This week’s issue of X-Factor marks the beginning of a concerted effort by Peter David to elevate his mutant detective agency into a “must read” monthly title, with the writer promising shocking revelations with each issue. Whilst arguably a run of in-house ads for the book featuring the face of former penciller Larry Stroman and the words “It’s okay. He’s gone now.” might have been the obvious way of raising sales, the writer duly delivers a radical shake-up for the team, but the awkward halfway-house nature of the plot development means that it falls a little flat.
For the first half of the book, there’s nothing unexpected in terms of plot, with the story following the tribulations of Madrox and Siryn as the latter gives birth to their child. With the rest of the team sat in the hospital’s waiting area, this issue is very much focussed on this pair, interspersed by brief cameos. Given the brilliant large-scale character interactions which initially characterised the book, this is a slight disappointment, but perhaps understandable given the situation and the fact that neither Longshot or Darwin have come close to replacing the much-missed Wolfsbane and Layla Miller in the book. X-Factor has always really been Madrox’s title, and the reader shares his uncertainty and joy at events. A valuable contribution is made by Valentine De Landro, who effortlessly sets the mood for each scene despite the constraints of setting. There’s no mistaking the varying atmosphere in each of the hospital’s wards, despite the similarity of décor.
David has gone to the lengths of including a plea in the issue’s recap page for readers not to spoiler the twist in the tale. While there’s no reason not to respect his wishes, readers who pick up the issue looking to be shocked rather than to experience a beautifully written down-at-heel team book are likely to be disappointed. The over tagline “The Future of Mutantkind?” is frankly disingenuous, with the story’s revelation having nothing to do with the wider X-Men franchise. Although the events here may well come to define the two characters directly affected by them, the reader is left under whelmed due to the semi-trailed nature of the story. With hindsight it’s possible to see the links which have lead up to this moment, stretching all the way back to issue eight, but they are too few and far between for the event to have been part of a genuine plan. Little moments such as Madrox’s conversation with his religious duplicate serve to deaden the impact of the issue’s conclusion, depriving it of the impact a truly leftfield development would have enjoyed.download razor s edge the dvd