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Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 5,073
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Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Subj: Re: Agree
Posted: Mon Sep 13, 2021 at 06:06:04 pm EDT (Viewed 117 times)
Reply Subj: Re: Agree
Posted: Sat Sep 11, 2021 at 07:59:14 am EDT (Viewed 120 times)

Thanks for the response!

    Yes, I totally agree with you. X-Factor was awfully written and put Marvel on the road to ruining Scott Summers as a character while at the same time bringing Jean Grey back and failing to use her in any interesting way at all.

I think that it was one of the main failings of X-Factor in its original incarnation by Layton and Guice (i. e. #1-5 and the first annual) that it by all appearances totally lacked any imagination with regards to the characterizations and the relationships between the five main characters. (In this context it seems almost like a comment on the feature that X-Factor #5 was entitled "Tapped Out"). All the creators seemed to want to do with them was to return them to a status quo ca. the Lee/Kirby run - apparently even Candy Southern (created in 1967 by Roy Thomas and Werner Roth) was too new for them! ;\-\) At the time I was barely aware of the existence of fan-fiction, otherwise I probably would have said that it read like bad "fix fic", a story where the aim of restoring characters to a perceived state of grace outweighs all other considerations, be it that of trying to work with existing plot elements and characters (Hank, Bobby and Warren came fresh from an interesting run on The Defenders), or avoiding to weaken characters or even unintentionally making them unsympathetic.

The cast of X-Factor (four middle and upper class white guys and one middle class white woman, all U.S. citizens) already was an anachronism compared to other superhero teams, especially when set against the other two mutant books, which at the time both had international, multi-ethnic, and gender-balanced teams.(1) This was not helped when the first additions to the cast were all Caucasian males (Rusty Collins, Artie Maddicks, and the mole, Cameron Hodge), and not terribly interesting in themselves, and when, as far as the romantic subplots were concerned, Jean was relegated to an entirely passive role, and her agency as a superheroine was much hampered by her power loss and being out of touch with the world due to having spent such a long time in the cocoon. In those early issues, Jean essentially was someone to whom things happened, she rarely was allowed to speak up for herself or do something of her own volition (her decision not to speak to the active X-Men was really because Reed Richards had strongly advised her not to contact them). And Madelyne Pryor-Summers and Candy Southern only appeared in scenes where Bob Layton tried to rationalize why they were no longer going to be involved with Scott or Warren. The saying goes that you can't replace a somebody with just anybody or nobody, and as far as things went in those six stories, Scott's status as a husband and father (a change not without story potential) was being replaced with a badly written, warmed-up romance with a Jean stripped of nearly everything that had made her interesting to readers within the past decade, while Warren's sometimes stormy relationship to Candy Southern(2) was replaced with nothing, for the nonce.

(1) The active X-Men team at the time consisted of Storm (leader), Colossus, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, Rogue, and Rachel, that of the New Mutants of Cannonball (co-leader), Mirage (co-leader), Karma, Sunspot, Wolfsbane, Magma, Magik, Cypher, and Warlock. So both teams had more female than male members, and both were led or co-led by a woman of colour. The only other teams which still had such an old-fashioned composition were "family teams" - the Fantastic Four (including husband, wife and the wife's brother) and Power Pack (four siblings), and even they were gender-balanced at the time (She-Hulk having taken the Things place following the first Secret War).

(2) Candy Southern had shown herself a canny businesswoman and administrator in the past, even leading the Defenders for a time despite not being a superheroine herself. Warren Worthington III was used to collaborate with her in both capacities, so maybe it was also necessary to get rid of her for the Angel/Cameron Hodge subplot to work?

Did Bob Layton and Butch Guice ever mention where they intended to go with X-Factor had they been able to write the series longer?

    While we're on this topic, since Hickman brought Scott and Jean back together, it would be nice if he devoted more pages to their relationship. What does Jean think about Scott's time with Emma? How is Scott emotionally dealing with Jean's many deaths and resurrections? How about seeing them enjoying time as a couple? One of the best things about the Claremont-Byrne run is how well developed Scott and Jean's relationship was but no writer since has been able to do it was well. And I'm saying this as someone who largely likes Hickman's X-Men, unlike many on this board. (I don't like almost every other writers' take on Hickman's X-Men though.)

Have to agree with a lot of this, even if I didn't read the Hickman stories.

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