Monday, September 2, 2013

Review # 39: "X-Factor - 'They Keep Killing Jamie Madrox' and 'Together Again For The First Time'"

When we last left X-Factor, it appeared Jamie Madrox had been killed. Again. Jamie's death has been a red herring several times, turning out to be a dupe or something or other. This time it's different: he's not dead - he's "just" hopping from reality to reality. While this is not completely explained, it appears that if Jamie dies in an alternate timeline at the exact same moment, he ends up getting ripped into that dimension. How? Well, the trade IS called "They Keep Killing Jamie Madrox." The first universe isn't all that bad. Well, if you don't count Jamie and Layla being mauled to death on their wedding night. From there, Madrox is ripped into several more universes including one where Marvel's "Civil War" escalated to disastrous proportions and another where hell has been unleashed on earth.


Meanwhile, there's a major shakeup at X-Factor Investigations as - with Madrox presumed dead - Havoc and Polaris, who were members of the team during its government-sponsored incarnation, join up. Remarkably, they end up giving the group some synergy despite it showing signs of ripping at the seems. There is an excellent scene where Monet accosts Strong Guy and - in return - gets ripped a new one verbally by Pip the Troll. It's an excellent tirade, capped off by Pip calling M out on constantly showing cleavage, telling her to zip up her uniform. In a nice touch, M's top is zipped up in all of her appearances from then on.

Eventually Madrox finds his way back (in a touching moment) but there are serious consequences pending. It also leaves me with a major hanging question that I didn't pick up on until DAYS after I read this.

I'm about to go on a nerd-out tangent, so bare with me. During Jamie's multidimensional trip, he runs into alternate versions of Longshot and Shatterstar. In this reality, Star is acting a lot more like he was as an early 90s caricature, which I thought - at first - was a dig by Peter David at Rob Liefeld. But then it occurred to me: one of the understandings of Marvel's multiple universes is there is only ONE Mojoworld, which Longshot and Shatterstar come from. So having alternate versions of these two doesn't make sense... unless they're clones, a very likely scenario. Then it occurred to me that, given how their personalities have both shifted over the years (especially Star's in the pages of X-Factor,) it's entirely possible that the versions that appear in this alternate reality have ALREADY appeared in the mainstream reality. I'd even suggest that the alternate Shatterstar was the ORIGINAL Shatterstar. That is some damn cool food for thought and makes me wonder if that was David's intention.

Anyhow, Madrox and Havok clash as you'd expect, and Jamie makes some choice digs based on the ongoing grudge he has with Alex's brother. He takes up a case on his own, as he and Shatterstar head west to investigate the deaths of several wannabe mutants who dress up in costumes and fight low-level crime despite not having any powers. As fast as Shatterstar can make a shoulder-pad joke, he's attacked by "Scattershot," a new Mojoworld villain who's part of an unseen plan. (Sidenote: there is an AWESOME 90's-style cover drawn by Leonard Kirk for their showdown. It's glorious.)

This again has me thinking: Mojo, the ruler of the aforementioned Mojoverse, is yet to rear his ugly head. Given how crazy yet TV show-like this series has been (and it gets crazier), is it possible that Mojo - who has no trouble ripping people from dimension to dimension - is orchestrating the entire series? It would make a lot of sense, stated or not, and I'm beginning to see a fair amount of evidence. Many may discover the answer soon as the final issue comes out, but I'll be waiting for the trade.

Only five volumes to go.

Rating(s): Like they matter. If you're in this far, you're in for the long haul. 8/10 ("They Keep Killing Jamie Madrox"), 7.5/10 ("Together Again For The First Time.")

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