Review: All-New X-Factor #6
Six issues in and all of the members of the All-New X-Factor have signed up. I like the casual way the team has come together, with everybody just sort of asking if Danger, Cypher and Warlock would like to hang out. But I wish writer Peter David focused more on that element of the series. It would be a wonderfully subversive twist on the idea of a superhero team, especially starring these characters in this Marvel Universe. Everyone in All-New X-Factor has been here before. They’ve all been members of different superhero teams, some long-lasting and some not. The idea that they’re all randomly grouping up together for form yet another new team, and what everybody thinks of that, would be an interesting – and I think entertaining – focus for the series.
And I think PAD recognizes this, but I fear he’s still a little too focused on general superheroics. All-New X-Factor isn’t looking to be subversive. It isn’t looking to be anything more than just another superhero comic, and in the All-New Marvel NOW!, that’s just not good enough anymore.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
All-New X-Factor is growing on me just a little. The comic is becoming more rewarding to read, though if I wasn’t dedicated to doing these long reviews, I probably would have dropped the comic by now. Why am I dedicated to these long reviews? I dunno. I guess I owe it to the memory of Multiple Man to keep them going. But it’s just not a very catchy, entertaining comic. It’s readable and well put together, which can’t be said for every comic on the stands. But All-New X-Factor is unimpressive. It doesn’t really seem to have anything to say, and all of the characters are kind of just hanging out waiting to see if they’ll still be a comic by the end of the year. PAD tries to inject a little humor and humanity in the characters, but it’s not enough, and it’s just not as good as the last volume. PAD doesn’t have the same handle on these characters as he did on the last roster, and it shows every time he engages in a little playful banter.
The new issue is mildly entertaining, especially in how PAD deals with the Magus. One might say the ending of this issue was unexpected, but I kind of saw it coming. There were only two ways X-Factor was going to deal with the Magus, and this was one of them. In today’s day and age, this was definitely a predictable ending – not that I didn’t prefer it over the obvious fight climax. X-Factor has done enough fighting in only six issues. But this sort of twist ending is a little anti-climactic, though at least it serves its purpose of getting Cypher and Warlock on the team. The status quo of the Magus has changed, but I don’t imagine there are too many Magus fans out there to deal with the potentially ruffled feathers. It’s a solid wrap-up to last issue, and like I said, I’m enjoying the casual way the team is coming together. I just wish PAD put more focus on that perspective.
Join me after the jump for the full synopsis and more review!
We open with a prophetic dream in which Doug Ramsey, Cypher, sees himself in the future as some kind of monstrous super-villain killing all of his X-friends. Cypher wakes from the dream, startled, and decides he’s just going to throw himself off a cliff and end it all so that nobody will ever have to worry about him again. Is this some kind of commentary on the general fandom dislike of Cypher? Probably not.
Doug opens his front door to head out to that cliff, but randomly finds X-Factor waiting for him in a very odd pose.
Who greets someone like that? Have they not heard of a doorbell? Or knocking? Were they all just posing like that outside Doug’s front door waiting for him to open it? Gambit is sitting down, for crying out loud! And then each and every one of them needs to add some comment, just bombarding the guy with words. X-Factor need to work on their people skills.
We get a brief cutaway to Serval Industries, where Harrison Snow’s beautiful, blonde wife Angela pays him a visit during the day, much to the surprise of his mistress, Linda. Harrison is nonplussed and goes off to make dinner arrangements, leaving the two women alone. For some reason, PAD is really interested in this storyline and these characters. I guess we might as well humor him.
Back with our heroes, Cypher is just as confused as the rest of X-Factor as to why Magus and Warlock would work together, meaning Cypher is also familiar with Warlock’s Wikipedia page. It helps that he lived some of it, and mentions that Magus got infected by a techno-organic virus. Before he can elaborate, Danger introduces herself and reveals to Doug that he has a piece of Warlock lodged just above his heart. She helpfully takes it out for him.
Cypher didn’t know it was there and doesn’t know what Warlock was thinking. He uses his powers to read the digital signals coming from the little piece of Warlock, and determines that they are broadcasting to a location in Houston. So X-Factor heads off and invites Cypher along.
“Sure, why not,” he tells them.
The team arrives on a farm outside Houston, and the land belongs to Techno Inc, that company Magus claimed to be in charge of last issue. Pietro does a quick scan of the barn, but it’s empty. That’s because the real facility is underground, and randomly chooses that moment to spring up under their feet. At least it provides Quicksilver and Gambit a little more time for their passive aggressive banter.
The complex turns out to be this gargantuan, alien-looking facility full of craziness, energy, domes and a whole lot more. It’s not just a skyscraper. It’s a mad, futuristic, electricity-blaring behemoth of a building. X-Factor has no idea what they’re supposed to do about it – until the Magus shows up and invites them inside. He was expecting them, considering their fight last issue.
Back at Serval, Angela Snow reveals that she’s fully aware that Linda is sleeping with her husband, but Linda’s first response is to deny, deny, deny. Angela scoffs at the attempts and tells Linda that she doesn’t like liars, and that hearing the truth would be much preferable to the punishment Angela gives to liars. But Linda doesn’t give in before Angela and Harrison head off for dinner.
Yeah, I couldn’t care less about any of these characters. Harrison Snow can sleep with whomever he wants. I still think a Snow/Polaris hook up might have some drama to it, so perhaps this is just PAD setting up how Angela would react to such a turn of events. Perhaps this is all foreshadowing. I hope so, because otherwise PAD is just doing a poor job of getting us to care about these new supporting characters.
Inside the super structure, Magus reveals that he’s pretty much just running a normal company and not trying to be a super-villain at all.
When X-Factor call him on it, Magus explains that his planet is dead and there are only a handful of his people left in the universe. So he called up Warlock and buried the hatchet, because the traditions of the old world just don’t matter anymore. Then father and son went into business together.
Cypher asks why Warlock would put a piece of himself inside him, so Magus summons Warlock to ask. Warlock explains that he was worried about Doug, worried that he might be suicidal. Warlock was just keeping an eye on him. No harm, no foul. Warlock then mentions he’s missed his buddy and thinks they should hang out more, and Cypher agrees.
Warlock asks if he can leave the company, and Magus gets a little mad, but lets him go anyway. No harm, no foul. Lorna wants to fight, since he’s the Magus, but everybody else convinces her to leave.
On the plane ride home, the team ask Doug and Warlock if they’d like to join up.
Man, if Warlock comes between Gambit and Danger, I will be thoroughly displeased.
But like I said, I like how this team is so casually coming together. There’s a uniqueness to it, because all of these characters have been in similar situations. It’s like they’re bumping into old friends and suggesting they hang out more, but this is how it’s done in a world of superheroes and super teams. I just wish the focus was on that aspect of the series. Put more emphasis on the cliche of bringing yet another random grouping of X-characters together, and embrace the cliche by having all of the characters acknowledge it. I think it would be clever and new. Anything to make All-New X-Factor stand out in the infinite sea of team books.
Instead, PAD is just focused on more traditional comic book storytelling. They banter, they go on adventures, they face down giant super-villains. Sure, the ending with Magus wasn’t the typical slugfest, but having the villain turn out to be perfectly fine and non-violent isn’t that new or original these days. It’s different than the first five issues of the All-New X-Factor, but it’s not very different in the larger scheme of things. The ending is fine, it’s just as unremarkable as the rest of All-New X-Factor.
And that, really, is my main concern with this series. It’s unremarkable. There was a time when PAD’s previous volume of X-Factor was the best X-book on the stands. It stood out as new and interesting, with a fun focus on character and team. But the comic book landscape has changed since then. A lot of comics focus on the characters these days, giving them heart and soul. I don’t see that in All-New X-Factor. All I see is a generally well-made superhero comic, where the superheroes are just going through the motions.
The only real drama between any of the characters so far is the stuff PAD is creating from scratch between Harrison Snow and his personal supporting cast. But there’s no way any reader could really care about any of them or their situation at this point. Like I said, maybe it’s all foreshadowing for a larger story down the line, but PAD doesn’t have time for subplots that don’t involve the characters we actually want to read about. Marvel Comics is not kind to underperforming books these days. You’ve got to get in, get readers and sustain yourself from the starting gate. There’s no time for a slow build anymore if your title isn’t ‘Avengers Something Or Other’.
PAD needs to really deliver some storytelling and some characterization that we can sink our teeth into.