REVIEW: X-Factor #233


Polaris and Havok are now back in charge of X-Factor, as Jamie Madrox recovers from a slight case of death. Find out more about the changing status quo in this review of X-Factor #233.

Writer: Peter David
Artist: Leonard Kirk
Colorist: Matt Milla
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artist: David Yardin
Editor: Daniel Ketchum
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $2.99

Previously, in X-Factor: Thought to be killed in battle, Jamie Madrox has actually been tumbling through alternate realities until finally returning home, where he tumbled into the arms of a guilt-ridden Layla Miller. In his absence, prodigal bigwigs Havok and Polaris are now in charge of X-Factor.


This is a strange issue, featuring X-Factor in a government-sanctioned fight against anti-mutant bigots that has more in common with the 90s incarnation than the current private eye X-Factor Investigations set-up. Interestingly, the team (sans Layla Miller and Madrox, who are busy canoodling in a morgue, which is totally gross) handles the situation way more competently than usual, with coordination and solid teamwork. It seems like this may be a commentary on Multiple Man’s leadership qualities. There are also a couple scenes intimating a future conflict with the Isolationist.

The issue falls a little flat, unfortunately. The central battle with the human supremacists is a jarring tonal shift. X-Factor’s remit has been detective work for quite some time now. Returning to normal superheroics under Val Cooper’s watchful eye requires a little bit more explanation than we’re given, and a camp of anti-mutant crazies just doesn’t have the same narrative likelihood post-M-Day. I dig the leadership themes David is working on here, but the frame they’re put into does not fit. And to be honest, I needed more hand-holding with the Isolationist stuff. I don’t recall the guy (it seems he last appeared in issue 24?), I don’t recognize the character he interacted with (who was not mentioned by name), and it resulted in a complete drain of any possible narrative drama in those scenes. This is a rare problem for Peter David, a writer who generally captures character-driven drama as good or better than most scribes working the X-Beat. There’s still some good in the issue though – a creative, if blown, use of Siryn’s powers and a closing gag involving Pip’s web browsing habits. Use your imagination.


Leonard Kirk isn’t doing it for me on the artistic front. It’s something about his lines – they’re thick and overstated around the characters, creating an unnecessary separation from the generally well-drawn backgrounds. The result is a disconcerting and distracting effect, and it is especially detrimental to the characters’ faces. It is also regrettable that Polaris and Havok’s costume are so similar to their 1990s get-ups, complete with those ubiquitous yet nonfunctional head thingies. This contrasts poorly with the rest of X-Factor’s updated and streamlined costumes. Kirk does handle action well; the fight scene in the anti-mutant camp is dynamic and detailed. If that out-of-control heavy lining was reined it, it would look much better.


This issue feels like a rare misstep from Peter David; X-Factor is one of the more consistently entertaining books from Marvel. Still, there are a few nice moments in the issue, and it does lay the ground for a good conflict between Multiple Man on one side and Polaris and Havok on the other. A mediocre Peter David issue is still generally better than most, but unfortunately, my dissatisfaction with the art drags the final grade down a touch.  X-Factor #233 rates an average two and a half out of five stars.

Rating: ★★½☆☆