Review by Ian Keogh
After years of improbable ‘surprise’ returns from the dead, the technology on Krakoa now allows for mutants who die to be revived in cloned bodies. However, the deaths have to be verified before any resurrection to ensure there aren’t two people with the same identity, and that’s where X-Factor come in. Vol. 1 ended with the surprise death of Siryn, who fell from a great height despite being able to fly, and Leah Williams picks up with the X-Factor crew investigating her death, and then another death.
It’s cleverly handled, Williams pointing out how four of X-Factor’s members are living lie detectors as part of their skill sets, and along the way she also highlights the capabilities and limitations of what Eye Boy and later Daken and Northstar can do. All this occurs in a natural way rather than feeling like an information dump, and at the same time Williams progresses an intriguing mystery.
Almost every aspect of David Baldeón’s art is great. His layouts are imaginatively dynamic, his storytelling is first rate, he’s good with conveying emotional visually, and he really puts the work in for scenes such as Eye-Boy’s multiple viewpoints. However, he’s still not great with facial expressions, which are strangely compressed. David Messina and Lucas Werneck draw pages of the final chapter, one of them producing a very strange Polaris, but by and large they fit in with the decorative style of the Hellfire Gala event, and whoever designed the spectacular outfits deserves recognition.
The investigation of Siryn’s deaths occupies four chapters, and continually becomes more intriguing, Williams throwing in one great idea after another. The final chapter of that story is particularly audacious, contrasting two different worlds, mundane talk about dinner running alongside a deep psychic probe. The book’s final chapter is largely set at the Hellfire Gala, an event crossing into all mutant titles, but Williams uses it to present a deftly crafted set of character moments and wrap up a background mystery.
The first volume was good, and this is even better, yet despite the intricate character interactions, smart plot, and great art Williams and Baldeón’s X-Factor ends here. What a shame.