Overview

X-Factor #1

Review

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X-Factor #1

Credits

  • Words: Peter David
  • Art: Ryan Sook
  • Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger
  • Colors: Jose Villarrubia
  • Story Title: X-Factor
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Dec 14, 2005

X-Factor rises from the ashes of House of M but it’s a vastly different organization than what has gone before.

One of the former X-Men affected by the House of M events is Rictor. Jamie Madrox (A.K.A. the Multiple Man) plays (sort-of) a one-man crisis intervention team as he interrupts Rictor’s suicide attempt. In trying to talk Rictor down Madrox reveals that he has organized a detective agency called X-Factor Investigations. In the process he has brought in a number of friends and former X-Men. Meanwhile, in a parallel story, we see Siryn and Strong Guy working on a case, trying to get evidence against a crook who fleeced mutants. Madrox has, however, at least in his own mind, redefined the meaning of X-Factor. To him it has come to represent the element of unpredictability, the "spanner in the works," the gremlin in the gears. That unpredictability rears its ugly head for both Siryn and Rictor and there is fallout to come.

X-Factor is one of the few titles launched from the "Decimation" event as a new, ongoing series. As such it needed to make a strong opening and it succeeded in that with a deceptive ease. Through the years X-Factor has seen a lot of changes, but Peter David has chosen a new and unique direction now. From the first page in it is obvious that he’s having fun.

Peter David makes Jamie Madrox a very human character despite his powers. Like all people, Jamie has a complex personality; unlike all people, he has the power to give the different aspects of that personality life. Searching for his place in this world, he is pulling along a group of lost souls in his wake. Rahne, Siryn, Strong Guy– they all seem to be looking for a safe haven. X-Factor Investigations has become that haven for them, although it remains to be seen how ‘safe’ it will prove to be.

Peter David never allows the serious aspects of the story overwhelm it. He leavens the pathos and tragedy with sarcasm, black comedy, and good, old-fashioned, one-liners. The dialogue zips off the page and each character’s voice is so unique you can imagine exactly how each one would sound.

There was also a stroke of good fortune in getting Ryan Sook for this title. Although Sook has handled a wide range of genres, his work does tend to skew towards quasi-horror, gothic, and non-traditional superhero titles. This makes him perfect for X-Factor since David is definitely taking this title in a non-traditional direction. It also seems as though Sook’s work in recent years has improved, becoming more expressive and nuanced. He is certainly knocking the cover off the ball here.

Of course, Sook is one of those artists whose work can be ruined by the wrong inker. With his strong lines and heavy shading, correspondingly heavy inks turn the art murky. Marvel has assigned the veteran Wade Von Grawbadger to this team, though, and he handles the inks with a perfect hand. In fact, I would say that Von Grawbadger’s inks are some of the best I’ve seen over Sook’s work.

To be honest, when this title was announced it did not interest me. I’ve been burned too many times on sub-standard ‘X-Titles’ that seemed to exist merely to provide another title in the X-Men franchise. Surprise! Peter David hooked me on this one within two pages. Before the story even ended I cared what happened to these characters. The last page, in fact, had me smiling and thinking, "Oh boy, this is going to be one fun run."

If Peter David, Ryan Sook, and the rest of the team can maintain the level of quality seen in this first issue, then X-Factor deserves a long life.

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