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Waiting for the Trade: X-Factor

Waiting for the Trade

X-Factor: Scar Tissue

By Peter David, art by
Valentine DeLandro and Emanuela Lupacchino

Collects X-Factor
213-219

 

Why I Bought This: It
guest stars the Black Cat who is perhaps my favorite Marvel character. It is also
written by Peter David, who is one of the all-time great Spider-man writers and
who wrote Felicia particularly well back in the day.

 

The Plot: The
main arc is about an assassination attempt on J. Jonah Jameson. He hires both
Black Cat and X-Factor for protection. There are also a few single issue
character studies on some of the regular cast.

 

(spoilers below)

Chapter 1 – Some dude is gambling in Vegas and when he takes
off his sunglasses people see death and freak out. Madrox later approaches this
dude, whom we learn is Darwin
(of X-Men First Class fame). Darwin
apparently had to fight (Asgardian death goddess) Hela in a prior trade and thus
evolved beyond death but now feels without a place in the world so he quits the
team to go find himself. We then get a lot of personal drama with the team
whose members are Siryn, Strong Guy, Pip the Troll, Longshot, Shatterstar,
Rictor, Wolfsbane, Layla Miller, and some other chick whose real name is Monet.
The big personal drama is Rictor learns he is not the father of Wolfsbane’s
pregnancy. She lied because she’s catholic and wanted to save his soul from
being gay. They part as friends and he goes back to Shatterstar.

Chapter 2 – Darwin
is wandering around the desert when he comes across a chick being chased by a
dragon. Darwin
kills the dragon. He takes her to the nearest town which ends up being a ghost
town out of the Wild West. All the residents are trapped in the town by a
sheriff, who then blows a hole in Darwin
when they meet. Even when his head gets blown off Darwin keeps coming. When sheriff dude sees Darwin’s eyes he stops
fighting and explains this town is in a kind of timeless limbo waiting for the
apocalypse. The sheriff throws down some foreshadowing about an impending Hell
on Earth deal and gives Darwin
three magic six-shooters. He calls for the High Noon shootout before he will
let Darwin
leave. Sheriff dude reveals he is Wolfsbane’s son and shoots Darwin dead. The town the fades back into
Limbo. Darwin
wakes up in the desert thinking it was a dream but he has one of the magic guns
with him.

Chapter 3 – Some chick from Ethiopia hires Madrox and Layla to
investigate her father’s death as she believes he was murdered by her
stepmother. The police believe her father was killed by a vampire as part of
that X-men vs. vampires crossover I never bothered to read as his body had fang
marks and was drained of blood. Layla and Madrox investigate and ultimately discover
the chick that hired them is an African vampire, which has different rules than
the traditional European vampire. This vampire projects out of her body when
she sleeps and her conscious mind has no idea what its doing. The vampire tries
to kill the stepmom and Madrox and Layla stop her when Layla performs an
exorcism, which she says should cure their client for good. Madrox then
proposes to Layla and she turns him down.

Chapter 4 – J. Jonah Jameson hires X-Factor to investigate
the murder of some military dude who once saved Jonah’s life. Spidey happens to
be spying on JJJ and warns X-factor about working with him but they just make
snarky comments so he leaves. Also some blond chick asks some black chick if
she remembers her. She doesn’t so blonde chick sets her on fire and the black
chick regenerates into a spandex costume and recovers her memories.

Chapter 5 – Apparently Felicia (the Black Cat) works for
Jonah now as a salaried employee so she wonders why he’s hired X-Factor when
she is a licensed PI. Jonah explains she works for the Mayor’s Office and this
is a personal investigation. Meanwhile three chicks (two of whom we saw last
issue) are listening in on Jonah and are planning to kill him. Most of X-Factor
is chasing down leads. Meanwhile there is a protest in New York about mutants and Muslims. This
irks Monet since she is both. Monet and Guido are watching over the protest
while Siryn is riding with Jonah in his car. Jonah gives a nice speech on equal
rights in an attempt to disband the protesters. Felicia is on nearby rooftop
watching as well when the black chick from last chapter wants to use the same
roof to set up a sniper rifle. They fight and the black chick has super
strength which gives her the victory. Meanwhile the blonde chick is in the
crowd of protesters. Siryn recognizes her from a lead Longshot found earlier
and goes on the attack but the police think she is attacking the mayor and nightstick
her. Blonde chick then blows a hole in Guido’s chest with her finger-gun
superpower.

Chapter 6 – Felicia recovers and takes on the black chick
before she can fire her gun. Finger gun chick is firing on Jonah but misses.
She attempts to attack Monet but Monet is apparently telekinetic and redirects the
bullet into the blonde chick’s skull. Monet wants to get Guido to the hospital
but blonde chick heals. She goes to fire on them but Siryn is able to make the
save. Felicia tries to taser black chick but it has no effect and she throws
Felicia off the roof. Jonah calls in a pair of mandroids but the third chick
fires off an EMP knocking the mandroids from the sky. Guido is going into
cardiac arrest and Monet flies him to the hospital. He tells her he loves her
as he passes out. Felicia tagged the chick she fought with a tracer and begins
to track them as the villains cut and run. EMP chick powers make her aware of
the tracer as soon as black chick gets in the car and the villains decide they
can use it to set a trap. At the hospital Guido dies but then he miraculously
recovers.

 

Chapter 7 – Felicia falls into the villains’ ambush and is
captured. Monet grabs Jonah in a fury and asks for the rest of the story. Apparently
JJJ funded dead military dude’s attempt to revive the super soldier program and
these three chicks are the result. At the hospital Layla tearfully leaves
Guido’s bed implying she did something bad to resurrect him. Monet,
Shatterstar, Wolfsbane and Longshot follow a lead on the villains. The super
soldiers have captured a scientist from the program and intend to kill both him
and Felicia and make it look like murder-suicide crime of passion as we get
their back-story: they went psycho on some missions, general dude wanted to
kill them but scientist dude argued for mind wiping them and giving them a
normal life instead. At this point the four X-factor members arrive for the big
fight. Finger-gun shoots Wolfsbane but she proves immune because her apparently
child has an Asgardian protection spell cast on it. Monet uses telepathy to put
Fingergun into a coma. Longshot and Black Cat learn their powers cancel out
which gives the other two a chance to escape. 

 

Critical Thoughts:
Not much here to be honest. Truthfully I don’t think I’ve ever read an issue of
Peter David’s X-factor before this. Like when he took over 20 years ago and
made the book about Havok, Polaris & Strong Guy as government agents I was
like I don’t care about any of these characters and that hasn’t changed through
any of the eras since then. Reading this I don’t feel like I’m missing much.
This whole cast is a group of uninteresting people with uninteresting powers.
They’re third stringers for a reason. The only subplot in this that I would be
remotely interested in the conclusion to is David seems to be on the verge of
answering the question of whether Shatterstar is Longshot and Dazzler’s son,
which has lingered for two decades.

As for the Felicia story I bought this trade to read it’s
hurt by lame villains. These chicks are so-non descript they don’t even seem to
have codenames. David writes Felicia herself as fairly capable if under-powered
in this fight. And I liked the little bit with her and Longshot’s powers
cancelling out. But I felt like there was more potential here. Felicia to my
knowledge has never been in an X-men story before (she’s had a pair on
mini-series with Wolverine and met Gambit once since they are both thieves but
that’s it) and so there could be some intriguing possibilities if they were
actually teaming up and investigating together but instead they are more or
less working parallel to each other.

I will say David still writes Jonah better than any other Spider-man
writer ever. Jonah’s equal rights speech is a great tool for showing why Jonah
is a respected leader despite his over the top Spider-man ranting. I know some
don’t like politics in their comics but I’ll point out Jonah has been shown to
be for civil rights since the Silver Age in stories with both Randi and Robbie
Robertson including a famous incident where he kicks a political candidate out
of his office when he learns the man is racist. I buy everything Jonah does
here and why he does it. I buy he would fund a super soldier program as a favor
to a man who saved his life; and in the past Jonah has been shown to admire
Captain America. I buy Jonah would work with X-factor because unlike Spider-man
they are not masked vigilantes. They are licensed private investigators working
within law—none of them wear masks and more than half the team uses their real
name instead of a codename. I’m not sure he would work with Felicia but that
seems to be happening in Spidey’s book and not here so that’s out of David’s
hands; but even so I like he won’t use government money to pay Felicia for a
personal investigation. So on that front the big highlight is seeing David
write Jonah again because as always he does it very well.

 

Grade D+ : Those
first three chapters are filled with things I don’t care about and frankly are not
particularly interesting; while even the chapters I care about are mostly
underwhelming.