X-Factor #6 Review
It’s interesting to see a comic whose look is so wrapped up in the work of an artist that is no longer on the book. This is not exactly uncommon, as even today, Frank Miller’s visual mark on Daredevil is still being felt, and heck, over thirty years since he last drew the book regularly, Jack Kirby’s presence is still felt on the way artists draw the Fantastic Four. I guess it just surprises me a bit more on this book, because Ryan Sook only did, what, two and a half issues of X-Factor? Yet his view of the characters it the dominant one in the artwork of Dennis Calero, and I really wonder if that will be the case for future issues of X-Factor.
Speaking of the art, Ryan Sook is a really remarkable artist. What Sook managed to do was to create these shadowy figures that still maintained a deep resonance in humanity, but never allowed the realistic artwork to interfere with his storytelling. Calero manages to duplicate the first aspect of Sook’s work, but it really is Sook’s ability to do BOTH that causes him to become such a great artist, and that’s where Calero has a problem. He is quite good at drawing his characters, making them appear comic book-y AND human, but he is not very good at then making these characters DO things. It comes off sorta like stiff – herky jerky movements, not natural ones (this is especially evident with the Madrox scene in the park – Calero clearly spent a lot of time on all of Madrox’s faces, but doesn’t appear to make the faces all work with the body movements). However, I still enjoyed his artwork. It’s no Ryan Sook, but that is not an insult by any stretch of the imagination. I really don’t like how huge Wolfsbane’s head is, but that’s not Calero’s call, I believe Sook drew it like that, too. It’s really creepy. This skinny body and this HUGE wolf head. I don’t get it.
Peter David is an old hand at writing ongoing titles, at the trick of making an issue continue a story while still standing on its own merits. In fact, he is so good at it, it really makes the “recap” page superfluous, especially as David does not appear to write the book any differently than a book without a recap page, which was, if I recall, one of the reasons for HAVING a recap page (According to Mark Waid, he would often use up about a page’s worth of panels just catching the reader up). Not a big deal, though, as the exposition does not get in the way of the issue’s story, which is a good one.
The X-Factor team is worried about their team member, Layla Miller, especially her weird “chaos theory” power (something David has used already with a super villain in the past – one cool point for the character David did the “chaos theory” power with before). Meanwhile, we learn some more about Layla, and her messed up problems, but, like a good writer, David makes sure that even as one aspect of her story is resolved, a separate aspect of her character is left UNresolved.
The key to this book is the interactions between the characters, and the dialogue is strong and believable. Whether it is an orphanage director cutting through red tape, or if it’s the team threatening a rival – it all works well. All combined, this is enough that I would recommend this issue without reservation (unless “Wolfsbane’s head is too big” counts as a reservation).