Comic Book Review: X-Factor #25: Messiah Complex

X-Factor is normally one of my favorite Marvel titles as it is. Add the rather exciting Messiah Complex story arc to the mix and you know that I’m chomping at the bit to read X-Factor #25. There is no way that David doesn’t turn out a great read with this issue. Let’s go ahead and do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Scott Eaton
Inks: John Dell

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.

Synopsis: We begin with Wolfsbane attacking some Purifiers who are meeting in one of their churches. The Purifiers strike back and chase Wolfsbane out of the Church and down the street. Rictor is conveniently waiting outside and whips out a gun and shoots Wolfsbane several times. Wolfsbane falls into the back of a pickup truck that quickly drives off. The Purifiers compliment Rictor on his quick shooting. Rictor introduces himself as Joaquin Murrieta and says that he has been looking for the Purifiers for a while.

We see the pickup truck, with Wolfsbane in the back, stop. Siryn is the driver of the pickup. Wolfsbane comments that the fake blood stains badly and that the fake bullets hurt. Siryn contacts Cyclops to inform him that Rictor is now with the Purifiers.

We cut to Jamie and Layla arriving at Forge’s lab. Jamie is sopping wet since he refused to stand underneath Layla’s pink Hello Kitty umbrella. Forge unveils his Chronal Tracker machine to Jamie and Layla. Jamie tells Forge that Cyclops didn’t tell him much about the mission.

Therefore, Forge explains what the plan is. Forge says that after M-Day every time branch that his Chronal Tracker monitors suddenly flat lined. All mutants were gone from every time branch. Suddenly, since the birth of the missing child, two branches have spiked. This bears investigation. Jamie answers that since he is an investigator then this is where he comes into the plan.

We cut to a hospital in Santa Cruz. We see Wolverine being rushed in with injuries from being run over by an ambulance. A nurse named Amelia Voght tends to Wolverine. Wolverine heals up from his injuries and tells Amelia that he is looking for her. That this was the fastest way he could get to her.

Amelia suddenly turns herself into mist and escapes through an air vent. Wolverine then radios Storm and Nightcrawler that Amelia is headed their way. Storm uses her powers to capture Amelia. Amelia says that she wasn’t running to protect her former Acolyte teammates. That she was trying to protect the X-Men. Amelia says she will tell the X-Men where the Acolytes are hiding. And that the X-Men better pack their thermals since they are going to Hell and it is frozen over.

We cut back to Forge telling Jamie to make two dupes and that they will send one into each of the two time streams to do some investigating. Jamie warns Forge that his dupes have been a bit unpredictable and don’t always do what he says.

Jamie makes two dupes that seem willing and up to the task at hand. Forge sends the first dupe into one of the time streams. Forge then begins to transport the second dupe into the other time stream. Just as the dupe is about to be teleported away, Layla rushes up to the platform and grabs the dupe around the waist. The dupe and Layla both get transported to the other time stream.

Jamie yells at Forge to reverse the teleportation immediately. Forge responds that he can’t. That these are one-way trips. That a message was psionically transferred into the dupes’ brain cells. Once they arrive in their respective time streams they will know that they aren’t coming back. The dupes will be instructed to kill themselves and the knowledge from their investigations will be transferred directly to Jamie’s mind.

Jamie grabs Forge and is about to punch him. Jamie calls Forge a manipulative son of a bitch. Suddenly, Jamie passes out.

We shift to the New X-Men talking with Cyclops. They are all pissed that Cyclops isn’t letting them get in on all the action. That Cyclops is even using people that he hates like Jamie Madrox. Cyclops lays down the law. Scott says he doesn’t hate Jamie and calls Jamie a valuable asset needed for a mission.

Scott gives an optic blast to Rockslide and tells them all to calm down. That there will be where he says so and when he says so and if they have a problem with that then they know where the door is. And then he’d do after them and haul them back here and chew them out for abandoning their own species in a time of need. Scott says that when their time comes the may well wish it hadn’t.

We slide over to the black guy who is the leader of the local Purifiers chapter that Rictor is joining performing a scan on Rictor to make sure he isn’t a mutant. Rictor passes the test. The leader welcomes Rictor into the Purifiers. He then leads Rictor to a secret chamber full of high tech weaponry and informs Rictor that this one Church is just one of many of their bases and it is one of their smaller ones. That the larger bases will blow Rictor away.

The Good: David dishes out another strong read with X-Factor #25. This was a well plotted and paced issue. David continues to flesh out several of the plotlines centering on the members of X-Factor. David kicks off Rictor’s mission of infiltrating the Purifiers and gets Jamie’s mission off to a great start. And in typical fashion, David teases the reader with several unexpected twists in this issue.

As always, David crafts plenty of fine dialogue. David flashes his good sense of humor. David manages to put in just enough witty banter without going overboard like Bendis tends to do in his stories. I especially loved the Hello Kitty umbrella that Layla was using. I’m with Jamie. I’d rather stand in the rain rather than stand under a pink Hello Kitty umbrella. And as usual, Jamie gets the majority of the really good lines.

With X-Factor you can always count on quality character work. I dig how Peter handles Scott. Cyclops comes across as a tough as nails leader who exudes confidence and projects an air of always being in complete control of the situation around him. I love how Scott just lays down the law with the New X-Men. The New X-Kiddies definitely learn that you don’t mess with the bull, ’cause you’ll get the horns.

And I like that Cyclops fires out a small optic blast to get Rockslide’s attention. It is like swatting a disobedient puppy’s butt with a newspaper. David’s version of Scott goes well with Scott’s recent character evolution that we have been getting over on Astonishing X-Men and Uncanny X-Men.

David does an excellent job revealing the surreptitious nature in which Scott handled Jamie’s mission. This was an incredibly interesting twist that I was not expecting. This shows that Scott is willing to do anything for the “greater good.” Even if it means holding back the truth that two of Jamie’s dupes will have to die in order to pull off the mission.

It is important to note that Scott refers to Jamie as a “valuable asset.” Jamie isn’t a teammate. He isn’t a fellow mutant. He isn’t a person. In this current crisis, Scott clearly views Jamie as simply a tool that he can employ to get the job done in order to win this war to save the mutant species.

Also, this move by Scott shows that he can be just as manipulative as Professor X has been in the recent past. There has been a huge schism between Scott and Professor X due to some of Professor X manipulative actions and his lying to Scott and the X-Men about things such as Danger and Krakoa. Now, during this incredibly pivotal moment in the X-Men’s history, Scott is doing the exact same things that he is mad at Professor X for doing. Scott is manipulating Jamie and Scott’s silence about the fate of Jamie’s dupe is tantamount to lying.

Maybe once Scott gets called out on the carpet by Jamie, it just may make Scott understand Professor X a little better and why Professor X felt he had to do what he did and in the manner that he did it. This might help Scott to let go of this anger and disappointment toward Professor X and forgive him.

The scene with Amelia agreeing to give up the location of her former Acolyte teammates was interesting. David teases the reader with the cryptic statement that the X-Men will have to travel to hell and it is frozen over. I’m curious to find out where the Acolytes are hiding out.

David serves up a fantastic ending in this issue. David shocks the reader with the revelation that Forge just sent Jamie’s two dupes on suicide missions. What a great unexpected twist. And to top it all off, David has Layla unexpectedly tag along with one of Jamie’s dupes. This plot twist should certainly create even more tension between X-Factor and the X-Men. I dig that. Not all super teams need to get along like the JLA and JSA do. It should be interesting to see how Layla’s bizarre and unpredictable powers will enable her to get back to our time stream.

David then keeps the surprises coming at the reader by having Jamie suddenly pass out after his dupes are transported into the two time streams. Is Jamie’s sudden condition a result of his dupes being sent on suicide missions? I’m certainly interested to see where this little plot twist is headed. This was a good ending that hooks the reader into coming back for more.

But, David wasn’t done yet. He drops another bomb on the reader by revealing that the Purifiers network of bases is much larger than we previously thought. I also found it to be a pretty cool touch by David of making the Purifiers’ local chapter’s leader a black dude. This is often a role reserved for a blanco. This move by David makes the Purifiers a much more realistic group since we all know that hate is a disease that plagues all types of humans.

We also get a change at the artist position with X-Factor #25. Scott Eaton and John Dell provide the artwork for this issue. Eaton and Dell offer up some solid artwork. Their style of art matches X-Factor’s realistic and gritty mood. Eaton and Dell’s art reminds me of the style of art that Perkins and Epting deliver on Captain America.

The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.

Overall: X-Factor #25 was another fine read. David manages to get me even more excited about this Messiah Complex story arc. Messiah Complex just keeps getting more and more interesting with each issue. Finally, after a couple of real duds in Civil War, The Initiative and World War Hulk, it seems that Marvel finally is going to hit a home run with a “big event” story. If you haven’t been reading any of Marvel’s X-titles lately, now is a good time for you to give them a chance once again.

1 thought on “Comic Book Review: X-Factor #25: Messiah Complex

  1. Not only a black, but a dead ringer for Morgan Freeman (I would never have guessed he was evil).

    The crossover’s humming along quite well (both this and “Sinestro Corps” are using the old style of crossover, ie, title A, title B, title A again, instead of the more modern form with a main miniseries and tie-ins; the latter method is preferable for big linewide stuff, but for smaller ones focussed on a family of books (like the X-titles or the Bat-titles), this works much better, when done well.

    Another note on narrative structure, each issue of this crossover has introduced whichever team appears next; ie, UXM introduced the main points of X-Factor, then in X-Factor the New X-Men show up, and in New X-Men, presumably, whatever Carey will be using will put in an appearance.

    The art is quite nice (the similarity to Captain America’s art is probably in large part to them both being coloured by Frank D’Armata). Eaton sort of floats around the X-office doing various jobs, and he’s apparently quite fast, so hopefully he finds a regular berth, because I like his stuff.

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