I’m not sure why I fell away from Peter David’s X-Factor. If I remember correctly, I don’t think I liked the Secret Invasion crossover with She-Hulk, and that convinced me to switch to the trades. I had a few of them sitting on a bookshelf for the last few years where they sat unread. It took my X-Factor project over the Christmas break to inspire me to pick up this collection and get started again.
And while this is a good collection, having read a whole bunch of books in a row, this is more about where the book is going than where it is in this story. Madrox and Layla Miller are in the future, assisting Cyclops, Ruby Summers, and a few others in overthrowing a tyrannical anti-mutant government. The problem here is that the villains never come into strong enough focus for me. David does some character clean-up with Trevor Fitzroy that sets up some nice possible stories for the future, but other than the enigmatic Cortex, none of the other future villains have the gravitas to power the story.
No, where this book really pulled me back in was in characterization. I don’t know how it happened, but my old favorite Madrox has really fallen in my esteem. He’s mopey and sarcastic, and seems like he’d be just about the worst boss you could hope for. He’s a good tool in the story, but he’s not exactly likable.
You know who is likable? Almost everyone else. Guido, or Strong Guy as he’s known, is brilliant in this. His confusion and awkwardness over Rictor and Shatterstar’s new relationship is hilarious. Shatterstar? He’s tremendous! He comes off like an old-time Wolverine, always the first to charge into battle, disregarding safety and sanity. And M is that classic flying brick that knows she’s better than the rest of the team. I’m shocked that David can make me this fond of Longshot and Darwin, too. They have never been anything but background characters to me, but now I find myself looking forward to their panel time.The sequences in the present-day where Cortex is possessing different team members is much stronger than the portions of the book taking place in the future.
Valentine De Landro’s art is fine, but the work suffers due to a lack of background. Compared to the work he does in some later issues, this is clearly weaker. The faces can be lumpy and the acting is a bit hard to follow. It gets better in later trades though.
This is a GOOD series that becomes EXCELLENT due to the amazingly long run it is a part of. Fans of witty banter and solid super-heroics need to re-examine this series.