Friday, March 24, 2006

Comics Review: March 24

X-Factor #5

Not much to say about this one. The ongoing plots are put on hold for this standalone story ostensibly starring Siryn, but focusing on a rather typical "crazy ex-mutant" type we've never seen before and will never see again. Somehow, Nutters knows X-Factor is investigating M-Day (did they put an ad in the paper? Did Oprah do a special?), but is convinced the X-Men caused it because none of them were affected. It doesn't make much sense, but then, he's crazy, so I suppose it's a moot point.

Curiously, the recap page describes the man who attacked Siryn as "an unknown assailant", despite the fact that Peter David went to the trouble of posting a clarification of the previous issue on his blog, indicating it was Damian Tryp and we were all too stupid to figure it out. I suppose this little mix-up is our fault as well. *shrug*

At any rate, it's nothing we haven't seen before: self-pitying psycho rants and whines about his lost powers, Theresa gets tortured, and Rictor saves the day. The end. I suppose it's serviceable, but not much more than that. I think I'll give this series one more issue to win me over before dropping it.


Exiles: World Tour - Squadron Supreme (#77-78)

The World Tour Saga enters its second half with a visit to the Squadron Supreme universe, once Marvel's answer to DC's Justice League, now superceded by J. Michael Straczynski's "Supreme Power", which has recently been renamed "Squadron Supreme" and does not interact with the Marvel Universe, though it will soon be crossing over with the Ultimate Marvel universe.

Got all that? Me neither. Just go with it. ;)

To Tony Bedard's credit, he's still doing his absolute best to avoid repetition; after several encounters with the Exiles, Proteus realizes he can't outfight or evade them, and instead manipulates them into a conflict with the Squadron Supreme using Mimic's stolen memories. The two teams almost immediately throw down, and Proteus slips away unnoticed.

The rest of the story is given over to the Squadron putting the Exiles on trial for crimes against the Multiverse. I'm a bit ambivalent towards this; on the one hand, it's a nice diversion from the main plot, and a proper follow-up to "Timebreakers". But on the other hand, the Squadron really come off as complete nimrods here, trusting and distrusting people with neither rhyme nor reason. Consequently, it's hard not to see them as the incompetent, hypocritical villains of the piece - and yet, they're the heroes of their world. The fact that most of them aren't characterized (due to the absolutely immense and unwieldy size of the cast) doesn't help.

The Exiles' interaction with the Squadron Supreme reality feels even more restricted than their stay in 2099. On the level of the plot, Bedard provides a valid reason for this - the battles with Proteus have been disrupting timelines the Exiles were never meant to visit, and the damage is starting to accumulate. This was something readers were picking up on (particularly considering what the absence of Miguel O'Hara meant for the future of 2099), so it's nice that Bedard was able to anticipate that concern. But I imagine the nostalgic value for fans of these old, defunct alternate realities is diminished.

As a minor aside, Heather is yet again written as the Grand Poobah of Exposition, giving us a two-way scene that explains the Squadron to the Exiles and vice-versa - as with previous infodumps, this one was necessary, but it's starting to grow stale.

A flawed read, then, and not one of the highlights of the World Tour. In retrospect, perhaps the more densely-populated timelines should have been left alone, or allocated more issues: there are just too many pins in the air, even for a skilled juggler like Bedard. It ends up feeling cramped, compressed and ineffective. I expect the upcoming "Future Imperfect" segment will be vastly improved, since it's really all about the Maestro - which means there will be a lot more room to breathe.