I must admit, it has been a long time since I have read such a satisfying set of books. In this offering, Peter David manages to put the story in neutral, allowing the momentum of previous issues to carry the major events and revelations forward as we begin to find out why so many people are after this one child.
In the first few pages I got the feeling that most of the issue is going to be talking heads discussing the plot. In a Peter David book that is usually okay. In this case, however, I was very wrong. The pages that give you the insight into the story, with young Lucas Bishop are brief, to the point, and only serve as a place for the reader to catch their breath before plunging back into the story. Finally the revelation about the child, and what it is likely to do in the long term for the mutant race, is revealed. And it isn’t so good…at least not for good old homo sapiens.
This is where I discuss some sensitive issues in the book. It involves key plot points, so if you don’t want to hear them stop reading now until the spoilers over indication below.
Character death has become a real sore point of mine in the last couple of years. I found so many deaths, in particular with DC comics, to be pointless and nothing but gratuitous violence that served no purpose. The death of Mr. America in the opening Justice Society of America book by Geoff Johns is a prime example, where a character probably should not have died logically if you examine the scene, but only served as a shock value moment.
The deaths of both Caliban, and now Layla, two very good and popular characters, have actually served the story. Caliban died in character, saving a friend. As fine a death as he could have hoped for knowing Caliban’s background. Low impact, but important as it establishes Caliban as a hero. On the other hand, Layla’s death was a sacrifice for the good of the whole of the mutant race. It is touching and important, and I was left shocked. She is a hero in every sense of the word, without ever throwing a punch. Kudos to Scot Eaton et al. for managing to convey the depth of emotion on Maddrox’s face as he realizes what Layla has done. Kudos to Peter David for finding a way to deliver this scene to readers who are largely exhausted on death as a plot device.
Spoilers over here
With the scenes in the future drawing to a close, we return to the present to find Jamie waking up with a new look, and he tries to wrest control of the situation from Cyclops. We are starting to see a bit of a darker side to Cyclops, with him cavalierly thanking Emma for putting Maddrox asleep, when he clearly has information. This was a misstep in the book and in the story: if Jaime had just returned from the future with a giant frigging M on his face, you’d think Cyclops would want to calm him down and hear the story.
However, the book itself keeps all the story lines moving forward; Xavier and Cable are having a pow-wow with Cable talking about how the kid will save the future, in an interesting contradiction to the story told by Bishop. Why is this the case? Not a clue, but instead of ticking me off, I’m really keen to find out what the real story is about. I think it is great that not everyone is telling the same tale, and the fact that a mystery like this unfolds in X-Factor is a nice touch.
Finally, we have the ultimate double cross of the book, which I’ll save for the reader. Man, am I happy to have old-school Marauders back in action.
The art is beyond serviceable, with rendering of faces bordering on realistic. The emotion in the future scenes is amazing, and every character is distinct. I’m torn on whether I want Xavier to look exactly like Patrick Stewart, but the depiction is very effective. My favourite scenes were something that some people might complain about: Cable’s visions of the future versus Xavier’s telepathic implanted memories. The implanted memories are hazy, like half remembered dreams, awash with colour, but still recognizable features. Cable’s visions of the future degrade from a society in a state of collapse to a society on the brink of destruction. Fantastic backgrounds with colours and inks complementing them perfectly.
Well, next up, we finally see Predator X in action. I had forgotten about the pup in all the hub-bub. It also looks like we are in for an old school scrap with the classic remaining X-Men up against classic Marauders. Bring on chapter 12.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!