Staying in Vegas

Writer:  Peter David

Artist:  Emanuela Lupacchino

Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Price:  $2.99

Previously:  X-Factor was hired by a mysterious woman to track down an equally mysterious reprobate who had supposedly stolen an ornamental hammer-shaped pendant.  As it turned out, the mysterious woman was Hela, Norse goddess of the underworld, and the reprobate was that cosmic fun-lover, Pip the Troll, who was trying to escape back to Las Vegas, telling the detectives that their job was done.  Seeing Pip’s terror and feeling responsible, Madrox and company headed to Nevada to try and sort matters out.  Longshot then went on a massive winning streak throughout the city in hopes of catching her attention.  The good news is:  it worked. Bad news is:  it worked … and the team now find themselves under attack by undead Viking henchmen.

Peter David (Hulk, Fallen Angel) is one of my favorite writers and it had been a while since I checked in on X-Factor.  From beginning to end, X-Factor continues to be an entertaining and good read.  David brings a certain air of fun to comic book experience.  There’s a joy to the story telling and to the approach of the characters.  It’s obvious that he not only has a deep love for these characters, but he has a strong sense of them as individuals and has a firm handle on their journeys/arcs.  Not to mention that his trademark snappy banter still bubbles throughout the issue.

If the story seems to spin its narrative wheels it’s because the issue largely delivers what it promises:  if you put an all out battle between our heroes and Viking zombie warriors on your cover, then you better have some full splash page takeovers of our heroes vs. Viking zombie warriors.  And Emanuela Lupacchino’s art is beautiful and reason enough to pick up this book.

“I am the only God you should be swearing to.” – Hela

I couldn’t help but think that in the age of super heroes and immortals, it must be hard to believe in God or gods, even when confronted with them.  Supernatural beings become commonplace, people bear witness to the supernatural and the miraculous and it must do strange things to people’s faith.   Yet we continue to look for miracles. They are God’s calling cards. We believe that if only we could have some proof positive of God at work in our lives, in our world, then it would heal our faith and sooth our doubts. What we fail to take into account is that people can see the exact same things, the exact same set of circumstances and evidence, and come to very different conclusions … We can’t go through life solely seeking signs of the miraculous out in order to build our faith upon, nor should we deny them when we come across them.

We continue to look for miracles, to see some true sign of God’s presence in our reality. Miracles are God’s calling cards. We believe that if only we could have some proof positive of God at work in our lives, in our world, then it would heal our faith and sooth our doubts. If God burst in with full revelation, as He was often recorded doing in the Bible, I don’t think we could handle it. Look at those same stories in the Bible: after every miracle, it was like people embraced a type of amnesia. They either forgot what they just witnessed or became blasé with a “yeah, but what have you done for me lately?” attitude. We want a God we can control and understand, but by losing the idea of what it means to have a fear of the Lord, we end up trivializing God. God is God. Either way, an encounter with supernatural would rock our worldview to its foundation (and that’s even if you already believed in Him in the first place).

From beginning to end, this issue is packed with action.  If you’re a fan of Peter David’s witty banter, you will be taking a breather on this issue.  That’s is more than made up for with plenty of splash pages worth of art of our band of heroes vs, well, zombie Vikings.  Zombie.  Vikings.  No character is left stranded, each having something to do that contributes to the story, and you can feel the story building in momentum like a freight train.  Interestingly, David manages to jam so much into the action pages that you still may have to read the issue a second time to make sure you didn’t miss anything.