Written by Peter David
Art by Carmine Di Giandomenico Colors by Lee Loughridge
Cover by Kris Anka and Jared Fletcher
Published by Marvel
X-Factor has always been a strange bird among the X flock. First as a reunion vehicle for the original X-Men (albeit under the ruse of being mutant hunters), then as a government team, followed by a turn as a detective agency; X-Factor has been reinvented more than most mutant titles. All New X-Factor ushers in another reinvention: this time X-Factor is a corporate team. This iteration, and the book itself, has a lot of potential. Unfortunately, most of that potential has been left hanging in the premise.
The issue begins the impending vivisection of an unknown mutant. The first of many weakening of characters follow: Gambit is in the middle of a high-stake robbery, hanging among lasers when Wolverine walks through them, informing the cajun both that the master thief immediately tripped security and that if he wants to stay on at the Jean Grey academy, Gambit must abandon the Thieve’s Guild. This spurs Gambit to binge drinking where Polaris finds him and offers him a role in the new X-Factor, run by the mysterious Serval Corporation that, yes, makes weapons, but primarily wants to help people. Then Quicksilver shows up and the new team’s off to rescue the mutant test subject from the first page.
A corporate super team could deal with a lot of relevant themes, especially given the outsized rolls mega-companies have played in the NSA scandal, the financial crisis and a host of other issues. Unfortunately, the book focuses on the mechanics of gathering the team, hardly touching the themes that should drive a book like this. Polaris brushes aside Gambit’s concerns about the Serval, and he blindly accepts her dismissal, cutting the legs from underneath both characters and the plot. The first issue refuses to give Polaris the core she so desperately needs to be an interesting character. What does she want? What’s driving her at this stage? Quicksilver’s motivations also manifest as throwaway dialog. The obvious connection between them is that all of these characters need to be redeemed. No doubt that will become a plot point later on, but without making the reader invest in this iteration of these X-People, it won’t matter.
All New X-Factor is a weak opening, purely in terms of story and character. Carmine Di Giandomenico puts in impressive line work. The new costume designs pay winking tribute to the original X-Men’s costumes, while the Serval logo distinguishes them from any other team in the Marvel line up. However, with two versions of X-Force running around, it seems hard to justify this X-Factor’s existence, and it badly needs to be justified. The pieces are all there for an exciting new mutant monthly. Let’s hope the writer can arrange them into something worth watching.