Comic Book Review: X-Factor #15

X-Factor is one of The Revolution’s favorite titles. I always look forward to reading the newest issue of X-Factor. It continues to amaze me how Peter David is not getting the publicity and recognition for the incredible job he is doing on this title. X-Factor just continues to fly under the radar. I fully expect X-Factor #15 to be another excellent read. Let’s do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Pablo Raimondi

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.

Synopsis: We begin with Jamie Madrox being delivered to a secret Hydra base on some unknown island. Jamie has no idea what is going on, but that is nothing new for him. As the Multiple Man he can see all sides to everything. All the possibilities. HE can go in all directions at once. This always makes life interesting. Jamie knows that Hydra has mistaken him for one of his dupes who works for S.H.I.E.L.D.

Jamie is introduced to Dr. Locke who used to work for Singularity Investigations and had access to extensive files on Jamie. Jamie proceeds to engage in some witty banter with Dr. Locke. Dr. Locke has Jamie hooked into some mind control machine. Jamie tells Dr. Locke that he is going to kill him. Dr. Locke replies that he knows that such violence isn’t in Jamie’s character. Jamie replies that he wasn’t kidding. He is going to kill Dr. Locke. Dr. Locke then turns on his mind control machine.

We then cut to Monet and Siryn enjoying a break from shopping. They are eating at a small café in Paris. Monet mentions how she is used to entertaining royalty. That she had rich and powerful men falling all over her. And she ends up sleeping with Jamie. That may be fine for Siryn, but for Monet that is slumming. Initially, Siryn is offended and when Monet realizes that and says that Siryn isn’t expecting for Monet to apologize for what she said. Siryn responds that initially she was, but she realizes that if she had grown up as a daughter of an ambassador and lived that lifestyle that she would probably feel the same way as Monet.

Suddenly, the ladies smell something burning. We see some local Parisians burning an effigy outside of a building where a bunch of former mutants are living. The locals have showed up to slap them around a bit.

We cut to Madrox still hooked up to the mind control machine. Jamie is imagining that he is tied up to a cross while his parents continually slap him in the face and then whip him. They are mad that Jamie wasn’t born normal. That if he had been then Mr. Tryp would not have killed them.

We see Dr. Locke and his assistant standing next to Jamie while he screams. Dr. Locke says that Madrox’s strength comes from his numbers. But, mentally splitting him off more and more Dr. Locke can weaken his core personality. This will then make Jamie easy to manipulate. Dr. Locke said his machine works fast and weeks’ worth of programming can be done in mere hours.

We shift back to Siryn and Monet brawling with the anti-mutant locals. The police then arrive and place everyone under arrest. Monet tells Siryn that they should go. That the police can’t stop them. Siryn says no. That if they fly off then this event gets spun into yet another “mutant terrorizes innocent people” horror story. And the helpless ex-mutants in the building remain sitting ducks.

We zip back to the Hydra base. The mind control programming is finished. Jamie is standing in the middle of a large room in a Hydra costume. Dr. Locke says that Jamie has been stripped to his core personality. That Jamie is a Tabula Rasa. That he merely needs to be reprogrammed in the interests of Hydra. Dr. Locke then says that instead of using Jamie as a stealth agent to infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D. is shortsighted. That Jamie would make an excellent combat agent.

Dr. Locke taps Jamie on the shoulder and he creates a dupe. Dr. Locke says that Jamie’s dupes replicates the Hydra costume. That when Jamie creates a dupe, he can also replicate any device that he is holding. Imagine Jamie holding a single nuclear device. Every duplicate he makes would also hold a nuclear device. He would be a nuclear army. Dr. Locke says that there is something going on wit Jamie that is more than mere cellular replication.

We hop into Jamie’s mind where he is now kneeling before his parents. His parents tell Jamie that he is bad. His parents tell Jamie to punish himself. Jamie starts slapping himself in the face and saying “I’m bad!” We then shift to outside of Jamie’s mind and back in the large room in the Hydra base. Jamie is slapping himself in the face and saying “I’m bad!” Each time he slaps himself, another dupe appears.

Suddenly, there are hundreds of dupes flooding the room. Dr. Locke screams for the guards to shoot the original. Unfortunately, they have no idea which one is the original. Jamie keeps slapping himself until he creates so many dupes that they flood the room and crush Dr. Locke and all the Hydra agents.

We cut back to Monet and Siryn in a jail cell. Monet is not happy about slumming in a jail cell. Siryn said that it was a good idea. That they made a political statement. That mutants do not think they are above the law. One of the locals who attacked the ex-mutants is then brought into the jail by the police. The local boasts that after the police took Siryn and Monet away that the locals went back and burned down the building with the ex-mutants inside of it. That they are all dead.

Monet is pissed. She breaks off a piece of one of the jail cell’s bars and throws it at the local and kills him. Siryn is stunned and asks Monet what did she just do? Monet responds that she was making a political statement.

We shift to the Hydra base where a group of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents along with Jamie’s dupe appear on the scene. One of the agents tells Jamie’s dupe that all the Hydra soldiers are dead. That they were crushed to death. Jamie’s dupe goes up to one of the bodies lying on the ground. It is Jamie Prime who was faking being unconscious. Jamie grabs his dupe and says “Gotcha!” Jamie then absorbs his dupe.

Jamie then poses as his dupe and walks out of the Hydra base. Jamie thinks how he can still here his dupe screaming in protest inside of his mind. Jamie says that this always happens and that it will soon fade away. Jamie thinks how the more dupes he created, the more it thinned out Dr. Locke’s control until Jamie was able to break free.

Jamie thinks about how all these Hydra agents are dead because of him. But, the most frightening thing is that Jamie doesn’t feel anything at all. No regret. No horror. No elation. Just emptiness. And that is bad. Very bad. End of issue.

The Good: David does it again. X-Factor #15 was another excellent read. I am just amazed at how David consistently cranks out such incredibly well written issues. David has turned X-Factor into a legitimate literary work of art. The quality of writing and the themes and plotlines on X-Factor are unmatched by any other title that Marvel or DC publishes. David has made X-Factor one of the more cerebral reads on the market. David weaves a sublime and complex story that is subtle read and yet still extremely powerful.

And while X-Factor is certainly artsy, dark and brooding at times, David still supplies the reader with some excellent humor. David has incredible timing for when to mix in some humor to prevent X-Factor from taking itself too seriously. This is what really separates X-Factor from the other dark and moody titles on the market.

As always, David whips up plenty of strong dialogue in X-Factor #15. David has tremendous feel for each character and knows how to write each character’s external voice. David treats the reader to plenty of funny witty banter as well as some rather serious and chilling dialogue like at the end of this issue when Jamie thinks about his lack of a reaction to killing all the Hydra agents.

The pacing on X-Factor #15 is just right. David moves the issue along at a controlled and measured pace. It isn’t slow, but at no point does the reader feel rushed. X-Factor has a pleasant flow as each scene seamlessly transitions into the next one.

I liked the scenes with Monet and Siryn in Paris. I have really never been much of a fan of either character. However, David has done an excellent job getting me to enjoy both characters. I love the chemistry between Monet and Siryn. There is a mutual respect between both ladies even though they are clearly from different worlds and have totally different moral codes. David delivers some great dialogue between these two ladies that runs from funny when Siryn calls Monet a “skank” to serious when the two debate the political ramifications of their involvement in the anti-mutant attack on the ex-mutants.

I dig how David showed both views on how mutants should best handle such conflicts and interaction with the police. Siryn offers the more mature, peaceful and moral view that they should show that mutants are not above the law and allow the police to bring them in for questioning. That mutants should never give the media the opportunity to pain them as the “bad guys.”

On the other hand, Monet offers a more visceral and instinctive view point that mutants should crush anti-mutant groups and ignore the police because they are powerful enough to do so. Monet’s view also embraces violence and killing as justified and righteous when defending mutants or ex-mutants from anti-mutant groups.

When Monet kills the anti-mutant local the reader knows that it was wrong, but at the same time the reader is glad that Monet killed him. It is this heart over mind path that Monet offers that is much more appealing at times than Siryn’s mind over heart path.

In the long run, Siryn’s methods are the ones that will lead mutants to being more accepted by the public and begin cast in a positive light by the media. Monet’s methods, no matter how justified or satisfying, will only end up in mutants being reviled by the public and cast in a negative light by the media.

It should be very interesting to see what David does in the upcoming issues dealing with the ramifications of Monet killing the anti-mutant local. It is definitely doing to create further public relations disaster for Jamie and X-Factor to deal with. Plus, it will lead to a debate within X-Factor as to which path the group as a whole is going to follow.

The scenes with Jamie Madrox were excellent. There is no denying that Jamie is a favorite of David’s and that David can write Jamie better than any other writer. David has taken the concept of Jamie as a Multiple Man and run with it. It makes sense that Jamie is one of the few people alive who can truly see one issue from every possible viewpoint. That Jamie can see on issue from every possible perspective. That this enables Jamie a perspective that no ordinary person will ever possess. And it also explains why Jamie often is unable to act decisively when a quick decision is in order.

David has grown Jamie’s character and he continues to make Jamie even more complex in X-Factor #15. We learn that Jamie can not only duplicate himself, but also any object that he is holding. We learn that his duplication powers are much greater than mere cellular replication. I’m interested to see where David is heading with this plotline. Could it be that Jamie’s powers are more mystical in nature than science based?

I liked how David contrasted the wise-cracking Jamie and his witty banter in the beginning of this issue, with Jamie’s blunt promise to kill Dr. Locke and the emotionless Jamie at the end of the issue who had no remorse for killing the Hydra agents. We get a real startling new wrinkle in Jamie’s personality at the end of this issue.

After killing all of the Hydra agents, Jamie is totally empty. He isn’t sad. He isn’t regretful. He isn’t happy. Nothing. The pure absence of any emotion. This stunningly cold unemotional reaction from Jamie was rather unexpected. This is a serious shift in Jamie’s personality. This will definitely contribute to Jamie’s continual evolution as a character and should provide for some interesting future plotlines.

I thought the way Jamie killed all of the Hydra agents was pretty sick. I liked it. I also enjoyed how David handled what Jamie goes through after he absorbs one of his dupes. That the S.H.I.E.L.D. dupe screams in protest inside of Jamie’s mind after being re-absorbed. This plays up the aspect that Jamie is truly multiple man with serious multiple personalities.

Pablo Raimondi does a nice job with the art. His style matches the feel and tone of David’s mood on this title. The best part of having Raimondi on X-Factor is that he establishes some much needed stability in the art department. This title was really suffering from the artist carrousel that it has been on since the first issue.

The Bad: No complaints at all.

Overall: X-Factor #15 is another impressive read. David is as hot as any writer out there. Marvel has a real hidden gem with this title. I know that X-Factor doesn’t get the publicity and hype that the Avengers, X-Men titles and Wolverine titles get, but let me tell you this: X-Factor crushes all of them. Do yourself a favor and give X-Factor a try.

2 thoughts on “Comic Book Review: X-Factor #15

  1. When Monet killed that man I jumped out of my seat on the bus and screamed yeah!… don’t ever do that…

    Anyways *coughs* I agree with you on each point you made in your review. The art has been fantastic and I feel each issue is getting better… though at the end when Jamie says “very… very… bad” that sounded really dirty in my mind…

    I can’t wait for your Mystery In Space review now

  2. I just realize I can’t find Mystery In Space review on your blog, was it ever there?… sorry man lack of sleep I am losing it

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