The X-Men titles weren’t in their strongest state a decade ago, but hands-down the shining light of the bunch was Peter David’s superb X-Factor. And the book continues to hold up as one of the best X-series since the late ‘70s/early ‘80s glory days, largely due to David’s masterful scripting.
X-titles excel when they focus on a core cast, rather than an ever-sprawling society of mutants, and X-Factor showcases a specific grouping of underutilized second-stringers. David finds the untapped potential in each one, especially the ostensible lead, Jaime Madrox, the Multiple Man. The result is a fantastic ensemble that drives multiple ongoing storylines.
Issue #14 exemplifies the book’s strengths. It kicks off a new storyline in which Madrox resolves to track down his various duplicates who have gone astray during his quest to accumulate diverse knowledge and life experiences. But as it sets up that storyline, it checks in on the various subplots, mining ample humor from a soap opera situation involving Madrox, Siryn, and Monet and resolving a Guido subplot in an unexpectedly touching way.
It’s a book with tremendous tonal agility. Artist Pablo Raimondi paces the “talking heads” scenes perfectly, as he skillfully uses silent panels to allow the comedic beats to land.
While #14 is a great example, you should really start with the Madrox limited series that piloted the book, proceed to #1, and read through the end. It loses a little bit of steam in later storylines, but David’s entire run, regardless of artist, includes not one bad issue. Truly one of my favorite X-books of all time.
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Pablo Raimondi
Publisher: Marvel Comics
How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in X-Factor vol. 3: Many Lives of Madrox (TPB)
Appropriate For: ages 13 and up