All-New X-Factor #1 review

Never mind All-New X-Factor, Marvel should be calling this Brand-New X-Factor because it’s all about the brand. And that brand is Serval Industries, whose sponsorship message is on the cover and pervades the interior. You may have noticed the corporation’s logo lately in such books as Mighty Avengers, and here we find out what they’re all about. In the words of mutant mistress of magnetism Polaris (click on image to enlarge):

Lorna Dane needs a new gig after the closure of the X-Factor detective agency and she’s been recruited to lead a corporate superhero team. This issue she persuades errant X-Man Gambit to accompany her to Serval’s Virgina HQ for a meeting with CEO and president Harrison Snow, who asks him to consider signing up.

While Gambit has suspicions – ‘How do I know you’re not evil’ – he agrees to go on a mission, either out of curiosity, boredom, respect for Lorna or some combination of the three. Somewhat keener is the speedster Quicksilver, who’s shown up at Serval while Polaris was grabbing Remy LeBeau. Claiming to be concerned for half-sister Lorna, who most recently attacked him in a drunken haze, he’s ready to sign up. Pietro proves massively useful on a mission to rescue mutants being experimented on by one Dr Terrance Hoffman, a sortie which provides a cliffhanger which will mean more to students of mutant minutiae than it does me.

Gambit is our point of view character, as wary of corporations as the average comic book reader – in Marvel especially, the likes of Roxxon and Brand are fronts for nefarious activities. And it makes perfect sense, what with Remy being a thief, unlikely to take anyone at face value. It’s his compulsion to nick things that gets him into trouble with Wolverine at the start of this issue, in an amusing scene centred on Gambit’s attempts to steal an interdimensional portal thingie. The diminutive death dealer has problems with Remy’s own hobbies.

It’s fun to see Gambit chastised, and heartening to note that while he is, to put it kindly, a rogue, his responsibilities as an X-Man obviously mean more to him. How a new gig with Serval will fit in is anybody’s guess – mine is that Logan (‘I know everything’) has engineered his encounter with X-Factor to get a man on the inside, because you can bet he’s at least as suspicious as Gambit.

Pietro’s inclusion promises to make for fascinating dynamics. While he’s been on an X-Factor team with Lorna previously, she’s always been part of a couple with Havok. Now she’s more her own heroine, with time to get to know the semi-sibling she considers pretty much evil.

Other members are set to join the team – you may have spotted former New Mutants Doug Ramsey and Warlock on the cover. If you did, bloomin’ well done to you, because Warlock’s inimitable form is hidden by robes and that blond kid with the bug eyes could be anybody.

Ah yes, those weird eyepieces – what are they all about? Probably some communications and visual spectrum device, but they are awful. Lorna, especially, looks hideous, like a bad Marionette cosplayer. This is a woman who has worn two of the most striking costumes in comics, yet here she looks like a skier made over by the committee not good enough to design the elephant. Or perhaps she’s still inebriated. And Pietro is just as unlucky, with his traditional sleek, lightning bolt-emblazoned affair replaced by a blocky, eye-hurting nightmare. At least Gambit’s new look is disguised by his Linus-like addiction to that stinky old overcoat. Whatever their many specialisms, it’s apparent Serval aren’t known for good design.

Outfits apart, I enjoyed Carmine Di Giandomenico’s artwork, coloured by the talented Lee Loughridge, hugely. There’s lots of character to the body language and facial expressions, plenty of interesting background doings, and seamless storytelling. Standout moments include the aftermath of an unseen bar difference involving Gambit and the casual way longtime heroine Lorna deals with an oncoming missile.

Di Giandomenico, with his expressive line, is the perfect partner for David, whose script is typically sharp and sassy while never crossing over into the realm of irritatingly clever and self-conscious. That David makes me like the horribly conceived Gambit for an entire issue is akin to a miracle; I can’t wait to see what new character interaction will emerge once the entire team is onboard.

New characters Snow and public relations guru Linda Kwan (who looks to be sporting a false nose) seem like good folk, and I’ll be thrilled to bits if Serval doesn’t turn out to be evil, which may well be the case, although as this is David writing, he’s likely triple-bluffing us at least. Oddly, while I hate the X-Factor togs, I rather like the monogrammed suits Kwan, Snow and security chief Teddy wear – put the heroes in them!

A tip of the hat also to Marvel’s Manny Mederos, for a sophisticated production design that serves the story, interior letterer Cory Petit, and Kris Anka and Jared K Fletcher, who drew and lettered the cover respectively. It’s great work all round.

As opening chapters go, this is excellent – David introduces his characters one by one, doling out enough gobbets of information to give newer readers a leg up and reel veterans back in, while Di Giandomenico’s appealing art is a window on a refreshingly crossover-free corner of the Marvel Universe. Whether you can’t get enough mutants, or you’re fatigued by the ever-expanding exploits of the more popular X-kids, give this first issue a try. And if you don’t enjoy it, well, I’m sure the lovely people at Serval will arrange a refund. 

12 thoughts on “All-New X-Factor #1 review

  1. I have friends who say that due to the Eyptian symbol, Apocalypse is involved somehow. He could very well be, but it'll be interesting to see how this all plays out. I also agree on your assement of the cosutmes. They're horrible. I like the colors, just not the design.


  2. Apocalypse? Oh dear me how, no. He is such a bore, and so overused – plus I can never keep him and Mr Sinister straight. If we must have an Egyptian–themed villain, Dale, give me the Sphinx any day. At least he has a decent hat.


  3. I'll agree with you there Martin. Hell why can't they use him or even Monolith the Living Pharoah? He hasn't been around since what, the whole 12 storyline from the late 90's?


  4. Did someone mention my name?

    I've been reading X-Men comics for the first time in an age, so I thought I'd give this one a try, but I don't like Gambit, so making him the POV character was a swing and a miss for me. Then they committed Marvel cliche #1 by having Wolverine show up. I like Polaris, and I liked her here, but I guess I'm spoiled for X teams that have a strong female presence, so even if she is team leader, having her the only woman in the book other than an apparently naked victim who spends the entire comic being tortured to death drains what was left of the interest I had in it at page 1.

    And oh look, a corporate super team. Could the corporation backing them turn out to be bad guys like every other corporation that has ever appeared benign in a superhero comic ever? I find I am not engaged enough to care.


  5. I suspect the POV character will switch from issue to issue. Hope so, anyway. As for the lack of women, you didn't notice Linda Kwan? I can't see PAD having her there with no plan.

    Having said that, there really ought it be more women on the actual superhero team. Lorna and, I'm guessing, this Fatale person aren't enough.


  6. I actually really liked it. I was a regular reader of the previous X-Factor. So, I was very much looking forward to this. I agree that there is definitely more going on here than it seems. Peter David is known for a twist or two. I have always been neutral on Gambit but this issue actually made me like him lol kudos, Mr. David.


  7. Hello Coby, I shall take a look – obviously you see something I don't! To be honest, I've never heard of any Brit liking him, maybe it's a nationality thing. I tend to dislike all characters with phonetic accents. And raincoats in all weathers. And supposed charmers …


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