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Friday, May 9, 2014

X-amining X-Factor #31

"Kiss Off!"
August 1988

In a Nutshell 
Infectia tries to kiss Iceman, but gets Beast instead. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Walt Simonson
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Greg Wright
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Aboard Ship, Infectia leans in to kiss Iceman, but a time bomb from Boom-Boom interrupts them. As Iceman chases after her, Beast swings in and tells Boom-Boom and the rest of the kids about how he knows Infectia is a danger to Iceman, even though he can't remember exactly why. Meanwhile, in Dallas, Cyclops and Marvel Girl easily free themselves and begin fighting Freedom Force. Back on Ship, the kids spend the rest of the evening doing their best to interrupt Iceman and Infectia at every turn, and even Ship gets in on the action. But when Infectia threatens to use her power to enslave him, Ship, remembering his time as Apocalypse's prisoner, relents. In Omaha, Nanny calls forth Orphan Maker and sends him into a home to slay the parents inside. The next morning, Infectia decides to take Iceman to her apartment, and Ship provides a plane to fly them back to the city.


In Dallas, Destiny calls a halt to the fight, telling Cyclops his son is alive, but that she doesn't know where he is. In Chicago, a group of cloaked figures watch footage of Death's recent attacks, agreeing to monitor the situation while continuing their plans to destroy mutants. Back in New York, Ship sends Beast after Iceman and Infectia. When the pair arrive at Infectia's apartment, she restrains Iceman. Transforming a captured postman into a monster as a demonstration, she tells Iceman she's going to do the same to him so he can capture Ship for her. Just then, Beast arrives and battles the postman monster. During the fight, Infectia leans in to kiss Iceman, but Beast breaks free and manages to put himself between them, taking the kiss meant for Iceman. The ensuing explosion frees Iceman and causes Beast to shift between his human and animal forms. Iceman apologizes for not listening to Beast's warning as the shifting Beast slips into unconscious.

Firsts and Other Notables
After being kissed by Infectia, Beast falls unconscious and shifts between his normal look and his blue-and-furry look. Ultimately, Infectia's kiss will result in him permanently regaining his animalistic look, as well as his normal intelligence, marking this issue as the end of the "Beast is getting dumber" subplot. 


Nanny's accomplice, Orphan Maker (who will turn out to be not nearly as cool as his name suggests) makes his first appearance in this issue, though he is not yet named. 


Death's hunt for Candy Southern has been noticed by a shadowy cabal - they will eventually be revealed to be the remnants of the Right. It's established they have Candy Southern, and that while she was scheduled to be killed, her termination order has been suspended for the time being. 


After Infectia transforms a postman into a monster, he recites the postman's creed. This issue is actually the first place I ever read it.


A Work in Progress
Destiny notes that, like Madelyne, time twists around Jean. She also confirms that Scott and Maddie's son is alive, though she is unable to pinpoint his location. Much of what she vaguely describes of his location will turn out to be true.  


I Love the 80s
I dunno, am I reading too much into it, or is Ship's production of that plane a sexual innuendo? 


The Awesome and Terrible Power of Cyclops
In a detail I've always gotten a kick out of, Cyclops is able to blast a small hole through Blob's arm. 


Teebore's Take
With that, the Infectia story mercifully comes to a close. Not because it was terrible, but because it was mostly forgettable, with everything happening on the periphery consistently more exciting or interesting that Infectia herself (and there's only so many times X-Factor can battle generic monsters, even ones drawn by Walt Simonson). This issue certainly continues that trend, with Death's hunt for Candy Southern and Cyclops and Marvel Girl's battle with Freedom Force (I enjoy that the pair more or less defeat Freedom all by themselves - a subtle indication of just how long they've been doing this stuff and how good they've gotten at it) proving far more entertaining than anything with Infectia.

As for the "A" plot, I actually don't mind the first half, with the kids doing their best Parent Trap imitation to keep Infectia from kissing Iceman, which is genuinely entertaining and shows that Simonson can write teenagers better than the petulant brats of New Mutants if she wants to, but once Infectia and Iceman leave Ship (for dubious reasons), it falls back into routine, forgettable territory. In the end, this three-parter essentially serves as a vehicle for resolving Beast's "getting dumber" status quo, and that's all well and good (and ultimately for the best), but Infectia herself unfortunately never manages to rise above the level of "plot device", which never a good thing for the character at the center of three part story. 

Next Issue
Next week, more Brood in Uncanny X-Men #233 and more Spyder & Gosamyr in New Mutants #67, while the Avengers sort of show up in X-Factor #32.

5 comments:

  1. I have no idea why she's named Infectia. She doesn't give you a disease, she just re-arranges your molecular structure and turns you into some warped creature that burns out and dies.

    It;s pretty clear that the writers didn't put much thought into her and she was just a MacGuffin for bringing Beast back to his blue, furry form. Which is probably why she never appeared until 7 years later when she died of the Legacy Virus.

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  2. Note that Destiny's hints regarding Maddie- "she had no time and you have all the time in the world"- have no relation to the eventual explanation of Maddie's origins.

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  3. Not so fast, Anonymous. Maddie didn't have time, as per Inferno revelations she was a lifeless husk until the events of September 1st, 1980 jumpstarted her. Which may contradict a bit with the official claim that the little kid telling her name to be "Maddy Pryor" in a hospital in Avengers annual 10 (and soon popping up in Maddie's telepathic interrogation in Genosha) in fact was our Maddie during her artificial growth period.

    And in Inferno Jean will end up gaining the memories of all the her clones and cosmic carbon copies, which to a mutant precog may seem like she will at that point have, or be the holder of, all the Jean-time there's slushing around.

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  4. Her name is Infectia, Bobby. If nothing else about the situation struck you as questionable, that should have tipped you off.

    // the kids spend the rest of the evening doing their best to interrupt Iceman and Infectia at every turn //

    Ugh. I found their "Parent Trap imitation" a complete eye-roll. We have the original five X-Men reunited, for heaven's sake, and on top of the book separating them just when it finally does away with the despicable, literally unbelievable premise(s) on which it was founded there is way too much focus on the random kids they've collected for my taste. So much potential has been wasted.

    // [A]m I reading too much into it, or is Ship's production of that plane a sexual innuendo? //

    Ship's production of that plane is a sexual innuendo. I think the sound effect clinches it. Although to be sure we should find out what it fires.

    // With that, the Infectia story mercifully comes to a close. Not because it was terrible, but because it was mostly forgettable, with everything happening on the periphery consistently more exciting or interesting that Infectia herself //

    That'll be weird if there isn't any follow-up with her next issue. I didn't exactly enjoy her but all this talk of her father's research and the machine at the house seemed like it was leading to at least a minor something. Apart from random creatures for X-Factor to fight and a deus ex basium to transform Beast again, that is.

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  5. "she had no time and you have all the time in the world"

    Or it could also mean Maddie's going to die soon, and you're not...at least until the 90s, when Maddie keeps coming back and dying, and Jean dies and come back, both at the whim of whoever is writing the titles.

    "In a detail I've always gotten a kick out of, Cyclops is able to blast a small hole through Blob's arm."

    Which he shouldn't, no?

    "Cyclops and Marvel Girl's battle with Freedom Force (I enjoy that the pair more or less defeat Freedom all by themselves - a subtle indication of just how long they've been doing this stuff and how good they've gotten at it)"

    I didn't. If anything, this really cheapens FF quite a bit. This is a team that can go toe to toe with the X-men, and Cyclops and Marvel Girl alone can beat up the whole team? I could see them maybe beating half of FF before the other half stomps on them, but hey, Simonson always seemed to write FF as a bunch of jobbers at best...

    I wonder if Hodges group were able to buy those hooded robes at a discount from the Secret Empire?

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