Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Review # 30: "X-Factor - 'Invisible Woman Has Vanished' and 'Second Coming'"

Revisiting these books after hitting such a high point with "Time and a Half" and "Overtime," I was expecting a lull. I'd forgotten how good these are, completely underestimating Peter David's ability to throw in great twists. I should know better.

"Invisible Woman Has Vanished," as the title would indicate, is a crossover between X-Factor and the Fantastic Four. With their mom gone and their father acting unusually, Franklin and Valeria Richards decide to hire Madrox and company to get to the bottom of the situation. Jamie, Rictor, Shatterstar and Guido visit the Baxter Building and it goes exactly how you'd expect for a superhero crossover - there are fights. Strong Guy and The Thing tangle, followed by Thing vs. Shatterstar. The brawls are hilarious, poking fun about how these tend to happen for no reason. Shatterstar makes his bread and butter here, completely justifying his presence on this title.

After several hilarious exchanges with the Richards kids (in which the brilliant Valeria steals every scene) and a shocking discovery using Longshot's memory residue powers, off the team goes to Latveria. While some people might find it strange that a villain is featured in two straight storylines, I don't think anyone will complain about Peter David instantly utilizing Doctor Doom again. Victor is relatively benign here, but he's a constant indirect source for humour. For example: upon learning the team has split off so the heavies can go for a surprise frontal assault, Reed notes that no one who has faced Doom multiple times would find that advisable. When Madrox points out the Thing is among them, he replies that no one who has faced Doom multiple times outside of Ben would find that advisable. Of course, we find out why Sue has vanished (how she's being incarcerated is a laugh and a half,) who was really responsible for this series of events and that Doom is keeping some interesting company.

Meanwhile, there's some subtle significance to this arc as Monet heads south to find her abducted father. Guido follows in tow (getting some aid from a woman with no legs who looks like a latino Lisa Edelstein. Valentine De Landro was clearly using Cuddy as a photo reference and changed her skin colour,) and comes face-to-face with the sorcerer Baron Mordo. While his time in the series didn't linger for too long, this is the first occasion of X-Factor dipping into the mystic. That element would grow pretty fast.

There's also a big side-issue involving Theresa who visits her family plot, continuing to come to terms with the death of her father. A surprising visitor shows up, one with a face Siryn would rather not see.

This all leads into "Second Coming" as X-Factor is pulled into the X-wide crossover without leaving their own track. A resurrected and mind-controlled Bolivar Trask (set to be played by Peter Dinklage in the upcoming "X-Men: Days of Future Past") hatches a plan to kill the private detectives, employing Absorbing Man and Titania to help do his dirty work. It has a good pace and is pretty good, but really doesn't do anything to advance any of David's ongoing plots. As a bonus, if you bought this trade, the X-Factor issue from "Nation X" where the team visits the X-Men on Utopia is included. For a one shot, it has some continuity issues but they can be easily ignored especially with all the great humour. Highlights include Monet's interaction with Dani Moonstar, Jamie talking about personnel with Cyclops, and Longshot (who has no memory of their previous relationship(s)) once again hooking up with Dazzler.

More fun stuff all around, but hold on to your hats because business is about to pick up in ways you wouldn't predict, though you can never predict anything in this book.

Rating(s): 8/10 ("Invisible Woman Has Vanished"), 7/10 ("Second Coming")

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