Comic Book Review: X-Factor #16

Any regular follower of The Revolution knows that X-Factor is one of my personal favorites. David has impressed the hell out of me by delivering one of the best written comic books on the market. And now we finally are getting some stability in the art department. There is no doubt in my mind that X-Factor #16 is going to be another fantastic read. Let’s hit 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 a preacher giving a sermon at a small church in a small town in Vermont. Jamie Madrox enters the church. The preacher stops in mid-sentence. The preacher is one of Jamie’s dupes. The preacher bolts out the back door of the church. Jamie runs after his dupe.

As Jamie runs around the front of the church, he bumps into a woman who asks him if he all right. The woman is holding a young boy. She is the wife of Jamie’s dupe and the boy is the son of Jamie’s dupe. The wife grabs Jamie’s hand asks him if he is feeling sick with the way he just ran out of the church. The wife then says they should go home so he can rest. Jamie is stunned.

We cut to Paris where Monet and Siryn bust their way out of the local jail. The police futilely try and stop them. Monet and Siryn fly off. Siryn tells Monet that what she did to the anti-mutant local was horrible and sacrilegious. We see the anti-mutant local crucified to the wall with pieces of the jail cell bars through his palms.

We shift back to Jamie at his dupe’s house with his dupe’s wife and son. The son is named Daniel after Jamie’s dad. The wife then takes the son off to get a bath. Jamie thinks that he is going to hell for this. That he sent this particular dupe out to study religion and now Jamie ends up with a walking, talking moral conundrum.

Jamie walks into his dupe’s study. Jamie picks up a picture of his dupe’s wife and son. Jamie thinks how the wife has no idea about how her husband is just one of Jamie’s dupes. Suddenly, Jamie’s dupe enters the study and tells Jamie to put down the picture of his wife and son.

Jamie responds that it appears they have a dilemma. Jamie’s dupe says that he knows Jamie is here to absorb him back. Jamie’s dupe says that he likes his life. Jamie says that it isn’t his life. That it is Jamie’s life. Jamie’s dupe retorts that this is the life Jamie could have if he ever had the patience to walk this path. Jamie’s dupe says that he will fight to keep this life. Jamie’s dupe then draws a gun on Jamie.

We cut back to Paris. Monet and Siryn arrive at the building full of ex-mutants that was torched by the anti-mutant locals. There is only one survivor. A young girl. She lost both her parents. She has no one left to look after her. Monet takes the girl by the hand and says that she is coming with them. Siryn argues that the girl is a French citizen and that this is kidnapping. Monet disagrees saying that the child is coming willingly and has no life left here in France. We see a shadowy figure with red eyes in a nearby alley way watching Monet and Siryn.

We cut back to Jamie and Jamie’s dupe. Jamie’s dupe says that he has been living in terror of this day. But, that he is ready to fight for his life and his family’s life. Jamie responds that the dupe’s family won’t disappear after Jamie absorbs him. The dupe says that his family will end because he won’t be there for them anymore and they won’t know why. That Jamie isn’t going to explain it. That he is just going to pull a hit and run.

Jamie agrees that that is exactly what he is going to do. Jamie says that he can absorb the dupe from across the room. The dupe responds that maybe he can get a shot off the second he feels it happening. Jamie retorts if that would be considered murder or suicide. The dupe angrily shouts for Jamie to wipe the smirk off his face. The dupe asks why Jamie is doing all of this.

Jamie responds because he is not whole. That the dupe is just a piece of Jamie’s soul. And if a man doesn’t have his soul intact then he has nothing. That Jamie will live on and the dupe will live on in Jamie. Jamie snaps that is how it should be. Jamie asks how many damn lives does he need anyway.

Jamie then tells the dupe to go ahead and shoot him. That it will be a relief to be dead. Jamie then yells for the dupe to do it now. The dupe begins to cry and lowers the gun. The dupe tells Jamie that he has dominion over him and to absorb him quickly.

We shift to Monet, Siryn and the little girl on Monet’s private plane. Before they can take off, a bunch of police cars come racing down the runway. Suddenly, there is a bright flash and all the police cars disappear. We see the same shadowy figure with red eyes from earlier standing on the runway with his hand glowing. Monet’s plane then takes off for America.

We cut back to Jamie’s dupe’s house. The wife has finished bathing the son and they both come over to where Jamie’s dupe is sitting. The wife asks the dupe if he is okay. The dupe says that he is great. For the first time in his life he feels free.

We see Jamie outside of the house holding a picture of the dupe’s wife and son. Jamie thinks that he is always second-guessing himself. Always seeing all sides of a question. Never sure if he has done the right thing. Jamie says that today, for the first time, he doesn’t feel that way. That he made a decision and instead of being strangled by its implications, he feels free. And that is worth a small piece of his soul any day. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Incredible. X-Factor #16 was another beautifully written issue. David delivers a very touching story without being too sappy or schmaltzy. X-Factor #16 is a well paced issue. David does a good job mixing in the faster paced and more action packed plotline with Monet and Siryn with the slower paced and more cerebral plotline involving Jamie Madrox. The result is an issue that has a nice blend of action and drama that moves at a nice steady pace.

As always, David crafts his usual wonderful dialogue. David has a real talent for delivering natural and easy flowing dialogue that breathes life into his characters. Each character has their own unique external voice.

I found the argument between Monet and Siryn to be well constructed. David does a good job showing the viewpoints of both characters. However, my favorite dialogue was the confrontation between Jamie and his dupe. This was an extremely powerful scene. David packed plenty of emotion into the dialogue for these two characters. The reader got a wonderful sense of the dupe’s intense desperation and primal instinct to do whatever it takes to cling to life. The reader also got a nice sense of Jamie’s usual irreverent and cavalier approach to a tough moral dilemma.

David continues to crank out some of the best character development that you will get on any comic book on the market. David has done such an impressive job spending plenty of time making sure the members of X-Factor are fully developed and complex characters.

David is doing a nice job finally fleshing out Monet’s personality. Every team needs an ass-kicker who is confident in their beliefs and could care less what others think. That is Monet. She is a necessary literary tool to stir up conflict within the team and to play the role of the gadfly.

Of course, it is obvious that Jamie is the star of this title and David’s favorite character. No other member of X-Factor has gotten as much character development as Jamie has. Jamie is basically one big character study for David. We get to see yet another aspect of Jamie’s incredibly complicated personality in this issue.

Jamie is a character that David has played up as being paralyzed by indecision. It only makes sense that a “multiple man” would analyze a certain situation from every single possible angle. That even when Jamie makes a decision he constantly second guesses himself. David has really accentuated this aspect of Jamie’s personality in the past 15 issues of X-Factor.

Jamie’s dupe is a harsh dose of reality of what Jamie could have if he could ever get his act together. I dig that Jamie allows his dupe to remain with his family. Jamie finally makes a decision that he is fully confident about and engages in no second guessing.

I liked how David showed how both the dupe and Jamie both finally attained freedom in this pivotal scene. The dupe has freedom from the terror of Jamie one day absorbing him. Jamie has freedom from the oppressive second guessing that has weighed down his life.

All in all, this was a beautifully delivered ending. And it is a good example of something called “character growth.” That is an aspect of writing that seems to be alarmingly deficient in many comic books currently on the market.

David also teases the reader with the mysterious appearance of a shadowy figure with glowing red eyes. It looks like Mr. Sinister is going to be making an appearance on this title. I’m curious to see where David goes with this plotline.

Pablo Raimondi does a solid job with the artwork. I’m just thrilled that Marvel has finally given this title one artist and stuck with him. Raimondi’s style is a nice match to David’s tone and mood.

The Bad: No complaints at all.

Overall: X-Factor #16 was another excellent read. David delivers a touching story that is mixed with just enough action to keep the issue from being too slow. X-Factor is definitely one of the best written comic books on the market. If you love strong character work along with complex and subtle storylines then X-Factor is the title for you. If you are an action freak, then I don’t think X-Factor will hold much appeal to you.

2 Comments

  1. Hey Rokk good review as always, I wanted to invite you to check out my comic book writing site as well as my blog for updates on current books I am reading.

  2. Great review Rokk! I can’t write a lengthy post (damn test tomorrow) but this issue was very moving and has now become my 2nd fav X-Factor comic. Can’t wait to see how Sinister will play into this.

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