Thursday, 19 July 2007

A Moment of Sensitivity With The Beast....

X-Factor #26 - a great book with a fantastic cover. Check that out - that's Walt Simonson at his best baby!

This issue occurs during a pretty bad time for X-Factor. Over the last bunch of issues they've had their world turned upside down by one disaster after another:
- Their former colleague Cameron Hodge has been revealed as the mutant hating leader of the Right. A nasty terrorist organisation whose smiley-faced, armoured goons have been committing massacres in the name of mutant kind.
- The team have had their mutant-hunter cover blown and have been revealed to the world as mutants with a habit of wrecking the place.
- The Angel shows up alive after his apparent suicide and in the employ of the evil Apocalypse
- Beast having been touched by Pestilence is slowly losing his intelligence with every exertion of his growing strength
- As if all that wasn't bad enough Apocalypse, his enormous spaceship and his four horsemen have decided now is a good time to tear New York City a new asshole.

Issue #26 deals with the aftermath of the team's big battle with Apocalypse. In order to stop him Iceman and the Beast disabled his spaceship headquarters. Unfortunately as a result the damn thing fell out of the sky and decimated half of Manhattan.

Beast and his team-mates have been busting their ass all over the island rescuing people who have been hurt or trapped by the damage caused by the falling ship. Unfortunately no amount of good deeds seem to convince some people that not all mutants are bad:Every man has his breaking point and sometimes the sharp tongue of one over-worked, underpaid New York nurse is all it takes to reach it.

When snoopy, anti-X-Factor reporter Trish Trilby tracks down the Beast in a hospital corridor to thank him for heroically saving her life earlier in the day she finds him broken, huddled in a corner weeping like a little kid.

He cries because of guilt he feels for all the hurt his actions caused his fellow New Yorkers. He cries because he's helpless to stop his slow transformation from witty professor into mindless brute. He cries because every time he tries to help he only succeeds in making things worse for mutants and humans alike:It's a pretty emotional moment. I remember feeling really sorry for Beast the first time I read this. Kudos to the Simonsons, this scene is beautifully written and gorgeously drawn.

This issue has another great moment I have to mention. Ever since he joined X-Factor Scott has been back and forth about his relationship to the newly resurrected Jean Grey. He's still beating himself up about the death of Phoenix and his wife Maddie. But after a night of fighting for the lives and saving the city Jean can't take Scott's indecisiveness any longer:That's beautiful man. It's one of the few moments in post-Phoenix X-history where I actually liked Jean Grey.

Re-inventing the original X-Men as X-Factor was a great way to revitalise the characters after they had been so successfully replaced by younger and edgier characters like Nightcrawler and Collosus in the actual X-Men book. The stories the Simonsons wrote in the those early X-Factor days are the reason characters like Cyclops, Angel and god help us even Iceman are still kicking around in the X-books today.

Okay - that's my sensitivity quota filled today. Now I'm off to sit on the couch, scratching myself, drinking a beer while hogging the remote.
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