Let’s get something out in the open first. I dislike the art in this book. There. I’ve said it. The pale colours. The lack of inks. It washes out the pencils until it’s just a mess. If you like it, then that’s great, but I don’t. And I really hope Marvel are reading this so they can do something about it soon.

All-New X-Factor is written by Peter David and follows a corporate superhero team made up of mutants as they do the bidding of Serval Industries, a huge, Google-like company in the Marvel Universe. Lead by Magneto’s daughter Polaris, with her half-brother Quicksilver, the super-thief Gambit, and mutant interpreter Cypher, they have gone out on a non-corporate mission to save a young girl seemingly being held against her will by her father, a very vocal opponent of mutant-kind.

AllNewXFactor08Cover

Cover to All-New X-Factor #8 by Kris Anka. Warlock needs to look like that in the interior art.

What we have here is classic X-drama. Anti-mutant guy seemingly imprisoning his daughter and the mutant team decide to go free her. Partly because it’s the right thing to do but partly because, well, the guy’s anti-mutant and he’s got it coming, as far as they’re concerned. Our heroes prove themselves to be human, and fallible, which is just one aspect of why we like these characters so much. Obviously, nothing goes quite to plan and last issue (spoilers) we ended on a cliffhanger where Doug – Cypher – may have just been killed.

You have to give Peter David his dues, he writes his characters very well. Individual voices and motivations mean the four main mutant protagonists are all clearly unique, separate people. Even his two robots function differently to each other, which is nice. Often in the search for compelling stories and action the individuality of teams can be lost, but David knows his craft and makes sure Quicksilver’s quick thinking and arrogance shine through against Polaris’ direct, confrontational speech and deeds. This has, of course, always been one of Peter David’s strengths as a writer of X-titles; his inter-character drama.

For a superhero comic, the X-Men books and their various companion titles hae always been a soap opera. It’s inherent to the medium being a serialized form. Much like seeing your favourite TV show every week, comics hit us every month with the ongoing stories of our main characters. While a movie (generally) captures a single story from a person’s life, which is defining and usually life-changing, ongoing comics deal with the minutia, the day-to-day existence, the struggles of living in the world. And we keep coming back. We come back for the characters and the set up. And while we remember big stories and big changes, we stick around for the character moments, the relationships, seeing our favourite characters go through the mundane stuff that we all go through every day. Peter David gets this, and writes it, and it has made him a successful comic book writer for decades.

This issue is not perfect, though, and a criticism I’ve laid on David’s writing before is that I can often find myself blazing through it with little to slow me down. This is only reinforced when we have action beats in a superhero book such as this, which don’t play well. For a 20-page comic, not a lot happens this issue, and the action scenes are the weakest part, taking up the most space. It’s relatively impressive when Polaris does her thing, but in this issue most of her “moments” are simply her taking guns away from guards and cops and stuff. It grated as being somewhat repetitive, and takes a lot of page space to show us the action taking place.

I’m all for Polaris being “crowd control” – within this group she definitely the best suited to it – but each time it happens takes way too long and feels almost like empty space. If she (and Gambit, perhaps) had been separate from the group somehow, and we’d been crossing back to them having a conversation or something WHILE she was doing the same thing, it might have felt more organic. But as it stands it’s almost like a paragraph break mechanism. People coming to the end of a set of word balloons so… Polaris takes some guns. Then back to the main story. Polaris is going through her own stuff right now, and while not every character needs the spotlight in every issue, this felt like a wasted opportunity.

Polaris takes some guys guns. Again.

Polaris takes some guys guns. Again.

The end of the issue (semi spoiler alert) also gives us a great moment to reflect on Peter David’s great gift of bringing back the old with a new coat of paint and a fresh spin to make it relevant. The X-Men and their spin-off books are ostensibly about finding mutants in trouble and helping them however possible. It’s long been tradition that some, not all but some, of these mutants will have no place to go, or are generally unwanted, and they come to reside with the X-team that helped them out. This issue sees our All-New X-Factor team doing this in much the same vein, gaining a young new face. It is reminiscent of the original X-Factor book in which Cyclops and the original X-Men took on the name and began helping young mutants in secret (mostly as protest to Magneto being in charge of the Xavier school but that’s a different article entirely). They found a bunch of young mutants and taught them to use their powers safely and this tradition has continued. This is an X-Factor title written by pretty much THE X-Factor writer, so it’s good to see this tradition continue.

I’m really trying to avoid talking more about the art. I reviewed issue #7 and I really said everything there that applies here. If anything, it’s worse, because some of the action beats with Warlock and Danger, our two robotic characters, are super hard to follow. With everything the same colour, and the pencils starting to blend together, it makes the book hard to follow at times. But I don’t want to be too negative. I’m pretty sure I’d like the pencils (by the immensely talented Carmine Di Giandomenico) if they were properly coloured.

Overall I’m liking All-New X-Factor. I keep saying it, and somehow Gambit as a main character, narrator even, has grown on me. Never expected that. And for anyone who has seen the new X-Men film, Days of Future Past, come check out the REAL Quicksilver. I enjoy the undercurrents of mystery and the like that this issue brings up, and with a fully formed team having just completed their first non-corporate mission, I feel like we’re in good hands. Authorially, anyway. The artistic side of things though…

Happy thoughts. Must. Think. Happy. Thoughts.

All-New X-Factor is available at your Local Comic Book Shop, or digitally through Comixology and Marvel.com.

Overall Score
70 %

A little bit of a murky conclusion to the previous issue, but a solid read that both benefits and suffers from being a serialised book.

Story 70%
Writing 75%
Pencils 70%
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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