X-Factor, Cable, and Oz

I’m finding it interesting how fractured Marvel seems of late from a creative perspective.  The negatives are more obvious especially with Siege bearing down on us, but there are some very clear positives within Marvel as well.  You have to dig a bit but they are there.  With that in mind I thought I would look at three of the books I have enjoyed from Marvel this past week.

X-Factor #200

X-Factor is a tough book to peg.  It unfortunately gets buried in the grab bag like list of X-books, even though it is different from the other books in the X-family.  X-Factor would probably be best described as writer Peter David giving strong character development to lower tiered characters from the X-universe.  Sadly the book has one major weakness that being unreliable and often poor artwork.  I think that makes the book a tough sell since readers have to look past rather bland art to see the strength of the book which is Peter David’s writing.  Issue #200 is a good jumping on point for new or lapsed readers.  It sets a new storyline involving the Fantastic Four where Valeria and Franklin Richards hire out X-Factor to find their missing mother Sue. David’s take on Valeria is one of the highlights.  Somewhat recently it was revealed that she is a hyper intellect like her father Reed.  David takes full advantage of that giving her a sharp and highly entertaining whit to her.  The art is slightly better then it has been in previous issues but it still falls into the same problem of having look past it to see the value of the story.  I did love the Kevin McGuire variant cover, which made me wish he was the regular artist on the book.

This is one of those blasted $4.99 books, not to mention it being the latest in Marvel’s annoying renumbering gimmick.  Unlike the other $4.99 books Marvel has put out recently this is actually worth the price tag.  The number of pages of new content are roughly equal to two regular sized issues, on top of the kind of filler type reprints that Marvel likes to stuff into books now to try and justify the price tag.  X-Factor #200 is a welcome exception to Marvel’s overpricing.  I hope people give it a chance, although it might be best to wait for the trade as Marvel has at least kept up with collecting this series.

Cable #21

Cable may very well be the most over looked book at Marvel right now.  There are a understandable reasons for that.  Cable suffers from all the same problems as X-Factor, especially with issue bland and unreliable art.  Also like X-Factor it is the writing that is the strength of the book thanks to Duane Swierczynski in this case.  It’s impressive in that this book should probably stink seeing how it spun out of the usual endless supply of X-events and it co stars yet another X-universe red headed female (aren’t they past their quota on red heads).  In this case it was the Messiah Complex that this books spun out of, where the first mutant baby since the M-Day mess was born.  To protect the child, a girl named Hope, Cable takes her with him and time jumps to the future to hide her while she grows up.  Bishop becomes convinced that this baby is what causes the bleak future that he comes from and that if he can kill the child the horrible time he comes from will have never happened.  The series becomes a chase through time with Cable having a defective time travel device that can only send himself and Hope forward, while Bishop is able to job back and forth in his attempt to hunt down Hope.  One of the positives of the series is seeing the clever ways writer Swierczynski plays with the concept of time.

Issue #21 is a good jumping on point for new readers.  Hope is now fully grown after years of being on the run from Bishop.  Her mutant powers finally manifest here as well, meaning she is ready to return to live and train with the X-Men.  The art is probably the best series has seen, so it does not have the problem having to look past bland art.  Like X-Factor, it also carries a higher price tag at $3.99 in this case but the value is right as it is all original content with the page count around what a regular issue and a half would be.  It would be nice if the rest of Marvel’s $3.99 books would fallow this model, as it is in line with what DC is doing by adding extra original content to the books with the higher price tag.

The Marvelous Land of Oz #2

I don’t think I really need to review this as much as just confirm that this book is every bit as good as the previous series, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, all thanks once again to the brilliant work of artist Skottie Young.  This is something people definitely should wait for the trade on as it is a thing of beauty and also seems a waste to have it in the monthly format.  Of course the value in the monthly is that for those that don’t want to wait they can get it first with the monthly installments.

I have never read the original Oz books, so I don’t know how well this adapts the original.  It is my understanding that they do a good job of staying true to the original.  Honestly I don’t really care about how true the adaptation is as it is such a fun book to read.  Enough can not be said about how great Skottie Young’s art is.  It is the reason the Oz books are so much fun to read.  One nice thing is that it is an all ages story so most anyone of any age can enjoy this and the Wizard of Oz before it.  The only negative to be found is that is has the overcharged price of $3.99 when it should only be $2.99.  That is all the more reason to wait for the trade, even though that will be some time as this is only the second issue of eight.  The Wizard trade is doing very well so no one should feel guilty about waiting for the trade on this as it will likely be just as successful.