We’re a ways into the Dawn of X, and by now we have a wide variety of titles to read. There’s bound to be something for everyone. But that’s not enough, says Marvel. We’re gonna get more. Now I’m not one to complain about getting more options, but I’ll admit: if we’re getting a new X-book, there should probably be some way to ensure that it’s unique. We need to make sure that we’re not just getting a clone of a book that already exists. Wait, isn’t this the premise of X-Factor?
Let me go back and change some words…
We’re a ways into the dawn of Krakoa, and we’ve got so many mutants living here. There’s bound to be a place for everyone. But that’s not enough, says the Five. We’re gonna bring back the dead ones. Now I’m not one to complain about having more mutants, but I’ll admit: if we’re cloning and resurrecting a mutant, there should probably be some way to ensure they’re unique. We need to make sure we’re not just getting a clone of someone who’s already alive and kicking. The solution seems obvious: X-Factor!
I’ve really enjoyed Leah Williams’ writing at Marvel for a while now. X-Men Black: Emma Frost was one of the best love letters to a character that I’ve ever read. Age of X-Man: X-Tremists was a captivating story about the nature of love. And Gwenpool Strikes Back, her recent miniseries with David Baldeón, was earnest, heartfelt, and downright hilarious. So I was never going to complain about the both of them getting a proper ongoing in the revitalized X-line. That being said, though, I wasn’t totally sold. The premise of the book was great, the creators were great, and the style looked to be great, but the cast just wasn’t really my thing. Rachel Summers has always been a character I’ve struggled to enjoy, as has Daken. Northstar and Polaris never really appealed to me. Prodigy and Eye Boy were fun, but I wouldn’t read a book just for them.
But I should have known better. Leah’s always had a flair for being able to find why people are fans of a character and displaying it prominently. And that skill shines greatly throughout this volume. After reading just four issues of this comic, I understand what each character brings to the table and why I should care about them. And that’s honestly the most ringing endorsement I can give X-Factor — the creative team gives me a reason to care about each member of the cast, despite my disinterest at the beginning.
What really strikes me about this comic, though, is just how imaginative it is, which shines the most in two-part arc that takes place in the Mojoverse. In its original incarnations, this was a place designed to riff on TV culture, with Mojo himself being the epitome of a TV network executive. But for the first time in a while, we’re given a fresh take on this world. It’s not about network television anymore, it’s instead a parody of Twitch. Williams and Baldeón legitimately modernized the entire concept, bringing this world to life in the age of the internet and streaming. Everything about this arc feels cutting edge and new, something that the Mojoverse sorely needed.
David Baldeón is absolutely at the top of his game in this series, too — he’s always been an expressive and dynamic artist, but his design work is incredible here. Characters’ facial expressions and body language are top notch, and his new designs for the whole team are really slick and stylish. His work to create the streamer dystopia of the Mojoverse is legitimately incredible, and his modernization of characters like Spiral, Shatterstar, and Adam X the X-Treme all do such a great job capturing the characters while updating them.
If I had to come up with a fault in this book, it’d be that the last issue in the collection takes place after X of Swords and it’s a bit disorienting after three issues that take place before it. The roster page for the issue does make note of this, but there are enough offhand mentions to events that were clearly not in this collection that it ends up feeling a bit disjointed. But honestly, when awkward crossover placement is the worst thing about a comic, it’s a really good comic. X-Factor has more than delivered on its promise of a unique story, and has sown a lot of seeds for future stories that all look to be really compelling.
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