(Spoiler Alert: Criminal Confession Below)
Today I went to Matt’s Cavalcade after my last class of the day at about 2 pm. Once there I browsed through the racks as I normally do before heading over to the counter, and picking up my pull list. I spent a lot of time deciding on whether to get any back issues, or particularly stellar issues I had read about: the most recent Swamp Thing, Young Avengers #12, Sex Criminals #2, but decided to limit myself only to what I was there to pick up: a copy of Sex Criminal #4 that had been sold out last week and Trillium #6. Unfortunately Trillium had been delayed, so in a last minute decision I decided to pick up All New X-Factor #1 along with the latest Sex Criminals (which proved a bit disappointing for its slow pacing and lack of greater character development. The art is still bitching, but just wasn’t cutting it this time around.)
My choice to get All New X-Factor #1 was made out of guilt. Let me explain. Last summer I spent a lot of time in my home country of Belize, and feeling particularly unmotivated to read any of the novels or short story collections I had lugged home in my suitcase with the best of intentions of reading them in addition to writing a couple of FANTASTIC stories, I made the decision that any lethargic, ‘third world’ comic geek would to pirate the shit out of the entire 2nd series of X-Factor. It was a series that I had always seen get good reviews on Comics IGN (ironically, they gave this issue a very average review which I agree with upon reading it), and was touted for being self-contained despite occurring within Marvel’s 616 Universe. And even amidst vegging out in several other ways I read every issue published by the end of my trip.
I loved it. Peter David was able to tell entertaining stories that rarely showed sign of compromise on an issue-by-issue level while maintaining longer narratives and character arcs. Consistently surprising and frequently funny it’s a run that definitely made me get more serious about my desire to produce comics of my own some day.
And I had stolen all of it. Even when I got to the later issues after I read that Peter David had suffered from a stroke and lacked the funds to fully cover medical expenses, I continued to read the stolen issues finding some way to justify it everytime. It was the guilt of having stolen David’s run, not paying a cent to him, the artists, editors or the publisher for a story that was so transformative to me that made me decide soon after to never pirate anything again.
That’s why despite the unfavourable IGN review (I agree with their writers a good portion of the time although they don’t seem too say anything too interesting about a given issue if a run has been on a hot streak), I decided I needed to buy it because even if I didn’t enjoy it, my purchase would function as the beginnings for my redemption.
When I get back to my office and read it, I immediately felt the absence of the magic of David’s prior run. Thing is though that I feel as though I am very biased in my thoughts on this new series simply because I was so quickly captivated by the previous series that this one could not have not seemed lesser by comparison. Absent is Jamie Madrox and his supporting cast who had a chemistry, and well-defined personalities that had me invested almost immediately in that first issue that I eventually bought and now have framed in my living room.
Instead we have Polaris, Gambit and Quicksilver as employees of a mega-corporation who claim to help people. Much of the story is told from Gambit’s POV after being found by Polaris following a botched robbery of his. These three characters play nicely off each other in this issue even though we don’t get much time with them together before things wrap up with a not all too interesting cliffhanger (nefarious plot, people lurking in shadow, mad scientist, who cares?). Also an issue is that as a jumping on point for new readers unfamiliar with the past of these characters, and their intertwining histories, I can’t imagine them not being confused by all the references to events from the previous series.
I don’t expect nor want this series to try to be like the last, and I believe David is not trying to do that either. This seems like it’ll be a very different series- more global in scope and concerned with examining the influence of a worldwide corporation, and what it does once it acquires its own superteam. For this story to succeed though it’ll need some of the heart from David’s X-Factor Investigation days otherwise it may just become another of several X-Men titles that only diehards fans seek out.