Speculation X: Peter David on X-Factor

Speculation X: X-Factor

X-Factor #39

Marvel’s X-Factor isn’t like most of the superhero comics on shelves today; heck, it’s not like most Marvel Comics or the rest of the X-titles, for that matter. Since its launch in 2005, this incarnation of the X-Factor title has focused on Madrox the Multiple Man and a somewhat steady cast of noteworthy mutants surviving the wake of events from Marvel’s House of M and Decimation storylines. Written by industry mainstay Peter David, X-Factor’s mission has been one of exploring what caused the events of House of M and the disappearance of ninety percent of the Earth’s mutants.

So far, so good, right? Absolutely—that is until Newsarama contacted Peter David to talk about what was in store for Madrox and the rest of X-Factor investigations for 2009.

When asked about the book, David responded, “Here’s the problem: I don’t want to give anything away. Nothing. Anything I would feel comfortable discussing would be so vague that it would ultimately be unsatisfying. As much as I want to get publicity for X-Factor, I'm not sure how to go about it without blowing key points. I can't discuss what happens with the baby without blowing the story. I can't discuss the Sentinels without blowing the story. What I'm trying to establish with X-Factor is that anything can happen and be wholly unexpected when it does. The internet seems to exist almost solely to provide major revelations and thus take the element of surprise out of the writer's hands and ultimately be harmful to comics.”

David’s mention of the Sentinels and the baby are references to current solicits made available by Marvel for the purpose of pre-order and sales. This month’s issue of X-Factor marks the birth of the lovechild of Madrox and Siryn and the culmination of the current storyline in the book. February’s solicit regards the return of John Madrox, the only dupe to not be re-absorbed by Jamie Madrox. Also, March’s solicited material featured an image of a number of Madrox dupes and the head of a Sentinel. When asked about these specific events, David continued by saying, “I'm not trying to be ungrateful here. Nor am I unaware of the importance of marketing comics. Here's what I can tell you:

X-Factor #40

“People have been complaining that the noir-ish aspects of X-Factor have been on the wane. I agree. People feel the book has been unfocused or less compelling than it should be. I agree. Beginning with issue #39, I am taking proactive steps to answer all those criticisms and more. My goal is more than just to turn this book around. My goal is nothing less than to triple sales before year's end. I want X-Factor to be a book for which waiting for the trade is simply not an option: Readers have to pick up the latest issue. I want them to feel that nothing is off limits; that anything can happen, and that they absolutely have to be there when it does. I want fans to get to the last page of an issue and they can't believe what they're seen. I want them to feel emotionally wrung out by the end of the book. I want there to be at least one, if not more, ‘Oh my God’ moments in every damned issue.

“Issues #39, #40, and #41 are a three step program to turn the book around creatively and sales wise. Valentine's art is breathtaking, I should mention, and spectacular art always helps. And my greatest desire, frankly, is for the internet to somehow develop the self-control to keep its collective mouth shut over the specifics. Fans should be entitled to be stunned by what they see without Ruiners. That's my term for ‘Spoilers,’ by the way. Blowing key aspects of stories don't simply spoil stories; they ruin them. Ruin them for the creative team, ruin them for the company, and they ruin them for the readers. I would love to see issues #39 through #41 be a Ruiner-free zone. I want to see fans exhibit the self-control not to ruin the stories for others, because fans who come into the books not knowing what to expect will, I believe, quite simply be blown away by what's coming up. And if I go ahead and discuss story specifics with you, then I'm violating my own intent.”

X-Factor #41

So it seems that Peter David is championing the position of both the reader, and their right to unspoiled content, creators and their ability to be able to technically execute by telling a story fully, as well.

Let’s turn this piece on its ear and speculate: What do you, the reader, think of solicited material? Has it become too easy to read comics with prefaced, spoiler-laden advanced sales ads? Also, in the spirit of speculation, what do you think is going to happen with the birth of the Madrox/ Siryn lovechild? John Madrox? Or the Sentinels?

Finally, do “Spoilers” ruin the potential of good comics and their ability to entertain you, the reader?

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