Comic Book Review: X-Factor #22

X-Factor continues to be one of Marvel’s better titles and definitely the strongest X-title on the market. The Revolution loved the last issue of X-Factor and there is no doubt in my mind that David will serve up another gem with X-Factor #22. David has yet to fail me on this title and there is no reason to think that he will now. 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 Nicole at Central Park. We get narration of Jamie thinking how it would make life easier for the bad guys wore black hats and made it obvious that they were evil. That the Civil War has blurred the lines on who is good and bad since it is good guys fighting each other.

We flashback to a few hours earlier with Jamie talking with Josef Huber at a local bar. Jamie thinks how his dupe who killed himself who was a detective in Chicago talked about how he knew what was coming. That he knew about “Uber.” Jamie thinks how “Uber” and “Huber”

Huber tells Jamie that Huber is very rich. That he can bankroll a lobby group for Mutantkind. That they can use the same government that oppresses them to help protect them. The plan is simple. To use the Endangered Species Act of 1973. To have Homo Superior declared an endangered species.

We shift to Nashville, Tennessee, where Monet and Siryn are at a concert by the two children who are singing anti-mutant hate songs. After the concert ends, Monet and Siryn go backstage to get the kids in order to return them back to their grandparents. Siryn uses her voice powers to persuade security to let them backstage. Suddenly, a sniper shoots at Siryn and the bullet grazes her head and knocks her out. Then a person appears from behind Monet and put chloroform over her mouth and knocks her out.

We cut back to X-Factor’s brownstone where Rahne tells Rictor that she only had sex with him because she felt sorry for him. That having sex was a mistake. Rictor responds that Rahne is just saying that because she is feeling ashamed because she was operating on pure instinct when she shagged Rictor. That instinct is where Rahne’s wolf part lives and she still hates that side of herself.

Suddenly, Rahne jumps Rictor and then start aggressively making out. Guido then calls up to Rahne and Rictor to come downstairs to meet with Jamie and a visitor. Rahne leaves the room and we see that Rahne clawed up Rictor’s back and tore his shirt. We also see that Rictor has what appears to be Terrigan Crystals long his spinal cord.

We hop back to a dark room where Monet is chained to the floor and Siryn is bound and gagged. Two male metahumans introduce themselves as Solo and Clay. Monet tells them that they are on the wrong side. The two men respond that they could care less about who was wrong or right. That they are just doing the job they were paid to do which was to protect the kids from people like Monet and Siryn. The two men say that next time they will kill Siryn and Monet if they try to get the kids. The men then leave Monet and Siryn in the dark room.

We shift back to the X-Factor brownstone where Rahne and Rictor join the meeting with Huber, Guido and Jamie. Huber greats Rictor by slapping him on the back which causes Rictor to wince in pain. Rahne whistles and looks the other way. Jamie thinks how there is something going on with Rahne and Rictor and it suddenly dawns on him that they are having sex.

Huber then talks about his plan to use the Endangered Species Act to help protect mutants. That once mutants are declared an endangered species then the government can’t do anything to threaten them. That the government must provide a protected sanctuary where mutants can reside free from harm.

We cut back to Monet breaking free from her chains and breaking down the door to the dark room. She then realizes that she and Siryn were left in a small bunker in the middle of some desolate location.

We zip back to the X-Factor brownstone, where suddenly, Huber’s mind begins picking up all the thoughts from around him. Huber grabs his head and pushes Jamie away from him. Huber takes his medicine and tells everyone that he will be okay in a minute.

We then hop over to Central Park where Layla is standing on a small bridge looking at the pregnancy test from last issue. Layla is worried that she didn’t know about this happening. That she always knows things. That without that then she is just some girl.

Nicole then walks up to Layla and asks her what Layla is going to do with the pregnancy test. Layla responds that she doesn’t know and asks Nicole what should she do. Nicole answers that she thinks Mister Huber wants Layla to die. Nicole then hits Layla in the face with a rock and pushes her off the bridge and into the river below. Nicole then smashes the pregnancy test with the rock and dumps the remains into the river.

Jamie narrates during this entire scene about how when you are a kid that you think that adults know all the answers and that everything gets easier when you get older. But, that isn’t the case. Everything just gets harder. That in the end it is all about “Might makes right.” That it is the natural order of life. That it is survival of the fittest. That the weak are swept away. That the strong are always right since there is no one left to say otherwise. End of issue.

The Good: X-Factor #22 was another great read. David continues to amaze me with his phenomenal efforts on this title. X-Factor #22 was well paced and plotted. David is constructing a wonderfully complex story with numerous interesting plotlines and a clear direction and purpose. David’s story has many levels to it and he continually layers on a new wrinkle with each issue.

David has the talent to deliver a gripping read with an excellent flow without having to rely on action to keep the story moving and the reader entertained. The flow of this issue was excellent. David creates some of the best scene transitions of any title on the market. The scene transitions smoothly and seamlessly blend the scenes together.

David weaves a wonderful narrative that runs through this issue. I dig how David manages to work in a running theme about life that ties into the story of each specific issue. The running narrative is usually an inner monologue by Jamie that acts as the framework for the story that David constructs. Last issue dealt with loneliness and man’s instinctual desire to be a part of some type of community. In this issue, we get a running inner monologue from Jamie about right and wrong and how can we tell what is good and evil. It is well done and makes X-Factor #22 a deeper and more engaging read.

Another enjoyable aspect of David’s X-Factor is that David knows to keep the story light enough so that the reader doesn’t feel overwhelmed. X-Factor has plenty of dark themes and angst. It would be easy to go overboard and for this title to come across as more of a parody than a serious work. David continues to display a nice sense of humor in order to provide for some much needed levity on such a dark and brooding title.

A good example of this is the scene where Huber is explaining his plan for using the Endangered Species Act to protect mutants is contrasted against Jamie’s mind drifting to what must be going on between Rictor and Rahne. The humorous touches are subtle and work naturally into each scene without being jarring “Bwa-ha-ha-ha” type scenes.

Of course, David continues to deliver some of the best dialogue you will find on any comic book. Each character is incredibly well developed and they all have their own unique personalities and external voices. This also allows David to create some of the best chemistry between the various members of X-Factor that you will get on any team title currently on the market.

I absolutely love the concept of using the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to help protect the dwindling mutant population. Absolutely brilliant. Talk about using the legal system to your advantage! This is a fantastic development and should provide for a very entertaining storyline. I totally dig the concept of the government being forced to provide a protected sanctuary where mutants can reside.

The Siryn/Monet plotline was well done. I thought it was a neat touch for David to show that the fans of the racist anti-mutant child band were of all different races. David lets the reader know that hate comes in all forms. This is quite unusual to see in the world of comics where the role of the racist is reserved almost exclusively for the blanco male. And it is part of what makes David’s X-Factor so great. Nothing is ever black or white. Nothing is ever simple and easy to figure out. David actually uses this racist anti-mutant band and their multi-racial human fan base to make the reader think about their own views of other people.

David continues to generate some excellent chemistry between Monet and Siryn. Ever since the Jamie Madrox scandal involving both ladies, their relationship with each other has really taken off and blossomed into an intriguing and entertaining relationship. David does a nice job contrasting Siryn’s subtle methods as shown by her using her voice powers to persuade one of the anti-mutant concert goers to go spend his life savings on a shopping spree with Monet’s more blunt, direct and violent approach to those who offend her.

The scene with Rictor and Rahne was fantastic. Rahne is clearly in denial about her passionate and lustful animal side of her personality. Rahne’s internal struggle is actually making her more of an interesting character. Up to this point, Rahne was really the only member of X-Factor that I found boring. David is finally figuring out a way to flesh out Rahne’s personality and make her more engaging to the reader.

And what is up with Rictor’s back? Are those Terrigan crystal shards along his spine? This is a very intriguing plot twist. I have always liked Rictor’s character, beyond the fact that he is one of mi hermanos, and have thought that David has done an incredible job taking a rather one dimensional and somewhat lame character and making him so interesting. It is amazing that it took Rictor losing his powers to get me more into his character. That is a testament to David’s writing talents that he can take an ex-mutant and actually make them a better character without powers than with them. Clearly, David has some big plans for Rictor and I’m psyched to see what happens next.

I’m definitely interested in learning more about this mysterious Mr. Huber. I love that David manages to create a possible connection between Huber and the “Uber” that Jamie’s dupe from X-Factor #17 talks about. This is just another example of David’s attention to detail and that nothing is irrelevant when you read one of his issues.

And the excellent hook ending plants the thought in the reader’s mind that Huber is a bad guy. Of course, it is possible that Nicole is just a psychotic bitch and that Huber isn’t behind her attack on Layla. Hopefully, Layla is going to survive this nasty sneak attack.

The banter between Layla and Elizabeth was well done. I love Layla’s character. She just gets better and better with each issue. If only all of the many annoying teen-age girl characters in the world of comics could be as cool as Layla.

The Endangered Species back-up was average. I think that we all know the Dark Beast is a butcher; Carey is beginning to belabor the point a bit. Other than that, I dig the concept of Nathan being re-constituted in some form in order to help in their quest to save mutant kind.

Pablo Raimondi serves up some more solid artwork. It is great that Marvel has finally stopped the artist carrousel on this title from spinning around like mad. Raimondi’s style is a nice fit for the mood that David is creating on X-Factor.

The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.

Overall: X-Factor #22 was another incredible read. David continues to make X-Factor one of Marvel’s best reads on the market. Despite what the poll on The Revolution shows, I remain firm in my belief that X-Factor is easily the best written X-Title. If you still haven’t tried this title then I urge you to do so. This title is so worth the cover price.