Editor's Note: X-Factor #32 arrives in stores tomorrow, June 18.
The real attraction of the X-Factor is series writer Peter David. He infuses so much complexity into his characters that the danger and turmoil around them seems trivial to that which is inside their hearts. As Arcade's laser grid slowly comes down upon the team and Middle Eastside of Manhattan, David focuses on an old man named Nathan looking up in the sky at the approach of certain death. Jamie Madrox saves him just in time and takes him safely to the street.
As Jamie carries the old man on his shoulder with a mutant double of himself, Nathan remarks upon the "M" on Madrox's face: "Is that what that tattoo is for? Some sort of mutant pride thing?" Jamie corrects him and explains it was forced on him. "Ah. So was mine," he replies as Madrox looks at number "24601" etched into Nathan's forearm. He, like Jamie, survived a concentration camp that was orchestrated by the government against him. He warns never to trust "people in charge" as they have their own agendas; you can only trust each other. And that's exactly what Madrox sets out to do.
David's focus on Jamie's struggle to cope with his torture in the concentration camp of the future, the loss of Layla Miller, the departure of teammate Wolfsbane, and general confusion of what to do next after Messiah CompleX, makes his decision to rebuild the team and his life all the more poignant and satisfying.
But each character has a journey as well... and thankfully, it's humorous. For example, Rictor's listlessness of past issues culminates in his return to X-Factor Headquarters, where he pulls a gun on Val Cooper of the Office of National Emergency (O*N*E) claiming she is another one of Arcade's androids. His bravado is result of being helpless after Messiah CompleX, lost without Wolfsbane, and tortured by Arcade. "Look at her, man," Rictor cries. He won't let anyone else take advantage of him or friends. "Check the hair: not a strand out of place. And the eyes. Soulless. Dead inside." "She works for the government," Jamie clarifies. Slowly, Rictor drops the gun. "Okay, that explains the eyes."
The writing and characterization makes these secondary X-Men far more engaging and realistic than other X-writers do for their characters. You will not read this kind of drama in any other X-title. That's what makes X-Factor so special: the enormous and giving heart of David's writing prowess.
And if you're looking for a good jumping on point, start reading with this issue.
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