At this weekend’s Fan Expo Canada, Marvel announced a milestone for the most mutated mystery solvers in the Marvel U. Come December, “X-Factor” will hit its 200th issue and fans should expect a major shift to the status quo as Team Madrox is headed to the epicenter of all things Marvel: New York City. To collect all the clues on “X-Factor” #200, we caught up with longtime Marvel scribe Peter David on how it felt for his team to be turning 200.
“It feels good, I suppose,” said David. “I think everyone will concur that ‘X-Factor’ is a little different from most of the other X-books and a lot of books that are coming out. Whether that’s good or bad, of course, I think people should form their own opinions. It’s nice that the market has supported it; it’s gratifying to see the enthusiasm of the fanbase and I am very appreciative that both Marvel and the fans have stuck with it.”
With the paradigm shift to NYC, David hopes to make X-Factor Investigations a much more pervasive aspect of the Marvel U. “You think about the old days where in the Marvel Universe, if anybody was going to take a taxicab anywhere in Manhattan, Moon Knight was always driving the cab. If anyone ever needed a lawyer, they always got Matt Murdock. It didn’t matter what aspect of law it was – civil procedure, criminal law, contract law – it was always Matt Murdock,” says David. “So, the feeling was, why not [have it] be that, if anybody in the Marvel Universe has need of a detective agency, they go to X-Factor? There really isn’t anyone else in the Marvel Universe who is fulfilling that function – so why not have X-Factor do it?”
Once in New York, the X-Factor Investigations team has quite a case waiting. In a surprising turn of events, the Invisible Woman has vanished and Franklin Richards comes to Madrox seeking help to find his lost mother – but he’s not alone. “And Valeria! It’s really not ‘X-Factor’ unless you have a creepy little girl,” remarks David. “I’m actually toying with the notion of seeing if we can make Valeria a regular part of the book. I don’t think the Fantastic Four office would go for it, but she’d sure fit in! Indeed, Darwin says to Jamie, ‘The little kid’s creeping me out.’ To which Jamie says, ‘Well, that’s because Layla was before your time.'”
David says he is looking forward to “writing a young girl who could actually out-snark young Layla Miller,” and while whether or not Valeria is eventually added to the cast of X-Factor is up for debate, even if she isn’t, Peter David still has a whole lot of plans and some brand new directions for the team.
“We’re bandying about various directions we’re thinking about going, plus having other people showing up in X- Factor,” he says. “I’d rather not lay everything out, although it might be fun to bring in bunches of people that Shatterstar can cut to pieces with his sword and not have to worry about the moral and ethical ramifications.Â So take from that what you will.”
“Also, one of my favorite TV series was ‘Reaper,’ so I want to do a storyline that’s sort of a tip-of-the-hat to that show by having X-Factor hired by someone of dubious origins to track down a soul on the run.Â Of course, being X-Factor, nothing will be what it seems.” Â
With a bold new direction for “X-Factor” and Peter David at the helm, does the possibility exist for a cameo by the Incredible Hulk? “Bringing in the Hulk might be interesting if I could figure out some kind of truly organic way to make it happen,” says David. “Just having the Hulk show up and everybody gets into a big fight is not exactly the style that I want to approach for the book. I’m a sucker for Thor, which is why I want to bring Hela in. It’s entirely possible that Thor would be showing up. I’d love to make use of Doctor Strange.”
But could X-Factor solve one of the most perplexing mysteries of the Marvel Universe: Who is the Red Hulk? “Wouldn’t that be hilarious that the revelation of the Red Hulk happens in ‘X-Factor?’ I don’t know if Jeph would go along with that,” said David, laughing. “To be perfectly honest, that did occur to me. The problem becomes that the overall continuity would really preclude it. I would have to bring Bruce in, or for that matter the Army, and the problem becomes that I can’t have them solve it. Why have them fail on something as high profile as that? So, unless Jeph Loeb gives me the okay to have the Red Hulk occur in ‘X-Factor,’ which would certainly send sales through the roof, I don’t think that approach is one I’m going to take.”
Finally, we asked the creator of two incarnations of “X-Factor” if he had any predictions for the next 200 issues. “Well, I don’t think I’ll be writing them all,” he said. “I’d be really surprised if I wrote the next 200 issues of ‘X-Factor.’ I suppose you never know. When I first started on the Incredible Hulk, I figured I’d do it for six months and I did it for twelve years, so it’s really impossible to predict. You never know.”