Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Writer: Roger Stern (TA#263), you know who (FF#286), Bob Layton (XF#1)
Breakdowns: John Buscema (TA#263)
Penciler: you know who (FF#286), Jackson Guice (XF#1)

It was Saturday night, so I figured it was about time I joined the rest of the country and caught-up on X-Factor.

Oh that's right, I forgot, the phenomenally-popular TV series du jour quietly took its name from a 1985 Marvel comic.

After all, the similarities are undeniable. Both feature a quest for ordinary members of the public who possess unusual talent. (on TV it's musical talent, in the comic it's mutant superpowers) Both required the reduction of an earlier series to make room for it. (On TV: Pop Idol, in comics: The New Defenders) Both are made in colour. Both... erm... both have a big letter 'X' in their logo...

Yeah, well, anyway, the first X-Factor was a clever ruse to bring back the original X-Men line-up from 1963. They're all here - Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, and even Jean Grey, despite feeling a little under the weather from a slight death five years earlier.

In fact, the story of Jean Grey's passing remains arguably the most famous demise ever to take place in Marvel Comics. Small wonder that here it takes three issues to explain away.

I've never read that original tale of woe, which might be why this resurrection-arc appears to me to be extremely well worked-out. There's certainly a lot more effort gone to over undoing that, than over undoing her boyfriend Cyclops' new wife and kid.

Poor Scott Summers. Convinced of Jean's death, he's done the right thing and got on with his life. It's tragic to observe him silently walking the tightrope between loyalty and, um, loyalty.

Back-stories aside, the premise of the new team as a whole didn't hang together for me. However this is the pilot issue, and I understand that the writers did spot the inherent problems with X-Factor's secretly extortionate business-plan before too long.

My top moment in these three issues though has to be the first couple of pages to part two, which begin with the Fantastic Four returning to Earth. Maybe I'm reading too much in here, but it sorta sounds like author John Byrne had really wanted to keep them out in space for a few more adventures yet. After all, there is a pretty big gap in the storyline immediately before this...

Reed: "There she is! Terra firma! Mother Earth!"

She-Hulk: "There've been times in the past few weeks when I began to wonder if we'd ever see her again!"

Reed: "Really now, She-Hulk, you make it sound as if our eventual homecoming was unlikely!"

She-Hulk: "Well... not 'unlikely' exactly, Reed. It just seemed to get further and further away... what with one detour after another!"

Sue: "By now you should know Reed well enough to realize he's intellectually incapable of passing by anything of the slightest cosmological interest. But... that's one of the reasons I love him as much as I do!"

Reed: "Sue..."

She-Hulk: "Well, if nothing else, at least some of the little side trips we took on the way back should provide grist for some fine stories for the people who publish our magazine."

Torch: "Maybe. Last time I heard, there was a theory over there that 'cosmic doesn't sell.' And you can't get much more cosmic than the last few weeks."

She-Hulk: "Maybe not, Torchie... but I'll just bet the FF's legion of fans would be mighty peeved if they thought they weren't getting all the stories."

I really hope that ITV's version doesn't cut-out loads and loads of perfectly good stuff too.


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