Peter David’s X-Factor is a favorite here in the bunker. So a special about one of the most interesting and at the same time aggravating members is something. This should be a great story. With Layla Miller lost in the future, she has not appeared in the regular X-Factor comic. Fans are curious as to what has happened to her since her disappearance.
Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Valentine de Landro
Inks: Andrew Hennessy
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The place: the Mutant Containment Center at Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. The time: 80 years from now. A sentinel keeps watch over the barbed wire fenced in area. The buildings are run down. 2 guards are talking about a bet the guards have.
The subject is a girl who walked out of the building, stood still as a statue and does not talk. She has been standing for 8 days. She even stood through a snow storm. During the storm she did open her mouth to catch snowflakes. Behind her we see guards beating prisoners. The girl(Layla Miller) does not move. Finally, she says “one of us…one of us”.
One of the guards decides she has been there long enough. He does not know what she is up to but enough is enough. He says that he does not know what is going through her mind. Layla says “stuff”. When asked what kind of stuff she knows, Layla says space stuff. Pieces of old satellites. She says that people do not get hit by falling space debris. But we are due.
Suddenly, a satellite falls on one of the guards. She informs the remaining guards that the government used to monitor falling space junk until they decided that mutants were a bigger menace. Falling debris starts taking out guards and the sentinel. It will be at least a day until the guards determine that a prisoner named Layla Miller is missing.
In Atlantic City, a white haired man is sitting on a bench looking towards the ocean. His daughter approaches and tells him he should stop. The man says that she is coming today. His daughter says that he has been saying that for 20 years. As they talk, he is holding a picture of Layla Miller.
In downtown Manhattan, a beggar asks Layla for some money. Then he wants to know what the M tattooed on her face stands for. She tells him “Miller”. She breaks open the window of the store he is leaning against. She reaches in and takes a blond wig. He asks if she is nuts, the cops will get her. She is counting on it. And so is Linqon.
The police cars are chasing Linqon through the streets. She creates a ball of energy in her hand and throws it at the cops. It blows up the engine of one of the cars. The police surround her. They know that it will take a few minutes to recharge.
The owner of the store Layla broke into tells her that the cops are coming for her. She tells her that people usually do. The store owner tells Layla that she is crazy. Layla says she is not crazy. She just knows stuff.
Linqon is running down the sidewalk. Layla is waiting and tells her that everything will work out fine. While Layla talks to Linqon, two police cars crash into each other. Gas starts leaking out of the wrecked cars. A lit cigarette is lying on the road. Linqon runs off as the gas reaches the cigarette and the cars explode. Someone is watching Layla from the shadows. They follow her to see what else she knows.
Next we see a rally for mutant rights. A speaker is comparing the mutant camps to internment camps set up for the Japanese in the past. At the back of the crowd, two boys are discussing the speach. Layla steps up between them. She tells them that the government is starting a new mutant hunting program. If they detect mutants in your bloodline within ten generations, you will be locked up for “observation”. After the speach they ask Layla if she is sure of her information. She tells them that she is and the government is calling it Operation Purity. They say they will let everyone know about it. Layla smiles.
Layla calls the person in the shadows by name. Dwayne wants to know if Layla is psychic. She says no. Layla askes Dwayne to steal a car and drive her to Atlantic City since he is a car thief. Next we see the two of them on the road to Atlantic City. Layla tells him about the guys at the rally and how she told them about Operation Purity. She saw they had cyberlinks in their heads. By now it should be all over the internet. Dwayne confirms it. He wants to know if she made it up. No, she just helped it happen sooner rather than later.
We see Layla and Dwayne walking on the boardwalk. Terrorist attacks leveled the city ten years ago. He does not want to be there. Layla says that he had a choice. The only person without a choice is her. She is a chess piece. Everyone is but she can see the hands of the players that are moving the pieces.
Suddenly, a girl appears and uses optic blasts to destroy the boardwalk in front of them. Dwayne wants to know who she is. The girl(dressed in black leather, with blond hair and red shiney skin) says she is the one who is telling them to get out of here. She stops when she recognizes Layla. Layla wants to know if she is his daughter. The girl wants to know how she knows.
Layla says she has the same eye blasts as her father. She helps Dwayne up and introduces herself. Her name is Ruby. He says that cannot be her birth name since she has ruby red skin. Ruby says that her parents were told they had to name her Ruby even though her skin was normal colored when she was born. He wants to know who told them. Layla did.
Layla approaches the man on the bench. It is Scott (Cyclops) Summer. She is happy to see him again. Scott reaches out and slaps her. As he stands, we see that part of his body has been replaced with robot parts. He is angry because she knew what would happen and did not tell them.
Layla says that she could not tell them. When she entered Forge’s time machine she knew what would happen to her. They shaved her and marked her face with a M for mutant. She says if he thinks she wanted this to happen he can go ahead and kill her. Scott helps her up as he apologizes. He says that everything will be ok.
Ruby takes Layla’s picture. It is the same as the picture Scott was looking at earlier. Scott wants her to give it to him when she returns to the past. He thinks that she knows how she will return. But Layla does not know. She knows stuff but not everything.
Ruby tells Layla that her father is surviving on energy cells. Ruby does not need food as long as she stays in her ruby state. She is afraid she will instantly age if she switches back to her normal body. Layla asks her to go and find Linqon. It is now Ruby’s time. It is time for mutantkind to take control of their destiny. Scott tells her that the life they have been living is no life. Ruby has been waiting for her father to realize that.
Back in Manhattan, the government is announcing Operation Purity. People who do not cooperate with the testing will be given incentive. The sentinel robots are ready to help convince them. An optic blasts tears through the head of one of the robots. Ruby introduces herself to the crowd. She is a mutant and most of them are not but starting today they need to stand together and start the rebellion.
Layla makes an entry in her diary. This is the start of what will be known as the Summers Rebellion. Layla does not know what is going to happen next and she does not like it. But for now she is happy being Layla Miller and knowing stuff.
The Good: The story was excellent except for one thing(it will be addressed later). Peter David shows the reader how the Summers Rebellion began. This rebellion has been mentioned for years but never was shown. It looks like the Rebellion is in good hands being led by Ruby, with Scott’s help.
I was anxious to see Layla again. She was a very interesting addition to the regular X-Factor book.
The artists did a good job conveying the mood of the story. They really drew you into the run-down dystopian future. The characters were given very distinctive looks. Some artists are drawn into using the same body types for everyone. But not these artists. Even the minor characters were given their own look.
The Bad: Layla is still trapped in the future. When will this story continue? Will we ever find out how she gets back to our time?
Overall: A good one-shot that was damaged by the ending. I think David needed to end the story by showing Layla’s return to our time. By leaving her in the future with no idea how to return, I felt the author cheated me. Layla did find Scott and help start the Rebellion but I found the story to be incomplete due to the ending.
2 thoughts on “Comic Book Review: X-Factor Layla Miller #1”
David said recently that Layla would be back eventually, and that he would be aiming to have it occur at the time of optimal surprise.
This issue seems to me to be designed at giving Layla a bit of closure in the short-to-medium term, until David’s ready to take her back to our time, and I think it does a good job of that.
Ruby is a neat character design.
This one shot was excellent as you mentioned, it picks up from Messiah Complex and has a feel of an old Claremont penned issue of Uncanny. It rocks.
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