Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writing: Louise Simonson
Artwork: Walter Simonson
Coloring: Laura Martin
Release Date: 28th April 2021
Proudly proclaimed by Marvel as the return of the original so-called mutant-hunters for hire, and featuring an all-new tale set before issue #43 of X-Factor, this particular return to the classic era courtesy of Louise and Walter Simonson probably initially pleased its fans with an atmosphere highly reminiscent of the super-team’s heyday in 1986. In fact, it’s hard to think of a more disturbingly impactive opening than the one the Atlanta-born author pens for this publication as the treacherous Cameron Hodge not only has his head severed by Archangel, but subsequently survives the encounter as little more than a conscious dismembered body part; “When Death decapitated you, it seems he destroyed your vocal cords.”
However, by the time this twenty-page periodical is half-way through, some within this book’s audience were probably wondering just where the Eagle Award-winner was going with her plot concerning the heroes’ “sentient spaceship Ship” inexplicably trying to suddenly kill its occupants, including Cyclops and Marvel Girl’s infant son, Christopher. Admittedly, the huge vessel’s autonomic response to murder the likes of Beast and Iceman inside a fast-shrinking shuttlecraft makes for a few panels of pulse-pounding action. Yet it’s hard to get too excited about a narrative which wholly relies upon a killer computer to inform the reader as to what is going on when the artificial intelligence’s exposition is easily lost amidst a torrent of decentralised brains, redundant functions, two thousand year old damage, encrypted languages, and various information hubs.
Perhaps this comic’s biggest hook therefore is the all-pervading presence of Apocalypse, and En Sabah Nur’s chilling agreement to provide Hodge’s head with a new invulnerable body if the duplicitous lawyer agrees to kill X-Factor before they can further investigate their craft’s bizarre malfunction. These conversations are incredibly well-written, with the hateful relationship between Cameron and his mutant benefactor practically leaping off every panel once the Homo Superior has fitted his “silent friend” with a working voice box.
Equally as enthralling has to be Walter Simonson’s “arting”, which immediately conjures up memories of the earliest X-Men’s highly-popular adventures during the late Eighties. Indeed, this monthly’s cover is so highly reminiscent of the American penciller’s first front page illustration for the colourfully-costumed protagonists that it is easily worth the magazine’s price alone.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]