Following up on last week’s review of two linked comics, this week I get to sit down and review both X-Factor #34 and X-Factor Layla Miller #1. And for all those of you who get sick of seeing me review 5 out of 5 comics, your wish has come at last.

In this installment; the in-continuity/issued X-Factor #34, part 3 of the Darwin Awards storyline that was last seen in She Hulk #31.

X-Factor_34_Cover.jpgYou really have to split this review in to two; otherwise you end up thoroughly depressed and unhappy. Peter David still knows how to tell a tale. That he wrote both X-Factor and She Hulk helped the continuity through the crossover. However, what that continuity also did was shine a light on the real problem – the artwork in X-Factor.

Let’s look at the storyline first. Last we heard from Detroit, She Hulk had arrived, and was tracking a Skrull that is like a holy-man, and integral to the Secret Invasion taking place. Conveniently enough, she ran into X-Factor, and last we saw, She Hulk she was being buried under a mass of Madrox dupes.

Meanwhile, her partner Jazinda has tracked down the Skrull, and tried to take him on; not a good idea. Monet too has caught up with the Skrull, but both are out for the count, leaving only poor Darwin, the hapless and seemingly witless lackey in this series. A mutant with the ability to adapt to any situation (hence the name Darwin, pretty clever, right?), the Skrull – who had been teamed up with Darwin under disguise as Longshot – is trying to convince Darwin to join him.

In essence, Longshot-Skrull is trying to convince Darwin that he is the missing link between a genetic line between the Skrulls and the Humans, due to his natural ability to evolve.

Enter the rest of the crew, who all attempt to pile on the Longshot-Skrull, but really doing nothing more than providing a minor nuisance of themselves. That means it’s all up to Darwin, who after getting a nice pep-talk from Monet (he has a crush on her), starts towards Longshot-Skrull, who is attacking everyone with conviction; and no, I don’t mean that he is really in to the cause, but apparently the fire-like substance that he is firing at everyone is conviction taken malleable form.

Darwin starts one of those great cinematic slow crawl/walks (aka, Wolverine vs. Jean Grey in X3), and is about to take him (I assume) before She Hulk knocks him out.

That’s pretty much it to be honest. This series really served no purpose whatsoever, and was just an attempt to shoehorn X-Factor and She Hulk in to Secret Invasion.

Now, this is where I get a bit harsh. I am well aware that, for the most part, art is subjective; what is beautiful to one could be ugly to another. However, there is no two ways about Larry Stroman’s artwork; it is, simply, detestable and poor. There is an utter lack of consistency, and one that does not weave from good to bad, but from bad to bad to weird and back to bad again.

The second page was what scared me, and forced me to put the book back down for a little while. Jamie Madrox, in two panels – one right next to the other – looked both entirely different from one another, and nothing like Jamie Madrox. In fact, it looked very much like a young child’s attempt to draw a person’s face, but forgetting that a face is three-dimensional.

It got steadily worse from then on, with different characters changing within seconds, scale being thrown totally out of the window, trailing along with it believability, cohesiveness and any possible chance at something looking nice.

The artwork so detracted from the story, that I cannot give X-Factor #34 more than 2 out of 5. I am well aware that X-Factor has not been great, but I have not hated it – the story that is. I won’t be giving this book up either, simply because I enjoy Peter David and his X-Factor characters. But Larry Stroman has to go, now!


The Author

Joshua Hill

Joshua Hill

I'm an aspiring author who just happens to also work on the web, reporting on the environmental research and science at Planetsave.com that makes sense of the climate change hype, reviewing fantasy books at FantasyBookReview, because I love fantasy books and want to tell you all about it. I also blog over at Life As A Human and at Extralife.

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  1. DrStrangeCubicle
    August 25, 2008 at 1:53 pm — Reply

    The story was very ‘meh’ for me, which wouldn’t have been the end of the world except for the atrocious art.

  2. Everan
    August 25, 2008 at 4:25 pm — Reply

    Jamie Madrox = Putty Frankenstein.

    Just look at his torment, what have they done to his face?

  3. Brother129
    August 25, 2008 at 5:19 pm — Reply

    I’m going to have dig out my first X-Factor run with Peter David & Larry Stroman. It was really cool and alternative. I have no idea what’ s happening here….

  4. August 25, 2008 at 9:52 pm — Reply

    When you dig it out you’ll find out the seeds were there and Stroman wasn’t that good then either. Maybe we can rise Vince Colletta from the grave to save him. Is Jack Abel still available?

  5. August 25, 2008 at 10:04 pm — Reply

    Vinnie Colletta???



    Either way, I sort of agree with Baal (except about Vinnie… Seriously, VINNIE?) about Stroman’s old art. Everyone had a strangely tapered feline face, and Strong Guy was absolutely ten kinds of f’ed up under his pen. Pretty much everyone but Havok suffered, really, as even Polaris had that weird tendrilly medusa hair going on…

  6. Brother129
    August 26, 2008 at 1:05 pm — Reply

    If memory serves me correctly, it was Larry Malhstedt that saved his pencils. Again I thought it was cool in an edgy, alternative kinda way. It looked totally different from the other X books…but alas, memory lane cant’ salvage this, huh?

  7. August 27, 2008 at 1:18 am — Reply

    he clearly needs an inker that will overwhelm the pencils and Colletta was known to even erase things from the pencils he didn’t care to ink. Still think I’m crazy now?

  8. Growl
    September 21, 2008 at 11:12 pm — Reply

    But Colletta’s stuff always looked good, right? Hey, whatever gets the job done right and on time, I always say.

  9. September 21, 2008 at 11:57 pm — Reply

    ALWAYS looked good?

    Cross-Eyed Super Skrull.

  10. Bibby Wan
    January 31, 2009 at 6:40 pm — Reply

    For me the Vince Colletta was top inker with Thor books and other books. The picture is a proof because look at Thors muscle that never any inker could draw better than that.

  11. Ed Binn
    April 25, 2009 at 8:45 pm — Reply

    Everywhere I look there is some debate about Vince Colletta going on. When did he pass away, like 1981? There are lots of artists that died that long ago but, other than Kirby, I never read anything about them. Vinnie continues to inspire discussions, that’s for sure.

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