After a series of explosions that wiped Mutant Town from the map and destroyed the X-Factor headquarters, the changes in X-Factor #32 were many. When the flames died down at the end of the issue, the series jumped ahead five months with the turn of a page. X-Factor now works out of Detroit, seemingly functions under the government's radar, and is about to have a new member -- Madrox and Siryn's almost-ready-to-pop-out baby.
As the title heads into a Secret Invasion crossover that will add Longshot and Darwin to the team, Newsarama talked to series writer Peter David about this issue's themes, the sudden changes the team just experienced and what lies in X-Factor's future.
Newsarama: There's a real feeling of mutants against the world in this last issue. Just to bring everyone up to speed, what is the state of mutant-kind at the time this story takes place, and how do the members of X-Factor fit in?
Peter David: Basically the various mutant teams have dropped completely out of sight, at least insofar as the public is concerned. X-Factor is the only group that remains in the public eye, thus making them a significant target.
NRAMA: In this issue, Madrox attempts to rescue Nathan Petrofsky and notices the markings on his arm that brand him as a concentration camp survivor. Later, the nurse who informs Madrox of Nathan's death similarly notices the markings on his face that brand him as a mutant. What do Nathan and his death represent in this story?
PD: The force of history. It's said that there is no future and no present, but instead merely the past repeating itself. Nathan serves as a reminder to Madrox of what has happened in the past when vigilance lapses and the government becomes uncaring of the rights of its citizens.
NRAMA: We're now seeing Layla Miller in Madrox's head, saying she's pointing out things he already knew to be true. It's already been implied in this title that Madrox and Layla will one day marry. Should we trust that this voice is just a figment of his imagination? Or is there more to her presence in his thoughts?
PD: There's actually more to it, as will be subtly hinted in the upcoming Layla one-shot. The easy answer is to say that it's just in his head, but I've never been a big fan of the easy answer.
NRAMA: As we finish the issue, X-Factor's headquarters are no more. Mutant Town, the area they had sworn to protect, is no more. Is the X-Factor of old no more? Is this a whole new direction? What do these changes represent for this title?
PD: I try to ground the series in logic and the real world, and the simple fact was that I felt I had pushed the concept of Mutant Town as far as I could. There's no mutants there anymore. The rationale for all these former mutants feeling compelled to remain in the same area of town was becoming, to my mind, less and less tenable. It seemed forced and labored. So I felt that, with many eyes on X-Factor after "Messiah CompleX," it was a good time to do something about it in as dramatic a fashion as I could.
NRAMA: It looks like X-Factor is working out of Detroit now. Any reason for that city being chosen? And what can you tell us about X-F Investigations? What is their function now?
PD: First of all, why not Detroit? It's relatively unexplored territory in terms of story settings; it has a variety of neighborhoods, plus new artist Larry Stroman lives there. As for their function, XF Investigations has very quickly developed a reputation for being the go-to agency for problems that are somewhat off the beaten path. Not that different from Fox Mulder being the go-to agent when bizarre cases cross the FBI's radar.
NRAMA: After the five-month jump, we see that Siryn's pregnancy has made it to the point that we're going to see a baby here soon. What can you tell us about what's coming for Madrox and Siryn and their child? Was that mention of Mr. Incredible a hint that we're going to see a happy little superheroed family, or is nothing ever that easy for Jamie?
PD: Nothing is ever that easy. I've actually seen a variety of guesses from fans as to what's going to be happening with the baby. I'm pleased to report that no one's gotten it right.
NRAMA: It looks like Val Cooper isn't letting go of her idea to have X-Factor work for the O*N*E doing "special jobs." What can you tell us about the present and future of X-Factor's relationship with Val, O*N*E and the government?
PD: That Val is taking a stronger and stronger interest in the group for reasons of her own that will eventually become extremely important.
NRAMA: Longshot fans were happy to hear that he'll be joining the X-Factor title. What can you tell us about this character as he shows up in the next issue and what he'll be bringing to the team?
PD: X-Factor can sometimes tend toward a very cynical worldview. I see Longshot as the eternal optimist, the guy who literally doesn't know enough to feel dragged down. He's also naturally attractive to women, which will cause some interesting moments between him and Monet. Plus he's got serious combat skills and that handy technique of being able to get psychic "reads" off various objects, which is pretty handy for a detective agency.
NRAMA: Darwin is a fairly unknown entity as he comes into the title. What's this character's status as he appears in the next issue, and will you be exploring Darwin's character a little further? Can you tell us anything about what's coming with him?
PD: He's actually in the company of Longshot when we first encounter him, and he quickly finds himself in over his head. X-Factor is brought into the situation because an important person from Darwin's past is looking for him and hires the team to find him.
NRAMA: For those of us who are missing Layla Miller, what can you tell us about her one-shot coming up in August?
PD: It's set in the future, it features the advent of the fabled Summers Rebellion, and Layla has a significant role in it.
NRAMA: Will she be returning to the regular title?
PD: Yes, she will be back.
NRAMA: What can you tell us about X-Factor #35, the issue that follows the She-Hulk crossover-- and what is the mystery of the Karma Project?
PD: If I told you, it wouldn't be a mystery.
NRAMA: Well, then to finish up, Larry Stroman is starting on the title with next month's #33. How has it been working with him, and what kind of visual tone can we expect from coming issues?
PD: I'm very excited to see how Larry's work has developed and progressed in the time since we last worked together.