Yes, you read that right. X-Factor.
But not *that* X-Factor.
I’ve never seen the X-Factor that’s shown on Saturday evenings, but I gather it doesn’t feature mutants fighting zombie vikings.
X-Factor the comic does.
The comic actually predates the (totally unrelated) TV programme. It first appeared in 1986 and has gone through a number of incarnations since.
The current version has been going since 2005 and is written by Peter David, who’s generally regarded as one of the best comic writers around.
The premise is that our heroes are associates or former members of the better known X-Men (“Ex-X-Men”?) who have formed a detective agency and investigate weird happenings.
These are characters who were created in the 70’s and 80’s and have been neglected for a long time. David has taken them and turned them into interesting, three-dimensional characters.
For instance, there’s Madrox the Multiple Man, able to create limitless duplicate of himself. Previously, it just meant having a lot of people in a fight. But David has him send his multiple incarnations out to learn new skills, before reabsorbing them and learning from their experiences.
And then he meets one who has a home and family and doesn’t want to be absorbed…
The super hero part of the comic is still there, but it’s secondary to the characters and filtered through a knowing sensibility that owes as much to Raymond Chandler as Stan Lee.
For instance, the current story arc has the agency retrieve some jewelery for a mysterious female client, only to discover the client is a Norse death goddess. Who they trail to Las Vegas.
I don’t just like this comic for the spectacle of the mutants fighting zombie vikings on the Strip though – it’s really how the character react to Las Vegas that grabs me. They sometimes act in absurd ways, but that just makes them seem like real people, albeit ones who can fly or read minds.
And that’s what’s really good about X-Factor.