“X-Factor” is one of those books that gets overlooked for no good reason so far as I can tell. The writing and art are consistently strong, the characters and relationships are interesting, and it regularly rewards its readers by not getting drawn into the craziness of the other X-books. However, because it stays outside of that crazy X-book loop, I never see anyone talking about it. Which is a shame, because it’s a solid superhero book from month to month, and this issue is no exception.
Peter David’s X-Factor concept -- a detective agency full of mutants, former mutants and various and sundry freaks, warriors, and what have yous -- is rife with fascinating opportunities and he regularly zeroes in on them to deliver smart and cool tales.
In this issue our heroes get put on a new case, courtesy of New York Mayor J. Jonah Jameson, and we get a little history of just how Madrox managed to get X-Factor by Jonah in the first place. The set up here works well, and despite a lot going on plot wise -- a new case, a brief history of Madrox starting X-Factor, two new characters on the scene, and a guest appearance by Spider-Man -- we still get lots of interesting character development throughout the team and plenty of chuckle-worthy lines. It’s honestly a lot to see done in a 22-page story, and yet David sacrifices nothing and keeps everything running like a well-oiled machine.
Of course, part of the reason David doesn’t have to sacrifice anything is because he’s got the remarkably strong pencils of Emanuel Lupacchino, who delivers a beautiful issue once again. With clear crisp storytelling, and characters that actually appear different from one another without looking at their respective hair colors and squinting really hard, Lupacchino is proving what a formidable artist she is. Smart, sexy, and tons of fun without ever forgetting that she’s here to tell a story it’ll be “X-Factor’s” loss when someone at Marvel figures out how good Lupacchino really is and ships her off to some higher profile, but not nearly as good, book.
“X-Factor” doesn’t get enough credit; there’s a real art to delivering a good solid comic book every month independent of crossovers and movie tie-ins, and it’s been many months since I read an issue that didn’t deliver just that.