By: Peter David (Writer), Carmine di Giandomenico (Artist), Lee Loughridge (Colorist), VC’s Cory Petit (Letterer), Kris Anka & Jared Fletcher (Cover Artists)

The Story:
The problem with video blogging is that everyone can see you, even superheroes.

The Review:
Some new characters are introduced, old subplots remain percolating, and no one remains sure of what Serval Industries is all about.

In a “story ripped from the headlines,” old-Law and Order style, we are introduced to an author whose anti-mutant bigotry may or may not have an effect on the art (novels) he produces. That’s all just the set-up, however, as X-Factor wrestles with the question on whether or not to attempt to “rescue” his daughter who has the persistent habit to vlog about her life. Spoilers: They decide to.

It’s interesting in that it allows the characters to interact over a couple of ethical issues at the same time, and doubly so because the characters seem to take sides that you wouldn’t necessarily expect, but as presented makes sense. It’s one of the things that fans enjoy about X-Factor (or, arguably more to the point, Peter David’s writing). Quicksilver, for example, displays uncharacteristic empathy for Georgia, our vlogger, which is understandable once he points out “it appears she has some serious father issues.” Also present, of course, is the witty banter, important soundbites of characterization, and plot misdirection that is often a strength of the writing.

Of course, some typical complains given by critics of X-Factor (or, to the point…) can be found here, too. Why, exactly, should it be Danger, the robot whose questionable humanity has been a plot point since her re-introduction, who is reading a book to start our exposition? Why is Polaris always in a quantum state of flip-flop? Since when is Gambit the advocate for the common man? Pretty much all of these quibbles stem from the fact that this is the story the characters have found themselves in, and everything must subtly shift accordingly in order for that story to be told.

Why is this kind of story, in particular, an X-Factor story in the first place? It’s a nice story to explore, but when the heroes can really do whatever they want regardless of Serval Industries, then why exactly are they a part of Serval Industries? There are some hints that this question is being posed deliberately as an ongoing subplot, but for now the comic  is concerning itself more with the subplot of Mr. Serval’s office affair than with actual, you know, business affairs.

I am happy to see Di Giandomenico continue with the art. It lends a distinct personal style to the book and the characters gestures and positionings are expressive and purposeful. And the coloring is quite nice, creating a distinct palette for each scene.

However, there are a few times that the layouts become confusing, such as presenting a location that confusingly appears to be an office, maybe, with the use of overlapping panels for no apparent reason. It also doesn’t help that a lot of the characters cannot be readily distinguishable by body type, and poor Cypher/Doug Ramsey gets the worst of it as Generic Blonde Boy. Also, although many comicbook artists are guilty of this, Di Giandomenico breaks the 180-degree-rule a bit too often for my tastes.

In some ways, it’s business-as-usual for the characters and story, and business-as-usual if you’re already a fan of David and Di Giandomenico. However, in other ways, this particular A-plot is a divergence from the momentum of the stories that have been set up before, with no overtly clear meta-narrative.

The Bottom Line:
There’s more to care about what’s going on in the subplots than in the actual plot, although the actual plot does set up some interesting ethical dilemmas. Conveniences propel the story forward rather than any genuine direction from the book itself. It’s all just “OK,” although an OK reading experience from David & Di Giandomenico is still pretty good.

The Grade: C+

-Danny Wall

Three More Tidbits:
— Bad Hanzi Alert: I think Georgia’s shirt is supposed to display “eternity” but it should be “永”
— Is it purposeful that Georgia has lost her distinctive teardrop mark on her face in the last panel? Because that panel is kind of big and it would seem like it would be hard to forget …
— I wonder if Doug Ramsey can be like Kenny, and someone can yell out “Oh my God, you killed Dougie!” at least once per story arc.

Grade

Conclusion