No, I’m not talking about a comic where Simon Cowell yells at bad singers and people throw glasses of water at him. I’m talking about Marvel‘s “X-Factor”, a comic series which has been rebooted in a bunch of different ways since the comic’s debut in 1986.
In a nutshell, the comics centre around a group of mutants who began as a team of five of the original X-Men, and later the series was relaunched into more of an X-Men spinoff, featuring a government organisation comprised of lesser-known mutants. Volume 3 included a team comprised primarily of Jamie Madrox, Strong Guy, Wolfsbane, Monet, Layla Miller, Rictor, Siryn and Shatterstar. As is the way with comics, X-Factor has a bit of a rocky history, being cancelled and rebooted a bunch of times, but the series hasn’t properly been around since 2013, when Volume 3 of its run ended with Issue #262 (There was an attempt at a reboot in 2014 with Marvel’s “All New X-Factor”, but it featured a different team of characters including Gambit, Polaris and Quicksilver as opposed to the Volume 3 team.)
X-Factor has always been one of my favourite comics, and I think now’s a better time than ever for the series to return. Here’s five reasons why I’d love to see the team back in one form or another, and why now is the perfect time for it:
1. It’s been a while…
Okay, so four years might not seem that long, but in comics terms, it’s forever. The Marvel Universe has changed a great deal in just four years, shaped by Marvel NOW! and events like Secret Wars and Original Sin, as well as that current unpleasant business with Hydra and their devious mind controlling. There’s a lot for a new book to sink its teeth into and explore, and there’s potential for a lot of interesting backstory where we see quite how the X-Factor team have been spending their time during Marvel’s big events of the past few years.
This gap also opens up a lot of potential for the writer(s). There’s a lot of information to fill in, and the writer(s) could explore topics such as the team splitting up, siding with different factions during Civil War II, and how they’ve been using (or not using) their mutant abilities since we last saw them. This gap is large enough for some characters to have changed dramatically since their last adventures together, and is also a great way to add new characters to the line-up, to switch up X-Factor’s roster a little. The lack of information about what the characters have been doing since 2013 is as much of a blessing as it is an annoyance, and leaves creators with a good deal of freedom in terms of a reboot.
2. That Logan reveal…
Fairly important SPOILER for Logan coming up here, so skip to #3 if you’ve yet to see the film and don’t want it spoiled!
So in Logan, we see a bunch of mutant kids, and one of them is revealed as Julio Richter, who is actually a member of X-Factor! Of course, he’s aged down a lot to fit the film (just as X-23 is), but his inclusion in the movie was a fun surprise that’s had a whole new group of Easter Egg-loving film nerds Googling to see quite who this Rictor guy is. Of course, the film plays around with his origin story a little bit (though they seem to have kept his seismic powers pretty much the same) but now seems like a better time than ever for Rictor and the team to make their return to comics. People know who Rictor is, and the film helped explain his mutant abilities to an audience who may have never heard of him, or even picked up a comic book before. Logan has been widely acclaimed as a great film, and its definitive ending has left the door open for new mutants (haha) to step in to fill Wolverine’s boots.
3. X-Factor is, well, fun
In my opinion, X-Factor is at its best when it’s fun, and the series has always been peppered with a good amount of humour and melodrama, particularly in its third volume. A lot of this comes from Shatterstar, who has been likened to Torchwood/Doctor Who’s Captain Jack Harkness by Marvel writer Peter David, who wrote for most of X-Factor’s third volume. He’s loud, sometimes melodramatic, and doesn’t always understand humans and human relationships. (Shatterstar that is, not Peter David.) This gives him the series the potential for some fantastic comedy-of-errors style moments, as well as the potential for Shatterstar to get into a lot of trouble with the wrong people.
Thinking more widely, X-Factor in its third volume was basically a detective agency (it was known as “X-Factor Investigations”) which gave it a great deal of potential for comedic situations as new (and, often, strange) clients turned up on their doorstep. The comedy was also heightened by the serious premise–being a detective agency also meant the team dealt with more serious topics like hatred against mutants, aggressive crimes/assault and even murder and death. The interplay of comedy and drama in the series was a fine balance which, at its best, had you both laughing and crying at the same issue.
4. There’s lots of potential for growth, development and diversity
Being an ensemble comic means that X-Factor has lots of room to explore the lives of a diverse set of characters. Sometimes single-character led comics can cross the line from introspective to brooding when we’re stuck with the life and thoughts of just one character for a thousand issues, but X-Factor has enough characters that you can switch between POVs when things start to feel a little stale with one character’s perspective. It’s a good way to keep the series fresh when you’re dealing with a lengthier arc or event, so that the reader doesn’t tire of the same kind of dialogue and actions from one central character.
The team’s also made up of a fairly canonically diverse set of mutants: you’ve got both male and female characters, as well as LGBT+ relationships portrayed in the form of Shatterstar and Rictor. I’d also love to see the team add some non-white characters too, if it were brought back.
5. It would bring back readers who are bored of Marvel’s “edgy” content
As previously stated, X-Factor is at its best when it’s fun. Whilst not completely devoid of all comedic subject matter, a lot of Marvel’s current titles are alienating readers who don’t want everything to be completely serious within their comics. Of course, you have exceptions to this rule in the form of comics such as The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Hellcat!, Gwenpool and more, but Marvel’s main events have always been serious and dark, created to feel weighty and heavily consequential in terms of changing the Marvel Universe forever. Again. X-Factor balanced comedy and drama perfectly, and would also serve as the perfect bridge between Marvel’s more serious titles and its more comedic ones, with the characters of X-Factor fitting well into both worlds, and being able to share their perspectives on Magneto working for Hydra as well as they could, say, grab a frappuccino with Deadpool the Duck.
I hope that these five points have given you a taste of why I feel like we need X-Factor to return in one way or another. I’ve also done my best not to get overly bogged down with character/plot details here, in the hopes that you might be tempted enough to go and check out X-Factor for yourself if you haven’t already. There are a lot of issues to get stuck into, and the majority of them have been collected into trade paperbacks to make it even easier for you to get started! You don’t have to hunt down those 262 individual issues of the third volume unless, like me, you are insane.
Do you have a favourite series/character you’d love to see Marvel bring back? Let us know in the comments below!