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X-Factor #34

Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2008
By: Steven M. Bari

Peter David
Larry Stroman
Marvel Comics
ďHe Loves YouĒ (part 3)

Iíve enjoyed X-Factor up until this arc of Secret Invasion. Davidís writing scrambles to give meaning and gravitas to this story, but it inevitably falters. Moreover, while Stroman successfully brings an unbridled line of motion back to comics, his disregard for anatomy overshadows the endeavor.

The Skrullís spiritual head honcho, the Talisman, has his eyes set on Darwin as the human link between Man and Skrull, as his powers are the only one that reflect the Skrullsís own composition. But before X-Factor and She-Hulk can stop the Skrull, they throw down fists with each other in a fight cloud of confusion.

The major weight of this story is the Talisman whose importance in the entire Skrull invasion is monumental. All hope and power in this endeavor rests in him, so if She-Hulk and Jazinda get him, they could effectively stop the war. This plot thread is thrown to the waste side, however, and what takes center stage is Darwinís link to Skrulliness.

Although Darwin has interesting powers, he is not an interesting character partly because he hasnít been developed enough here and partly because there really isnít much to develop. Heís a bumbling goof who gets into trouble but miraculously gets out of scrapes thanks to his convenient powers. Heís basically a self-contained duex ex machina. Yet, I would give David credit if he could breath life into him as heís done with X-Factor itself, but not in this issue.

As for Stromanís style, itís definitely not what modern comics fans are used to, both positively and negatively. On the pro side, Stroman fills the pages with motion and vibrancy. Everything and everyone is moving. Nothing is staid and no one is posed without doing something. A first full shot of She-Hulk is her carrying hundred of Multiple Manís dupes on her back. A first reveal of the Talisman is the Skrull stepping in to punch Darwin. The panels have a palpable energy to them that is so often missing in aesthetically focused artists like Ariel Olivetti, Simone Bianchi, and Clayton Crain.

Nonetheless, Stromanís lack of consistent anatomy and proportion even in the backgrounds undercuts the great momentum. Either someoneís arm is too short or torso too long, but none of these choices are consistent and therefore look sloppy. Thus, the reader spends more time looking at the strange shape of Strong Guyís body (which is strange to begin with) than the brilliant line of motion in his punches.

Overall, the best thing about this issue is that it ends this arc and we can get back to business as usual.



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