Aug 23, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 180: Factor X #1, March 1995


My first real foray into the X-universe, lo these many years ago, was X-Factor #1, following the revelation of Jean Grey's survival in the pages of Fantastic Four and Avengers. I had some prior knowledge of the team, probably from the original Secret Wars series, but X-Factor was my first full immersion. Not long after I started reading Uncanny X-Men, a habit I continued until my break with comics in the late eighties.

It's nice to see that, a good 10 years after X-Factor #1, Factor X #1 maintains the same level of overblown drama as its progenitors. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. As I noted yesterday, Scott Summers is one of the more noble characters in the Marvel U, so to see him wrestling with a morally questionable position and society necessitates some overblown drama. Recent iterations of the character have placed him in a far more central, universal role, especially in his handling of the Phoenix, a role that elevates him in the Marvel U to the level of characters like Mr. Fantastic or Captain America. In many ways these characters become archetypes within their universe, indicative of a fundamental force or idea in the fictional construct. Cyclops has always balanced vast destructive power with an unerring sense of the right to life and equality for all beings. In many ways he is representative of the opposing yet complimentary attributes we see in many revolutionary movements. In the most successful, or most laudable, of those movements, we see the same kind of balance that is emblematized in Scott Summers.

Another character in this series who is quite fascinating is Mr. Sinister. I'll admit to knowing very little of this character, as he came to prominence during my aforementioned break with comics. I recall him as the architect of the Mutant Massacre, but that's about it. He stands in as a father figure for Summers here, replacing the deceased Charles Xavier, and the two represent two ends of the philosophical aspects of this civil rights metaphor. Both are extremely powerful, but Xavier falls on the egalitarian side, whereas Sinister is far more the elitist. Cyclops, in contrast, sees all as both equal and elite, and puts his power to the purpose of demonstrating that.

We'll see how this plays out over the course of the series. Already, in a couple of the preludes, his nobility has shone through. But survival in an Apocalyptian Darwinism means not only strength of body, but of mind as well, and a part of that strength is knowing which battles can be won, and which cannot. Will Cyclops be able to tell the difference? We'll find out tomorrow.

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