Wednesday, January 16, 2013

If you're here, who's flying the plane? - "X-Factor" Vol 1 "The Longest Night"

This is the first in a series exploring "X-Factor," an ongoing comic series from Marvel Comics by Peter David and a variety of artists. If this is your first visit, you can read more about what "Simian Spanners" is here. This installment covers the first trade paperback, "The Longest Night" (also available digitally for instant gratification); if you haven't read it, this may not make much sense. Annotations of the comic to help new readers are available in a separate post.

We open with Rictor out on the proverbial ledge. For reasons he doesn't understand (and we know had nothing to do with him), his mutant power, a key piece of identity, is gone. If something so central to him can vanish without a trace and without a reason, how can he expect to control anything in his life? Going over that ledge may seem to him like the only thing he can control.

Annotating "X-Factor" Vol 1 "The Longest Night"

This is the first in a series annotating "X-Factor," an ongoing comic series from Marvel Comics by Peter David and a variety of artists. If this is your first visit, you can read more about what "Simian Spanners" is here. This installment covers the first trade paperback, "The Longest Night" (also available digitally for instant gratification); if you aren't reading along, this may not make much sense. An essay exploring the themes of the comic is available in a separate post.

Issue #1 "X-pect the Un X-pected..."
page 1, panel A

Meet your new best friends!
Previously in the MU: OK, let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. "X-Factor" is about people born with extra abilities (called mutants) who open a detective agency. They live in the Marvel Comics universe, same universe as Spider-Man, the Avengers and the Fantastic Four; most of them used to be X-Men in some fashion.

Once upon a time (1963), there were a handful of mutants in this universe. Regular people were often scared of these (often) normal-seeming beings with god-like powers, and so mutants were often targets of personal and institutional discrimination. This has allowed them to be metaphors for any number of minority groups, from African Americans (much comparing and contrasting has been done between the ideologies of mutant factions and Dr. Martin Luther King's and Malcolm X's approaches to civil rights and integration) to homosexuals (when AIDS first emerged, mutants started dying from the Legacy Virus) to comic book fans. Add the fact that their extra powers manifested at puberty and its not hard to understand why they appeal to young people who feel marginalized and whose bodies are changing in weird and exciting ways.