All-New X-Factor #1
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Review by Joey Braccino
Hands down, the last volume of X-Factor was one of Marvel’s most consistently engaging, entertaining, and engrossing series in the modern era. Peter David’s nigh 10-year tenure on the title lent the ongoing adventures of Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man, and X-Factor Investigations a creative core and continuity that none of the book’s contemporaries could even hope to match. This isn’t to say that having one architect for that long kept the book from growing or changing; under David’s innovative and deft pen, X-Factor shifted from a hard-boiled noir in its early days to a time-travel high fantasy to a mystical Hell on Earth war.
And then that volume ended, in rather lackluster fashion, last summer. And comicdom wept. (I know I did. Bob, too, methinks).
When it was revealed that X-Factor was ending only to be relaunched as part of Marvel’s ALL-NEW MARVEL NOW! initiative and Peter David would stay on as writer, there was reason for hope: David would get to continue the rich tradition of X-Factor with a new artist and new #1 that might entice new readers to the fold! The more the merrier!
All-New X-Factor #1 is the product of the relaunch, and it is definitely a very different book than the previous critically-acclaimed volume. The premise was teased in the final few issues of the previous series: the rights to the team-name, “X-Factor,” have been purchased by the mysterious, altruistic SERVAL Industries. The company’s tag-line is that it “specializes in helping people,” so CEO and president Harrison Snow recruits former X-Factor team-member and leader, Polaris, to head up his brand-new, corporate superhero team. This first issue is framed around the recruitment of Gambit and Quicksilver to the team and the presentation of SERVAL’s mission statement. It all rings a bit too idealistic and… well, corporate, so our mutant heroes are understandably uncomfortable with their new digs.
For new readers interested in joining the X-Factor bandwagon, Peter David’s character-driven storytelling and interesting conceptualization of the series might be enough to draw their attention. The “corporate superhero” concept isn’t necessarily unique, but it is engaging and different than most other books, particularly those from the Big Two. Watching the Gambit character is especially fascinating; his grey moral background proves to be the most interesting point of contention with the “corporate corruption” conceit. Carmine Di Giadomenico’s moody, distinctly European naturalism is another plus for the series. Though realistic, Giadomenico’s stylized action and figurework make for a visually enthralling reading experience.
For long-time readers, however, All-New X-Factor will probably fall flat. Conspicuously absent is David’s distinct sense of pop-cultural awareness. While things were often dire in X-Factor, there was still a sense of humor and wit on each and every page. There are a few punchlines in this book that elicit a small “lol,” but the hearty chortle that used to accompany a reading of X-Factor… not exactly. Even the ongoing internal narration in this series seems to be a bit more dour; whereas Madrox had a sort of self-deprecating, self-aware sensibility to his narration, Gambit’s is directionless and flat. Perhaps All-New X-Factor is just a different kind of book with a different mission, but I can’t help but feel the spark and fun that made David’s previous run work has been lost in its NOW!-ification.
Worth a look, particularly for new readers to the Marvel stable of books. All-New X-Factor is another example of interesting conceptualization, solid writing, and innovative artwork. Long-time readers of Peter David’s work, particularly the latest X-Factor volume, will probably be disappointed in the new series’ deliberate tone and character-work, but I trust David and Marvel enough to pick up the X-Factor-iness in All-New X-Factor in the next few issues.