Tuesday, February 07, 2006

X-Factor #3 - Why Won't This Book Let Me Love It?

The latest X-Factor series started out as the mutant book seemingly written specifically for me. It avoided, for the most part, any serious need to be a comic fan long steeped in the X-Universe. Sure, there were some nods to Marvel continuity, most seriously to the recent House of M "event", but a simple one sentence condensation brought the casual reader up to speed.

"Dude, there used to be like hundreds of thousands of mutants, but Scarlet Witch went batsh*t crazy and now there's only like 200."

"Oh, okay."

Simple.

The Layla Miller thing was a little more annoying, but at least none of the characters really knew anything about her either, so I had the reasonable expectation that I would fill in the blanks as the team did.

That notion has been damaged slightly in this most recent issue of X-Factor, as Layla makes reference to her reasons for forcing herself upon the team. Those reasons, it seems, are going to be mired in the fall-out from House of M, setting up the book as one of the main depositories of post-M plot detritus.

Sadly, right up to that little speech about "making sure the world never found out about the real reason mutants were depowered", I was actually begrudgingly enjoying Layla's role in the issue. She was much less annoying, and her cryptic responses seemed snappier, more on mark than before. But, as she is now serving the needs of some uber-Mutantverse conspiracy or something, she has turned right back into a major annoyance.

Honestly, if they just took her and her House of M fallout crud out of the book,this would probably be my favorite current team book. Jamie Maddox is a wonderful character, and the supporting cast in this book nearly as enjoyable. Peter David's "tweaking" of the basic nature of Madrox's powers is quite close to genius, and opens the character up in any number of ways. There is the danger of turning him into the resident deus ex machina, as in the "lawyer" scene this issue, but until it becomes a problem this book has earned the benefit of the doubt.

Plotwise, this book is moving very slowly, but it is much less vexing than the "decompression" evident in some higer-profile Marvel books. There are so many engaging character moments and interactions that I find myself reading the book less for the detective story, and more for the dialogue and off-beat situations.

Turning to the art, it seems word has finally gotten out (beyond this blog) that Ryan Sook is leaving the book, to be replaced by his tag-team artist over the past couple of months, Dennis Calero. Now, I was very critical of the Calero portion of issue 2, but I have definately come around some. I think the two artist blend was a bad decision, as the artists' styles are just too disimilar. Sook is slick, while Calero works more in a Michael Lark-Gotham Central style. While I do prefer Sook's work, I'm certainly gaining a growing appreciation for Calero's pages, and I think his art will look much better when he's doing the entire book. Artistic continuity is very important to a book's flow, and I'm surprised the decision was made to go with a piece-work approach for the past couple of issues.

It's too bad that, just as this book is starting to straighten itself out art-wise, it seems poised to take a flying leap into the cesspool of the X-Universe. I honestly don't want this book to have an overriding conspiracy (as Layla alludes to in this issue), and if there is going to be one, I certainly am not interested in it being tied directly to the fallout from House of M.

Look Marvel, I'm predominantly a DC reader. You have lured me over to Marvel with a clever, fun book that lets me enjoy it with a minimum of Marvel continuity infodumping. Please don't blow it. I'm positive I'm not the only casual-to-rare reader of Marvel books that you have on the hook with this book.

Am i wrong? Or is this, in fact, the Marvel book DC fans have been waiting for? And Marvel doesn't seem to realize it.

Sad, really.

Related Posts:
Ryan Sook Off X-Factor
X-Factor #2 - Aw, crap.
X-Factor #1 - A good Mutant Book? Que?

4 Comments:

Blogger Melchior del DariĆ©n said...

Yeah, I want to like this book, too. Layla Miller's explanation for why she's there left me feeling cold, and each issue finds me less and less engaged. (I'm having a similar experience with PAD's Fallen Angel.) As usual with David, the character elements are quite nicely done, but they're not being matched by plot developments, yet.

7:54 PM  
Blogger Jhunt said...

I dropped Fallen Angel when it left DC, which leads me to believe that I hadn't been enjoying it as much as I though I was.

I hope this doesn't turn out to be the case with X-Factor, but I guess we'll find out in the next couple of months.

9:25 AM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Where's Sook off to now? I thought Marvel had him on an exclusive, and I can't imagine him on something much more fitting than this book, unless they're going to revive some of their horror titles. Sook on Tomb of Dracula and Frazer Irving on Man-Thing would be great.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Jhunt said...

Hmm... I don't think that he's Marvel-exclusive. I don't remember reading anything about that, and an (admittedly) short Google search didn't show anything.

Still, Sook on a well-written ToD book would be great, but I'm still optimistic he'll head back to the DC special projects unit to avoid the stress of a monthly book.

4:23 PM  

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