Friday, January 24, 2014

X-Factor and All-New X-Men


X-Factor #2

Before:
Whenever I sit down to read comics, I tend to start with the one that I think will be the worst, and so I’m going with Peter David’s X-Factor first. There are a couple things about this that I’m intrigued and hopeful about. First, I like that we’re going with a “corporate superhero team”. I think it’s an interesting idea, but one that might fall flat. If David can do something interesting with that concept, I don’t think I’ll even care a bit about which characters are in it and what they’re doing.
Second, I have mixed feelings about the characters that are in this book. I like that Gambit and Quicksilver are here, because they are...heroically ambiguous? They’re kinda dicks, is what I’m saying. And while I like an elevating and positive message in comics, a medium that is very conducive to it, I think it’s great that we’re dealing with characters traditionally known for being not totally heroes. On the other hand, this whole book smacks of “Had to give them something to do”. I hate when one character is featured on two or more different teams, handled by two or more different writers. Not only does the reader get sick of that character, but no two writers can ever possibly characterize someone the same way, so there’s bound to be some disconnect between the two versions. Right now, there are three characters here not featured anywhere else, so that’s good, but I’m struggling to come up a reason why they’re all gathered together, and I hope it’s not “They didn’t have anywhere else to go.”
After:
I tried reading Peter David’s run on X-Factor before it got rebooted, but I couldn’t get into it because of the dialogue, which is pretty awful. David has “Whedon-Disease” where every single character has to make a snarky comment all the time, none of which are clever. “Garcon, is this your card”? Says Gambit, as though nobody else could have thought of that “joke”.
And speaking of Gambit, is there a reason he’s wearing a jacket over his uniform? Is he cold? I mean, I get that these characters are corporate now and need a uniform, but is Gambit wearing that waist-length jacket just so that we don’t forget that he’s Gambit, and he likes wearing jackets? Somebody needs to let him know that a windbreaker over a spandex skintight uniform just does not look cool.

All-New X-Men #22

Before:
Like I said, whenever I read comics, I always start with what I think will be the worst, and if you can tell from what I thought about X-Factor, you can see that I haven’t been too fond of All-New X-Men so far.
One of the main reasons is that I have no idea why this book exists. The in-universe explanation was lame and contrived, and I’m sick of stupid time-traveling plots anyway. The other thing is that the Marvel universe is so chock-full of mutants and mutant students whose stories are not being told, that I feel like we really didn’t need any extra copies of characters we already had. There are literally dozens of mutant students running around that need characterization that we’re not getting. Why not take the characters that you do have and give them some depth, instead of creating a brand-new version of an old character that is equally shallow? It’s a waste.
But, I’m still reading it aren’t I? The sole bright spot in this otherwise forgettable comic is the young version of Jean Grey running around. This is a rant for another day, but I hate the pointless cycle of death/rebirth with a lot of comic book characters; It removes so much tension from a book, and when you compare it with things like The Walking Dead, which is nothing but tension, you begin to see how good a book can be when the actual threat of death looms over every character. Remender’s take on Nightcrawler and his take on Banshee were pitch perfect. Instead of resurrecting Nightcrawler, he brought in an alternative universe version of the character to fill his role, but in a slightly different way, with a chance to characterize him in a different way. It was good stuff and didn’t feel lame. Banshee is another good example, because he was technically “resurrected” but brought back more like a zombie and less like a “Well, guess I’m alive again.” Compare that with Nightcrawler’s recent, true resurrection, where he just, welp, guess you pulled me out of heaven and I’m a X-Men again. Status quo!
After:
With the young Jean around, it feels the hole that “Dead Jean” left, and also allows a chance for new characterization. I think it’s cool that she’s going nuts. Time spent talking in the cafeteria is a good way to use pages in this book. However, why are these guys involved in so many fights? They get attacked at the base, but there’s no mention of any of the other dozen mutants hanging around there. This doesn’t make any sense to me.
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