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Friday, December 12, 2014

X-amining X-Factor #46

"Exchange"
November 1989

In a Nutshell 
Marvel Girl wakes up and Seera is found out. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Paul Smith
Inker: Allen Milgrom
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Tom Vincent
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In the Reject city, Zharkah remains suspicious of Beast, and plans to use the upcoming prisoner exchange involving Marvel Girl to test his loyalties. In the Chosen city, Iceman and Lev entertain bets on Iceman's upcoming arena battle with Archangel while a distracted Seera rushes back to her home, unknowingly spied on by a flying Dualer. In the Beginagain dwellings, Ryest shows Cyclops his telepathic discovery of Marvel Girl amongst the Rejects, but doesn't want to disrupt the prisoner exchange for fear of making the war worse and hastening the judgement of the Celestials. But Cyclops rushes out after her. In the Chosen city, Rask oversees the practice of a drugged Archangel, but Archangel manages to wound Rask in the leg. As the Rejects depart for the prisoner exchange, Beast oversees the unconscious Marvel Girl and rushes to her side, exposing himself as a Dualer spy in Zharkah's eyes.


Rask, alerted by his spy, leads a group of scientists against Seera, exposing her care of Christopher and disabling her telepathy. His telepathic cries no longer blocked, they awaken Marvel Girl, who attacks the Rejects holding her as Beast realizes it is Madelyne in control of Jean's body. As Seera's fate is debated, Rask speaks to her alone, offering to save her from death if she allies herself with him. Elsewhere, Cyclops is joined by a group of Beginagain who offer to help him rescue Jean if he helps them drive off the Celestials. However, their path is blocked by one of the space gods, so they decide to sneak into the Chosen city to reach Jean. In orbit around the planet, Ship realizes he was created by the Celestials and stolen from them by Apocalypse. In the Chosen city, Seera, her assumptions about the protection Chosen society afforded her shattered, declares to herself that she will free Archangel and tell him where Christopher has gone, and if destroys the Chosen in the process, so be it.

Firsts and Other Notables
Triggered by Chrisopher's cries, Marvel Girl finally wakes up! But it's Madelyne who is in control of the body, so we still haven't heard from Jean in awhile.


It's established that Apocalypse stole Ship from the Celestials, when he was an unintelligent machine sent to Earth to monitor the progress of humanity, and that his intelligence developed later. Ship also worries that what is unfolding on the planet below him may be the future fate of Earth.


Instead of a letters page, this issue features a "who's who" rundown of X-Factor, what their current condition is, and information about the various alien societies and notable members thereof.

A Work in Progress
It's noted that while most of the older Chosen scoff at Iceman and Lev using their powers in a public display, the Chosen young cheer them.


Christopher is crying more, making it harder for Seera to telepathically disguise his cries. ZeeZee blames it on him teething, and Seera humorously notes she understands now why the Chosen have their young raised by robots.


Smith and/or Milgrom give us a pretty clear view of how Archangel's wings extend, yet it's still not clear where they are when he just as the two-pronged fork on his back.


It's noted that Rask isn't as perfect as Seera because he's bigger than most Chosen, and even has *gasp* a birthmark! 


Teebore's Take
This is where things start to feel a bit dragged out. After starting to put plot elements in motion last issue, this one brings those pieces together incrementally, at best. Beast reunites with Jean, who at least wakes up, and Cyclops learns her general location, but that's about it. The biggest plot development involves Seera, who loses whatever rose colored glasses she had left regarding her society and becomes even more radicalized and determined to help X-Factor.

But having all the central plot and characters developments happen to the one-off character developed just for this story is never a good thing in terms of creating the impression of forward momentum. Still, this remains enjoyable, the world developed enough to make the non-X-Factor plot machinations engaging, while the Ship/Celestial conversation hints at a larger thematic connection to events on Earth. But the slackening pace is troubling.

Next Issue
Wolverine flees from the Reavers in Uncanny X-Men #252, the "Cross-Time Caper" continues in Excalibur #14, and the "Gehenna Stone Affair" concludes in Wolverine #15-16.

10 comments:

  1. "this issue features a "who's who" rundown of X-Factor, what their current condition is, and information about the various alien societies and notable members thereof"

    I wish you had reprinted that, because man, that summary with all those names is just, yikes. Not that easy to keep track off unless you're reading the actual issue.

    "Smith and/or Milgrom give us a pretty clear view of how Archangel's wings extend, yet it's still not clear where they are when he just as the two-pronged fork on his back."

    Apocalypse Science Magic allows a tesseract in the forks, allowing all of the folds in the wings to fit in there.

    "This is where things start to feel a bit dragged out."

    With 4 more issues to go...

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  2. I do have a better sense of where/how the different factions relate to one another after reading this issue. Other than that, I really have nothing to say about it except that every time Seera addresses ZZ-105 by name I get the urge to add "Home of the Morning Zoo and drive-time rock blocks!"…

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  3. I think the bigger question about Archangel is -- why do his wings retract into that "fork" when he's in costume, but even the fork itself disappears entirely when he puts on his civilian clothes and fires up the ol' image inducer?

    (And I doubt the image inducer in the answer -- even if it somehow makes the fork invisible, people in his immediate vicinity would still be bumping into it.)

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  4. Actually, now that I think more about it, it would be funny if the fork was part of his costume, like the metal studs on Wolverine's gloves, to allow the wings to sprout from his back without constantly tearing the fabric.

    And of course I'm talking about once the costume is established to actually be a costume, since at this point it's still supposedly his skin.

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  5. Matt: Actually, now that I think more about it, it would be funny if the fork was part of his costume, like the metal studs on Wolverine's gloves, to allow the wings to sprout from his back without constantly tearing the fabric.

    That "Slikt!" sound effect on that one panel seems to agree with you on that. :D

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  6. @Matt: // And of course I'm talking about once the costume is established to actually be a costume, since at this point it's still supposedly his skin. //

    In this issue we see the suit torn away to reveal his light-blue skin in various spots.

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  7. Blam -- "In this issue we see the suit torn away to reveal his light-blue skin in various spots."

    Good to know! I've never read this stretch of issues, so I'm just going off Teebore's posts. I guess this solves the mystery of which artist was the first to change it from "skin" into a costume.

    The next question will be, which artist was the first to show Archangel pull away his cowl to reveal that Warren Worthington's luscious blond locks survived the transformation?

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  8. I believer it is Whilce Portacio.

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  9. wwk5d: I wish you had reprinted that, because man, that summary with all those names is just, yikes.

    Yeah, unfortunately my digital copy didn't include it. I went so far as to pull out my hardcopy and read it again, but so far as to actually scan it.

    But yeah, it's definitely a piece of work.

    With 4 more issues to go...

    One of which (the next) is fill-in a la Amara's Adventures with Hercules, so that's only three more to go. But IIRC the last chapter is double-sized, so you're pretty much right. :)

    every time Seera addresses ZZ-105 by name I get the urge to add "Home of the Morning Zoo and drive-time rock blocks!"…

    Heh. It's like part in "We Built This City" where the traffic report breaks in...

    In this issue we see the suit torn away to reveal his light-blue skin in various spots.

    Hm. In hindsight, I should have made a bigger deal of that. Chalk it up to me having it stuck in my head that he's wearing a costume and forgetting that's something which evolved over time.

    @Matt: it would be funny if the fork was part of his costume, like the metal studs on Wolverine's gloves, to allow the wings to sprout from his back without constantly tearing the fabric.

    That might actually be the idea. I've never really given it much thought, since the "it's a costume and the wings are always there" became the standard following this brief window of "it's his skin!".

    Like wwk5d, I believe it's Portacio who first shows the glorious blond locks beneath the cowl, but I can't remember if he does it in X-Factor, or if it's not until his UXM run.

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  10. Portacio would make sense. I think the first I ever saw of Archangel's hair was via Brandon Peterson during the "X-Cutioner's Song" crossover. What a mullet!

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