The current version of X-Factor has roots dating back to 2004 — or 1991, depending on how you look at it — but new readers are still welcome to come on board.
X-Factor #224.1 debuts this week (preview here), and is part of Marvel's "Point One" initiative of presenting single-issue stories designed to be accessible for new and lapsed readers. And the book isn't taking a breath after that, with the death of a team member billed for November's issue #227, and upcoming interactions with the rest of the X-Men world, which looks to be profoundly affected by the X-Men: Schism conflict between Cyclops and Wolverine.
Thanks to Marvel's teaser campaign, readers know that X-Factor is siding with Wolverine, and that as of January's issue #230 they'll be joined by at least one surprising new member: Havok, the younger brother of Cyclops who was at the center of the 1990s team during writer Peter David's original run on the title, and is currently in far-off space as seen in X-Men: Legacy.
Newsarama consulted David over email about his approach in writing the Point One issue, Havok's return to the book, reuniting with his long-time Supergirl collaborator Leonard Kirk and what the return of Rictor's earth-shaking powers may mean to the series.
Newsarama: Peter, I think one of the central appeals about X-Factor is the consistency in that you've been writing the current incarnation for a while now — since the Madrox miniseries in 2004, essentially — and that there are always several slow-burning plot threads running through the title. So given that the book has cultivated a fanbase of loyal, long-time readers, did you have to change your approach much when writing the Point One issue, which is designed to be new reader friendly?
Peter David: Not at all. The most effective way to do a reader-friendly, jumping-on issue is to introduce someone into the narrative who is utterly unfamiliar with the team, which then puts some of our heroes (in this case, Madrox and Layla) in an organic situation where they have to explain who they are and what the team's all about.
In this case, what I came up with was that Madrox, with Layla in tow, goes to visit the farm where he spent his youth. There he encounters a mother and her son who are now living there, holding a shotgun on them, demanding to know who these trespassers are. Once Madrox smooths over the initial understanding, he sits down with her and tells her all about the team. Meanwhile we keep cross-cutting to the rest of the team on a mission. So we've got Madrox describing who each of them are while simultaneously showing them in action. Furthermore, by the end of the Point One issue, we actually introduce an unexpected development that sets events into motion for the next half dozen or so issues.
Nrama: The Point One issues are not only aimed to be jumping-on points, they're also one-in-done, single issue stories. Given that some long-running plot lines like Rahne's pregnancy have recently come to a head and X-Men: Schism is affecting the title in the future, was it refreshing to write a self-contained issue of the series?
David: Actually I've written several done-in-one issues. The one off with Darwin; the one where Madrox and Layla battle a vampire. I generally try to write a one-off at the end of every major arc, just to provide a breather between them. I probably would have written a done-in-one at this point in the series anyway; this just provides me with an opportunity to make the done-in-one a marketing event.
Nrama: Looking just a bit further into the future, Leonard Kirk's first issue of the series is this month's #225. What's it been like reuniting with him? Was it pretty much like picking up where you left off?
David: I've been blessed with the chance to work with a variety of talented artists on the series. Leonard is the latest, but he's the first I have a really extended background with. As far as I'm concerned, he's the go-to guy of storytelling. Years ago when I had to do a silent issue of Captain Marvel I told the editor we needed to get Leonard for it since, as far as I was concerned, he was one of the few whose storytelling was rock-solid enough to make the story work (which he did). I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to work with him again.
Nrama: Speaking of #225 — you said at Comic-Con that readers will see the return of Rictor's powers, as seen in Avengers: The Children's Crusade, reflected around that time. How big of an impact will that have on the book going forward?
David: It will have a considerable impact, yes, particularly on Rictor and Shatterstar's relationship. Star is going to wonder whether Rictor hooked up with him simply because, between being abandoned by Rahne and losing his powers, Rictor felt vulnerable. Except Rahne returned and now his powers are back and Shatterstar, who's more or less been the dominant one in the relationship, is going to start feeling uncertain and even vulnerable.
Nrama: Looking even further into the future, we know that X-Factor is going to be tying in with Schism and "Regenesis" as of issue #230 in January. So while the book has interacted more with the Marvel Universe as a whole in recent months (as seen by Thor, Spider-Man, Black Cat and others all showing up), can we assume that, beyond the marketing teasers, we'll see a closer association between X-Factor and the rest of the X-books going forward?
David: I think that's fair to say. Schism is a natural fit to impact on the team because Madrox was taking issue months ago with the way Scott was running things: the separation between mutants and humanity; the perpetual siege mentality. Now that there are major developments in the status quo, it makes sense that X-Factor would get involved with some of the blowback.
Nrama: And though it's obviously too far away to get into specifics, the aforementioned teaser has revealed that Havok will be coming to the book. Without getting into any of the details, how excited are you to be back working with the character? Was it something you had planned on for a while, or did it organically manifest itself while planning the fallout of Schism?
David: Actually it was a suggestion from editorial, from the office of Daniel and Jordan. They said that Havok was in play and would I be interested in bringing him into X-Factor. The timing of it was ideal; it fit perfectly with other developments in the series. So I jumped at the opportunity.