Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Comics: X-Factor No.14 review

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In the first-page primer for X-Factor No. 14: "Multiple Issues," writer Peter David hilariously sums up the origins of this latest incarnation of X-Factor in his trademark self-aware and self-effacing style.

"...The X-Men broke up but were later reunited as X-Factor, but then they stopped being X-Factor and a bunch of guys who no one was that interested in became X-Factor. It was eventually canceled. But then Andy Schmidt got the bright idea to do a limited series based on Madrox, called in Peter David to write it and Pablo Raimondi to pencil it, and it sold real well and now here we all are," reads David's history of, arguably, his best series yet. (If you want a weightier version of the book's evolution, go here).

Much like Buffy creator Joss Whedon, David's one of those writers who can take a story, in this case a comic book, full of outsiders or second-tier heroes and make it spark with dense plotting, humor, great dialogue and a real love for the characters. The noir twist that's going on in this book, underscored by Raimondi's sleek penciling and the almost monochrome color pallete, is a welcome bonus.

"Multiple Issues" smartly deals with the fallout of a few big events from the last couple of issues. Told in a gumshoe flashback style, Jamie Madrox starts out dealing with the literal cuts and bruises he's collected from Siryn and Monet and ends up on a personal quest to quiet his existential demons.

After kicking a few back with Rictor -- and revealing that Monet's a real tiger in the sack -- Madrox heads to the Central Park Zoo and calls in Dr. Samson to shrink his head a bit. Enlightening words are exchanged, monkey poo is tossed and Madrox decides to pull himself together, literally, by collecting all the dupes he's sent out into the world.

I really liked the conversation between Madrox and Samson here. The spacious panels really sold the reflective tone, and I like the idea that maybe Madrox's decision to send out his dupes wasn't a good idea after all. the decision has certainly has lead him to be a more complex character, but I'm looking forward to following him on his dupe-collecting journey, even though it means he might leave his teammates behind.

Finally, we had some unexpected good news for the rest of the team. Thanks to Layla's interference (she really does know stuff, you know), Monet and Siryn make up, girlie style, and head to Paris to do some retail therapy. Funny stuff.

Guido bluntly confesses to Mrs. Buchanan about accidentally smoking her husband while under Singularity's mind control. She reacts with understanding, and David lays down the workings of a great, compassionate character with a nice knack for eloquence. I hope we see more of Buchanan in issues to come.

Now, what to make of Madrox's run in with Val at S.H.I.E.L.D? And who kidnaped him outside the offices? And what about Pierto and Rictor? Will one influence the other to change his tune? Big time X-book fans probably already know the answer to this, but I'm a newbie here, so I'm still very intrigued by the possibilities.

Once again, David and crew delivered a muted, funny and smart issue that's more invested in character instead of world-ending arcs or, well, tights. For me, X-Factor remains one of the most compelling superhero books on the shelves.

Memorable exchange:
I read in a few decades, polar bears might be extinct 'cause of global warming, courtesy of maknkind
Samson: How do you feel about that?
Madrox: It sucks. For one thing, what'll they use to sell Coca Cola?

Peter David's blog

Marvel's X-Factor page

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