Or – “You Wish You Had Madrox’s Problems…”

reviewbubble.jpgxf7.jpgAs I look at my hold list these days, I find a bit of bias towards the product being put out by DC Comics over that by Marvel. I have my Marvel mainstays, but the Civil War crossovers are making most of the product that comes out of Da House of Ideas incredibly complicated and difficult to keep up with. But, as with my monthly Nightwing review (another one comin’ soon!), I realize that my tastes aren’t everyone’s tastes, and thus, I’m gonna dip a toe in the Sargasso Sea that is the X-Universe. Thankfully, our tour guide and majordomo is the ever-brilliant Peter David, and he’s back on the book that he made interesting. The only question is: How does he get inside so many different heads at once?

xf1.jpgAnswer: If I knew that, I’d be writing comic books, too. Last issue of X-Factor was mostly introspection, with the group’s members sitting down with Doc Samson to assess their mental states. The running gag throughout the issue was Jamie Madrox’s incorrect assumptions about his partners. Any time Madrox made an pronouncement, we immediately cut to the subject of his assumptions, proving him wrong. Having the central character always be wrong hasn’t been this entertaining since Al Bundy went off the air, and this issue continues with the theme, while following up on some promising stuff, and kicking off a whole new quest.

The first scene of the issue (seen in the top inset) is Jamie entering his office to find guns pointed at his head, reminding him that, once again, his day isn’t going to go well. Before we find out why he’s staring down the barrels, we flashback to see how it’s gone so far. In a previous issue, Madrox (aka the Multiple Man) accidentally managed to have two of himself bed down with two of his teammates, Siryn and M (separately, ya pervs). In an attempt to sort it all out, Jamie has agreed to tell both women the truth. Their responses are wildly divergent…


I admire her restraint. And since she’s the daughter of former X-Man Banshee (who was once seen to liquify STONE with his voice when angered), Jamie sees the point of discretion, leaving her to her magazine. Unfortunately, as he backs away, it leaves him open to a pincer maneuver. Monet St Croix, the haughty mutant known mostly as M, pins him to the wall, and demands to speak with the duplicate that slept with her. Each time she bounces Jamie off the wall, his Multiple Man powers go off, and the results are pretty hysterical.


As Jamie tries to reason with a super-strong woman scorned, we check in with Rahne (Wolfsbane) and Guido (Strong Guy) as they attempt to clear up Guido’s loose end. While under the control of a villain, Guido broke a man’s neck, and feels he needs to make amends with the unknowing widow. Explaining that they’re from X-Factor Investigations, Rahne tries to carefully tell her that they know what happened to her missing husband, when Guido butts in.


I love those two together. It’s like a super-powered version of Laverne and Shirley, only one’s a werewolf. Meanwhile, Madrox is having a beer with Rictor, late of X-Force, now depowered member of X-Factor. When Jamie asks him about Quicksilver’s return to the city, and his offer to return Rictor’s mutant abilities, Rictor quickly deflects the question. Turns out young Julio is unsure of what his response would be anyway, and responds, “Besides, it’s not like I’m sleeping with him… anymore.” Jamie manages to aquanasal his entire beer before regaining his senses, mostly notably of humor.


Rictor also spits up his beer, in a very cute moment. I’ve read a couple of people saying that this scene is outing Rictor as a bisexual, but I’m not so sure. I know for a fact I’ve made jokes of this type among friends before, and Rictor does not actually admit that anything ever happened between him and his fellow Liefeld refugee. It’s not as though matters, really, given the diversity of the X-Cast already, but I’m hoping that we get a definitive answer to this at some point when it’s organic to the character. Jamie also reflects on how he should have stopped Guido from talking to Mrs. Buchanan, and is certain that Guido is in for conflict.


For Guido’s sake, I’m very glad Jamie is always wrong this time. The big guy has enough tragedy on his plate, far as I’m concerned. It’s also wonderful to see someone who is willing to live up to her beliefs and forgive, even an unforgivable crime. After another check in with Doc Samson (in which monkey feces are flung), we find Monet and Theresa in an icy silence, unable to accept that the other one got as badly burned as herself. Layla Miller, the walking deux ex machine from “House of M” steps in, forcing them to talk, and sounding amazingly like an actual teenager. “You both feel used, fine. I get that. And Jamie, he’s all… all… And you guys are so… And I KNEW it wouldn’t end well, but he made you feel good for a while, right? And… and… just… just… JUST STOP! Okay?” That’s an awesome piece of character, right there, seeing her get so flustered that she forgets how to be mysterious. The ladies size each other up for a moment, before, amazingly, Monet offers the olive branch…


They may not be okay, but they’ll probably look fabulous. As a result of his conversation with the Doc, Jamie decides he needs to gather up his renegade duplicates and “pull himself together” in a less than metaphorical sense. He bluffs his way into SHIELD to try and gather the duplicate that has been working for them, but is instead confronted by his old boss Val Cooper, and the realization that he’s not nearly as sneaky as he thinks, thus the face full of ordinance that starts the issue. She tells him that he’s not in jail because of her, advises him to stay away from SHIELD, and kicks him out the door. Once on the street, he is accosted by a Girl Scout with cookies (“Sorry, honey, I was having an inner monologue…”) who turns out to be an agent of Hydra, and the issue ends with Jamie gassed and tossed in the back of a truck.

Makes you wonder which of his teammates will bother to try and save him, eh? In any case, this issue is thick with the dialogue and character moments that I love, as well as some surprisingly charming interactions. The moment between Guido and Mrs. Buchanan made me tear up for the first time since the last Strangers In Paradise, and an intriguing mystery is set up, without all the Civil War sturm & drang. I very much like Peter’s work, and Pable Raimundi’s art is really beautiful. Most impressively, each of the female X-Factorites has a a different body phenotype, a difficult enough proposition on it’s own, but to also have expressive faces and consistent backgrounds is pretty staggering. X-Factor has been on a hot streak for a little over a year now, with no sign of a lag in quality. It’s a fine issue, and one that I give a wholehearted four stars…



About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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