"Soul of a Gumshoe"
Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Pablo Raimondi
Inks: Drew Hennessy
Publisher: Marvel Comics
As one of Jamie Madrox's dupes arrives in New York City bleeding profusely from a stab wound, we see the main Jamie has set up a private investigation firm with his old team-mates Guide (aka. Strong Guy) and Rahne (aka. Wolfbane). However, his first case looks to be the investigation the attempted murder of one of his dupes, and using information that he absorbed from his near dead duplicate, Jamie heads to Chicago.
I'm sure most Peter David fans will point to his run on "Incredible Hulk" as the series that introduced them to the idea that he's a fantastic writer, but for me it was his 20 issue run on "X-Factor" (issues 70-89) in the early 1990s that opened my eyes to this fact. I mean this run should be used as a text book example of how to launch an established title with an entirely new cast, as by the end of his run Alex, Lorna, Rahne, Pietro, Jamie and Guido were my all-time favourite cast of mutants, and even today I 'm a huge fan of the characters. In fact issue number 87 of that run should be required reading for all X-fans as it's the most powerful display of character development to ever play out in the pages of an X-Title. If I sound a little overly enamoured about this run all I can say is that you need to read the issues and while doing so remember these stories were playing out in the creative wasteland that was the X-Titles in the 1990s. I'd also recommend that you give this miniseries a look, as while there's a couple dozen X-Titles flooding the market, this is one that I truly hope doesn't get lost in the crowd, as Peter David has shown he can make these character's sing. Now this first issue has a couple moments that deftly remind me why I adore these characters, from the novel use of Jamie's dupes to gain world experience, to the scene where Guido's happy-go-lucky nature momentarily vanishes when the topic of Lila comes up. I can not put it any simpler than this is a must read miniseries, and the original X-Factor issues are well worth the effort of tracking down.
The photo-realistic style of the art certainly helps reinforce the idea that this book is a departure from the more comical vibe that I entered the book expecting to find. The art also does a fantastic job when it comes to the delivery of the key elements of the story, from the idea that the dying dupe is in a bad way, to the sheer joy on Jamie's face when he absorbs the dying dupe, and flashes back to his solitary childhood. The art also deserves credit for it's redesign of the secondary characters as the emergence of Rahne's wolf form made for a wonderfully creepy visual, and Guido's continual big, goofy smile perfectly captures the character's most endearing quality. The only quibble I would make with the art is that Jamie's power is never really clearly presented by the art, and given this is an important element of the story, this could present a problem for newer readers.
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