The newest book in Marvel’s X-Men line, introduces readers to an all new cast of X-Factor investigators who solve murders for the Five, the group with the power to resurrect mutants. X-Factor #1 is a solid opening to high-concept book that addresses the complications of the new mutant immortality — it’s also funny, horny, and full of heart.
Who is making X-Factor?
Writer Leah Williams gets her first ongoing comic series with Marvel’s X-Factor, following her work on Age of X-Men: X-Tremists. The book also reunites her with fellow Gwenpool Strikes Back creator, penciller David Baldeón. Gwenpool allowed the duo to sharpen their working relationship, and X-Factor is a definite treat for fans of that series’ humor and sexual innuendo.
Colors come courtesy of Israel Silva (Thunderbolt, Wolverine) with letters from VC’s Joe Carmanga (Amazing Spider Man). In what feels like a gentle nod to 90’s grade school paperbacks, cover artist Ivan Shavrin gives readers the first glimpse at who makes up this rag-tag-team of investigators.
What is X-Factor #1 about?
To long-time X-Men fans, the phrase “X-Factor Investigations” means dark, dangerous, and paranormal detective work. This new series introduces an X-Factor for the Dawn of X Era, with a team of the kinetic Northstar; Rachel Grey, a telepath; the visionary Eye-Boy; hot mess express Daken; and magnetic powerhouse Polaris.
You can’t resurrect 16.5 million dead mutants without making some rules about who gets to come back first, or without making sure they’re definitely dead. Otherwise, there’s a very real risk of creating a clone, a big no-no in the mutant universe.
Since the Five are too busy actually resurrecting mutants to investigate their deaths, X-Factor is formed to do the job, after Northstar demands to investigate the supposed death of his twin sister, the atomically powered Aurora.
The inaugural issue gives a glimpse of how mutant immortality works as a practical matter — that is, not easily — and begins to lay the framework for how messy the Five’s resurrection protocols will be. Throw in the sentient island of Krakoa and some interpersonal conflict and it’s a recipe for some serious fireworks.
And readers should pay close attention to the details. Williams and Balderón have said they’ll be dropping secrets throughout the run in the now-iconic Dawn of X data pages.
Why is X-Factor Happening Now?
As the second wave of Marvel’s Dawn of X kicks into high-gear, there’s more room to explore the island of Krakoa, the resurrection protocols, and the Crucible. There’s a great deal of messiness involved with immortality, and X-Factor exists to expand on precisely that — and to showcase the messy interpersonal relationships of the investigative team and the nearly-defied Five.
And if hints are to be believed, X-Factor may be doing some important architectural work in the lead up to September’s X of Swords crossover.
Is there any required reading?
Required? No. Suggested? Perhaps.
Enterprising readers could go all the way back to the first initiation of X-Factor beginning in 1986 with the reuniting of the original X-Men but it’s not necessary for understanding what’s happening in X-Factor #1. A few different teams have borne the moniker of X-Factor over the past decades. X-Factor Investigations, the kind-of spiritual prequel to the current iteration, began in the early Aughts with writer Peter Allen David.
And if you’re wondering how the X-Men wound upon a sentient island with infinite resurrections in the first place, you’ll want to read House of X/Powers of X.
Is X-Factor #1 any good?
X-Factor #1 is a real good time. Especially for those unafraid of being horny on main.
Imagine if the film Mallrats and a Haruki Murakami novel had a woke little baby. There’s fashion, there’s humor, there’s Lorna doing her sexy-sex and Daken who wants to sexy-sex with anything and everything. There’s a delicate balance between laying down a punchline and stomping all over it, but Williams and Baldeón have worked out when to ease off and let the other shine. Baldeón facial expressions give added dimension to Williams’ writing and the end result is an amplification of their considerable talents.
The lengthy #1 never feels like it drags — but it’s also doing a lot of work, laying the foundation for how and why these characters come together, providing a sense of the team dynamic, and showing the reader why they should care. That’s not to mention the added complexity of the Five, resurrection protocols, and the fiddly bureaucracy behind setting up a new detective agency. Williams and Baldeón don’t have an easy task and they handle it pretty damn deftly.
The first issue gives some levity and that’s something readers everywhere can appreciate. It gives a sense of the possible conflicts, both the interpersonal and otherworldly and I can’t wait to see what’s in store.