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Comicguy1




I got the second volume (Volume #2.) of the Essential X-Factor (The Black and White.), the middle of the Louise Simonson run on X-Factor (With art by her ultra-talented husband-to-be Walter.), and I have to say, I was really disappointed. I grew up reading some of her run on the book (I believe I started with #31, the one with Infecta. Did she ever come back to life yet? Please say no!), and I enjoyed it. I especially remember #32, as it had a cool fight with the Avengers. I got a few issues here and there, but not really the majority of her run. So, re-reading this, and reading the older issues for the first time, I have to say that I felt- I just didn't really care for these issues. Which is a shame, because I heard/read a lot of good things about her run. It seems that it was very divisive amongst fans, some really dug it, some despised it. I just found these to be EXTREMELY (!)depressing. I like drama, and I enjoy dark stories, but it just felt like there was almost no humor at all (A few quips from Boom Boom aside.). Bleak to the extreme. Cyclops was pretty much miserable, Angel was suicidal (He killed himself in issue #15. I have that issue as well.), and while I enjoy and appreciate melodrama in superhero comics (It's pretty much the foundation and stable that they were built upon.), there was just TOO much. Scott and Jean, oh my god! The deal that Cameron Hodge made with that demon (Begins with an N and ends in an H.) during that whole Inferno event where he sells out a bunch of BABY mutants to gain immortality and power was just beyond sickening, and, well, more on Hodge later.

From what I understand, Bob Layton (Who proceeded Siminson.) had Cyclops act like a jerk and he had her leave his wife and newborn son (Did that REALLY happen like that?), so Simonson had to work with that and try to rehabilitate him, and she does some good stuff, but, god was he mopey and depressing. I don't think that there was a single radiant character throughout. Really, the only positives aside from the art were Apocalypse (Who was really cool in these issues.), and Archangel. To tell you the truth, I prefer THIS version of Warren to the classic. Warren just doesn't really do it for me. He just comes off as dull and wooden to me, and his powers just-well, you know! So I'm used to the Archangel version of the character. I like him like that, only WITHOUT the killing. Him killing Hodge was justifiable, however. Apocalypse was overused in this volume, but I think that Siminson wrote the best version of him (Not surprisingly, as she was his creator.). I also really like the Horsemen. Are any of them still alive? War might be my favorite.

Anyhow, back to Hodge! I wonder why Siminson made him into a villain. Did Layton have this planned for him? I liked him right UP UNTIL his final appearance. Up until his reveal as the commander of the Right, he was a smart, sane villain. When he came back, he was just TOO cartoonish to take seriously, and I remember him getting even WORSE during his return from the dead in the X-Tinction Agenda crossover (I read the majority of that.). His dialogue and evilness, it was just so over-the-top, and what he did to Candy was just terrible. If you ask me, issue #34 should have been his FINAL appearance, as it felt like a conclusion to his storyline, and to his feud with Warren. But of course he came back again and again. But Hodge was just bat---- crazy, and his motives were kind of- vague, I think. I think that Siminson could have done a better job with his motive. If I were writing him, I would expand upon his reasons for hating mutants. Maybe say that he started hating mutants when Warren left him, and THEN when he say through some of X-Factor's actions that mutants and humans maybe can't co-exist together in peace, make him a radical mutant-hunter (Come to think of it, he was basically written as Apocalypse. As Apocalypse was sort of like the villainous version of Claremont's Magneto, when he wrote him as a villain. There seemed to be a bit of overlap there.). He just seems to hate mutants for no reason. Maybe if he saw the damage that X-Factor was doing, I would buy it.

Also, was he gay? Because issue #34 seems to imply that he was. I don't want to get into a long thing about it, as this alone should cover it:
http://scans-daily.dreamwidth.org/369246.html

Maybe I just read too much into it, as I do have a tendency to overanalyze things, but I wonder if Siminson was hinting that he might have had some sexual feelings for Warren. But reading the issue, as I said, I feel like it was the final Cameron Hodge story, and that his character ran it's course.

Also, a lot of the dialogue came off as unnatural, and the characterizations were just mostly poor, I think (Other than maybe Jean and Bobby.). I was expecting more. I don't know, what did you guys think? There was SOME good stuff in there. I wonder how the Judgment War arc holds up. Thanks for reading, and for the help.



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The Black Guardian 

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I tend to agree about the gay thing. Not much else to say about it.

I supposed there's a slight chance he could have been straight. Men have been known to crush on other men without it being a sexual thing, but...

And it certainly explains Candy. But then villains go after girlfriends a lot.

But all the little things add up to a probably.




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Unstable Molecule


Location: Calgary, AB Canada
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Yeah, the subtext was definitely there for Cameron and Warren, although I never got the feeling Cameron's feelings were reciprocated (that was the point).

I also agree with your comments about how disappointing X-Factor was, back in those days. In fact, to this day I find the original X-Men boring, bland and uninteresting, largely due to early X-Factor. Same with Apocalypse. It's funny how impressions you make in your youth stick with you.




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The Black Guardian 

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I have that opinion about the O5, as well, but it predates X-Factor, and it's only when the 5 are together. It comes completely from my reading the 1960s X-Men books. IMO, Beast was better as an Avenger; I still mourn the passing of the New Defenders and Champions. That team will always be the team that deservedly got X-Men cancelled once upon a time.

Apart from the shadiness of the X-Terminators premise, I thought X-Factor was still the best that could be done with them together.




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Daveym

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    Quote:
    Also, a lot of the dialogue came off as unnatural, and the characterizations were just mostly poor, I think (Other than maybe Jean and Bobby.). I was expecting more. I don't know, what did you guys think? There was SOME good stuff in there. I wonder how the Judgment War arc holds up. Thanks for reading, and for the help.


I think your criticisms are valid on the series but while Louise Simonson's first year on the book was excessively grim things turn around dramatically come Fall of the Mutants.
I haven't read this series since it came out, I still have it in a box deep in the corners of the loft, but I liked the Simonson's work on the series as it was running to a plan. The first years worth of stories are aimed at setting the cast into the darkest corners of personal tragedy and angst, it does go too far to a degree as everyone is given a massive personal challenge to overcome and the world they are living in is increasingly bleak. I don't think Scott Summers in particular benefitted from this series but on the other hand Warren Worthington was overhauled into something a good deal more interesting and dangerous, and Jean while vulnerable is the force that ultimately holds everyone together.
The Master plan the Simonson's are working to is long range, a lot of what we are reading in the first year won't be resolved until Inferno and Mr Sinister's arrival into Scott Summers' life. But we gradually learn that a major reason the teams lives are so difficult and fraught is down to the manipulations of their trusted PA Hodge, which is an important point. His marketing of X-Factor, the trajectory of The Right, and the broader scheming of Apocalypse and Mr Sinister are all important reasons as to why the book is initially so bleak.
By Fall of the Mutants things come to a head as Hodge plays his cards and Apocalypse makes his grand move. After Fall of the Mutants though the transformation that comes to the books tone and the relief on the main cast is not only natural but welcome. This is where X-Factor reinvents itself and the team take stock. I have fond memories of this era as it all felt quite a natural progression and the characters had come out of at least a years worth of misery stronger for the experience...

Where did X-Factor go wrong though? For me it would have to be with the conclusion of Inferno and the closure of the Mr Sinister gambit. This is the point where not only does Walt Simonson leave on the art side but Louise has said all she has to say with it, what follows is a lot of filler and the incredibly boring 'sent into space to fight celestials' storyline. I recall buying those issues and just not reading them, they were virtually unreadable.
But still, I do enjoy the Simonson's work on the series, the original X-Men have never been favorites of mine and yet good storytelling made this a book worth following. For awhile at least. \(coffee\)




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Comicguy1




Was he always meant to be a villain, or did Siminson just make him one? As I said, he was okay up until about issue #23, but once he sold out babies to demons and started talking like a cartoon villain, that was pretty much the end for the character. Since then he's just been tooooooooo evil and he talks like too much of a villain to even take seriously. Issue #34, reading it again, it seemed like the appropriate ending for him. Him dying all the time and coming back is just getting old.

As for Apocalypse, I do think that she overused him, but this was the classic version of the character, and she wrote him the best, it seems.


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Daveym

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Location: Lancashire
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 39,157




    Quote:
    Was he always meant to be a villain, or did Siminson just make him one? As I said, he was okay up until about issue #23, but once he sold out babies to demons and started talking like a cartoon villain, that was pretty much the end for the character. Since then he's just been tooooooooo evil and he talks like too much of a villain to even take seriously. Issue #34, reading it again, it seemed like the appropriate ending for him. Him dying all the time and coming back is just getting old.

The crux of the problem with Cameron Hodge is that he was the fundamental mechanism by which Bob Layton created and justified the original X-Factor concept - the original and long redundant X-Men team working user a cover as highly publicised 'Mutant Hunters' in order to find and save new mutants. Layton needed something to justify this book and this set of characters.
So Cameron Hodge is the organiser and chief of spin behind the concept, he is their PA and their moral support. But as the team quickly realised the gap between the idea and the actual reality by which Hodge helped mold was not remotely an ethical or just cause. And yet to their shame they let this distasteful masquerade carry on, Xavier's original students were now moonlighting as Mutant hunters, allowing themselves to be seen as something close to Nazi's.

So yes, Hodge was always going to be a villain, not necessarily as extreme as what we got no but at the very least he would have been a foil like Henry Gyrich, or nearer yet Amanda Waller or Lex Luthor as he was at the time.
And while developing into an extreme example of an over the top comicbook super-villain he was in very good company given Apocalypse and some of the other characters who passed through Simonson's X-Factor.






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