Hell on Earth War Part One
Written by: Peter David
Penciled by: Leonard Kirk
Inked by: Jay Leisten
Colored by: Matt Milla
Lettering by: VC’s Cory Petit
Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: $2.99
Note : This review is for the digital version of the comic available from Marvel on Comixology.
Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!
Before I start, I do want to wish a speedy recovery to Peter David. I’ve long been a huge fan of his work and his character! Peter David asked that anyone who wants to help with his medical bills should pick up some of his books from Crazy 8 Press. Go to his website for more information.
I have no idea how X-Factor escaped Marvel’s attempts to renumber just about all of their series for Marvel NOW! Even odder since this issue actually has the annoying blank red space on the bottom signifying it to be a Marvel NOW! book (who really thought that was an attractive trade dress??). Though I guess it was hard to pick a “change in direction” point for X-Factor, since Peter David seems to love to shatter the status quo just about every chance he gets.
Also, I was asurprised that this issue wasn’t a few extra pages (and bucks) more than normal. Marvel seems to like to do that with anniversary issues, and 250 issues (even scattered over several series and decades) is an impressive feat. Honestly, I usually think that filler back up stories are kind of lame, but Peter David used to do lots of short stories for various X-Men annuals, and they were always really good, so I was kind of hoping for one here. I particularly remember one particularly brilliant one that told the story of Mystique getting ready to throw Destiny’s ashes off of a cruise. And another about Val Cooper having a nightmare about office supplies trying to kill her. There are always so many threads going on in X-Factor that could have been explored in a short story.
Instead, Marvel used issue 250 as a good jumping on point, while building up on some of the threads that had been going on in this book for a while now.
Summary (contains spoilers): The issue starts with Jezebel sitting on Devil’s Tower called for God’s help in stopping the lords of Hell from having a massive war that is going to “lay waste to everything.” When it becomes clear that God isn’t answering her, Jezebel decides she will have to stop it herself:
The scene switches to New York City, where Wolfsbane’s son Tier is running to try and stay alive. Tier’s father is the Asgardian wolf prince Hrimhari, and according to Hela, he is the key piece in a war that will bring about an apocalyptic war. Darwin has sworn to kill Tier to prevent this happening, and we catch up to Tier just as Darwin also catches up to him. Darwin seems to hesitate before he can kill Tier, and he gets hit by a cab driven by Wolfbane, who grabs Tier and takes off to bring him to X-Factor.
Back at X-Factor, after his brief body hopping into M’s body, Pip has decided to get out of town before she can get revenge. The team is fighting about this when Wolfsbane and Tier arrive. Apparently, Tier had been told some stories about how great Madrox was, and seems thrilled to be in his presence.
Man, that poor kid is in for a disappointment…
Darwin bursts in, and managers to grab Tier in the confusion. Darwin admits that he takes no pleasure in this, but he knows that killing Tier can save the entire world. Jamie tells the team to hold back, saying that he doesn’t think Darwin could bring himself to kill Tier, as he sneaks a dupe into position to try and save the day. Darwin realizes that Jamie is right, and lets Tier go.
Moments later, Guido bursts in looking to kill Tier. It seems that since he left the team, he started working for Jezebel. Like Darwin, Jezebel says that they need to kill Tier before it’s too late. But before she can, the X-Factor Investigations office is destroyed and the entire team is teleported to Devil’s Tower. They find Mephisto (Jezebel’s father), Hela, and other representations of demons and devils all looking to kill Tier and “get this war over with.”
Review: It has been a long time since I read any of Peter David’s Hulk, but supposedly the threads for Hell on Earth War started way back then. I can’t speak for that, but it has been building up in X-Factor for a long time. I love when a comic writer is playing the long game, but at the same time still tells plenty of strong standalone stories. X-Factor is the perfect example of this.
I do have to admit, I am not a big fan of the “character has baby…who is then accelerated in age in order to make the child a more viable plot point” cliche. Peter David has actually done this before in his Star Trek: New Frontier books with Dr Xy…a four year old who ends up serving as a science officer on the Excalibur, and it just feels like a cheap cop out to be able to tell a pregnancy story without having to deal with the annoying question of “and now what do we do with a baby?” That said, I do think that Tier is a pretty cool character. I definitely hope that he survives Hell on Earth War and sticks around.
I also wonder how you can have all these big gun cosmic deities show up for a Hell on Earth War, but it almost certainly won’t even be mentioned in any other Marvel comic. That has long been a major gripe for me that Marvel seems to have a shared universe…but only when it’s convenient. I was complaining to my editor about how Washington DC got blown up in Kang Dynasty…but it never really came up again.
I know it might sound like I didn’t like this book, but honestly, it was just the opposite. There were elements of this book that could have been really poorly handled. But despite the dangers of cliches and overused “end of the world” plots, Peter David manages to find the exact right balance of plot and characterization. In fact, this was by far the best comic I read this week.
I especially loved seeing Darwin’s struggle between what he knew he needed to do, and his own inability to be a killer. I actually miss Darwin as a regular character in X-Factor, because Peter David managed to give the character more depth than anyone else had. I actually like the “Deadly Genesis” characters, and always thought much more could be done with them.
And like I said before, I actually thought Tier was done very well. I especially liked the way he seemed to admire Jamie…let’s face it, that is a very rare character trait.
As always, Leonard Kirk’s art was a perfect fit for Peter David’s story. In past reviews, I have complained a lot about the inconsistency of the art on X-Factor, so when I saw Kirk’s name on the cover of this one, I was relieved. He definitely is the right man for this story. I especially loved the last shot with all the devil’s standing imposingly over the terrified X-Factor team.
By the way, I don’t know who’s idea it was to hide the creative team’s name in the signs around Time Square but I thought that was a really cool and clever touch. Kudos to whoever was responsible!
Reviewing X-Factor is sort of like being a weatherman in San Diego (stealing that from Lewis Black). You don’t have a lot to say other than, “This was good…but it always is.” X-Factor is always one of Marvel’s best written books, and I expect Hell on Earth War will bring new dramatic twists and turns to this great series. Highly Recommended.
Final Score: 8.5: Hell on Earth War is off to a strong start. It does seems like Peter David is working with some big cliches, but as always, he does it masterfully.
Tags: Leonard Kirk, Marvel NOW! (All-New Marvel Now!), Peter David, X-Factor (Marvel Comics)