Comic Review – “X-Factor Vol. 1”

Here’s a comic review with nothing at all to do with Marvel’s Civil War.

General Information

Title: Essential X-Factor Vol. 1
Credited to: Roger Stern, John Byrne, Bob Layton, Louise Simonson, Walter Simonson, John Buscema, Jackson Guice, Keith Pollard, Marc Silvestri, Terry Shoemaker, Sal Buscema, Jon Bogdanove, and David Mazzucchelli
Original Publication Date: This collection of comics from 1986 and 1987 was originally published in early 2006.
ISBN: 0-7851-1886-1
Cover Price: $16.99 US, $27.75 Canadian
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Past comic reviews can be found here.


The original X-Men are either dead or retired. Professor X is missing, and the current X-Men are being led by Magneto. Anti-mutant hysteria is rising. Amidst all of this, the Avengers and the Fantastic Four find Jean Grey, alive and well, encased in a coccoon at the bottom of the ocean. This event leads the original X-Men to band together and form X-Factor. Publically, X-Factor is a group of mutant hunters. Privately, they find and train mutants, just as Xavier did with them.

High Point

Issue 15 was the best of the set, with some major changes for the Angel.

Low Point

I’ve got to go with the Power Pack cross-over. I’ve never been a fan of the group, but when that issue (published long before Whedon’s work on Astonishing X-Men) includes a scene where Cyclops lifts his visor to get a clear look at the kid he’s holding onto and comforting, you’ve just got a blatant failure of the creative parties involved to do the proper research and maintain proper editing standards.

The Scores

This is original in several ways. True, it’s the original team, but it doesn’t feel anything like those early issues of the team. It’s not an attempt to recapture past glory, but a chance to go somewhere new with great characters that weren’t in use at the time. I give it 5 out of 6.

The art is mixed, partly due to the variety of art teams, and partly due to the poor reproduction of some of these issues. While it’s always possible to follow the action, sometimes that takes effort. Reproduction issues aside, there’s also an abundance of the really angular artwork that Marvel sometimes used in the 1980s. I give it 3 out of 6.

The story is where this excels. The plots are character driven, and they had actual, real long-term implications. This was Jean Grey’s first resurrection, Beast’s reversion to his less hairy form, and the first steps towards Angel’s transformation into Archangel. This also features appearances of Cable before anyone even knew who he was. I give it 5 out of 6.

The characterization is very strong, with the characters driving every story and every decision. Even the runaways and mutants they take in are well defined. I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response was strong, with interesting and engaging plots in a non-standard superhero format. I’m definitely on board when the as-yet-unsolicited volume two comes out in early 2007. I give it 5 out of 6.

The flow works fairly well, with a nicely serialized story running through the book, complete with cross-over issues. The jarring shifts in artists are the only real detriment here. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a strong collection, highly recommended to those interested in the Marvel mutant family. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Essential X-Factor Vol. 1 receives 34 out of 42.

One reply

  1. On The Art
    It’s not just the current reproduction – at least the original issues (all of which I have) of X-Factor with art by Jackson Guice really didn’t look great at the time. There was something about Guice’s penciling that just didn’t stand up to the printing process. You could see something good there but it looked "odd." The same thing happened with Guice’s work on the first issues of the relaunched [Wally West] Flash series. It was almost like his pencils were too light at times to be picked up once the inking, coloring and printing were done.

    X-Factor was a good series, all in wall. I particularly liked Walt Simonson’s art on the series (is this the "angular" stuff you meant?). It had a particularly dark theme from the start since the heroes were doing something they really didn’t want to do ("hunting" mutants), and the subsequent stories almost seemed to punish them for doing so. As a kid, it was a little hard to get into but upon rereading the series since growing up a bit more I was able to appreciate the dark direction they took.

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