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Wednesday, January 5, 2022

X-amining X-Factor #130

"A Mother's Eyes"
January 1997

In a Nutshell
Graydon Creed is assassinated. 

Writer: Howard Mackie
Penciler: Eric Battle
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Chief Suspect: Bob Harras

Plot
As Mystique and Pyro plot their next move ahead of Graydon Creed's latest speech, Val Cooper tells Creed he either accepts the extra security provided by X-Factor, or the speech will be cancelled. Shortly thereafter, Val discovers Mystique trying to get close to Creed disguised as Val, and arrests Mystique, but a riot soon breaks out between Creed's supporters and his detractors. Mystique uses it to escape, appearing before Creed with some kind of weapon-like device, but Polaris intervenes, preventing her from using it. As Mystique is hauled away, she pleads with Val, saying she's making a mistake and needling her for not questioning the government's recent interactions with X-Factor more. As X-Factor captures Pyro, hiding amidst the crowd, Creed resumes his speech, believing the threat to his life ended with Mystique and Pyro's capture. But he is suddenly shot while on stage, reduced to ash by an unseen assailant. In the wake of the assassination, Mystique tells Val she was trying to save Creed, so as not to give his cause a martyr, something Forge backs up when he arrives with Pyro and tells Val the weapon Mystique had wielded was a force field projector. Just then, words appear on a nearby monitor, proclaiming that Creed's death was just the first, and that Mystique will be next. 

Firsts and Other Notables
Graydon Creed is assassinated this issue, bringing to an end the "Graydon Creed running for President" plotline and kicking off a new "who killed Graydon Creed?" plotline, which is intended to be the next big mystery running through the X-Books, one that will end up quietly trailing off to be forgotten before getting a resolution of sorts in the X-Men Forever miniseries (which reveals that a time-traveling Mystique from later in her personal timeline killed Creed, a revelation which doesn't really explain the "you're next!" threat at the end of this issue, but that's how things like this go). 



The end of the issue features a "coming soon" pinup featuring "X-Factor Underground" (while tapping into that hot X-Files zeitgeist), which is the point at which the current roster will break off their involvement and go rogue, to which the series has been building for the last several months. 


A Work in Progress
Graydon Creed is incorrectly referred to as a senator at one point; he is just a private citizen running for office at this point. 

Pyro continues his long slow death by Legacy Virus this issue. 


To the point where X-Factor immediately identifies him by his cough. 


Forge and Val recognize Cannonball amongst Creed's entourage, noting they were aware the X-Men had embedded someone in Creed's campaign (but they clearly didn't know who it was prior to this). 


Mystique explains how she was able to beat her inhibitor to copy Val, but it doesn't make much sense. 


Austin's Analysis
What a mess. 

At first glance, the idea of concluding Graydon Creed's presidential run with his assassination at the hands of his mother, who had previously tried (and failed) to assassinate a different anti-mutant politician, thereby creating a chilling echo of "Days of Future Past" just when things are, post-"Onslaught", more fraught than ever for mutants as the line heads into "Operation: Zero Tolerance", is a good one. But that's not really what this issue is about. Creed is killed, yes, the "Creed for President" plotline comes to a close, sure, but this is really about furthering the development of X-Factor into something akin to DC's Suicide Squad on the micro level and, on the macro level, setting up a big new mystery for the X-books to chew on, now that the X-traitor plotline has been laid to rest. 

As such, Mystique can't actually kill Creed, because that would add additional complications to her continued role within the series, while also preventing the creation of the mystery. So instead, there's a half-hearted "Mystique has been plotting with Pyro to SAVE Creed" swerve, and then, the introduction of the mystery. Like so much else from this era, this issue is less a story in its own right than a story meant to setup OTHER stories (it's also not helped that the book's regular artist couldn't draw this theoretically-pivotal issue and his fill-in somehow manages to be an even more muddied storyteller than Matsuda). That both the "X-Factor Underground" plotline and the "who killed Graydon Creed?" mystery ultimately fizzles is at yet largely irrelevant; in trying to serve both, this issue manages to botch in the here and now what could have been a compelling conclusion to an ongoing plotline that's been running across multiple titles for months. 

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6 comments:

  1. I actually really liked the cover on this issue. Jeff Matsuda may not be one of the most well remembered 90s artists but I liked his Mystique.

    This is the last issue of the first X-Factor series that I've ever read. This felt like it should have been a bigger deal and it even kinds of reads like it's supposed to be it doesn't feel like it is. There just wasn't enough here to make me care about who killed Graydon Creed. I think one day I might go ahead and read the rest of this series leading to Mutant X but it's not high on my priority list.

    As I recall, most of the "big" 90s plotlines just kind of fizzled after Onslaught. I blame it on the rotating writers and the editor, who was driving the books, not really knowing what to do with the line.

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    1. Agreed, that cover is quite good. Solid overall perspective, nice use of color in the center against the rest of the muted grey-blues, and it tells a story (or teases one, at least.) It's maybe a little heavy on the highlights, but nobody's perfect.

      The interior art, however... well, what was that line about nobody being perfect?

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  2. Something about Greed being pulverized is hilarious to me. But really, sometimes I'm baffled by how bad the Mackie run is.

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  3. I remember picking this one up for the big development, but I have no recollection as to whether I found it satisfying. In general, the "Creed for President" storyline just feels like wasted potential. Obviously Marvel would never actually have him become president, but they could've done more with it. Aside from having Iceman's dad beaten, Creed did nothing but appear on TV a lot and make a bunch of cryptic comments to Cannonball.

    If they were going to do this, they should've really gone all-in on it and built Creed up as a major presence/menace in the books for a year. Give him ties to Bastion or something. Or maybe even go totally out of left field and say that he's secretly bankrolled by Sinister or Apocalypose for some nefarious reason. But to simply have him hang around at the periphery for so long, as if he's going to become something big, and then ultimately kill him off before that could happen, is dumb.

    I never read the 2001 X-MEN FOREVER series. It's very early in the Quesada/Jemas era -- so early that I'm sure it was greenlit under the previous administration, since its entire reason for being is to address long-dangling continuity issues. But for whatever reason, I skipped it. I probably ought to read it someday. I'm surprised they didn't stick it in the X-MEN: REVOLUTION OMNIBUS with all the other odds and ends from that era.

    Oh, and Pyro -- for Pete's sake, just kill him already. I mean, I'd rather not have him dead at all, but having him pop up periodically, always in this same "coughing and dying" holding pattern, over the course of years at this point, is ridiculous.

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    1. I hated the Legacy Virus storyline so much for things like that. It killed a bunch of characters no one was using really quickly (except Maddrox) and then took forever killing c-list characters only to mostly disappear until someone remembered it was a thing and killed Colossus to end it. It may actually be my least favorite storyline in X-Men. Even worse than The Draco.

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  4. This comic needed major characters in it. I recall not buying it, even though I felt that Matsuda’s art looked interesting (I was one of those countless fans of Joe Mad), I couldn’t care about any of them. If they had placed Cyclops in the book, a character that was underused in the main X-Men books (and would continue to be until 2000), everything would have changed. I don’t get it why the main books kept all the best and more popular characters but they didn’t really matter there. Archangel, Iceman, Psylocke etc.

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