MARVEL NOW and the New X-FACTOR, 2014… Plus X-FACTOR’s Greatest Moments!

Posted: February 22, 2014 in COMICS
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
xAll-New-X-Factor
I have to admit to have been somewhat alienated by the (virtual and real-world) comic book stores and by Marvel‘s vast reorganisation in recent times.

I haven’t read new comics for a while with the same kind of dedication I had as a teenager, my ‘golden era’ being early-to-mid nineties, though I still own and cherish a large part of my old collection. And although I keep making a resolution to delve more fully back into the Marvel pool, I find myself more than a little lost trying to figure out where to begin these days. I’m sure I’ll figure it out when I’m ready. Maybe it’s a part of growing up; like trying to go back to the town you grew up in only to find that it’s changed so much.

But the announcement of an ‘X-Factor’ relaunch in 2014 was a helpful incentive to me, as was the fact that the much-loved Peter David is carrying on as writer for the ‘all-new’ X-Factor series, David being perhaps as intimately associated with the title as Chris Claremont is with the golden age of X-Men comics. Polaris/Lorna Dane is the lead character of the new line-up, which is an excellent choice, and she is joined by her half-brother Quicksilver/Pietro Maximoff, which seems like another good idea. The big news that Gambit is part of the team enthuses me less, as I’m not a big fan of the wisecracking Cajun, but in any case Polaris and Quicksilver seem a good starting point. I have to say that putting Havok and Forge back into the mix would entice me even more, though that could be just the nostalgist in me.

In addition, however, to the confusing restructuring of the Marvel Universe and the reshuffling of various ensembles (X-Men and Avengers groups primarily have changed beyond recognition), something that really puts me off is the contemporary style of artwork – it just doesn’t do it for me. A lot of it just LOOKS really unattractive, compared to the older styles, which were simpler and seemed far less pretentious, the books being more about the storytelling and the art itself being merely a medium for the storytelling. The new X-Factor artwork, courtesy of Carmine Di Giandomenico, isn’t doing much to attract me and this general underwhelmingess of the current art and illustration in contemporary tittles may be one of the things delaying my return to dedicated comic reading.

CORTEZ1

Artwork from ‘X-Factor #92’: Quicksilver being handled by Magneto’s killer, Fabian Cortez…

My main X-Factor era as a reader was the government team from X-Factor 71 onwards, centered around Havok and Polaris. A little later I was still holding on during Forge’s leadership of a team that by then included Mystique. But in terms of stories and lasting resonance, it is virtually impossible to match the 1980’s X-Factor, which was in 1986 basically a rebirth of the classic 1963 X-Men, a team featuring Beast, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Iceman and Angel. So many classic storylines were written across that era that have stood the test of time, with the X-Factor title having been central to such legendary X-Men events as the Dark Phoenix saga, the Mutant Massacre or the creation of Archangel (one of the best ‘rebirth’/transformation stories in comic book annals). Though my personal favorite remains the Quicksilver-centric X-Factor 92 (“The Man Who Wasn’t There” – part of the brilliant, Magneto-centered Fatal Attractions storyline in 1993).

This does play into a wider question of whether modern, contemporary titles and retoolings can ever really create the same lasting resonance, quite simply because we live in a different time now, in which all modern life, including the nature of comic book collecting and comic publishing, is vastly different to what it used to be. The cultural landscape, I believe, doesn’t have the same fertility it once had for great works to have the same kind of impact.

Just like nothing in motion pictures is likely to have the same lasting resonance on people that Star Wars did for the late 70s/early 80s generations, it’s unlikely anything happening in comics now is going to still be talked about twenty years from now in the way that people talk about Days of Future Past, The Dark Phoenix Saga, Operation Galactic Storm or the Infinity War, to name just a few examples; but there might be exceptions, Marvel’s ‘Civil War‘ opus from several years ago could be something that’s discussed for years to come yet, while the genuinely superb X-Men: Second Coming from 2011 is something I’ll probably regard highly for a long time.

In any case, industries need to grow, evolve and adapt, and Marvel needs to make itself appeal to new, young audiences and not to thirty or forty year-olds longing for the good old days. It may be that the Marvel NOW playground is primarily for a newer generation and that people like me are meant to remain happy with our older collections. Though admittedly I am inevitably drawn towards a dip into some of this new pool. This new X-Factor run may be one of those incentives. The new Silver Surfer title is an even bigger one, as is the news of a new Nightcrawler series…

Memories of X-Factor: 10 of (classic) X-Factor‘s Greatest Moments…
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X-Factor #10
“Falling Angel!”
(November, 1986)

X-Factor #18 "The Enemy Within!" (July, 1987)

X-Factor #18
“The Enemy Within!”
(July, 1987)

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X-Factor #19
“The Horsemen of Apocalypse”
(August 1987)

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X-Factor #24
“Masks”
(January, 1988)

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71
X-Factor #71
“Cutting the Mustard”
(October, 1991)

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X-Factor #78
“Playing With Fire!”
(May, 1992)

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X-Factor #92
“The Man Who Wasn’t There (Fatal Attractions, Pt. 1)”
(July, 1993)

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X-Factor #100
“Mahapralaya!”
(March, 1994)

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X-Factor #106
“Phalanx Covenant: Life Signs, Pt 1”
(September, 1994)

x-factor108-promisedvengeance

X-Factor #108
“Promised Vengeance”
(November, 1994)

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