Title: X-Factor: Life and Death Matters
Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2007
Artist: Ariel Olivetti, Dennis Calero, Renato Arlem, Roy Allen Martinez
Writer: Peter David
Collects: X-Factor #7-12
This volume ties in with Marvel’s Civil War project, although were it not for the odd snippet of dialogue and the reproduced covers saying so, there would be little indication. It’s obviously not an event that greatly interested writer Peter David, and X-Factor’s participation is merely tangential, although a point of view is established. Their primary concern is the ongoing interference of the Tryp Foundation.
David particularly enjoys the narrative possibilities supplied by Layla Miller, the girl who knows stuff, primarily the relatively short term future. He frequently supplies her with oblique snippets of dialogue that only reveal their meaning several pages later. This could become tiresome, but David is clever enough not to over-play the game, yet for almost one entire chapter he has her sitting on the stoop passing a few well chosen words to those in the area. In another chapter she drops a complete bomb.
Other cast members are equally well developed, with Madrox learning elements of his past, Siryn refusing to process information most would consider traumatic and Monet for once being only the second most insufferably arrogant character featured. That’s because Quicksilver also drops by. A colleague of some current X-Factor members in a former incarnation of the team, he’s now able to restore powers to mutants who’ve had them removed, although not always with the desired consequences.
The dialogue is so crisp and the interaction so enjoyable that it matters little that there’s minimal traditional superhero action, although when it occurs, it resonates. Even revealing that a shocking and unpredictable ending comes from nowhere, yet is completely consistent, won’t make it any easier to see coming.
One tiresome aspect of both this book and the series as a whole is the seeming unwillingness of any artist to commit to more than a handful of chapters. It’s not that the artistic styles of Renato Arlem, Dennis Calero, Roy Allen Martinez and Ariel Olivetti are completely incompatible, but four artists for a mere six chapters? Really? The series continues with Many Lives of Madrox.