Life and Death Matters

The second X-Factor collection, featuring issues 7-12, gives us more insight into Damian Tryp and his son, Damian Junior, of Singularity Industries. Through these six issues we learn what it is that Tryp is planning and why what X-Factor is doing will eventually kill mankind. We are also given a look at Jaime’s past, where he has actually met Damian Tryp before and how their meeting changed Jaime’s life forever.

Peter David’s writing is nothing but spectacular throughout the trade. There is never a wasted line. The two Civil War tie-in issues manage to wonderfully advance the dominant X-Factor plot while simultaneously presenting the main issues and themes of the Civil War story and how it affects the characters rarely seen in Civil War. And the tie-ins offer us a chance to see Jaime Madrox grow and change as a hero when he finally has to make a decision. After the tie-in issues, the main storyline picks right back up, although it did seem a little rushed. There is no explanation as to why S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t knocking on X-Factor’s door, but at the time, Civil War had not ended, so I guess we have to wait and see if all the members of the X-Factor team will register, or if their act of sedition will place them on the wanted list. All the issues are superbly paced; buying these issues by month would have been strenuous and excruciating, as each book leaves the reader wanting more. I read this collection late one night, telling myself I would only read a couple of the issues and in the end, having finished the entire thing and wanting to run to the comic shop right then for the next issue.

Through the collection, there are three different artists: issue 7 is penciled by Ariel Olivetti, issues 8 & 9 by Dennis Calero, and in issues 10-12, Renato Arlem and Roy Allen Martinez join forces. All three teams turn out quality work. Olivetti’s cover art for issue 7 would make that issue worthy enough to pick up by itself. You can feel Jaime falling while shards of glass cascade toward the reader. I think that Arlem and Martinez’ art in issues 10-12 work the best on this title. X-Factor takes place in Mutant Town, a gritty, abstract area of New York and, Arlem and Martinez’ art really evokes the Mutant Town effect. Their pencils are scratchy and dirty looking, bringing out the ghetto-like feel of the area. When I picture Mutant Town, it is a place where upper and middle class Americans fear to tread. Their artwork in these three issues feels completely reverent.

Unfortunately, the trade offers little as extras. In fact, the only thing it offered was the second printing cover for X-Factor issue 8, which sold out due its Civil War status. Considering that the book is more expensive than the 6 issues it collects, it would be appreciated to see Marvel throw in a few goodies for the fans. X-Factor is a book that I collect; I keep my copies in bags and boards, but it is a book I love to read. So, I shell out the dough for the collections so that I can read it over and over. An original script or a sketchbook would be nice to admire as well.

This detracts nothing from the collection for me, however. When you have a story this good being told to you, it is hard to bring that down. This may be the one Marvel book that needs to be read. With the implications revealed in the story, the fate of the Marvel Universe rides on the shoulders of X-Factor. The only question is can Jaime create enough duplicates to carry that weight?

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