Writer: Peter David
Artist: Ryan Sook
Publisher: Marvel Comics

There must be some unwritten law that says Peter David ought to get two shots at a book. Yes, I’m a bit of a Peter David fanboy. Yes, that’s why I reviewed his return to The Incredible Hulk, his return to Fallen Angel, and now his return to X-Factor. I was a fan of his original run on X-Factor, as he actually put an interesting spin on a team that basically served as yet another directionless re-hash of the X-Men. True to his history, he was prematurely yanked off the book as the powers that be decided it ought to go in a different direction.

And everyone lost interest.

But I digress.

Fresh on the heels of the Madrox mini-series, the new team line up features Madrox the Multiple man, as a kind of throwback to film noir, gumshoe detective. I have always Peter David’s take on Madrox, brilliant. Madrox was a pretty silly secondary character, but has now one of the most intriguing in the Marvel universe. His power is that he can split himself into multiple bodies, potentially creating an endless supply of Madroxes. The hook is that each body can have its own experiences, memories, and personality (or, on the flipside, are merely facets of Jamie Madrox’s personality to begin with). He gets to lead multiple lives, then reintegrate the bodies after a time and assimilate their memories and experiences.

Wolfsbane is still devoutly Catholic, though she remains devoted to God without shoving religion down peoples’ throats. Strong Guy, a recently de-powered Rictor, the ever better-than-thou M, and potential love interest Siryn round out the team. Not everything is pitch perfect in the book. I am not a fan of David’s take on M, who comes across a little too shrill in the book.

“I’m the fly in the ointment. The spanner in the works. I’m unpredictable.” –Jamie Madrox, the (evil) Multiple Man

Life equals mystery. There’s no getting around it. Life is an X-Factor, we are besieged by X-Factors. Despite the Sam Spade redux trappings, Jamie Madrox is a man on a journey who simply has the opportunity to try all paths simultaneously. He doesn’t have a crossroads to speak of because at any given fork in the road, he can take both paths. While he has placed himself in a context of solving mysteries, the fact of the matter is that mystery is very much a part of his walk. One that he’s embraced as part of his journey. While answers are nice, it is the journey that forms us – the continual quest for truth.

You have to wonder how many times Marvel is going to go the mutant book well. With his trademark humor, despite the darker tone of the book, Peter David deftly juggles a cast of characters easily making X-Factor–along with The Astonishing X-Men–the best X-books going. If Peter David’s trend of continuing his repeat runs on books he departed, I can only hope a return to Aquaman isn’t impossible.