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Tragedy tomorrow, Comedy tonight!

X-Factor #241

Written by Peter David

Pencils by Leonard Kirk

Colors by Matt Milla

Review by Joey Braccino

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: X-Factor is one of the best books Marvel puts on the stands. Peter David has woven together a genre-bending, character-driven opus over the last almost-100 issues. So when the writer promises that the next five issues will change the face of X-Factor forever, we better pay real close attention.

Issue #241 kicks of the “Breaking Points” story arc by bringing back 3 other-dimensional supervillains first introduced about 10 issues ago. Over the course of the issue, we’re also caught up on the storylines that the individual members of X-Factor have gone through for past year: Banshee’s run-in with the Morrigan, Layla’s visions of Madrox, Longshot’s coma, Madrox’s investigation of the Seattle vigilante murders, Rahne’s quest for her lost baby, Madrox and Havok’s battle for leadership, and Guido and Monet’s fumbled first date. For the first time since these singular story threads began, it seems as though there is a clear climax coming in the next few issues. All of these stories that we thought were character analyses and one-shot genre studies using our merry band of mutant investigators are now going to come together and escalate into… well, a story-arc that “will change the face of X-Factor forever!”

But the best part about David’s deft maneuvering is his use of continuity. References to long past bits of continuity find their way into issue #241, and while actually being versed in the canon is unnecessary to really enjoy the issue, it still speaks to the fact that Peter David is expanding and complicating a larger X-Universe (and Marvel U) mythos rather than simply telling one-off stories. Banshee’s alcoholism crops up again. Polaris’ connection to her father (Magneto, Master of Magnetism!) is raised and her moral laurels questioned. And how often do we get references to Havok’s time in the Mutant X dimension (not the crappy WB series, but the acclaimed comics series from 1999)? And not only references, but actual plot-related connections? If the shadowy villain at the end of the issue is who I think it is, then we’re delving even further into the X-Canon. Hopefully David can make the character more interesting than he was when he first appeared… (He will). Futhermore, the reveal of next issue’s cover art will blow long-time reader’s brain cells out their ears.

Out of all the artists that have rotated on and off since X-Factor #200, Leonard Kirk ranks among the very best. His line work captures both superheroic action and intimate, noir-tinged scenes perfectly. His Strong Guy in particular is simply fantastic. Matt Milla’s breathe life into the clean lines, and give the book a richer, more vibrant look than most readers would expect from a “noir” series. But that’s what makes X-Factor so special; it defies our expectations with every single issue.

Verdict

Buy it. Read it. Jump on it now! This is the first part of a new storyline. One reader in the letters column says he was able to find all the back issues on eBay, so once you get hooked on X-Factor after reading this story arc, you can go back and read everything else! Also, this comic book makes references to Tron that will make you laugh out loud for real.

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