Sunday, 13 October 2013

X-Factor: Visionaries Peter David volume 3 review

The third volume of ­X-Factor Visionaries: Peter David brings the focus back on the main members of the X-Factor team. It’s a big frustrating because I feel this is where the story should have picked up after the first volume. The crossover with The Incredible Hulk was a pretty major distraction even if it was a good story in itself. I enjoyed the third volume more than the second one but my enjoyment of it is hindered by the same problems I had with the previous volumes of this series.

The art inconsistencies didn’t really bother me this time around. That’s because the guest artists’ style matched up pretty closely to Larry Stroman’s art even if they did not quite reach he same level of abstraction in their line work. I don’t have much more to say about the art in these issues and that itself probably says a lot. They’re early nineties comics and it’s important to mention that because the inking and colouring have a pretty big impact on the final look of the comic. These issues look like nineties comics. The only exception would the Annual issue which is drawn by Darick Robertson and Joe Madureira. That issue looks sleeker and cleaner and it’s quite breath of fresh air but the annual they make up can best be summarized as a throwaway gag issue. It doesn’t advance the story or the characterization and the only thing it contributes to is a few laughs. Peter David has made significantly better jokes in the regular issues of X-Factor.

Thankfully the story moves along a big more in the rest of the volume. The X-Factor team deals with three mutant related issues. In one, a mutant is accused of murder and they investigate the allegations. In another story, they’re asked to protect a former member of a muscle for hire crew which offered protection to a drug cartel. The third story deals with mutant expatriates from Genosha who are travelling the seas searching for sanctuary but finding only rejection. Mutants are the Jews of the Marvel Universe it seems. All three of those stories could and for a few pages did, form the basis for interesting stories about homo sapiens and homo superior equality but they all fall short. One of the reasons of the stories do not work is that the members of X-factor always end up fighting numerous other mutants or super villains. The resolution to all these stories is a one or more superhero fights. It’s a disappointing story.

The other reason why the stories don’t seem to work is that they try to bring forward topics that would generally seem more serious in tone. Peter David is trying to pull away from the good guys fights bad guys story and steer the book into a more satisfying direction. He’s trying to offer the reader something different that also happens to have depth of story. As I mentioned, the first problem is the unnecessary requirement for superhero fisticuffs and it’s not even a particularly rewarding version of that. The second reason is that the tone of the book is in constant fluctuation form humorous to serious and thoughtful. David is unable to balance the humour and the more serious elements into a cohesive comic. This happens to be the volume which has the best humour in it. He’s done ag ood job on that fron band the best thing about the fight scenes is the banter. It’s problematic though when Havok and Val are having a serious discussion as to how to handle the mutant expatriate (or x-patriate) situation, they’Re also finding time to crack jokes.

It’s inconsistent but it has a lot of potential and it makes for a frustrating read because you keep thinking the story is going to lead to something good and worthy of thought and discussion but it often leads to bad jokes, cackling evil bad guys. The villains in this story are uninteresting and much like the stories in the Annual issue, they feel like throwaway characters that matter because of their role as villains as opposed to their importance as characters in a story. Three volumes in and it still feels like Peter David is trying to find his footing and it’s getting to be too late since he ultimately only wrote one more volume’s worth of X-Factor comics.   

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