I have recently hopped back aboard the X-Factor train and I seriously wonder what I was thinking getting off.
For seven years (or more if you go back to his 1990s run) or so, Peter David has been crafting an excellent corner of the X-market here in the pattern of Marv Wolfman's Tomb of Dracula or Chris Claremont’s initial X-Men: a continuous story in an isolated book just on the fringes of the Marvel U. with characters developing, dying, aging, and doing that things that people do.
Anyway, I am back and just in time to see the team of detectives undergo a major change in the next five issues. But I digress --.
X-Factor #240 (love that return to the original numbering) is a tight and tense thriller in the mold of the film Run, Lola, Run in which Layla Miller and her now-scrambled senses of what is, what shall be and what should be take a nightmarish journey into the Twilight Zone. She has 22 minutes to get across town to save a young girl’s life. The irony of this saving – if save her she can – does not really become apparent until the final page, and we learn how much this personal sacrifice will mean to Layla in the coming years.
To start with is the amazing cover by David Yardin which describes the urgency and the mixed emotions of Layla as she runs through a city caught in blackout and gridlock to save the woman who will some day save her tomorrows. Brilliant!
David has such a way of breathing life into these characters, and in this drama we also see a portion of Guido’s date with Monet. We are given alternate ways that may or may not have turned out and, having seen the cover of #241, I have a certain fear I may know.
David’s main message as I read it in “Run, Layla, Run” is to tell us that even though we may be able to see the path most taken and road less traveled, we really make our own destinies – and that is what Layla Miller does here. The road to save the girl is not as she saw it, so she creates a destiny unseen and by so doing accomplishes the same thing.
Neil Edwards’ panel arrangements and competent art keep the drama taught and the sense of urgency intact in David’s script. Of extreme help are the differing versions of the path Layla is on, and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg does a brilliant job in keeping these panels separate but distinguishable. And believe me, it truly does make difference in the way the story is read.
While all the hoopla of AvX ongoing, I love this consistently challenging corner of the Marvel U. where those great side characters created by Claremont, Louise Simonson and others come together in a noir world to solve mysteries of the superhuman kind. This is a most excellent read.
Thanks, PAD, for hanging in there until my return. Onward!