A beleaguered detective agency. A hot blonde who doesn’t fit in. An ill-advised love story. A bizarre cast of supporting characters. Celebrity cameos. Breaking the fourth wall. Snappy patter by the bucketload. I finally figured out why I like X-Factor so damn much: it’s Moonlighting. Moonlighting with superpowers. And a more reliable production schedule.
X-Factor #230 is the second part of a decompressed storyline and there’s next to no action in it… but I wholeheartedly recommend it anyway, even for new readers. Because it is just so much damn fun to read, and that’s saying something for an issue where the male lead is dead, the female lead is depressed into inaction, and the only fights-and-tights action happens in the in-house ads for Avengers Vs. X-Men.
To bring you up to speed (Although Amanda is perfectly capable of doing so… go ahead; I’ll wait), Madrox The Multiple Man is dead… although he appears to be alive and jumping through multiple alternative dimensions. But his team at X-Factor Investigations isn’t aware of that, mostly because the evidence all points to his being dead… that evidence being that they’ve got his body in a Frigidaire in the conference room. It’s a tragedy… because that means the office beer must be sitting on a desk getting warm somewhere.
Madrox’s partner, hot blonde Layla Miller, with whom Madrox shares significant sexual tension (Get it?), has the power to bring him back from the dead. She did the same for teammate Strong Guy (That’s his superhero name. You beginning to see why this book is awesome?)… although she won’t do it for Madrox because Strong Guy came back without a soul. Not so you’d notice; he doesn’t eat brains, and hasn’t sought a position in marketing or politics.
Yeah, there’s a cameo by Wolverine, and a tie-in with the aftermath of the recent X-Men: Schism event, but frankly: who gives a shit? Sure, the story is strong, but I don’t buy X-Factor on a monthly basis for the plotline any more than I watched Moonlighting for the whodunits. This book is about the dialogue, and this issue has better than most, actually. Here’s a taste:
RICTOR: Someone unexpected showed up at the front door.
RAHNE: Aw God…
RICTOR: You’ll never guess who.
RICTOR: Uhm… no.
SHATTERSTAR: Justin Bieber?
RICTOR: No, it’s not —
RICTOR: Holy crap…
RAHNE: How did ye know?
SHATTERSTAR: Well, he tends to be everywhere. Not as much as Justin Bieber, but still —
Now tell me you can’t replace ‘Shatterstar” with “David Addison” and “Wolverine” with, say, “Judd Nelson” (Gimme a break; Judd Nelson was the Wolverine of TV in the 80’s), and hear that same dialogue in the early, good seasons of Moonlighting. It is fun, entertaining and zippy dialogue, and it’ll keep a smile on your face as you read a comic book about superheroes where not a single punch is thrown.
The art by Emanuela Lupacchino is well-suited to a book like this, in the sense that the storytelling is clear and the facial expressions excellent. Look: this is a book where there is no action and there’s no call for big, gaudy splash pages (Except for a couple of big character reveals), and Lupacchino therefore eschews them in favor of well-paced panel design, camera movements and expressions appropriate to the conversations occuring therein. There are few pages that will make collectors drool in Artists’ Alley, but it serves the story well.
This book is a rareity in that it’s a part two of a for-the-trade storyline, there is no action, the plot barely seems to advance… and I think you should go out and buy it anyway. Yes, it is utterly counterintuitive to recommend a book guest-starring Wolverine that doesn’t contain the words, “Best”, “bub”, or “snikt”. But if you like good, smart, fun dialogue, you’re not gonna do better than X-Factor this week. Pick it up.