X-Factor Vol. 2 1-4 (Complete Series)
Writer: Jeff Jensen
Artist: Arthur Ranson
Colors: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Paul Tutrone
I’m continuing to go through my collection of back issues in search of series I either never read or don’t remember very well. Much like with books, I’ve been known to sometimes buy comics at conventions or stores when they’re cheap and then forget to read them for several years. While one of my all time favorite comic series is Peter David’s X-Factor Vol. 3, I’ve actually never sat down and read the first two volumes before. Since Volume 1 is over 100 issues and Volume 2 is only four, I decided to continue working my backward and do the one I could read in a day.
X-Factor Volume 2 is one of those series that focuses on the normal people living in the superhero universe, much like Damage Control of Gotham Central. Here, it follows two special government agents on a dedicated mutant task force. Their duties seem to be in dealing with hate crimes against mutants, but the unofficial mission is more keeping tabs on extremists on both sides of the mutant agenda. The two agents are a white male who has lost the use of his hand (though is getting a new cybernetic one) due to an incident with a mutant, and an African-American female who recently had an infant daughter whose mutation activated causing her to burn herself to death in her crib. Needless to say, it’s not a laugh riot.
The four issues in the series tell fairly unconnected stories, with each issue focusing on a separate case that is fairly well resolved by the end. The first issue is the mystery of the murder of a man tied to the Hollywood sign with the word murder carved into him. The second issue follows a baseball player who is planning to reveal to the world that he is a mutant. The final two issues of the series focus more on the two agents finally beginning to trust one another and figure out who is pulling the strings on the anti-mutant agenda.
Throughout the series, the X-Men show up in brief cameos. Jean Grey sends a mind message; Wolverine makes a threat, Nightcrawler captures a criminal. If you’re here to read superheroes this isn’t the book for you. Unfortunately, I can’t say the lead protagonists were particularly memorable. The male in particular (I finished this series last night and I can’t recall either of their names) was bland, with his major character arc being the decision to be a more open-minded parent. Likewise, the antagonists are in the shadows for most of the series so there’s not a lot of memorable moments with those guys either.
The artwork by Arthur Ranson was also inconsistent. The bulk of the cast of characters are civilians in regular attire. The two main characters are always easy to tell apart, but the supporting cast often melted into a shadowy white dude melange. The superheroes that showed up don’t give me a better of idea of his ability, as Jean Grey and Wolverine were just OK, while Nightcrawler was fantastic.
I can’t decide if it’s just the Paul Mounts colors putting him over the top, or if Nightcrawler fits in better than the other heroes in the shadowy world of Ranson’s art.
My score indicates I didn’t enjoy this series, but really the series just felt very unnecessary and fairly forgettable. I can’t imagine ever revisiting this book or recommending it to somebody, unless they’re just a huge fan of Sam and Twitch and are looking for a Marvel Universe watered down analog.