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Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 11/23/13

The biggest draw of this week’s comics would have to be X-Men and Uncanny X-Men. Both are fresh of Battle of the Atom, and both get right down to business of telling entertaining X-Men stories. And the fact that both issues focus on lesser tiered X-Men is just a hoot. Let Wolverine have his solo titles, I want to read about Karima Sharpandar and Benjamin Deeds!

Not that the rest of this week’s comics are anything to scoff at. Avengers started to wrap up Infinity, while Wonder Woman is still in the early stages of her next story arc. One of the biggest issues this week is Batwoman, where new writer Marc Andreyko takes over from the bombastic team of J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman. Unfortunately, Andreyko’s Zero Year tie-in leaves a lot to be desired. But like I said, both X-books are strong. Comic Book of the Week goes to Uncanny X-Men for an issue focusing on new recruit Benjamin Deeds, and his oddly The Graduate-esque team up with Emma Frost.

Comic Reviews: Avengers #23, Batwoman #25, Uncanny X-Men #14, Wonder Woman #25, and X-Men #7.

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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!

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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.

X-Factor #239

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┬áthe 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!

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