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Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 8/1/20

Another week, another pile of enjoyable comics, proving that some aspects of life can get back to some semblance of normal. It’s good to have comics again. We’ve got nice issues of Power Rangers, Legion of Super-Heroes and even X-Men, kind of.

Comic Book of the Week goes to the first issue of X-Factor, possibly because I’m attached to the comic name, even if Multiple Man doesn’t appear in the issue at all. We do get Leah Williams writing the Blob again though! And an actually entertaining Daken!

Be prepared to legitimately enjoy Daken in a comic

Meanwhile, I’ve finally started my reread of the classic Milligan/Allred run on X-Force/X-Statix! I bought the first compendium volume and it is easily holding up after all these years. This comic was so insanely ahead of its time! I can’t even imagine how X-Statix would deal with Twitter.

Comic Reviews: Empyre #3, Legion of Super-Heroes #7, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #52, X-Factor #1 and X-Men #10.

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Review: All-New X-Factor #5

Well glue forks to my hands and call me Wolverine, I actually liked this issue of All-New X-Factor! I’ve been pretty hard on the series so far, but I really felt that Peter David’s writing and characters were finally starting to gel in this issue. Yes, he still has them rush off to face the next big, elaborate bad guy, but the first issue is all about slowing down the pace and letting us get to know who these characters are and why they’re doing what they’re doing. That is fundamental to appreciating fiction. You can’t just throw a bunch of superheroes onto a team together and have them fight bad guys.

X-Factor #5

Yet that’s exactly what PAD did for the start of All-New X-Factor, but he’s finally getting into the substance of why these characters are together and what motivates them to be a part of this series and this team. It’s a definite step in the right direction.

Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.

The problem with All-New X-Factor is that it doesn’t have a soul. There doesn’t seem to be any greater purpose to the comic or any larger story that PAD is trying to tell. From issue #1, it’s felt like generic superhero mediocrity. It’s as if Marvel really wanted to relaunch X-Factor but didn’t have any good ideas, so PAD just grabbed a bunch of random X-characters and threw them together on a team. Not that any of this has really been fixed in the new issue. But at least with with All-New X-Factor #5, I’m finally starting to see what this endeavor means for these characters and why they’re putting up with it.

In a lot of ways, I definitely think PAD has a good idea on his hands; several, in fact. First there’s the idea of the first corporately-owned superhero team operating in the Marvel Universe. What does that mean for all involved and for the MU as a whole? Second, and more importantly, is the idea that these characters have all been down this road before, and they know this isn’t how such things are done. What do the superheroes themselves think when they’re randomly put together on a team? Unfortunately, five issues in, I don’t think PAD has really focused on either of those ideas very well. He really seems content to just tell random stories about his random X-heroes fighting random bad guys. That’s disappointing. I think PAD either needs to start focusing on the characters and their individual journeys or he needs to reveal the larger Serval Industries plot, because random fights against the Magus or whoever aren’t going to sell comics in this day and age.

All-New X-Factor finally delivers a worthwhile issue, but it’s not without the same faults that continue to plague this series. Join me after the jump for the full synopsis and more review.

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Review: All-New X-Factor #4

I consider myself a dedicated X-Factor fan…I guess. Or maybe I was just blinded by my love of Multiple Man. Was that it? Peter David wrote an amazing Multiple Man! He re-defined the character for the 21st century, and it was a thing of glorious beauty! And more than just Multiple Man, the whole previous volume X-Factor was a lot of fun. So what am I not seeing in the All-New X-Factor? Was PAD’s previous series this shallow, and I just really enjoyed seeing Multiple Man? I kind of get the feeling that if he switched out Gambit for Multiple Man, I’d probably be enjoying this comic a lot more.

X-Factor #4

As it stands, the newest issue of All-New X-Factor is more of the same, and I’ve still got to give the thing a big ole meh!

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

There’s not much to this new issue. All-New X-Factor¬†#4 is all about recruiting Danger to the team by way of a big, explosive fight scene. PAD peppers the fight with some nice character moments, especially for Gambit and Polaris, but at the expense of a seemingly incompetent Danger. The angry robot spends the entire issue promising to kill everybody but never seems to focus enough to actually carry it out – though, of course, it’s not like she’s allowed to really kill any of the main characters. But you’ll see what I mean in the synopsis.

Like I said, Gambit and Polaris get some good moments. Gambit spends the issue trying to snap Danger out of her murderous rage, while Polaris has some murderous rage of her own. But I don’t really care one lick about Danger, her history with the X-Men or her potentially joining X-Factor. I’m fairly certain that nobody else in the X-Office cared enough to use Danger in their comic, so PAD snatched her up. Or maybe he really wanted to use her, I don’t know. What I do know is that we went through a lot of trouble to add her to the team, and I just didn’t care for any of it. We took an abridged tour of Gambit’s recent solo series, but I don’t feel as if the story affected Gambit at all or had any impact on the series. They might as well have gone to the Savage Land or Latveria to recruit Danger.

I don’t want to come off as overly harsh in my reviews of All-New X-Factor…not like with Teen Titans. That book is actively bad. But All-New X-Factor is just bland. It’s bland characters on bland missions with no real emphasis on the corporate angle, at least not yet. And I’m just not happy with bland.

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Review: All-New X-Factor #3

I need to talk about the cover of All-New X-Factor #3 for a moment. I don’t usually discuss covers in my reviews, but this needs to be said, because cats in comics is kind of my kryptonite (as well as Youtube videos of cats who sound like they’re talking). I dig the unique look of the All-New X-Factor covers. But this cover shows Gambit snuggling with a bunch of cats, and the quote, “I’m their freaking king” above his head. This led me to believe that X-Factor was going to meet an army of cats, and they were going to really like Gambit, and therefore he was going to declare himself the ‘King of Cats’! BUT IT DOESN’T HAPPEN!

All-New X-Factor #3

I kind of want to demand my money back. And I want the ‘King of the Cats’ to become a thing immediately.

All-New X-Factor #3 shows a bit of improvement over the first two issues, but not by much. The characters and their relationships are still paper thin, the premise is still a bit uncomfortable, and writer Peter David hasn’t found anything really interesting for anyone to do (other than crack crappy jokes). But somehow, this issue at least felt like it was put together a little better than the first two.

Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.

At three issues in, I see signs that some of my concerns with this comic might even out. PAD is clearly trying to build up the relationships between his main characters, but he’s still working with a bunch of blank slates, so there’s just not much he can do yet. I get why Gambit doesn’t trust Quicksilver, but the characters have never had anything to do with one another, so the mistrust just rings hollow. And Polaris has been such a non-player for the past few years that she doesn’t really have any sort of relationship with anything, whether it be her teammates or the Marvel Universe as a whole.

Also, when has Gambit been a crazy cat person? That cover isn’t about Gambit becoming King of the Cats, but instead its about how Gambit has brought three pet cats to live with him at Serval Industries. When did that happen? Has Gambit always had a bunch of pet cats and I’ve just never noticed?

Or is it another bit of plot that PAD has pulled over from Gambit’s recently cancelled solo series? I hope the lot of you were reading that series, because X-Factor’s second big mission is mired in characters and plot points from it. Of course, considering the series was cancelled due to low sales, I think we can all agree nobody was reading it.

But PAD forges ahead anyway! Join me after the jump for a full synopsis and more review.

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Review: All-New X-Factor #1

Sometimes you’ve just got to be careful what you wish for. The comic I was most looking forward to in the All-New Marvel NOW! has arrived in the form of All-New X-Factor #1, writer Peter David’s latest revival of his long-standing, moderately popular superhero team. Free of past continuity and characters, PAD has been given free reign to re-invent X-Factor as he sees fit, with a new cast, a new purpose and new momentum. So it really is a shame that this issue fails on every conceivable level.

X-Factor #1

All-New X-Factor #1 is as generic and mediocre a superhero comic as you could get in this day and age. From a boring plot to random characters to a premise that reeks of missed opportunities, every aspect of this comic is uninspired.

Comic Rating: 4/10 – Pretty Bad.

The last time PAD relaunched X-Factor – whether you count the MadroX mini-series or X-Factor #1 – the writer clearly had purpose. Built around the reinvention of the wildly underused Jamie Madrox, PAD’s vision included noir sensibilities, the mysteries of Layla Miller, shadowy villains and a cast of characters with rich histories together. Back then, PAD clearly had ideas. And he had heart.

But all of that is missing in All-New X-Factor #1.

The new relaunch falls victim to Marvel’s recent trend of just piling a bunch of random superheroes together and calling them a team. Again and again, Marvel has done this, whether it’s some new Avengers spin-off or multiple versions of X-Force. And maybe if one of your favorite characters is on that team, you’ll love the comic. But most of these books are just generic superhero stories starring random superheroes, and that’s exactly how the new X-Factor reads. Even the interesting new premise, that X-Factor is now the first corporately-owned superhero team in the Marvel Universe, is painfully generic.

The potential for some interesting ideas or styles is present, but time and again, PAD either skips right over them or doesn’t play them up nearly enough. He ¬†could get so much about of All-New X-Factor, but PAD and Marvel seem fine with settling for mediocrity.

I don’t give this comic a year.

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

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