Wednesday, February 25, 2009

X-Factor #40

Overall- This issue picks up 1 month after the horrible events that occurred last issue(if you want to know what I'm talking about, click here). We begin by being reintroduced to John Maddox, a duplicate of Jamie, who wound up becoming an episcopal priest, getting married and having a son. John is asked to enter a convenience store by the police because a teenage member of his congregation was holding his girlfriend and the store clerk at gunpoint, and was demanding to speak with John.

John tries to reason with the gunman, but seemingly to no avail. Before anything can happen though, a very disheveled Jamie Madrox strolls down one of the aisles of the store, telling the gunman he might as well shoot the two hostages and then himself, because quite frankly, nobody cares what the gunman does. Jamie then pulls out a gun of his own and shoots a watermelon, describing to the gunman, graphically, just what a gunshot wound would do to someone. Jamie's words, and the image of the shattered watermelon actually makes the gunman physically ill, and after retching, he surrenders to the cops. Jamie disappears soon thereafter.

John returns home and is greeted by his worried wife and son, who saw the situation unfold on the news. John decides to give his thanks to the Lord, and heads to church, where he is met by Jamie. Jamie reveals the train wreck his life has become to John and tells John that he fully intends to kill himself. John, being a priest and all, tries to comfort Jamie, but Jamie is pretty set on his decision. Jamie also tells John that John's son couldn't possibly be his due to what happened to Jamie and Theresa baby last issue(I'm telling you, you REALLY should read that last issue!), and John tells Jamie that he always knew the boy wasn't his, and that it was a situation him and his wife dealt with years ago.

From here, Jamie's mental state begins to deteriorate, as he begins to quote Hamlet, before producing the gun from earlier. Jamie tells John to get in touch with X-Factor and tell them he's sorry for everything. John tries to take the gun away, but Jamie snaps some kind of knockout gas under John's nose, causing him to pass out. Jamie puts the gun to his head, but before he can pull the trigger, a nun walks into the church. The nun tells Jamie that she knows that he won't shoot himself, which annoys Jamie, who asks the nun how she could possibly know what he plans on doing. The nun pulls the habit off her head and reveals a grown up Layla Miller(!), who says, simply, "I know stuff."

Wow, Peter David is really doing his best work in this comic since his work on Captain Marvel... This issue was AWESOME!!! The way Peter reincorporated John into this story was perfect, not only that, but he actually explained HOW John had a son. Once I saw John appear on the first page of this comic, I was baffled as to why he managed to have a child, while Jamie couldn't. Not many writers would bother to tie up a small loose end like that, but Peter David isn't like most writers. It's fair to say that currently, Ed Brubaker and/or Geoff Johns are my two favorite writers, but, my all-time favorite comic book writer is easily Peter David. I've never read a series written by Peter where I could say I just didn't like it. Every series he writes is consistently good. Some of his comics are great(like this one), while some aren't that hot, but overall, Peter is the most consistently good writer in comics, period.

And the dialogue! The dialogue was inspired! The conversation between the pious John Maddox and the suicidal Jamie was perfectly done. The scene in the church where John gets down on his knees to thank his creator(God)for the fact that no one was injured in the convenience store, to which Jamie, who considers himself John's "creator" responds with a snarky, "Don't mention it." was both hilarious and kind of sad at the same time. Then there was the part where John says to the disheveled, unshaven Jamie, "I hardly recognized you.", to which Jamie responds, "Who else wears this shirt?". The dialogue in this comic was an incredible mixture of funny and melancholy at the same time. Not many comic book writers could pull off both of those emotions in the same comic, let alone at times in the same scene!

Peter's writing was absolutely dead on the entire comic book. Honestly, this comic book was practically perfect, from the overall story, to the inspired dialogue, to Valentine De Landro's pencils. However, and this may sound callous, the only way this comic should have ended was with Jamie blowing his brains out. Don't get me wrong, I love Jamie, I've loved him since the X-Factor series from the 1990's, but with the way this comic unfolded, Jamie's death was the only logical conclusion. The return of the grown up Layla Miller was a welcome surprise, since Layla's fate was one of the many things Jamie was beating himself up over. I'd imagine that now that Jamie has hit rock bottom, he'll begin to pull himself back together with the help of Layla.

Of course, even if Layla gets through to Jamie, and he pulls himself out of his funk, it will be interesting to see what Peter does concerning Jamie's relationship with X-Factor in general and Theresa in particular. The past two issues of X-Factor have been among the best comic books I've read over the course of the last two months, hands down. For a score, I'm going to give this issue the same score I gave issue #39 last month, a 10 out of 10. Oh, and I REALLY got a kick out of the part of this comic where Jamie began to spout lines from Hamlet! Seeing as that I just finished reading Hamlet for my Lit class a few days ago, I personally got a huge kick out of that!

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