Written by Peter David
Art by Carmine Di Giandomenico
Colours by Lee Loughridge
Letters by VC’s Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics

Let’s just get something out in the open first. I collected Peter David’s entire just-finished X-Factor run (which lasted for a good eight years!) and loved it. So, you know, fair warning. Expect a little bias in this article.

This is the third issue of All-New X-Factor, by Peter David and Carmine Di Giandomenico and it certainly feels like a third issue. With a cameo appearance by an Uncanny Avenger, a plot running on from the first two issues and a cliffhanger ending, it’s obvious we’re still in the set-up phase of the book, and while that’s all well and good there are some problems rising to the surface.

X-Factor is a group funded by Serval Industries, Marvel’s Google analogue, lead by an alum of the previous two incarnations of the team, Polaris, green haired mistress of magnetism. Together with Gambit, king of thieves, and her half-brother, the speedster and former Avenger, Quicksilver, she is helping the company build a roster of super powered heroes, and taking on small missions in order to get settled. The previous mission took the trio to an AIM laboratory chasing kidnapped mutants, and now the team is tasked with investigating a break-in at Serval Industries.

It’s obvious, even to those unfamiliar with Peter David’s previous writing, that his focus is on character first and plot second. There’s a story there, but it’s the backdrop, while the personalities on show are the foreground, their interplay the reason we come back month-to-month. And this issue has several moments that emphasise this. Quicksilver has a scene with a former teammate while Polaris and Gambit share a quiet moment with some cats, and their underlying conflicts are the real meat of the comic, but sadly it isn’t quite enough yet. There are still three more main characters to add to the roster, meaning there’ll be plenty more for David to get his teeth into, but it still feels like the opening ten minutes of the movie, with some action and hints at things to come, or the scene before the titles on a TV show. There’s some wheel spin, and I hope it doesn’t go on much longer.

AllNewXfactor03Page01Med

So, this is one way to get me to like Gambit…

Another part of the comic I hope doesn’t go on much longer is the experiment Marvel seems to be running with the art. Carmine Di Giandomenico’s pencils, his line work, are expressive and dynamic and are everything I had hoped they’d be from seeing his previous work. But the book has no inker, relying on the pencils and the colours to do the shadows, the definition, and the art feels flat because of it. The washed out page colours and the nearly pastel tones with entire scenes lacking any contrast make the panels bleed together, ruining the flow of the book’s story and the pacing of the conversations.

One of the gentlemen at my local comic book store, when I was purchasing the issue, mentioned how similar it was to the first volume of Origin, and how the effect strengthened that book, marking it out as taking place in another place, another time. And I can only agree. The effect is lost, however, in this monthly book set square amidst the current Marvel Universe. This, however, seems to be the direction Marvel have chosen for the book for the foreseeable future and while it won’t stop me purchasing the next issue, it could hold some readers back.

Peter David’s characterization of Polaris is, also, something that’s part of the book long term, since she has been portrayed with mental instability for quite some time now. Mr. David has been writing her off and on for some time now, but without having much space to give her at the moment is forced to mention it, almost abruptly, in a scene that may not have otherwise needed it. The struggle, of course, is to make sure new readers understand it exists without simply writing her inconsistently–the tightrope is a difficult one. In this issue she merely comes off as touchy, however much it is pointed out otherwise, and may fall flat on anyone not familiar with her past.

 

All-New X-Factor Issue 3 Page 8

Carmine Di Giandomenico’s pencils bring Polaris to life but struggle beneath the flat colours.

On top of all this, I still have my doubts about the design of the characters’ uniforms. They each wear slightly personalized, yellow, one-piece spandex suits, emblazoned with the Serval Industries logo, somewhat reminiscent of a superhero outfit, but one designed by a company public relations committee. Not only is it somewhat cluttered, with panels of grey and black atop the yellow, but they seem far too superhero-y for their own good. I’m almost embarrassed looking at Polaris, whose female form is on display no matter how she stands or sits, and cannot help but notice how unsupportive her outfit must be. Gambit gets to wear a jacket, which helps to alleviate some of the issues, but the clothes do not fall into my personal taste. Perhaps they are designed to look like someone tried too hard to make superhero suits, and if so then well done. But none of the characters draw attention to their suits in such a fashion, so I can only assume they are meant to look good.

All in all, I feel like I am enjoying the book, but that I’m hoping it will get better. I can see where and how it needs to improve and I hope the creative team is thinking along the same lines. While this issue won’t be on anyone’s Top 10 list next year, I am optimistic that Peter David knows what he’s doing.

Any comic that can make me like Gambit AND Quicksilver surely can’t be too bad.

All-New X-Factor can be purchased at your Local Comic Shop, through Marvel or via Comixology.

Overall Score
77 %

The book shows a lot of promise, but Issue 3 is not the series' finest example. It points the way, clearly and concisely, but its a stepping stone to better things.

Story 75%
Writing 80%
Pencils (no inks to speak of) 90%
Colours 60%

About The Author

Living in Australia, my life is probably quite like yours, except hotter and with more dangerous animals. I've had a love of comics for the last 20 years, which is almost exactly two thirds of my life, and very little else has been with me that long. I fancy myself as a writer, but I fancy myself as many things that I'm not all that good at, so go figure. I have strong opinions but I love to discuss things, so please comment, cos I'd love to hear what you think of what I think.

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