Sep 4, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 192: Factor X #3, May 1995

Two cool things happen in this comic. First, and closest to my heart, there's a reunion of sorts of the original X-Men, sans Iceman who might be a bit awkward in this setting. It's really cool to see Jean, Scott, Hank, and Warren all revolving around the same storyline, and it makes me wonder about the contentions I've been making about Scott's inherent nobility in my considerations of the last couple of issues of this series. Is there something fundamental about this original grouping of the X-Men as well? I'm not sure it rests on the same kind of level that I've been considering for Cyclops, that archetypal identity that seems to transmit through the various incarnations he's taken, or had thrust upon him, over the years. More, I think, it's the aura that surrounds that original grouping, the promise that, retrospectively, we can see in the old Lee/Kirby stories, knowing as we do where the various stories under the X-aegis have led. It relies a bit more on nostalgia, the same way as the Barry Allen Flash stories I've talked about in my re-reading of Mark Waid's run on the series. We honour and revere the original tales, and the original team, more for what they foretold than what they actually were. That said, there really is something special about this mixture of characters, which I imagine is why their regrouping in X-Factor was so successful.

Which brings me to the other interesting facet of this series: the Summers conflict. Alex and Scott have never really seen eye to eye, but their antagonism has generally been tempered by some deep-seated fraternal affection. That's missing in this series. But more interesting is the fact that the two are at each others' throats, and that Havok assumes leadership of the EMF in this issue, in much the same way that he takes leadership of X-Factor after the original X-Men left the title a few years prior to this storyline. So there's an interesting meta-textual commentary going on here, in that we're supposed to sympathize with Scott, Jean, maybe even Warren, in this series, and we're supposed to revile the backstabbing Havok. What is this suggesting about their respective tenures on the main X-Factor title? That Havok took the series by force, that fans were not ready for the original X-Men to leave their new home, one that had served them so well?

An interesting, but ultimately unanswerable, question. Tomorrow we get into Amazing X-Men again, and if the cover featuring Magneto and Apocalypse in battle is any indicator, shit's about to get real. See you then.

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