It’s the tenth part of a twelve issue series, so obviously I’m in quite late. This doesn’t always have to be a problem going into an issue of a book. The writer can catch the reader up with expositional dialogue. But not everyone likes that stuff, they find it too cheesy. For me, it’s just about the best part of the comic reading experience, allowing you to jump in, understand half of what’s going on, then it builds on itself and you get the picture. That’s how I learned what happened with Spider-Man’s clone saga.
Unfortunately, I can’t even figure out all the characters’ names in this book. A number of people have powers, and there are some Russian guys who sinisterly teleport to America? That question mark has to do with the real problem I have with the book. There’s way too much inking going on here. It renders half the book indecipherable, and makes everyone look the same. Unless we’re talking about the one guy with bandages on his face who just stands around. I always know who he is. Often the backgrounds have an old computer-photo like quality, like the stuff of Jim Steranko. However, I feel that effect was done because people like Steranko have used it to great effect, and not because it would be the best fit for the story, making it a rather superficial addition. When those computer-photo backgrounds aren’t being used, the backgrounds are usually nothing. Now that doesn’t have to be a problem, it allows the focus to be on the characters or whatever action is happening in the panel in regular comics. That’s how it should work, anyways.
The third page here bugs me the most. The third panel is a close up of a face, from the nose to above the eyes, of a person saying “’nother helicopter coming”, with the tips of his fingers showing, suggesting that he is yelling, or is in a Culkin-esque state of shock (no, that’s not an obscure comic term. That’s just Home Alone where he slaps his face.). But if all you’re going to show in a panel is a characters eyes, then those eyes must say something- that he’s afraid, or angry, or something. Blank staring isn’t a very dynamic pose for a picture. But maybe there’s something awesome on this page that necessitated such a short shrift of this panel? Well, over half this page is used for a blank yellow background, with a man flying upside down towards the ground, yelling “Ahhhh!”
If a flying man says “Ahhhh!” then he should be out of control, or scared of something, but the picture looks like he is in complete control, no wild waving, or shock in his facial features (though that may just be a case of being unable to make out his features with the inking). It’s a total disconnect between words and pictures. And you know what else? It would have looked pretty cool if the guy was just not upside down, and the word bubble was gone. It would have been dramatic, instead of a failed attempt at injecting some humour.
It’s interesting how a series that was my “book of the month” in February can barely get a passable review two issues later. This issue isn’t terrible, it just isn’t as good as I expect X-Factor to be. Taking this book without the context of any others, it would be almost impossible to tell what’s going on. I read the book month to month and I could barely tell you.
Well, that’s not entirely true. Peter David is trying to show a team that’s healing through teamwork — that his band of mutants needed a crisis to pull them together. It’s workable, if a little predictable. I guess the really odd thing is that David brings in Arcade as a villain. It seems like a random choice because a Joker rip-off generally has no place in X-Factor.
It also could be that two of my favourite characters have left the series (Rahne and Layla) for various editorial reasons, so it almost feels like my favourite X-book has been gutted. I’m interested to see where it goes, even if that means that Longshot is joining the team. I have no interest in his mulleted ass. But David has surprised me in the past, so I’ll give it a shot.
The art is okay. De Landro is no Raimondi, though. But I guess I’m happy that the book is coming out monthly, so a fill-in artist is okay with me (except that apparently it is the harbinger of Raimondi leaving the book entirely).
Change is coming and I’m scared of it.