"X-Factor" - Peter David Writes A Team Of Superhero Sleuths

If you made Sam Spade a mutant, teamed him up with the Goonies as adults, and placed all of them up against a noir background, well, you'd have a book that would feel a lot like Marvel's "X-Factor." Written by Peter David ("The Incredible Hulk," "Fallen Angel"), the current run on this comic is a far cry from the "X-Factor" that first appeared in stores in 1986Öand that's meant in a good way!

The team - which is actually a detective agency - is led by Jamie Madrox, formerly known as the costumed superhero Multiple Man. The agency was originally named XXX Investigations, but many thought that it sounded too much like a business that investigated pornography. Since Jamie's initial agency teammates (Guido Carosella/Strong Guy and Rahne Sinclair/Wolfsbane) had served with him on the government-sponsored mutant supergroup named X-Factor (written by Peter David in the 90's), they decided to adopt that name and became X-Factor Investigations.

In the beginning of this current series, Jamie won millions of dollars from playing a "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"-style gameshow (albeit by using his powers in an unethical manner). This allowed him to round out his team and recruit several of his former colleagues of the Paris branch of the now defunct X-Corporation. The agency's members currently include M, Siryn, a powerless Rictor (due to the events from the "House of M"), and Layla Miller, who has inserted herself into the group to keep them from discovering the truth behind the mutant Decimation.

Well, they're kind of like the Goonies...

Needless to say, the book keeps getting more intriguing and crazier with every issue. Peter David (a.k.a. PAD to his fans) was nice enough to talk with CBR News and filled us in on what readers can look forward to from mutantkind's most exciting detective agency.

Peter, congratulations at bringing this team "back to life" (as it were)! As X-Factor has been everything from a covert group of mutants working for the good of mutantkind to a government agency, how would you describe the group now - just a detective agency, or something more? And if they are "just a detective agency," why do their clothes look like costumes?

PAD: Because they're a detective agency in a comic book. There are certain concessions we simply feel we have to make to the medium that we're in. Remember, the Fantastic Four started out wearing normal clothes, but they picked up costumes in short order. Bottom line, we're competing with the perception of what mutant books should be, and having the characters in recognizable ensembles makes it easier, I think, for some readers to relate. Otherwise, they're the classic scrappy noir detective agency.

What is the team's purpose? Since he won millions from the gameshow, it's not like Jamie needs the money. Is X-Factor out there to "help the helpless?" And if they are, why do they charge people?

PAD: Yes, they charge. They're a functioning business. It evolved from Jamie's love of noir films combined with his desire to do something that would benefit the commonweal. Mostly what they do is focus on the ground-level needs of mutants or, as it now stands, former mutants who are trying to adjust to life post-"House of M."

If you need help because Apocalypse has returned and he's planning to take over the world, you call in the X-Men. If you need help because your son is running with a gang of former mutants who are up against the wall from a rival gang seeking to take advantage and move into their territory, you call in X-Factor. Just bring your check book.

You have some terrific characters on this team. How did you pick the line-up? Were you given free rein, or did you have a list from Marvel that you had to choose from? How does it work?

PAD: Basically, [Editor] Andy Schmidt worked up a list of available characters, and we went over them and developed a viable team from that assortment. Rahne and Guido were givens, of course. As for the rest, I went for personalities that I felt would play well off each other.

You also have Brian Bendis' character from "House of M" (Lyla) on the team - how did that happen? And did Bendis give you her bio, or are you shaping the character as you go along?

PAD: She was suggested as a possibility by Andy, and it made sense to me. Since a lot of what was happening was evolving out of "House of M," it tracked that representatives of that storyline be present in the series. Besides, it seemed to me she'd make a good complement to Rictor. Rictor, who is powerless, is the opposition character to Layla who was deeply involved with the events that made him powerless.

I consulted with Brian extensively, and it was Brian's feeling - since all of what we knew of Layla was rooted in the alternate "House of M" universe - that she was practically a clean slate for whatever I wanted to do with her from that point on. We went back and forth on some concepts and then I just took her and ran with her.

Which character on the team do you relate to most when writing, and why?

PAD: Probably Jamie. He sees all sorts of directions that he can go and sometimes has difficulty making up his mind. I'm like that.

For those who missed the first arc, can you give them a hint of what they missed?

PAD: I'd rather tell them to pick up the upcoming trade collection.

Fair enough! You heard him, readers! Now, will the events going on in the X-Men (like "Deadly Genesis") or "Civil War" spill over into your book? If so, how will they affect affect the team?

PAD: "Deadly Genesis" already has, and "Civil War" will definitely be having an impact, since it compels Madrox to take a stand one way or the other on the Superhero Registration Act. And since he's the head of the company, his stand becomes company policy.

What kind of things can readers look forward to in upcoming issues? Will anyone be joining or leaving X-Factor anytime soon?

PAD: They can look forward to the Astonishing X-Men showing up in the two-part "Civil War" tie-in, followed by a three-part story that brings the Singularity Investigations storyline to a head. And after that, a single issue story entitled "Re-Xaminations" that harkens to the long-remembered "X-Factor" #87, in which everyone pours out their hearts to a therapist.

Any other upcoming project you want to mention at this time?

PAD: Well, I'm having a great time scripting "The Gunslinger," the adaptation of the Stephen King books. "Fallen Angel" continues to do well for IDW, which is very gratifying, and I'm working on the second issue of "1602: Fantastick Four." It's developing this really nice epic feel to it.

It looks like fans of yours will have plenty to read for the foreseeable future. Thanks Peter!

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