X-Factor #60 is the 3rd part of the 9-part epic X-Tinction Agenda. It also marked the end of the first “round” of issues. Part 4 would then return to Uncanny. I always viewed these as a three act play. The first act set up the story. This also marked the first time the X-Men titles had done this. Sure, there had been cross-overs, but they were always a bit more disjointed. Inferno had some cross-over element after the first couple issues, but those first couple issues were stand alone tales, same with the New Mutants issues. Additionally, this was the first X-Over that didn’t involve any non-X titles. Inferno, Fall of the Mutants, and even Mutant Massacre all had tie-ins to other titles, such as Thor, Avengers, even Spider-Man. This isolationist attitude would continue for years until the Onslaught saga (and then resume after that).
X-Tinction Agenda had the potential to be such a fantastic story. To see all of the X-Men characters together was something that hadn’t been done since the creation of three teams. Unfortunately, it was the X-Factor issues (and, to a lesser extent the New Mutants issues) that really brought it down. Louise Simonson, while great at characters, came up with really odd plot points. But even worse was the art from Jon Bogdanove. I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why he would ever be appointed to any x-books. The faces were constantly distorted, the muscles exaggerated, but not in a good way, and people just looked like mutants…but not in a good way. Oh… and he hated masks.
I’m serious. Jon Bogdanove had a serious problem with the characters wearing masks. None of the characters who normally wore any sort of headgear would wear them in his issues. Marvel Girl’s was absent. Later on, Wolverine’s was gone. And even Cyclops didn’t wear his mask. What I don’t get is why wouldn’t you draw masks when you can’t draw faces? It’s not just a case of the character taking off his/her mask. That character would have the mask on one issue and the next issue, drawn by Bogdanove, would be missing the mask, and the very next issue, that character would have the mask back on. Weird.
This story follows X-Factor, Cable and Forge to Washington to get information from Valerie Cooper. What this information is, we really don’t know, but I can only assume they were mostly maps and Genoshan troop information. Gotta say, they don’t really do any good. Meanwhile, the X-Men mourn Warlock’s death as Storm, Boom Boom, and Rictor still try to escape the capital city. X-Factor and the remaining New Mutants and X-Men then fly to Genosha. As they try to sneak onto the island, it turns out that Cameron Hodge, using technology obtained from Shaw Enterprises (man, does that guy have his hand in everything?) is monitoring their approach and sends a battalion of Magistrates, led by Havok, to deal with the mutants.
Havok strikes first at Cyclops who is leading the onslaught. A massive battle ensues. Of course, for the most part the magistrates are hopelessly outmatched. The big battle is really between Cyclops and Havok who is a brainwashed Magistrate. They fight each other, not really doing any harm to one another (they metabolize the majority of the other’s power) and resort to fists. Of course, Cyclops decides to take a different approach and use the ol’ grab-em-by-the-ears approach and starts slamming Havok’s head into the ground. Apparently he did this when they were younger. How Havok managed to live without brain damage is beyond me.
As Cyclops had discovered Havok’s only weakness (head slamming while someone holds your ears), Havok retreats, ordering Pipeline to teleport them away. Let’s forget the fact that Pipeline needs a phone line to work. Maybe they had a satellite phone? Once the Genoshans had retreated, Cyclops, now shirtless and bearing his comically apparent hairy man-nipples (thanks again, Bogdanove) consults a map with Cable. They both point in different directions without making any real points of where to go.
It’s really hard to know what of these were Simonson’s choices and what are Bogdanove’s. Simonson does very well writing teenagers and how they react to this sort of world, but some of her plot choices and storylines are among the weirdest and not in a good way. You can kind of tell what I think of her choices in parts of this story. But the real problem with Bogdanove and we would have to endure two more horrible issues with him at the helm.
Because of the poor art, the X-Factor issues were the cheapest to obtain as back issues. Most of X-Tinction Agenda would go for $10, $20, or even $30 in the early 90’s. But this issue was $5 and easy to get. As such, it was my first issue I obtained, but luckily I had the TPB to read so it’s not like I was stuck with this issue.
What did you guys think of Bogdanove? Am I overly critical? How about Simonson? Feel free to share your thoughts on this post or your memories about these old X-Men titles that started the 90’s!