Welcome to X-Factor, where Marvel has gathered their snarkiest members of the X-Men into one title!
X-Factor’s first issue is funny, whimsical and pretty light-hearted, considering they are a group of detectives investigating the deaths of mutants. This title brings together a wonderful team of Northstar, Polaris, Eyeboy, Prodigy, Rachel Summers, and… Daken?! Oh yes, you heard me right. Daken is finally the main character of an X-title again, and he is sexy as hell!
It’s been a while since we’ve had a proper mutant detective title, and this truly feels like the previous incarnations of X-Factor. While the team is initially brought to together by Polaris, it’s Northstar’s story arc that puts him in the lead of this merry band of mutants. This is a big deal because Northstar is gay. I sat there after I read the first issue wracking my brain to remember if the X-Men had a gay character leading a team before this, and I think the answer is no. Does Iceman count? Was he leading teams before or after he was out? Either way, as a member of the LGBTQ community, I approve of this choice. It’s about time we had some more representation. I have also always loved Northstar, because he is full of Namor-level snark.
While on the topic of the LGBTQ community: Daken. He is very bisexual in this, and it’s nice to see that represented in comic books. He flirts with both men and women. In this issue, he flirts predominantly with a man. I also appreciate how Northstar can’t stand any of it. It’s fantastic. Also, Prodigy is here and he is also bisexual. Somebody, please put Iceman onto this team!
Without spoiling the premiere issue of X-Factor, the plot follows the death of an established mutant in the X-Men universe. Of course, death has become more of an “option” for the X-Men since they built their mutant haven on Krakoa. The problem is that too many mutants are dying too fast, especially with the X-Men running in guns blazing, knowing they can’t die. There are also mutants dying around the world due to hate crimes, which is bravely where this issue opens the story. Until the resurrection council on Krakoa can confirm these deaths, those mutants lay in limbo – and that is exactly why X-Factor is there: Find murdered mutants, bring them back to life, all while bringing their murderers to justice.
This run of X-Factor reminds me a lot of Excalibur where it is a little aloof and silly while still holding serious tones. It’s a little more light-hearted than X-Men, Marauders, and X-Force with a tinge of darker political storylines — after all, they are dealing with murders of mutants.
David Baldeon brings these characters to life with wonderfully animated facial expressions that really capture the essence of this snarky X-Men group. It is particularly fun when Daken is flirting with the hotel clerk.
While for the most part it is fun to read, there are parts of the first issue that drag. It is mostly during characters standing around having very long and forced conversations discussing clues about a case, or Forge and Sage using mutant techno-babble that I can never tell if it is real science or something they made up for the X-Men. Those are the parts that make my eyes glaze over for a minute.
But it’s okay! There is plenty of snarky dialogue, even from Sage, who finally has become a big enough member of the X-Men again to cross titles.
Leah Williams understands these characters and writes them with the perfect level of snark. I would have never thought to put any of these mutants together, but it works and creates a very interesting dynamic. Plus Northstar is in charge, and that’s awesome.