Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Neil Edwards
Inker: Jay Leisten
Colorist: Matt Milla
Review by Joey Braccino
Famous last words? Or perhaps a fitting conclusion to the tumultuous life and times of Jamie Madrox and his X-Factor Investigation Agency?
With X-Factor #262, we have the end of nearly 10 years of fantastic comics storytelling on the part of the legendary Peter David. For the last six issues, David has been wrapping up the character arcs of everyone’s favorite mutant investigators in a series of one-and-done stories. From Monet and Darwin to Polaris to Longshot, Rictor, and Shatterstar, David has left each of his characters in a relatively uneasy state of relative repose; with this final issue, he turns his attention to the founder, Madrox, who, for those that might have forgotten, was turned into a demon back during the “Hell on Earth War” event. No big.
Unlike the other single stories of this “End of X-Factor” arc, issue #262 is steeped in continuity. The opening scene alone references (or features) characters and controversies not seen or heard from for at least two years (real time). By including these references and this material, David really brings together a larger sense of closure—this really is the end of a long, long story. I won’t go into any spoilers here for the sake of maintaining the integrity of what really is a bittersweet finale, but I will say that David really delivers. The characterization is spot on. There is humor. There is drama. There is a balance of dark and light that only Peter David could pull off.
There’s also some pretty nifty deus ex machine, but David wisely turns it into a joke, so it’s perfect X-Factor.
Also fitting is Neil Edward’s artwork. While Edward’s pencils and Leisten’s inks don’t mesh as perfectly as previous issues, there is still that blend of pulpy noir and dynamic realism that X-Factor has always been known for. In fact, for a few panels, I had the strangest feeling that I was looking at some of the panels from longtime X-Factor artist, Valentine DeLandro. The naturalism is quintessential X-Factor, and I’m glad Edwards, Leisten, and Milla channel that feel as they close out the series.
Obviously, this is an absolute must-read for long-time X-Factor readers. By issue’s end, there isn’t so much a sense of finality as there is a feeling of resolution. There is a future for X-Factor somewhere (perhaps SHIELDy?), but this era, with this team, with this tone—that’s a closed book.
There is also a moving farewell note from Peter David to the readers, in which he quotes one of my very favorite musicals, [title of show]: “I’d rather be nine people’s favorite thing than a hundred people’s ninth favorite thing.” At first, I was like “Peter David likes the same musicals as me!” But then I was like, “Of course, Peter David likes the same musicals as me.” That’s Classic Peter David: he has this uncanny ability to connect with his readers through his cultural awareness and incredible characterization.
Thank you, PAD!