Review: X-Factor #239
Forgive me for saying this, oh great comic book gods, but I think X-Factor is starting to show its age. If we take into account the renumbering, this current volume of X-Factor has published roughly 90 issues since 2005, and that’s not including the excellent MadroX miniseries that serves as an introduction. And all 90 issues have been written by the great Peter David. But after 90 issues starring essentially the same team members doing essentially the same thing, I’m starting to think this series is running a bit thin. Why do I say this? Because this one-off issue about Havok and Banshee teaming up to fight a real Banshee doesn’t really offer a whole heck of a lot.
Sure there is action and peril, but where is the character depth? Where is the exploration of the relationship between Havok and Banshee? Or more appropriately, where is the heart and soul of the comic?
Comic rating: 3/5: Alright.
Peter David is a master of character work. The early issues of this volume of X-Factor are a glorious examination of the Multiple Man character and the new headspace that David created for him. Not to mention all the twists, turns and relationships of the rest of the cast. Peter David is hailed as a genius for the character work he did with Quicksilver back in the now legendary X-Factor #87 from the 1993. And when Peter David is at the top of his game with this cast, he’s turned out some fantastic single issues. I was in stitches that time Multiple Man took the team to Las Vegas, because it was just such a fun and funny issue.
But after the last few issues, and especially this one, I’m just not feeling it anymore. They’re goods reads, I suppose. I enjoyed myself. But this issue is as bland as bland can get – except for a small scene between Strong Guy and Monet that captures that Peter David genius I’ve been talking about. That scene is stellar. But everything with Havok and Banshee is just boring. Maybe it’s the characters. It’s not like Havok and Banshee have any kind of history to draw on together. But as the writer, it’s Peter David’s job to provide an interesting relationship between these two characters, to make me care about them teaming up like this. And unfortunately, in that regard, he fails.
Full synopsis and more review after the jump!
First of all, let me say that this is a fantastic week for Havok fans. Not only is he starring in this issue of X-Factor, but he also made an appearance in this week’s Avengers vs. X-Men, and he’s been named as one of the stars/leaders of the upcoming Uncanny Avengers series, the one that’s spear-heading the whole Marvel NOW! initiative! So rejoice, Havok fans! Your time has come!
Anyway, we open with one of those teasers for what’s to come later in the story. PAD has been using those a lot recently. Morrigan, the banshee that we met at the end of last issue, has Theresa by the throat and is dangling her over the top of a lighthouse, taunting her for using the superhero name ‘Banshee’. Terry looks sufficiently freaked out.
We cut to Havok and Banshee showing up at the MacAllister homestead in Ulster County, New York. If you remember the set up from last issue, three members of the MacAllister family have died recently, all by apparent sonic-based attacks. Obviously the banshee Morrigan is doing it. She’s not exactly framing Terry, since it’s not like the cops came to arrest her at X-Factor HQ. No, it’s more like Wolverine apparently keeps tabs on the goings on in Ulster County, NY, and decided he needed to flex his X-Factor muscles a bit to get them off their asses. Nobody in anyway was thinking that maybe Terry was committing this murders, buuuuut maybe she’d like to go check them out anyway.
I’ve heard worse reasons to kick off a plot.
The comic cuts back and forth between the fight at the top of the lighthouse to the investigation at the MacAllister home. To save me the headache, I’m just going to do the synopsis in chronological order.
Banshee and Havok talk to a Mr. MacAllister, who takes them to meet his young daughter, Alana. Turns out that she’s the one who has been summoning Morrigan, and she does so again for Terry’s benefit. Alana didn’t like her cousin’s fiancee, and her grandmother had taught her some of the old magics, so Alana summoned someone to help – and accidentally got Morrigan. But rather than go after the fiancee, Morrigan started killing members of the girl’s family. Sucks to be her. Anyway, she tries to summon Morrigan again for Terry to see. Havok and Mr. MacAllister come into the room at the exact wrong time and disrupt the summoning circle. Morrigan is free now, and she kidnaps Terry to the lighthouse.
Like I said, not much happens. It’s basically just Banshee and Havok talking with the MacAllisters, and then Morrigan being all evil and stuff. No real depth to either hero, and the MacAllisters are just means to the end of summoning the evil Morrigan.
So let’s instead take a break and talk about Monet! It seems that a party bus has pulled up outside X-Factor headquarters, and the driver said he was there for M. After bantering with Pip and Longshot for a moment or two, Monet heads outside to investigate the party bus.
And who should be sitting inside but Guido Carosella, looking absolutely pimp!
Monet isn’t exactly swept off her feet, and takes some convincing. She points out that Guido doesn’t have a soul, and he says that might be a good thing. He’s been crazy for Monet for awhile now, but he was always too afraid to say anything about it. Now without a soul, he isn’t hung up on insecurity and he can tell her how he feels. The fact that he did it with a party bus is just awesome. Monet is still skeptical, so Guido unleashes the big guns.
He takes off his goggles.
Guido hits this babe with the ol’ one-two punch of his being in constant pain and how she’s the only thing that makes him feel good. It doesn’t help that this artist is pretty bad at faces, especially Guido’s. But even still Monet, can’t help herself. Guido is a total stud muffin. She tells the driver to give her 10 minutes so she can change into something more festive!
Unfortunately, that’s the last we see of the two of them in this issue. But we know that we’ll return to their storyline soon. I can’t wait! That scene positively sparkled with witty dialogue and great character interaction. This is PAD at the top of his game. He’s been building to these two hooking up for awhile now, and I really like how it’s starting to play out. The scene is funny and heartwarming. Plus any comic book where Strong Guy takes off his goggles is going to be special.
Anyway, back at the lighthouse, Morrigan has Terry prisoner, and basically just mocks her for daring to use the name ‘Banshee’. They have a little screaming contest, where the real banshee obviously out-screams the mutant with powerful vocal chords. Then Morrigan holds Banshee over the edge of the lighthouse and tells Terry to pledge her allegiance to Morrigan and she’ll be spared. She takes several glowering panels to make this demand, and Terry tells her to “kiss my Emerald Isle ass”. So Morrigan tosses her off the lighthouse.
Havok has tracked her to the lighthouse, but it’s Jezebel who swoops in and catches Terry. Jezebel betrays Morrigan and tells Terry how to defeat her, by killing her pet raven. Terry promptly does so and weakens Morrigan, and then Havok just blows up the lighthouse. Morrigan is buried in the rubble, problem solved.
Jezebel sets Terry down and then offers some vague, cryptic warnings of the coming apocalypse. She tells Havok that he’s pretty much screwed, but Terry will have to choose which side she’s on. Then Jezebel flies off and Havok asks Terry what all that was about.
I’m with her. Lackluster adventure, boring villain and absolutely nothing going on between Havok and Banshee. They barely even talk to one another, let alone provide an entertaining reading experience as a team. The brief interlude with Strong Guy and Monet had 10 times the class and charisma of the rest of the comic. There was simply very little to this story. It feels like PAD is just padding out his series to get to the bigger stuff coming up. Not even the appearance by Jezebel at the end adds much excitement for whatever her big storyarc is. I gotta say, I’m still not interested in her claims of Armageddon and whatnot.
I don’t really want to see X-Factor saving the world for Armageddon. I want to see them hanging out on a party bus!