Here on Rapid Reviews, we’ll quickly review comics and then rank them in The List. We’ll kick off this brand new blog series with a Phoenix story from Gregs Pak and Land, the second volume of post-Decimation X-Factor, and sort of the first volume of Matt Fraction and Mike Allred’s FF.

X-Men: Phoenix - Endsong

X-Men: Phoenix – Endsong

Writer: Greg Pak

Penciller: Greg Land

Inker: Matt Ryan | Colorist: Justin Ponsor

Letterer: Clem Robins

Publisher: Marvel

The Phoenix Force and Jean Grey have been as integral to each as they both are to the X-Men. We’ve had many, many, many X-Men stories about the Phoenix, and this is one of those.

This mini-series doesn’t really add much to the story of Jean Grey, but it does give the Phoenix Force its own personality and character. The art isn’t full-on Greg Land porn faces yet, so it’s decent.

For Jean Grey fans in 2005, during one of the longest periods when she was dead, this was a nice little reminder that Jean Grey and the Phoenix Force existed. For everybody else, it’s non-essential.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
X-Factor Vol. 2: Life & Death Matters

X-Factor Vol. 2: Life and Death Matters

Writer: Peter David

Artists: Ariel Olivetti, Roy Allan Martinez, Dennis Calero, and Renato Arlem

Colorist: Jose Villarubia

Publisher: Marvel

Continuing his best run on X-Factor, Peter David continues to build his noir-inspired version of the team led by Madrox the Multiple Man with multiple plot threads, some of which pay off big-time later on in the series.

The combination of quirky characters, legitimately funny moments, and shocking twists make this a hell of a read.

The only thing that prevents this volume, which collects issues #7-12, from becoming truly amazing is the revolving door of artists and the unfortunate insertion of elements from the Civil War event. David manages to keep discussions of the Superhero Registration Act relevant in the weird world of X-Factor, but ultimately, it doesn’t have any real lasting impact to the series.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
FF Vol. 1: Fantastic Faux

FF Vol. 1: Fantastic Faux

Writer: Matt Fraction

Artist: Mike Allred

Colorist: Laura Allred

Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Publisher: Marvel

It’s weird that FF Vol. 1 collects issues #4-8 because issues #1-3 are collected with the first volume of the main Fantastic Four series.

Weird publishing choices aside, this is a fantastic series that shows off Matt Fraction’s comedic writing skills without making things too goofy. On the visual side, Mike Allred’s art is always a highlight in any book.

Every member of the replacement Fantastic Four — the Fantastic Faux, if you will — gets to shine in this volume, particularly She-Hulk and Medusa. The rest of the cast, though many, don’t seem to get lost in the background as they are all uniquely fascinating. Some of them even have small yet delightful storylines. There’s nothing faux about the fun you’ll have reading this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Rapid Rankings

X-Men: Phoenix – Endsong enters The List at #14, but only because I’m a sucker for Jean Grey.

X-Factor Vol. 2: Life and Death Matters goes right above Empyre and right below Rachel Rising as the new #6.

FF Vol. 1: Fantastic Faux is a fast, enjoyable read so it deserves to be the new #9.

X-Men: Phoenix – Endsong, X-Factor Vol. 2: Life & Death Matters, and FF Vol. 1: Fantastic Faux are available now wherever fine comic books are sold.

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