thus, loss of his luck power. Then Beast kicks Sinister in the back of the head. The X-Men start waking up, starting with Scott, who can’t use his optic blasts against Sinister, for some reason. And Sinister lays a vicious verbal smack-down.

X-Factor #39

Slightly beneath his usual level of discourse.

Psylocke attacks Sinister mentally, then Rogue tries to absorb him, but he takes over her, instead. But she’s still wearing her gloves, and she’s touching his armour. So how did that even work? The art team screwed up here. Anyway, Sinister, in Rogue’s body, looms over Scott, with sweet-ass backlighting that makes her silhouette look like Sinister’s. Which is kind of amazing. Her hair is so big it looks like Sinister’s collar. Gotta love Rogue’s massive ’80s hair. Anyway, the silhouette makes Scott think back to being a child, in a hospital, and his power first emerged, and Sinister put him into a coma for a year. He remembers his origin! His parents’ plane exploding, falling with Alex, using his power to soften the landing. Sinister had Scott and Alex brought to his orphanage, and had Alex adopted. Then Xavier took in Scott, so Sinister created Maddie, to drive Scott away from the X-Men and bear his child. Alex gets pissed at what he’s hearing, and blasts Sinister in the back. Ineffectively.

X-Factor #39

Pretty cool.

Sinister’s dismissal of Alex is pretty harsh. Malice starts to crush him in metal, and Colossus tries to rush to his rescue, which was . . . not his best idea ever?

X-Factor #39

That smile she gives him is terrifying.

Then more about Sinister and Scott. Sinister tried to force Scott into accepting him as his master, and controlling his optic blast. He failed at both. Hence, the glasses. Wolverine wakes up Storm, and Storm wakes Psylocke, to link everyone together and develop a plan. They figure that Sinister must be weak against Scott’s power, and Alex has a plan to get Scott to use it.

During the ensuing fight, Archangel accuses Sinister of manipulating Scott into leaving Maddie. Which, eh, no. I don’t buy that as a retcon justification. Scott screwed up. It’s that simple. Sometimes, good people do shitty things. And Scott’s a good person who’s also an absolute mess of neuroses and insecurities, so it’s actually pretty easy for him to screw up. Leaving Maddie doesn’t need to be the fault of a supervillain. It was him being emotionally incapable of dealing with the wide variety of things he was experiencing at once. This storyline has a few retcons that are meant to make Scott look better, but which don’t really work for me. Regardless, Archangel takes out Malice, and then everyone piles on Sinister. That allows Storm to grab Jean. And, uh, damn.

X-Factor #39

Storm is pretty good at drama.

Iceman freezes Sinister, Beast frees Alex, and Wolverine kills Sabretooth. Pretty easily, too. And with Alex free, he can do his thing. Which is to piss off Scott.

X-Factor #39

Brothers, right?

His pose in that first panel s interesting. You don’t see it often with male characters. You see it all the time with female characters, but not males. There’s no real reason for that disparity. It’s not like it’s a uniquely feminine pose. It’s just, you know, standing. But because male characters are never posed like that in comics, it ends up looking really weird and noticeable here.

The others attack Sinister, including Longshot, whose blade gets Sinister’s attention. And Jean jumps in the way of Sinister’s retaliation, which makes Longshot think his luck turned against the team. Jean falls right into Sinister’s arms, and, uh, I’m not sure about this panel:

X-Factor #39

Was this really necessary?

That provides Scott the boost of anger he needs to break Sinister’s mental blocks and blast him. And it’s pretty awesome, even if it doesn’t entirely make sense.

X-Factor #39

It’s one hell of an image, I’ll give it that.

I’m not really sure how that’s supposed to work. I seldom am, with comics, honestly. But, like . . . what happened here? How could Scott blast the flesh off the bones without also pulverizing the bones? I’m not a scientist, so maybe this is plausible, but I feel like it probably isn’t. I don’t know, guys, I think this panel of someone using their eye lasers might not be scientifically accurate. Regardless, Sinister’s definitely dead, and won’t be showing up again, you can bet on that.

So now it’s time for goodbyes. Scott and Alex hug it out. The X-Men go back to Australia, to continue fighting for the dream their way, while X-Factor does it their way. And we end on Archangel, of all people, being optimistic.

X-Factor #39

And Scott being self-deprecating.

So that’s pretty much the end of Inferno. I’ve still got Excalibur’s tie-in to finish, but for the main storyline, this is it. This issue’s pretty cool. Some neat revelations about Scott’s origins. We only get a single moment hinting at Claremont’s origin for Sinister, with him being a kid who doesn’t age. The “sissy” panel is the only hint of that. But Sinister revealing some of the ways in which he’s tried to control Scott was cool enough. I also liked the ways the team tries to take him down. Longshot’s internal struggle about his luck was also good. Some of the writing could get a little more melodramatic than I tend to prefer. Personal taste, and it mostly worked in this issue, but there were a couple moments I cringed a little at.

The art mostly worked, too. Walt still isn’t one of my favourites. I still find his style off-putting in a couple different ways. (Faces occasionally too vague, lines a little too thick.) But for the most part, the issue looks good, outside a couple panels that didn’t quite work. Which happens, so it’s not a big deal.

On the whole, it’s a solid finale to a great event.

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