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Wednesday, October 19, 2022

X-amining X-Factor #132

 March 1997

In a Nutshell
X-Factor starts quitting the government!

Writer: Howard Mackie
Penciler: Jeff Matsuda
Inker: Art Thibert
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Separations: GCW
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Forge tenders X-Factor's resignation to General Bowser. He reminds Forge that Mystique is still a wanted criminal in connection to Graydon Creed's death, but Forge doesn't much care. As X-Factor leaves, Val asks Forge why he didn't let her know about his plans; he tells her that she's not a mutant, and thus, it's none of her business. Elsewhere, Madrox visits his own grave. He is joined by Shard and Wild Child, who stage an encounter in an effort to gain Madrox's trust in order to get closer to Havok's Brotherhood. Meanwhile, Forge brings Mystique to the home of Trevor Chase, where they discover he's been kidnapped. The pair are attacked, and are seemingly run off a bridge to their deaths as they try to escape. At Fall's Edge, Sabretooth, Polaris, Shard and Wild Child are watched by government agents as they enter a building, after which the building explodes, leaving the agents to believe no one has survived. 

Firsts and Other Notables
This marks the beginning of the "X-Factor Underground" period for the series, in which X-Factor "breaks up with" the US government and strikes out on its own (how this makes them any different than, say, the X-Men or X-Force aside from having a different roster is something worth exploring), with Forge offering the team's resignation to Val Cooper's boss, General Bowser. 

In doing so, he lists off the things that led to their decision, including the Hound Program, the Falls Edge break-in, the interrogatory "debriefing" sessions, the inclusion of Sabretooth on the teamthe arrest of Xavier, and the way Creed's assassination is being blamed on a mutant. 

Despite citing his presence as one of the thing that led to X-Factor's break with the government, Forge also declares that Sabretooth (and Mystique) will remain with the team, in order to prevent the government from doing something worse to/with them. 

A Work in Progress
Madrox visits his own grave, and laments the current state of X-Factor relative to what he knew. 

An agent of Operation: Zero Tolerance is monitoring Val, and contacts Bastian when X-Factor quits. 

Mystique adopts her Raven Darkholme appearance to visit Trevor (the young boy who was attacked by the Friends of Humanity in issue #127); Forge notes it's been awhile since he's seen her use it. 

Shard says Forge is planning on using her as a schematic for the future, in order to avoid her world from coming to pass. 

The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
Wild Child is wearing a Chicago Bulls jacket. 

Forge provides the details of X-Factor's resignation on a CD-ROM. 

Austin's Analysis
After a few issues of semi build-up, we finally get at the least the beginning of the reveal to what Howard Mackie has been building towards, "X-Factor Underground". In a somewhat decompressed issue, he doesn't get quite as far as setting up the series' new status quo, but does take definitive steps in that direction by having Forge essentially tender X-Factor's resignation to the government. In typical Howard Mackie fashion, it's done in a perfectly cromulent but largely unexciting way, but it's nevertheless a significant moment for the series, which has defined itself as "the US government's X-Men" for the last 60+ issues. It is also a moment to which with the book has arguably building (in ways both intentional and not) since the return from "Age of Apocalypse" began shaking up its previous core roster. Matsuda's art is also improving, with the manic energy he brings to his figures once again livening up what is a fairly talky issue essentially concerned with a human resources issue. That X-Factor #132  doesn't read like the watershed moment it ultimately is, is unfortunate, but being able to finally see at least the shape of what is being built is nevertheless rewarding.  

Next Issue
Cable and Bishop team-up to battle Sinsear in Cable #40!

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  1. For some reason I bought this issue; one of the very few X-FACTORs I owned. I don't know why, and I remember nothing about it!

  2. It really felt like Howard Mackie was building to something during this time. Mostly to the possible edge of days of Future Past. I seem to recall there was some stuff in other X-Title at the time that also hinted at this. Maybe even Operation: Zero Tolerance was supposed to be the inciting incident?

    As much as Mackie was building towards this story point it really feels like the beginning of the end more than anything else. I think I peered through a few issues between this one and #149 (the final issue) and didn't see anything felt like it was going anywhere. Still, I look forward to revisiting the rest of this series and see if I was being too harsh.

  3. Always loved this cover. It got me to pick up X-Factor and collect the rest of the Mackie/Matsuda run. Even if the storylines were ho-hum I was a big fan of the art. My biggest gripe is there is nothing for Polaris to do here. She gets like 2 lines an issue and other than "having an edge" there's no personality present whatsoever. She's just there to back up Forge and take beatings from Havok and Sabretooth. But let's give more page time to Shard!

  4. The way Forge says to Val, “you, no matter how much you may want to be, are not one of us,” sounds to me like he means being a mutant, not just a member of X-Factor or within their circle of intimates, which if the case is something I don’t recall ever having been implied or stated.


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