Review: X-Factor #228
The fallout from Multiple Man’s shocking murder hits the X-Factor family hard in this follow-up issue. Unfortunately, this is a shining example of how too many characters is hurting the book. What should be an emotional issue as X-Factor deals with both the death of their friend and the still-rampaging villain is instead a juggling of a dozen or so characters. Nobody gets more than a few panels to express themselves, and they have to choose between Madrox or Bloodbath, or sometimes squeezing feelings on both into one moment.
This robs Madrox’s death from any true emotional fallout. For a book based on character and team interaction, I was hoping for more of both.
Comic review: 3/5: Alright.
I suppose this could be considered a good issue. It’s solidly written and well-paced, providing a suitable climax for the Bloodbath arc. The new villain continues to be both fun and menacing, while the team has some good moments. But like I said earlier, it’s missing any true character-based reaction to Madrox’s death. X-Factor has always been more about its characters than overall stories. They’re something of a family, or at least a group of friends hanging out. And while the various members are clearly upset that Madrox is dead, none of it rings on any deeper emotional level.
The massive cast of characters leaves little room for any character depth. And that’s a damn shame. At least the cover kicks all kind of ass.
Before we begin the synopsis, I’d like to draw everyone’s attention to the recap page. As usual, writer Peter David added a little kicker at the end about his personal life or thoughts. They’re usually fun to read, sometimes they’re about his family. Well in this issue, David talks about the mini-mates action figures and how everyone should just keep buying Multiple Man mini-mates.
Thanks Peter David, I’ve been saying that for years!
Anyway, the issue opens with Bloodbath, still possessing the previous Madrox dupe corpse, catching readers up to date. It sort of works, since his whole shtick is about thinking he’s in a TV show or movie. So he’s pretending that he’s catching people up after a commercial break, I guess. Then the team gets their first reaction to Madrox’s death, with Layla Miller taking it hardest. She rushes to Madrox’s side while Bloodbath taunts her inability to have foreseen this outcome. Layla Miller ‘knows stuff’ after all.
After the initial shock and disbelief, the team attacks! Wolsfbane goes first, shifting into wolf-mode and leaping for Bloodbath. She first tells the little toy, Terry, to run outside to join his waiting father. Banshee attacks as well with a sonic blast, but Bloodbath just uses his big, honking sword to bounce the sonic into Wolfsbane, which knocks her back into Rictor. Bloodbath mocks them for not being able to better coordinate their attacks. Because obviously that’s what they were worried about.
Strong Guy grabs Bloodbath and holds him while Longshot throws his fletchlette weapons at him. Bloodbath just laughs them off, since he’s just controlling a corpse, until one finally hits him in the forehead, shutting him up. Though not before making a bad Al Gore joke.I guess Al Gore being boring never goes out of style.
The dupe corpse stops talking, and the team wonders if Bloodbath is defeated. Nope.
He just gets right back up in his old body to continue the fight. Bloodbath is a demon, after all.
Shatterstar goes next, picking up Bloodbath’s curved sword and attacking. Blackbath continues to mock the team, this time calling attention to the fact that Strong Guy was able to avoid his soul-stealing attack last issue. If you remember, Strong Guy was resurrected a few issues ago by Layla Miller after he was shot and killed – but at the cost of his soul. Bloodbath knows this and he tries to distract the team, but none of them are willing to listen to his lies!
Except Monet, who tells everybody to stop so that they can address the Strong Guy issue. She’s been noticing something wrong with him as well.
Banshee yells at Monet that Bloodbath killed Jamie, and that they shouldn’t listen to a word he says. But Bloodbath is insistent, and calls out Layla Miller to admit what she did. Close up on Layla for dramatic effect.
Before she can admit to anything, though, we have a brief interlude with little boy and his dad. The Hangman has been waiting outside the studio, and the two have a nice little heart-warming meeting. Then Hangman wants to get the heck out of dodge, but Terry wants to stay and help X-Factor. Hangman says no, but then Terry says that his mom told him all about Hangman, that he’s a superhero! Hangman, a villain, is taken aback.
Cut back to X-Factor as Bloodbath spills the beans about Layla’s power to resurrect the dead. Only a few people knew about it on the team. She was keeping it a secret. So everyone has a little trouble believing it, until she admits that she used it to bring back Guido a few issues ago.
I like his reaction.
That’s concern for his friend right there. I’ve always missed out on the Guido/Madrox friendship in X-Factor. It was evident in the original MadroX mini-series, and was sort of around in the start of this book, but it’s been such a small part. I always loved the fact that Madrox and Guido, and Rahne to another extent, came from completely different origins in comics. Then Peter David brought them together in his X-Factor in the 1990s and they became fast friends, sticking together after X-Factor ended.
The trio was the heart of the MadroX mini-series. And sadly it’s been missing in X-Factor. This issue is a big example with Guido and Rahne getting very little panel-time to react to Madrox’s death.
Though Guido does get a moment to react to finding out he has no soul.
The group accepts this idea and Bloodbath taunts Layla to go ahead and resurrect Madrox, even if it means he’ll come back without a soul. Guido’s been doing alright, hasn’t he? Layla reaches for the body but stops, then asks if anyone is going to stop her. The members of X-Factor look at each other for a moment.
Banshee tells her to do it.
Monet tells her to stop.
Bloodbath takes advantage of the quiet moment to attack. X-Factor fights back and we get another little fight scene. Bloodbath doesn’t want them to resurrect Madrox without a soul, because he can’t really hurt guys without a soul, and a mutant who can turn into a whole army of soulless heroes is bad for business.
Bloodbath continues to have the upper hand in the fight, taunting the team that they can’t stop him.
Though maybe Hangman can. Big dramatic climactic return!
With Bloodbath hung up, Shatterstar steps to the plate and cuts off his head. But being the demon that he is, Bloodbath just jumps into the corpse of Madrox Prime, that’s still lying on the street. Bad form, dude. Too soon. He taunts everybody and asks if they’re going to cut this body’s head off, but Layla grabs him by the neck and reveals a sudden magical side to herself.
She straight up exorcises Bloodbath’s ass!
With the villain gone, everyone quickly jumps back to arguing about the idea of Layla resurrecting Madrox. She tries…but something’s wrong. Madrox is gone! She doesn’t know why, she doesn’t know what happened…but she can’t sense him.
Could it be because he’s somehow been transported to that other dimension, where he and Layla were married? It happened last issue
I guess we won’t find out until the next issue, which I think comes out some time this month. So we won’t have to wait long!
Overall, the issue was just OK. As I said in the opening, it lacks any real emotional impact on the characters. Everyone is just stuck reacting or fighting, either with each other or with Bloodbath. No one really seems impacted by Madrox’s death. And the fights are so redundant, since Bloodbath just keeps bouncing back. Plus there are far too many characters, so everybody gets maybe one panel of attacking. There’s no real sense of teamwork between the characters.
And the art just keeps getting sloppier and more rushed since Leonard Kirk took over. Still good, but not the best I’ve seen him do. Which is a shame.
Anyway, I can’t wait until next issue, which promises to almost entirely be about Madrox dealing with whatever Peter David has planned for him.