Iâ€™m writing this review, moments after closing down the window for the review for X-Factor #34, and in doing so I am swapping from a bad book to a book that I have to give full marks too. Granted, any story that focuses solely on Layla Miller is definitely going to be awesome in my books, but Peter David and Valentine De Landro pulled off a miracle, and made it even better.
The story finally sees us return to Layla Miller, who was left in the future at the end of Messiah Complex. She did it to herself, and as we see in this special, it was not an easy choice for her to make.
The issue starts off in the mutant detention camp, where Layla has apparently been standing in front of the fence for the past eight days. The guards are â€“ as guards are want to do â€“ betting on how long sheâ€™ll stand there. Sheâ€™s wearing a long cloak, and her head is shaved, and she looks very much the young girl that she actually is (which I think we all realize, is a near miracle in this day and age).
We soon find out that where she was standing was out of the way of the falling shrapnel from a satellite or something from outer space (which she obviously knew about, and failed to tell the guards about until the first piece crashed down on one of them). This allows her to escape, but not before she lets one of the dying guards know that no other mutants will have escaped.
We cut away for a page, to an old man sitting on a bench in Atlantic City, being spoken too by his daughter (who has red arms), while he holds a small photo of a girl with blonde hair.
Cut back to Layla, as she steals herself a wig to cover the baldness and the M tattooed over her face. Of course, this action will bring the police, but as we know, Layla rarely does anything without a good reason. Subsequently, she ends up saving a fleeing mutant from the mutant police(?), by having the police car crash in to the mutant police car (coming at right angles, hidden from each other by a building).
This brings the attention of a young man, Dwayne if I remember correctly, who will eventually give Layla a lift to Atlantic City. But not before she plants news of â€œOperation Purityâ€; a government plan to test every citizen for genetic links to mutants. The news, only given to two young men, spreads quickly thanks to the fact that many humans are linked to the â€œethernetâ€ by implants.
Everyone arrives in Atlantic City, a city which has been devastated by terrorists â€œten years ago,â€ where they are warned off by a Cyclops-like blast from a young girl, all red, and obviously the girl from earlier. The red girl immediately recognizes Ruby as the girl from the photo her father held, and tells Dwayne as an aside that it was Layla who told her parents to name her Ruby.
Layla then starts talking to Cyclops, the old man on the bench, who first knocks her down and threatens to kill her. It’s revealed he is half machine now, but doesnâ€™t need a visor. This is where Layla lets go like we’ve never seen before. She yells at Scott, asking him to kill her, because she knew what was going to be done to her but couldnâ€™t do anything to stop it. It is heartbreaking, especially from a character that you have come to love for her strong will.
They hug, and thankfully, all is well. They then take a photo of Layla, the photo that Scott has been holding in his hand, that Layla will apparently give to him back in the past, so that he could have it in the present future. Itâ€™s great time travelling insanery like I havenâ€™t experienced for a long time.
The artwork in this issue is phenomenal. Everything is just so the way I like it. There is a panel, where Layla is back in her old clothes again, and she looks like a 13 year old kid â€“ not from just the way she is dressed, but from the way that she isnâ€™t busting out of her top, is small, and fragile looking. On the other hand, Ruby is all woman, but not overly busty either; tall, strong, and smooth as (what I imagine is) a ruby.
The artwork is consistent through the whole book, and even when the (presumed) president of Earth is speaking, you get the feeling that De Landro is a big fan of the V For Vendetta movie. He is speaking to the citizens, moments before the Summers Rebellion starts, apologizing for the way that news of Operation Purity got out (they have no idea how it could possibly have happened) and announcing that all citizens have to be tested. Ruby rocks up, starts the fighting (against the Sentinels), and Layla walks away writing her first entry to Dear Diary.
X-Factor Special â€“ Layla Miller #01 easily gets 5 out of 5, because it is simply fantastic, nothing short of it in fact. It is proof that the problems with X-Factor are not lying in Peter Davidâ€™s hands, but â€¦ well, elsewhere! Make sure you pick this up, you will not regret it, â€˜cause itâ€™s a romping great time!