This is a singularly strange issue. We get a great, miniature debate on the merits of art VS the artist’s politics/actions, we get to see X-Factor as a whole team at “rest,” there’s a glimpse at the corporate culture of Serval Industries and we get a whole new character with one of the strangest debuts in Marvel. Peter David gets to really crack his knuckles and put these characters through the development wringer as we’ve seen how they interact while on-mission, but this is the first we get to see of the group when they’re all just hanging out at their headquarters, and these are the moments I love most: moments when the characters get to become something new in relation to one another. Pietro’s obvious frustration at finally finding a conversation buddy that can ACTUALLY keep up with him in Danger is a hilarious bit of irony. Gambit reveals that he understands his own moral limitations perfectly, Cypher has an unfortunate outburst and Warlock is just looking for love in all the wrong places while Polaris flexes her every muscle to keep the team content. David gives each and every character their own voice to the point that you could just post the dialog and know who’s talking to whom, and the characters all come off as interesting and unique.
Carmine Di Giandomenico has exhausted fully...A TENTH OF HIS FACES?! He’s not even gotten STARTED yet! As always his linework portrays emotion first and foremost, but his use of Quicksilver is still my favorite thing about this book artistically. He captures the sense of speed and self-contained urgency beautifully. There's also a great sense of casual body language throughout the issue that adds a great deal to each character's personality, in addition to the dialog. Lee Loughridge continues to do an amazing job on the colors of this book, giving every scene a very specific filter for it to be viewed through, but never losing track of the tiny, beautiful details.
This issue centers around “rescuing” a young girl from her oppressive, mutant-hating father due to an internet video in which he fires a gun into her computer. An act that local police cleared him of. Two things about this: the first is that this seems a little smalltime for a group like X-Factor. While a great many of the characters comment on this fact, none of them provide a great reason for it beyond semi-personal vendetta and the second is that it turns out VERY badly because, of course, the girl is a mutant with a very specific powerset. But the whole “Militant anti-mutant has mutant child that he keeps hidden” is a well-worn trope, and while it’s relevance in the modern day is evergreen, it plays the “shock value” a little much. There’s also the matter of the odd fact that her father owns a gargantuan mainstream media empire, yet is afraid that “the government” will come and get him. It feels like it’d be more accurate if he were worried about “mutant radicals” coming for him as the US government isn’t exactly known for air-striking mass-media tycoons that disagree with them. I know that part of it is that he’s supposed to be unhinged, but people THAT crazy don’t tend to found vastly successful media empires.
The end of this issue is shocking, even if I have NO idea if it’s sticking around, and the start of it is pure, character-driven glee for me. As a fan of X-Factor's tradition of strange rosters and even stranger interactions, I love it. Even as a comic reader in general, Peter David knows a thing or two about writing characters as compelling first and their origins/archetypes second. The ultra-expressive art and beautiful color-palette add to the subtle emotions of the issue and establish a strong tone.