Comic Book Review: X-Factor #30

What a week this is. The Revolution gets treated to our three favorite Marvel comic books in Captain America, Iron Man and X-Factor. Now, I will admit that X-Factor cooled off a bit due to Messiah Complex. Even though I enjoyed the Messiah Complex event, I found that it did nothing but hinder X-Factor’s momentum. I would have rather that the Marvel editors simply leave David alone to do his own thing with X-Factor. I prefer X-Factor to remain largely separated from the rest of the X-titles. Still, on the plus side, the Messiah Complex issues did expose X-Factor to new readers who still had not given this gem of a title a try.

At any rate, I’m looking forward to X-Factor #30. I have always liked Arcade. He is an enjoyable old school villain complete with a goofy gimmick and preposterous and outlandish death traps. I wouldn’t want a steady diet of this type of over the top and unrealistic villain, but it is fine for a once in a while treat. Let’s go ahead and do this review for X-Factor #30.

Creative Team
Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Valentine De Landro
Inks: Andrew Hennessey

Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10.

Synopsis: We begin with Monet crashing onto the scene where Rictor is trapped in Arcade’s death trap. Monet touches the giant blade that is threatening to slice and dice Rictor and she is blasted by a massive electrical current. Arcade comments that the blast was enough to kill twenty normal men, but that Monet is still alive even though she was knocked unconscious.

We cut to Arcade in his main control room with his client, Mr. Taylor, who is the Purifier who enlisted Rictor into the Purifiers without a proper background check. That blunder cost Taylor his position with the Purifiers. Arcade says that Taylor’s ire for Rictor and all of Mutant Town led Arcade to believe that all the ex-mutants remained a potential threat. Arcade comments that people don’t hire Arcade just to kill their enemies. That they hire Arcade to watch their enemies wriggle and suffer before they die.

Arcade mentions that Taylor believes that the mutant genre is still alive and capable of manifesting if ex-mutants reproduce with each other. Therefore, it makes sense that while Taylor is getting revenge on Rictor for Arcade to go on and dispose of all of mutant town.

We cut to Strong Guy still stuck in the boulder that rolled over him. The boulder is about to run over a woman pushing a baby stroller. Guido manages to free himself and avoid hitting the woman. The woman then reaches into the baby stroller and pulls out a machine gun. The woman opens fire on Madrox.

We shift to Rictor managing to break free from his death trap. Siryn then arrives on the scene. We cut to some of the locals of mutant town realizing that they are trapped in a net of laser beams surrounding mutant town. A woman tries to run through the gaps in the laser beams and gets incinerated.

We hop back to Madrox making as many dupes as possible and the woman with the machine gun shooting as many of Jamie’s dupes as possible. Jamie gets in close to the woman and takes the machine gun and hits her in the face with it. The woman’s head flies off. Jamie picks up the woman’s head and realizes that the woman was an android.

Jamie then realizes that robots and elaborate death traps all add up to one villain: Arcade. Just then the jungle hologram fades away and Jamie finds himself standing in a street near the X-Factor brownstone. One of Jamie’s dupes stumbles over mumbling for help. Jamie approaches the dupe. The dupe then whips out a heater and shoots Jamie in the shoulder.

Jamie thinks how he isn’t feeling a psychic link between him and the dupe. That means the dupe is another robot. Guido arrives on the scene and smashes the robot dupe. Rictor, Monet and Siryn arrive on the scene. Monet wants to know who is the walking dead man behind these attacks. Rictor asks Monet if she is all right. Monet’s hair is standing straight up in the air due to the electric shock. Monet calls Rictor “Sam” and says that she is okay.

Jamie thinks how X-Factor is used to stress and being a target. However, what is different is that they always had an idea of where they stood. That Rahne kept them anchored spiritually and Layla’s knowledge always gave them an edge. Now it is like they are having to fight their way up from under. And on top of it all there are no more X-Men. That they might not have gotten along, but at least they knew that if things really went back that the X-men had their backs. Jamie wonders who has their backs now.

We see Val Cooper arrive on the scene along with a horde of police, firemen and the National Guard. Val is informed by the commanding officer of the soldiers that they have already lost two tanks trying to penetrate the energy field that is surrounding mutant town.

We cut back to X-Factor trying to calm down the locals of mutant town. Monet is examining the head of the robot that attacked Jamie. Monet calls Jamie “Cyclops.” Monet says that she can track where the robot is receiving it’s command transmission from. Monet locates the source from a building across the street.

X-Factor breaks through the wall of the building. Mr. Taylor is sitting on the floor. Taylor says that Arcade already made his escape through an escape tunnel under his chair. A pissed off Monet rips the chair from the floor and flies into the tunnel after Arcade.

Taylor then drinks a glass of water. Taylor tells Rictor that he got expelled from the Purifiers because of recruiting Rictor. Taylor says that Rictor killed his soul. That before the Purifiers Taylor was lost. He was a drug addict downing in his own filth. That the Purifiers saw his potential and cleaned him up and got him to believe in himself. The Purifiers restored his humanity. That Taylor would have walked through fire for them.

Taylor says that Rictor has no idea what it is like to be isolated, alone and without focus and surrounded by a threatening world. Jamie thinks how actually, he has no idea what it’s like not to feel that way.

Taylor says that Arcade had a failsafe plan. That there are incendiary devices seeded through mutant town. That they are keyed to go off the instant Taylor’s heart stops beating. When he dies so does mutant town. Taylor mumbles that he just finished drinking the proper amount of poison in his glass to kill himself. With that, Taylor passes out. End of issue.

The Good: X-Factor #30 was another good read. David delivers a fast paced issue. And a fast paced story is not what X-Factor is always known for. David surprises the reader by showing he can step on the gas when he has to. As always, David constructs a strongly plotted David reveals Arcade’s plans and how this attack on X-Factor neatly ties into the events of Messiah Complex.

I found it an intriguing move for David to decide to investigate such a minor character from the Messiah Complex story. Taylor, the Purifier who sponsors Rictor’s admission into the Purifiers is the typical no-name evil flunky that we see play bit roles in many large story arcs. They usually make their appearance to further the story along and then disappear once again. They are generally unimportant bad guy cannon fodder.

David’s decision to take this relatively minor character and investigate how the events from Messiah Complex impacted him was absolute brilliance. David does a wonderful job fleshing out Taylor’s character. David manages to do the impossible and take a member of a hateful group like the Purifiers and make him a rather sympathetic character. Unlike many writers who give us such one dimensional villains, David shows the reader that nobody is 100% evil. That nothing in this world is black and white. David has created a world in which everything is simply various shades of grey.

David writes an appropriately wacky and insane Arcade. This is an over the top styled villain and David has a bit of fun with this character. I dig that David has Taylor seeking Arcade’s services to get his revenge on Rictor. And I like that Arcade takes it a bit further by deciding to take out all of mutant town. This move is in keeping with Arcade’s insane nature.

And Arcade’s speech about how ex-mutants are still a threat since they can make more mutants serves to confirm Jamie’s fears from the last issue that mutants and ex-mutants will always be targets. If anything, Arcade’s attack is proof that X-Factor still has a purpose and is most definitely needed.

David does a wonderful job with Monet. I love it when she gets pissed. Hell hath no fury like an enraged Monet. I thought it was a nice bit of humor that David has Monet’s hair standing on end throughout the entire issue after she gets the massive electric jolt. And I chuckled at Monet calling everyone by the wrong name and the rest of X-Factor too scared to correct her.

As always, David does an excellent job with Jamie. As with almost every issue, Jamie’s well crafted inner monologue serves as a proper anchor for this issue. It continues to amaze me at how much Jamie’s character has blossomed under David’s watchful eye on this title.

It is no surprise that X-Factor #30 boasted plenty of David’s always fine dialogue and impressive character work. What was a surprise was that David unleashed plenty of action in this issue. We actually got quite a bit more than usual for your typical issue of X-Factor. X-Factor is most certainly not an action themed title, but David flashes his ability to crank out a quality action packed issue.

David cranks up the tension as X-Factor are placed in a perilous situation. Mutant Town is trapped in a deadly force field created by Arcade. X-Factor is without two of their anchors in Rahne and Layla. Jamie is completely correct in how vitally important both of those characters were for the psyche of the team. And to top it all off, the X-Men have been disbanded so X-Factor cannot count on their fellow mutants to ride to the rescue.

And just when the reader thought that wasn’t enough of a tough situation to be stuck in, David ends X-Factor #30 with an awesome hook ending. Arcade has planted numerous bombs across Mutant Town designed to explode once Taylor’s heart stops beating. Fantastic. I totally did not see that coming. I cannot wait to see how X-Factor manages to get themselves out of this seemingly impossible predicament.

De Landro does a good job with the artwork in X-Factor #30. De Landro’s art is a bit inconsistent as some panels look great and others look decidedly average. I would not like De Landro’s style of art on many other super hero titles. However, his style of art fits the mood and tone of X-Factor nicely.

The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.

Overall: X-Factor #30 was another enjoyable read. David certainly kicks this story up a couple of notches as we get plenty of action and an exciting hook ending. X-Factor continues to be one of Marvel’s better written titles. David is still trying to get his footing after Messiah Complex derailed some of X-Factor’s momentum. X-Factor is still worth every penny of its cover price and is certainly one of Marvel’s stronger reads.

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