Review: X-Factor #262
It is with a heavy but triumphant heart that I begin this review of the final issue of X-Factor. Though really, this is more than just a review, this is also a farewell, saying a final goodbye to my favorite comic book series of the past eight years, and goodbye to my favorite comic book character – Multiple Man – who is given a send-off in grand style by writer Peter David. Don’t worry, comic book friends, I will spoil that Jamie Madrox does not die at the end of his series. Nor does he go off into that sweet limbo stuck in demon form, as I had so feared. Instead, Peter David goes out with class, and sends Madrox off into the sunset. Fine show.
It’s my 30th birthday tomorrow, and I have yet to decide if the final issue of X-Factor coming out in the same week is simple coincidence or a harsh sign of growing up.
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I have been luke warm about these final issues so far. Some of them were good, like Wolfbane’s, providing a solid, touching goodbye for the character. Others, like Polaris’ and Monet’s aren’t really endings at all. Some of them have explored the character’s time with X-Factor in meaningful ways. Others were just spontaneous adventures. In the end, I suppose I liked them all, the same way I’ve always liked X-Factor, even when it wasn’t very good. My favorite chapter of The End of X-Factor arc would have to be this issue, saying goodbye to Madrox and his wife Layla Miller. PAD ties up a few loose ends and teases his next upcoming project, but he doesn’t do anything too drastic or crazy. We don’t find out the secret of Multiple Man’s powers, nor does Layla ‘know’ one final, insane thing.
Instead, PAD spends some time with Layla and the Demon Madrox, putting their situation into perspective and finding a fun, clever way to resolve it. There was at least one surprise in this issue that I did not see coming, and it made me smile. As did the ending. I liked this issue for its heart and its love of character. This isn’t a big, raucous goodbye or a massive superhero fight to the death. Instead, it’s a quiet, classy bow out, and I definitely approve.
Join me after the jump for a full synopsis and a glorious goodbye to X-Factor.
We open in Kansas, on the old Madrox family farm, where Layla Miller sits alone on the floor in the kitchen. She still knows stuff, but too much has changed, and nothing she knows is coming true like it’s supposed to anymore. For example, she wasn’t supposed to get pregnant for another two years.
Fortunately – or not – Layla isn’t alone for long. Suddenly, the ghostly visage of Damian Tryp steps into the room, congratulating her on the baby. Layla tells him that she isn’t in the mood to deal with him, and Tryp tells her that is fine, because he won’t be around for much longer anyway. Apparently an alternate dimension version of Tryp has appeared in the far future and is trying to erase him from existence. It’s a little complicated, and quite possibly connected to whatever PAD writes next, but it’s a nice little scene tying off Tryp. He’s been an odd sort of villain, and now he’s gone.
Though not before twisting the screws a bit more. Tryp tells Layla that his people have called the cops on her, because she’s clearly squatting on the Madrox farmstead, and she’s got a demon in the basement. The cops would love to know about that. Tryp damns Layla before disappearing, and she tells him she was never his enemy.
During the encounter, Layla made a peanut butter sandwich, then threw it at Tryp when he pissed her off. Now that he’s gone, she picks up the sandwich and laments that Jamie probably won’t care that it’s been on the floor. She carries the sandwich out of the house to the barn, where she’s got Demon Madrox chained up in the basement.
Demon Madrox tries to attack Layla, but the chains hold him back. Layla kneels on the floor and buries her face in her hands, saddened by everything that has happened. Madrox is no longer the man she married, no longer the superhero who founded X-Factor. He’s a monster, and maybe he should be locked up. Maybe she should just abandon him…
Which is about when Demon Madrox breaks the chain and leaps at Layla from the cellar. He pounces on her and pushes her down to the floor, but before he can do anything, Layla starts shouting that she’s pregnant. Somehow, Demon Madrox seems to understand, and he climbs off of her. He gives her a look, then voluntarily climbs back into the cellar. Layla is a little encouraged, but then she hears the police sirens in the background. Tryp wasn’t kidding: he called the cops.
Layla runs into the house to prepare her defenses.
And Demon Madrox starts praying.
The cops arrive at the door and Layla answers brusquely. She tells them that their records need to be updated. She’s Layla Madrox, and this is her husband’s family’s farm. She doesn’t care what the records say, they need to get off her land. When she tells them that her husband is unavailable, the cop pulls out the hand-cuffs, and Layla pushes him away with her force field. She tells the police that they better get off her land or there’s going to be trouble.
Trouble for Layla, that is.
Suddenly, a man in a dark suit and sunglasses shows up with a giant, Cable-esque energy weapon!
Even more suddenly, Demon Madrox’s prayers are answered by an unexpected deity.
I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming, and I love it! I also instantly realized what PAD was calling back to: X-Factor #244. When Theresa Cassidy ascended to become a real banshee, she visited Madrox one final time and told him that if he ever needed help, all he had to do was pray. It was a great issue, and a powerful scene. And I love how PAD used it in this final issue. I can honestly say I had forgotten all about Banshee, and I didn’t even know to expect her. Who doesn’t love surprises like that? I wonder if PAD had this moment in mind when he wrote X-Factor #244.
If so, my hat is off to that man.
Outside, the suit blasts Layla with his big gun, and the fugly green energy it shoots plows through her force field. It seems like the cops knew to expect Layla, and knew how to take her down. In fact, when the one cop starts hand-cuffing her, he tells Layla that they were given the heads up about what to expect. Also, the mystery suit is definitely looking for Demon Madrox, and he tells the cops they’ll know it when they see it.
Instead, they find a pissed off banshee goddess.
And then the man of the house comes home!
Now that’s how you make an entrance!
Layla rushes into Jamie’s arms and asks how he did it. Jamie scoops her up and tells her he has his own personal Deus ex Machina, emphasis on the Deus. We also get a final scene of dupes spouting different personalities.
So Madrox explains to the cops that this is indeed his family farm, and that Layla is indeed his wife. The cops leave and the mysterious suit glares at them the whole time. Then everyone retreats to the kitchen table, where Banshee tells Jamie and Layla what the rest of X-Factor have been doing. So in a way, all of the previous chapters of The End of X-Factor can be viewed as Banshee getting Layla and Jamie up to speed. That’s kind of cute.
Then Banshee asks if Madrox wants her to gather everyone back together so that X-Factor can live on, but Madrox declines her offer.
And that is the end of X-Factor! I told you the ending was rather heartwarming!
No sudden deaths, No big revelations. Not even a proper super-villain. PAD simply finds a fun, clever way to wrap up the last lingering plot thread – Demon Madrox – and he does so with style, warmth and humanity. I completely understand that I may be looking at this issue with rose-colored glasses, but so what? This is the final issue of X-Factor! Jamie Madrox goes off into the sunset with his beautiful wife, a baby on the way, and a peaceful life on a farm. Will we ever see him again? Probably. No character ever stays in limbo for long, especially not one as popular as Madrox. But I’m very happy with this farewell. PAD ties his story off with a bow, and for that I’m glad.
PAD also wraps up Layla Miller too. She was the standout character back when X-Factor started, and he ends her saga nicely. The ‘stuff’ that Layla ‘knows’ is no longer accurate. Everything that made her such a spooky, memorable character is gone. I rather like how that worked out. Not ‘gone’ in a bad way. She’s still pretty cool, but it’s like her ‘magic’ is all used up. She’s ready to settle down, pop out a kid and start working on a farm. PAD worked wonders with Layla Miller. He turned her from a Bendis plot device into a fully fleshed out character. Kudos on Layla and PAD.
I’m a little disappointed that there wasn’t a bigger goodbye for X-Factor as a whole. I don’t know what could have happened. Madrox saying goodbye at the kitchen table is good enough. There didn’t need to be a big, final confrontation. Madrox didn’t need to mimic the cover and flip the ‘We Are Closed’ sign on the front door of X-Factor Investigations. But I kind of wanted a bigger finale. Maybe.
But that’s just me being picky. This was a fantastic final issue. It celebrates the lead character and gives him a happy ending. What more could we ask for?
Goodbye, X-Factor. Goodbye, Multiple Man. Goodbye, Peter David. Thanks for the awesome comic.