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September 13, 2011 / MojosWork

X-Factor #224.1

Rating: 3.5/5


Synopsis (via Marvel.com): X-Factor Investigations has been taking on stranger and stranger cases recently…but when an eerie sighting leads the group to the hometown of their leader, Jamie Madrox the Multiple Man, they may have stumbled on a bigger mystery?than they intended. With this new-reader friendly issue, there’s never been a better time to check out the series IGN.com says “puts most Triple-A titles to shame”!

Writer: Peter David

Artist: Valentine De Landro

Cover Price: $2.99

Page Count: 20, plus a reprint of 2001’s “Periphery,” an 8-page September 11th story by Kevin Smith and John Romita Jr.

SPOILERS BELOW

Peter David is to X-Factor what Chris Claremont was to the X-Men. He may not have created most of the characters – as far as the proper X-Factor roster goes, David has created all of zero of them – but for all intents and purposes, he is their father. Like Tom Selleck from Three Men and a Baby. Okay, bad, dated reference.

Anyway, David first got on a roll in 2004-05 with the Madrox limited series, which reintroduced the Multiple Man as a noir detective. The writer, who previously tackled the first X-Factor book to feature non-original-X-Men (so many hyphens), soon added Siryn (now called Banshee after her father passed away), a depowered Rictor and M, which was a nice nod to continuity, as those characters had previously been haphazardly grouped together in Paris about ten years ago as a part of the now-defunct X-Corp. That right there would summarize why Peter David is great. He took a half-assed plot thread and turned that into a viable relationship among a handful of B-list characters that no one else wanted or knew what to do with (which is why they were saddled together in paris in the first place). But David wasn’t stopping there.

Rictor is bisexual. Longshot joined the team, followed by Shatterstar, and you can bet those characters’ relationship – there have been hints dropped about their familial connection for nearly two decades – will eventually be tackled full bore when the time is right (for the readers, which means it will be at the worst possible time for the team). Layla disappears but returns about 15 years older. Siryn gets pregnant. Siryn loses the baby. Siryn breaks Madrox’s fingers. Wolfsbane is pregnant… with a god’s child. That creature is born. Strong Guy loses his soul. Shatterstar is also bisexual. There is so much going in this book, and to a new reader, it can be a little heady, as it seems more daytime soap than crime noir at times, but trust me, if I’m going to recommend ANY Marvel book, it’s this one.

Pick up this special Point One issue featuring competent art by Valentine De Landro, and you’ll hit the ground running with a fresh self-contained tale that provides ample back-story to the roster, which is possibly the most vibrant cast in Marvel’s current pantheon of comics and heroes. Which brings me back to the original point: Peter David has breathed life into all of these characters, a life that none of them ever had before. He’s taken one-dimensional deus ex machinas, under-developed personas and downright lame characters (Strong Guy? STRONG GUY?!?), molded them in whatever image he saw fit, and sure enough, they are now all certifiably awesome.

In 224.1, Madrox and Layla discuss their jobs with a young boy and his mother while the rest of the team investigates a creepy old hag in town. This image will give me nightmares. Well done, De Landro.

What makes David so good? He deftly weaves action, suspense, drama, humor and mystery into one paper tapestry. I support human cloning of Peter Davids. He should writes every Marvel title at once.

I wouldn’t be surprised if someday, twenty years down the road, there is a fan somewhere who says, “Why won’t these X-Factor guys ever change? They always go back to how they were in 2010, 2011! Same relationships! Same boring stuff.”

It’s the argument I make about the X-Men now. Characters became so beloved that they could no longer grow or regress, evolve into something else. The X-Men became stuck in a moment (somewhere around 1991). If, in twenty years, David’s definitive take on this hodgepodge cast elicits a circuitous product much like what we see in most X-Men books, well, that will suck for us in twenty years. So you might as well see the magic while its being made right now.

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