Saturday, December 28, 2013

12 Days of X-Mas Day 4: X-Factor #15 (1987)

And now we have one of the first comics to break my heart.
As a kid, I was never a huge Angel fan. His powers weren’t visually striking or really very useful in combat. Of the original team, my favorites were probably Cyclops, Beast, Jean Grey, Iceman, and finally Angel. I think I’ve gotten wiser about that order over the years, but as a kid I knew no better. Louise Simonson made me appreciate the character too late when she wrote this surprising issue.

This is the issue where Angel kills himself. During the Mutant Massacre, the two Marauders Blockbuster and Harpoon pinned Angel to the wall by his wings. As we find out in later issues, the secretly evil Cameron Hodge used this opportunity to have Angel’s wings amputated (after Thor’s great rescue in his own book).

Warren Worthington can’t deal with the loss, and the only one of his teammates to see him struggling is Jean Grey. Iceman and Beast are too busy dealing with the Mutant Massacre fallout with the Morlocks, and Scott Summers is moping in Alaska, deciding on revenge for his seemingly dead wife. Only Jean spends the issue trying to convince Angel he’s going to be OK. In the end, the team can’t stop him and Angel runs off and blows up his plane, attempting suicide. We all know that this just puts him in line for a sweet character makeover as Archangel thanks to Apocalypse, but at the time this came out, I was crushed.

Walt Simonson handled the art during this second year, and his dynamic, kinetic pencils were a nice fit. The characters aren’t individually as striking as in the earlier issues, but the sense of action is a lot higher. I’m also pleased to report that Angel spends multiple pages in his underwear as he escapes from the hospital. Seriously, what is up with that? Was that part of the character’s shtick back in the day?

Also, in a neat bonus, the letter column has fans writing in trying to figure out how Angel could remain a contributing member of X-Factor even without his wings. I don’t think anyone saw the Archangel swerve coming.

This is a sad comic, but a GOOD one. 

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