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Review: X-Factor #261

The penultimate issue of X-Factor is upon us, and rather than do anything for the larger story, writer Peter David just says goodbye to Monet and Darwin. He checks two more characters off his list, leaving us, next issue, with presumably his fond farewell to Jamie Madrox. I’m comfortable with that. I’m saving all my tears for that issue. Because I’ve never been a particularly big fan of Monet, and especially not Darwin, so this issue doesn’t hold any special meaning for me. It’s a nice little comic, and maybe if the series weren’t over it would hold a little more weight. But for now, it’s just a quick, done-in-one goodbye to two random characters. And sadly, I think artist Neil Edwards is getting a little rushed. Hopefully he saved his best work for the final issue.

X-Factor #261

X-Factor #261 is a quaint little comic that says goodbye to Monet and Darwin by hooking them up for no apparent reason. See ya later, kiddos!

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

Darwin has always been an odd character in X-Factor. PAD deserves a lot of credit for doing anything with the character, but his attempts to turn Darwin into a real boy were never nearly as successful as what he did with Layla Miller. Those two characters actually have a lot in common. Both were created by hot shot writers to serve as plot devices in their big stories – Layla was created by Brian Michael Bendis to be the dues ex machina in House of M, and Darwin was created by Ed Brubaker to be pointless in Deadly Genesis. And both were pretty much abandoned by their hot shot creators almost immediately, left for other writers to play around with. That PAD grabbed them both for X-Factor says a lot about him and the series.

But whereas PAD had some amazing ideas in store for Layla Miller (“I know things”), he kind of just plugged Darwin into X-Factor with no real purpose. The guy randomly joined up alongside Longshot in a Secret Invasion crossover, and stuck around for a split second before taking off to parts unknown for more than a year. That PAD ever bothered to bring Darwin back in the lead up to Hell on Earth War was strange enough, but to say goodbye like this? It just doesn’t really jibe in any meaningful way. PAD could never make Darwin work, and he still doesn’t succeed in this issue. Darwin is as bland and boring as anyone can be.

Monet fairs a little better. PAD has always had fun with the character, and her personal journey over the course of the series has been rocky and dramatic. I kind of wish he’d come up with something better for her to do in the end, and it’s kind of a shame that she got saddled with Darwin for her finale. The two characters have zero chemistry together…though that’s probably entirely Darwin’s fault.

Join me after the jump for a full synopsis and more review!

Darwin is in Las Vegas hunting for Hela, the Norse goddess of the Underworld. The last time X-Factor was in Vegas, Darwin used his evolution powers against her, and that somehow turned him into a harbinger of death. He doesn’t like it and wants to turn back. Also, he’s still packing that giant gun for some reason.

Cable called…

Darwin believes Hela and her minions are holed up in a warehouse off the strip, so he bursts in…and finds a chop shop. The gangsters shoot him full of lead, but Darwin just evolves into a sort of jelly creature and is unharmed. He then takes a moment to explain his situation to the gangsters, how he doesn’t feel ‘human’ anymore. Then he gets pissed and uses his powers to convince the crooks to go turn themselves in to the police. And that gets us up to speed on Darwin, I suppose.

Outside, Monet finds him – and Darwin immediately punches her in the jaw!

How superheroes say ‘hello’

Since he saw her die a few issues ago, he assumes this Monet is some kind of zombie or shapeshifter or something evil. So the two trade blows for a bit before Monet explains that Guido, the new King of Hell, brought her back to life. Darwin is still angry and accuses her of being some kind of soulless monster woman. Monet tells him to bite her, and Darwin sort of apologizes before she laughs at how much of a moron he is. She takes him out for drinks in Vegas.

Oh, also, turns out Hela was hiding in that warehouse after all.

Anyway, Monet and Darwin find some lounge to get a drink, complete with a singer belting out tunes in the corner. They swap notes about where they ended up at the end of the Hell on Earth War. Darwin was in Tunisia, and apparently getting out of there was a “hell of a time”. Monet wound up back in New York City and she hung out at the old, destroyed headquarters for two days without anyone showing up (because Polaris went straight for a bar). Monet decided to fly to Las Vegas because the team spent a lot of time there, and running into Darwin was completely random. That’s always a good way to set up a story: the two characters randomly bump into each other in Las Vegas.

Wisconsin?

Monet gets angry at the lounge singer for crooning about Heaven. Monet’s religion has always been an important factor in her character arc, and she angrily shouts at the guy that there is no Heaven. She died and there was nothing until she woke up in Hell. A bouncer tries to get her to sit down, but she just breaks his hand. So Darwin tries to get her to calm down by telling Monet that he has been in love with her since the first moment he laid eyes on her. Monet just calls him an idiot again and walks out.

And here you can see why I said the art looks really, really bad:

Which one is Darwin again?

Sloppy, rushed, barely competent and with no background whatsoever. It’s just disappointing. A lot of the issue is drawn well, there are more than a few good panels. But there are some parts that Edwards clearly rushed. I hope the final issue doesn’t look this bad.

Anyway, a sad Darwin exits the club and finds Monet waiting for him outside. She grabs him and tells him that she has felt nothing since she came back, so she kisses him and hopes he can make her feel something.

I’m going to miss all this hot X-Factor action

And so they get a hotel room and sleep together. Since when has coming back from the dead meant the superheroes no longer have souls or feel anything? Why must the members of X-Factor be cursed in such a way? If, indeed, that is what’s happened to Monet.

Lying in bed, Darwin stares up at the ceiling and thinks to himself while Monet sleeps. He knows that she doesn’t love him back. It was just sex. Then Hela shows up and mentions that Darwin was looking for her. Darwin sits up in bed and tells her that’s not the case at all. He says he’s happy with the way he is and wouldn’t change a thing. So Hela leaves.

Now that’s a smile!

So I guess sex cures all that ails you? Or maybe Darwin realized that Monet likes the wilder him? Whatever the case, we didn’t see a whole lot of ‘Harbinger Darwin’ in this issue, so there isn’t much to compare him to. No matter what PAD did to him in the past, he still seems like boring old Darwin. And I apologize to any die-hard Darwin fans. Considering how much I love the Mimic, I’m not one to talk. I’m sure Darwin has some major fans. I like his powers, so maybe if he existed under better circumstances, I’d like him more. But he’s just bland, carries a big gun for no good reason and hooks up with Monet – though I think it’s utterly pointless that Darwin revealed he was in love with Monet. I’m sure PAD had that planned for awhile, but this late in he game, it makes no difference.

Farewell, Darwin, very few will miss you.

Monet, I’m sure, has many more fans. I’m not one of them, so I can’t say how those people might feel. I felt her farewell was a little rushed too. If she had only been this nice to Guido, a lot of this probably never would have happened. She’s practically a sweetheart towards Darwin, laughing off his oafishness and then throwing herself at him. I think I understand her motivation. She’s been through a lot. And maybe sex is what she wants and needs. But Darwin? The couple just has no chemistry together. I suppose it’s as fond a farewell as anyone in X-Factor is going to get, and the story is competent, but for me, there’s just no emotional connection. I wish PAD had found a better, more fulfilling way to say goodbye to Monet. She deserved better.

Oh well. Onwards to the last issue…

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About Sean Ian Mills

Hello, this is Sean, the Henchman-4-Hire! By day I am a mild-mannered newspaper reporter in Central New York, and by the rest of the day I'm a pretty big geek when it comes to video games, comic books, movies, cartoons and more.

Posted on August 22, 2013, in Comics, Marvel, Reviews, X-Men and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I love me some Monet. As far as the feeling nothing goes, it might be because she actually went to Hell. Plus, she still remembers when Guido was brought back without a soul, so she’s probably worried about it being the same for her.

    This was a bit of a dark issue. Still some PAD dialogue, but less than usual.

    I do hope Monet lands somewhere soon. She’s too cool to disappear. Perhaps a new Generation X series? Dammit, a guy can dream!

    • Dream away, my friend! I’m holding out hope for a new X-Factor relaunch, after all. So what did you think of her finale? Do you like her attitude in this issue? Do you like her hooking up with Darwin like that?

  2. I can’t remember what issue, but Darwin definitely had a big crush on Monet the entire time he was on the team. So him being in love is not out of left field. I think he was thinking of asking her out or something like that.

    I wouldn’t considered myself a Darwin fanboy, but I actually like the character mainly because of David. He’s just an awkward guy not cut out to be a superhero, but then he had this huge responsibility. I prefer outsider mutants to the all-star mutants nowadays, so I’ve always rooted for the character.

    And M? I really hope she along with Madrox and Layla Miller have a new title coming up.

    • His crush has been mentioned before? Well alright then…but still, well…yeah, you’re right. It was mentioned before, and who wouldn’t have a big crush on Monet as soon as they met her? Alright, I’ll buy it. And I’d definitely be willing to bring M along on whatever Madrox and Layla do next.

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