It canâ€™t have been that long ago that I praised X-Factor as being one of my favorite comic books. It must have been even less time than that that I announced, even though the artwork by Larry Stroman was giving me heart palpitations, I would continue to buy the book for Peter Davidâ€™s writing.
Yeahâ€¦ what was I thinking?
X-Factor issue 35 picked up â€“ sadly â€“ where the Secret Invasion tie-in left off. Even worse, to my eyes at least (and to many others, as a note), was Larry Stromanâ€™s artwork. I feel as if Iâ€™ve been apologizing for Stromanâ€™s artwork over the months heâ€™s been on the book. I say up front – itâ€™s bad, but I say keep buying it because of Peter Davidâ€™s writing.
This month, itâ€™s getting a bit too hard to do that.
Put it this way. Imagine you purchased an album from a song writer you really loved, who was stepping out with a new band. Now, the band canâ€™t seem to find a right note in a music store, and seem to revel in that, but the lyrics to the song are beautiful. No matter how hard you try, I can guarantee you; you probably wonâ€™t get past the fourth or fifth track on the album. The song writer might be fantastic, but itâ€™s the music you’re hearing for the most part.
So no, the artwork is not good in this issue.
The story on the other hand?
Last month we saw the Secret Invasion tie-in wrap up, and the young mutant Darwin returned to his father. It was a happy ending, and as Madrox explains close to the beginning of this issue, thatâ€™s why they do their jobs, for those occasional happy moments.
Naturally, everything is not as it seems.
Issue #35 opens with Darwin in captivity, being studied by a group of scientists that look like they failed to make it as Oompa-Loompas because they werenâ€™t purple enough. The inner dialogue of Jamie Madrox is presented as they arrive at a hospital, and find that Darwinâ€™s father has been seriously injured.
The detective on the scene is apparently a transplant from a Popeye comic, as he looks almost identical to Wimpy, always willing to pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today. With no answers to what has happened to Darwin’s father, the reader is transported to X-Factor HQ, where Longshot shows up.
What follows is some great Peter David writing, which still manages to come through despite the â€¦ yeah, never mind, I’ve said enough.
Longshot manages to confuse Strongman while simultaneously convincing him that he isnâ€™t a Skrull. The running joke through the rest of the issue is worth reading, but maybe not enough to combat the artwork. Seems Longshot saw himself in Detroit, and came to see what he was doing there, when he was obviously not in â€¦ it gets funnier, trust me!
A quick cut through the mad-scientists lab where a death-row prisoner, who has volunteered for science, explodes, and we see Longshot and Strongman arrive at the hospital. Longshot apparently attracts people to him? At least that seems to be his mutant power, along with some telepathic abilities that he uses to find out that Darwinâ€™s father actually sold his son out to these scientists for a nice lump sum.
The issue begins to finish up here, obviously beginning a to be continued, but before we go Jamie accidentally creates a dupe. This dupe then proceeds to try and smother Darwinâ€™s father while heâ€™s lying in his hospital bed with a pillow. This is where the story falls apart, maybe because of the art, maybe not. I assume that weâ€™re supposed to get the impression that Madrox is shocked at what happened, but he seems more clueless than shocked.
This book does not score well. The writing only gets 3 out of 5 and the artworkâ€¦ Iâ€™m not sure if Iâ€™m allowed to score zero out of 5, so weâ€™ll go with 1 just to be on the safe side, bringing the grand total for X-Factor #35 to 2 out of 5 Stars.
If youâ€™re not reading X-Factor #35, donâ€™t pick it up. If you are reading X-Factor #35, letâ€™s see how long we can stick with it together, and maybe soon, Marvel will replace Stroman withâ€¦ anyone!