Something that stands out to me, reading X-Factor, is how well colorist Brian Reber has stepped into the shoes of Jose Villarrubia. Villarrubia was a very important part of the initial look of X-Factor (although I do not blame him for stupid huge wolf head Rahne), and for Reber to take over without any real drop-off is quite impressive on Reber’s part.
Anyhow, on to the issue! One of the “troubles” of a book being “unpredictable” is that, once you become identified AS being unpredictable, it dulls the very edge that unpredictability was intended to provide. For example, take Saving Private Ryan. Remember the scene in the beginning where the soldier is hit in the helmet, but the bullet doesn’t kill him? And how relieved he is, only to be shot in the head a couple of seconds later? That scene works (well, you could argue it DOESN’t work, but for the sake of this, pretend that it worked) because of the unpredictability. If you repeat that same gag five other times in the film, it saps all meaning out of the gag by the fifth time (heck, by the third time).
In X-Factor, we’ve already had the lead character throw a supporting character off of a roof in fit of pique and another protagonist abruptly murder an innocent man. Once you have these things happen, then it is a bit hard for us to echo what one character says following an “unpredictable” scene, “Mary…mother of God…wha…what did you….,” because we the reader have basically become inured to it all.
That being said, I put troubles in quotes because robbing “unpredictable” moments of their shock value is not exactly something I think is much of a problem, as shock value is pretty lame anyways. If the book isn’t interesting you other than to occasionally shock you, then there’s something wrong with the writing. Luckily, Peter David makes the book interesting anyways, so the book is still a fun read.
The issue tells basically two stories – Jamie Madrox (trying to round up a dupe of his, who is working for SHIELD) being captured and brainwashed by Hydra and his two ertswhile lovers (and teammates) M and Siryn hashing out their troubles on a shopping trip in Paris.
Both tales are interesting, and artist Pablo Raimondi is doing an excellent job on the art for this series (especially as there are no big dumb giant wolf heads anywhere in this comic book), although he continues in the vein on this series with the weird facial expressions that never make it look natural for someone to be talking. I don’t know how three separate artists (Raimondi, Calero and Sook) could have the same exact tic, but it’s there.
Siryn and M’s excursion into Paris has a lot of nice dialogue and character work, along with a nice statement regarding how to deal with anti-mutant behavior in a foreign country, especially in a post-Civil War world climate.
Madrox’s plot has a bunch of humorous jokes and some interesting villains, and I like the basic concept behind how Madrox gets out of the jam, although the psychology aspects seem a bit too pop psychology (think Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting) for my tastes, but I will allow that it is not so much important HOW Madrox gets to a certain point, so long as he GETS there. And WHEN he gets there, it is quite interesting, and looks like it has some nice set-up for future stories.
Like most issues of this series, the writing is quite densely packed – you get a real strong reading experience with each issue of X-Factor, which is quite a treat.
All in all, I’d recommend this comic. Nice artwork, good dialogue, and some interesting movements in the arcs of different characters.
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