By Darryl Ayo
Discussion of superhero comics is a near-pointless endeavor, yet one which I am magnetically drawn to. One thing about superheroes that I like is that they have a generally wide reach. Another thing is that I never feel quite like I’m dumping on somebody’s personal heart-and-soul when I have a problem with a superhero comic. Discussion is much more open in this genre than in alternative/indie comics, because let’s face it: people aside from other comic creators read superhero comics.
X-Factor # 221: by Peter David and Dennis Calero. Marvel Comics, 2011.
This is a comic about my favorite comic character, who is an orange cat named Feral. Her current occupation is “dead” but for some reason, she’s back as a ghost.
I have to admit: of all of the convoluted ways to bring comic book characters back to life, this is one of the most inventive, simply because it’s one of the most obvious and direct story ideas. This character was so completely and thoroughly killed (warning: NSFW: Further warning: disturbing) that if a writer wanted to return her from the dead, that writer would have to reach past the usual “the bullet missed” loopholes. So yeah, Feral is back. As a ghost. It’s like living on probation. If she does what the dark gods want, maybe she can be alive for real. That’s a funny trick as far as I’m concerned.
So Shatterstar is helping pregnant-Wolfsbane get home and they’re getting trolled by a ghost who is also a portal to a spirit world filled with canine and feline deities. That makes all the sense that it needs to make and you can’t convince me otherwise. In general, X-Factor is a lot of things: neo-noir, pseudo-detective, supernatural, superhero, soap opera. In the scene excerpted above, we have a take on the classic taxi cab storytelling motif.
The thing that makes this comic work for me–also makes any given issue of X-Factor work–is that writer Peter David really excels at not creating anything. Instead what he does well is assemble pre-existing parts, motifs, histories and characters that nobody else is using and sew them together into something that reads as cohesive. Every one of the primary characters from this series is a “C-list” or even “D-list” character. This is not the comic to read if one is concerned with the interrelated events of the Marvel Comics shared-universe of characters. This is a comic to read if you kinda remember watching the X-Men cartoon on Fox in the 90s and maybe checking out Jim Lee’s X-Men trading card set.
Going back to my personal experiences with this particular issue. It came out about two weeks ago and it’s already beat to hell. I don’t know how much longer the cover is going to stay attached. This is a sign of well-read material. I am not telling anybody to go out and read this comic, unless you’re a fan of orange cat characters, but obviously I thought it was fun.