Editor's Note: X-Factor #39 arrives in stores tomorrow, January 21.
Wow, how do you write a review about a comic that you have been explicitly been asked not to talk about, not by an editor or by another reviewer, but by the comic writer himself? Well, Iím going to try, but Peter David, boy are you making this difficult.*
In a previous review I talked about themes that authors typically gravitate to, either due to comfort with the concept, or due to their desire to explore that theme fully through their work. Peter David tends to explore the human condition when bad things happen to humans (or at least humans who have exceptional abilities). Those bad things are not, in themselves, exceptional, such as having a species wiped out, or an alien invasion, where the meta-humans are in their element. Instead, they are the mundane, every day occurrences dressed up as exceptional. He did this in Supergirl and Young Justice in the 1990s and has also done so in his recent She-Hulk run where She-Hulk deals with the loss of the life she was so comfortable with in the Marvel Universe.
This issue deals with the birth of a child and all that comes with it. The highs and the lows, and how people react. The events are both elating and devastating. Mixed into the middle of all of this is continuing intrigue about Madrox dealing with the safety of his child in a world where his kind is hunted, and his possibility of protecting that child with Val Cooper, who previously has been nothing but problems.
The events take a turn that no one (neither the readers nor the story's characters) expects, and Siryn and Multiple Man are exposed to a situation that many would-be parents have faced. I have known several people who have been through the situation depicted in this book, one couple very recently. The events are a metaphor about the risks and challenges of physically bringing a child into the world, and David nails the mix of emotions both during and after the delivery of the new baby into the world. He does it with a sense of awe and terror that, if you have been through the birth of a child, you will know very well. I desperately want to talk about the impact that the final scenes had on me as a parent, because I think David's pacing of the dialogue in the panels and the accompanying art pretty much perfectly conveys the intended emotions. I felt a lump in my throat when I knew what was happening, and I actually felt quite sick towards then end.
This book lost a bullet simply due to Madrox's reaction to the whole situation. He is clueless, but I do not think that he is quite as clueless as is depicted. It is a pity really, because the scenes are spoiled a little bit by the crassness of his reactions.
Kudos to David and his art team for an emotional, powerful issue. Given the warning at the beginning of the book about the coming two issues, I'm steeling myself for the worst.
*Note: Peter David did not personally ask me not to spoil the contents of this comic. Instead, it was David's general comment to all readers.
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