Since debuting in 2005, X-Factor has been a model of consistency in Marvel’s frequently shifting X-Men line. Not only has every issue — 67 in total, counting the renumbering at issue #200 — been written by Peter David, but it’s also stuck to the same main cast, centered by Multiple Man/private investigator, Jamie Madrox.
Recently, the comic has interacted more with the greater Marvel Universe, with a recent arc seeing Thor show up when the team was in Vegas, and the current storyline, which started with this week’s issue #216 (preview here), guest-starring Spider-Man, Black Cat and J. Jonah Jameson. Plus, Darwin left the team and had a bizarre old west adventure, Monet had an ominous encounter with a mysterious woman, and Rictor and Shatterstar have seen tension develop in their relationship due to the return of a now-very-pregnant Rahne Sinclair.
Newsarama talked with David about returning to writing Spider-Man — a character he's worked with before in stories such as 1985's much-revered "The Death of Jean DeWolff" — the decision to bring Pip the Troll into the book, when we might see Darwin again, and when we should ready the cigars for Rahne's big day.
Newsarama: Peter, after the done-in-one story in #215, we're back with a multi-part arc in #216, featuring Spider-Man, Black Cat and J. Jonah Jameson. Thor was also in the book recently — is it fair to say that these guest spots are a deliberate effort to get X-Factor more involved with the MU as a whole?
Peter David: Yes, it's definitely fair to say that. Originally XF's mission statement was to cater to the concerns of the MU's mutants, particularly in Mutant Town. But with the advent of M-Day and the coming of Utopia, that became largely moot. So now the team has moved on to what they feel is a true realization of Xavier's dream: That mutants are peacefully co-existing with humans. The best way to do that is for the team to specialize in cases that stem from the needs of the various denizens of the Marvel Universe.
Nrama: And this story also means your return to writing Spider-Man, a character you have a long history with. What's it like returning to Spidey — and has your take on the character changed at all since the last time he was in one of your comics?
David: Not really. Spidey is Spidey. He may go through various changes in status quo, but at core, he's still your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. In this instance, he happened to be swinging through X-Factor's neighborhood.
Nrama: Based on the solicitations, it seems that Black Cat is even more important to this story than Spider-Man — what do you like about that character, and why is she a good match for the title?
David: Actually using Felicia stemmed from the nature of the story. Jonah Jameson is consulting with X-Factor over a series of events that would normally fall under Felicia's purview, and Felicia can get rather territorial with these things. So she winds up being drawn into the middle of it.
Nrama: Also, based on the preview of #216 released online, it looks like this arc may have to do with the mysterious woman Monet had an encounter with a few issues back?
David: Yes, that's exactly right.
Nrama: Got a few character-specific questions — issues #213 and #214 were heavily Darwin-centric, and though he's left the team, it's clear his story's a long way from being over. Can readers expect to check-in with him regularly, or might it be a while before we see him again following the events of #214?
David: He's going to be showing up sometime after #220.
Nrama: Though Darwin has left the team for the time being, it looks like Pip the Troll is here for a while. At face, he seems like an unconventional choice to stick around the team beyond the Hela arc — what motivated you to bring Pip to X-Factor?
David: I've always liked him, he wasn't really doing anything else at the moment, and I thought he had a good New York feel.
Nrama: Rahne — she's been pregnant for a while and mentioned at the end of #213 that gestation period would be a short one. Given that, should we expect to see the blessed (?) event sometime in the (very?) near future?
David: Her pregnancy is also going to be addressed right around #220...the same time that Darwin is coming back. Coincidence? Not at all.
Nrama: And on that line of questioning, one thing that always sticks out to me about X-Factor is how much it's stuck to its core cast, which I think makes it pretty unique. Everyone from the first incarnation of the comic (the Madrox miniseries) is still around years later; so are the characters added when it became the X-Factor ongoing. A few have been added, some have rotated in and out and Rahne was out of the book for a good while, but for the most part the cast has stayed much more constant than a typical mainstream superhero team comic, where frequent upheaval is the norm. How important is that consistency in this comic?
David: If the readers aren't invested in the characters, then nothing else matters. "X-Men" is about the X-Men, and the make-up of the team can constantly shift. But X-Factor is really about these particular people, and the consistency is extremely important.