By: Peter David (writer), Emanuela Lupacchino (penciller), Guillermo Ortego (inker), Matt Milla (colorist)

The Story: “They Keep Killing Madrox”, Part 3: Jamie continues his jaunt through parallel universes. In this issue, he finds quite a different world with a surprising twist related to a major Marvel event. It is, however, nothing more for him than jumping from frying pan to frying pan.

What’s Good: One of my week’s books is some weird time travel (Avengers Academy), and another is jumping through parallel universes (this one). Both parallel universes and time travel are standard science fiction fare because there’s so much a writer can do with these ideas, and because the artist gets to give goatees to normally clean-shaven characters. The charm of this X-Factor arc is the visiting the paths not taken. The tragedy of Tony Stark and Steve Rogers in this book stuck to the inside of my mind even after I was done reading. Those were two heroes (villains?) carrying heavy ghosts. Jamie’s monologue carried us effectively through this new reality as a kind of guide to hell.
Artwise, Emanuela Lupacchino, ably assisted by Ortego and Milla, laid down some fine pages. I loved the view of the Iron Man-Sentinels taking off into a ravaged red sky. The environments were very evocative. The characters were effectively drawn, although not show-stoppingly so in the beauty of their depiction. When the involvement of Wanda hits Madrox, I think this is the most expressive and emotive artistic moment of the book, in part because the rest of the emotions were guarded as characters tried to figure each other out. My favourite artistic moment of the book, however, was when Strange turns around.

What’s Not So Good: I think this book was competently done, artwise and wordwise, but it isn’t a book where I’d say it got taken to the next level. In part, I think there’s only so much the reader can feel when the hero is a passenger in the story, kicked from one danger to another. Normally, the hero’s desire line is the spine of the story and the means by which Jamie is dragged like a fish on a line from one reality to another prevents him from bringing his drive to the story. The thinness of the plot showed itself when Cap broke through to fight Stark, without much of a nod to the reader in terms of motivation or connections to other events that might have made their fight mroe meaningful (à la Civil War, for example).

Conclusion: A fair offering for X-Factor and Madrox fans. There was some nice, standard poignancy in the tragedy of Cap and Iron Man and I look forward to seeing what’s up with the Sorceror Supreme in the next issue.

Grade: C

-DS Arsenault

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