Peter David is back with X-Factor, but with an all-new concept and an all-new (well, mostly) team. But with X-Factor getting the corporate makeover, will an All-New X-Factor retain its plucky charm?
ALL-NEW X-FACTOR #1
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: VC’s Cort Petit
Cover Artists: Kris Anka & Jared Fletcher
Editor: Jordan D. White
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Previously, in X-Factor: The detective agency run by Jamie Madrox is no more, broken apart by things such as death, demonic wars and heartbreak. With Madrox himself waylaid (due to him having a demon for a head), it’s time for a friendly corporation to take over the X-Factor affairs.
ONE PIECE AT A TIME
As with a lot of superhero team book number ones, All-New X-Factor #1 is concerned with gathering the forces. By issue’s end, only three team members get some action, meaning there’s still another issue or two to go before the team is properly assembled. There’s some perfunctory Gambit-centric thievery, an introduction of the corporate higher-ups, some sibling rivalry between Polaris and Quicksilver, then some ultra-quick mashing of AIM mooks. The hook is that the Serval Corporation (Puma-by-way-of-Google, run by a Tony Stark-lite) bought out Jamie Madrox, desiring to form the first corporate-run superteam. They insist that they’re all-around swell guys, which presumably means something nasty is bubbling beneath the surface. Serval’s first act is to send Polaris, Quicksilver and Gambit on a secret mission to an AIM base to stop some mutant vivisection and experimentation, which just seemed like a standard X-Men mission to me. The conceptual hook has little to do with the plot so far.
David’s strength was never in compelling action or plots, but what happened in the space between. So it disappoints that his dialogue is incredibly off. On two separate occasions, characters outright accuse one another of being evil. That’s too on-the-nose. The issue’s focus is primarily on Gambit, but the Cajun’s voice is entirely lacking. I don’t need a chere or jambalaya dropped in every sentence, but David’s interpretation sounds more like an average college student rather than a flamboyant New Orleans thief. For a Peter David book, that is a disappointment. His previous work on X-Factor was at its best when he was bouncing his huge cast of characters off each other, creating dramatic conflict in the best tradition of the X-Books. In All-New X-Factor #1, there is precious little of that.
THOSE TRACK SUITS ARE DOPE, FOR REAL
Carmine Di Giandomenico’s art is another exercise in frustration. His layouts are grand, and the attention he shows to the clothing and backgrounds is superb. His overall style is a mixture of sketchy detail and thick, heavy outlines. The problems exist in how Giandomenico handles the faces. In the facial expressions, there’s an almost Peter Chungian (Aeon Flux, Reign: The Conqueror) quality. It is an attenuated, heavily stylized look that’s at odds with the rest of art, and worse, it is applied inconsistently. Lee Loughridge’s coloring is also clunky. The colors are vibrant, but too often are the pages awash in all the same color. The pages pop when the colors are allowed to be separate from panel to panel. With a less heavy-handed approach, this could be a great looking book. I do love the new uniforms. They’re like form-fitting, futuristic tracksuits. Great design.
BOTTOM LINE: OPTIONAL
All-New X-Factor #1 is a slightly sub-standard comic for three bucks. For four, it’s a total disappointment. If Marvel wants customers to pay premium prices, they must deliver premium content. Unfortunately, there is little in the pages of All-New X-Factor #1 to place it above the pack of crowded superhero comics. Perhaps when the crew is properly filled out, the old David magic will be wrought on this book. If the corporate concept is fully explored, there will be something identifiable about this team. But as this issue stands, I can only recommend All-New X-Factor #1 for Polaris diehards and fans who wish their superheroes wore futuristic Puma tracksuits. Actually, I’m definitely in the latter camp, so I might stick around for another issue. If it were $2.99, I’d probably stick around longer.