Once again, my commitment to preparing my new website to launch has delayed this release.  So I apologize for that.  You can check me out on twitter (@psychodadcomics) or check out the new website I share control over and write for:  Comic Watch (also on twitter @comicwatchACE).  It’s a great new site and I’m really enjoying the direction we’ve been taking.

This week in geekdom, my pulls include Batman the Devastator, Justice League #32, Old Man Logan #30, Iceman #7, and Darth Vader #7.

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X-Factor #127 (October 1996)

Darker Destiny

Writer:  Howard Mackie
Penciler:  Jeff Matsuda
Inker:  Al Williamson

A young boy is running.  From what, we can’t tell, but we know he’s hoping for Mystique to show up.  He’s scared and finally runs into a corner.  Several “hoodlums” (seriously, not sure what to call them otherwise) appear, clearly after him because he is a mutant.  And they’re not there to sell him girl scout cookies.  The boy tries to use his mutant power to scare them away…he can distort their perception of reality (not reality itself…he’s not Proteus).  But one scores a lucky hit with a thrown rock and the child drops to the ground.  The gang proceeds to beat him until he’s unconscious.

The next day, Val Cooper is watching X-Factor led down the hallway in restraints.  She’s not happy about this (she does understand that most are heroes) but her protests are ignored.  She checks on the guards who were leading Mystique, but Mystique had to make a stop in the ladies’ bathroom.  Cooper immediately realizes the mistake and rushes in to find the two female guards who accompanied her unconscious and Mystique is gone.  Val tries to shut down the building, but Mystique is already outside.

Mystique

A short while later, in a hospital room, a doctor is checking on an unconscious boy…the mutant from the first scene.  He’s still in critical condition and it’s not known if he will wake up.  The nurse mentions to the doctor that “Friends of Humanity” had been mentioned as a possible suspect, but that’s all she knows.  As the nurse leaves the room, the doctor is revealed to be Mystique, who promises that he will be avenged.

Later still, in a Washington DC police station, a detective is trying to get forensics to hurry up with the results from the boy’s beating.  A woman comes up (he knows her) and asks for the file on what they have so far about the crime.  He hands her a file and comments about how he wants to nail the FOH finally but they seem to know someone high up that keeps them out of trouble (hmm…I wonder who that could be).  Donna leaves but comes back a few seconds later, asking for the file about the crime.  Mystique strolls out of the police station, file in hand.

Mystique - 2

Next, at the FOH locale headquarters, the “hoodlums”, still congratulating themselves on a beating well done, are wondering when they’re gonna go out again.  When suddenly the lights go out and a lone figure is in the doorway.  She attacks them, downing two of them while two try to get away.  But at some point in the confusion, one of the two was replaced by Mystique who is eager to find out who ordered the thugs to attack the kid.

Throughout this issue, we’re also give glimpses of the various members of X-Factor interrogated.  But of course, they aren’t being very helpful.  The interrogator especially wants to know about Shard, but they all feign ignorance.  first Wild Child, then Polaris, even Sabretooth (who despite hating X-Factor, refuses to cooperate).  Forge is last to be interrogated but before it can get anywhere, Valerie Cooper busts in, needing X-Factor.  The interrogation is over and Bastion is not too happy.

Bastion

Only an hour later, X-Factor is at the hospital where Mystique has returned to watch over the boy.  They take her into custody, but she notices a political advertisement on TV for Graydon Creed…the man she knows ordered the attack.

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X-Factor during this era was very hit and miss for me.  In fact, for the most part, I didn’t collect it and still don’t have many of the issues.  Only key ones such as the Mystique’s plot against Graydon Creed and the Onslaught tie-ins.  In part, it was due to Jeff Matsuda’s art which I just never cared for.  I think it was closer to a style of anime that I just didn’t like.  It’s not that it was bad.  His facial expressions convey emotion well, the paneling is dynamic, and it’s often exciting.  It’s just not a style for me. (but the storytelling of Mystique as she walked out of the police station was fantastic)

Mystique - 3

But overall, this issue was pretty good.  It had some small moments, such as the nurse watching over Trevor.  To hear that she was the only nurse willing is heartbreaking because nurses are supposed to be the ones who take care of patients.  They are supposed to be the ones who make sure that the “soul” is healed, not just the body.  And yet nobody will go near the room for fear of the Legacy Virus.  But this nurse…she may not be comfortable, but she’s a hero in my book.  She’s one of those minor characters who are there just to set the mood that I think make the X-Men’s world a better place.

Under Howard Mackie’s guidance, Mystique also showed signs of complexity.  Which normally is a problem considering just how inconsistently she was written.  She’s been a psychopath and a nurturer.  It’s frustrating because you never know how a writer will write her.  Mackie seems to straddle that line.  Sure, she’s homicidal, but you can tell that she cares for the mutants who can’t help themselves.  She loves Trevor (no, not in that way…almost more like a son) and seems genuinely saddened that she was kept from helping him.  It’s a side to her we’ve seen before, but never quite as well done.

Overall, it you like the art style, this is definitely a good book to check out.  It’s not one that we remember years later when we think of X-Factor, because there’s no Havok (he’s bad at this point, remember?) and it’s a very different X-Factor than what we grew up on…but as a solo story, focusing more on Mystique, this was a solid issue.

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