Monday, September 13, 2010

1986 – X-Factor

X-Factor - #1-6, Annual #1
February-October 1986
Writer: Bob Layton/Jackson Guice
Art: Jackson Guice/Keith Pollard/Joe Rubinstein/Bob Layton

Unfortunately in late 1985, Jim Shooter approved the X-Factor story line that reunited the original X-Men and would resurrect Jean Grey. The blame for bringing back Jean Grey has passed between John Byrne, Chris Claremont, and Jim Shooter like a hot potato.

Claremont didn't like the idea at all and approached Shooter. However, according to Claremont, Shooter “felt the marketing arguments in favor of resurrecting Jean far outweighed what I felt was the critical damage being done to the canon.”

In an interview with Comic Book Resources, Bob Layton had the following to say about Jean's return:

"I have to give the credit/blame to John Byrne. In the initial premise that Jackson Guice and I submitted, Jean Grey was not part of the group. Mike Carlin, editor at the time, pulled me aside one day and said "Hey, how would you like to have ALL of the original X-Men back?"  Apparently John Byrne had come up with a way to revive her and, of course, why would I refuse to use her?

Was bringing Jean Grey back a mistake? In my opinion, absolutely. There's no question that this was a bad idea, but financially Marvel couldn't pass up the opportunity to make wads of cash. They compromised one of Marvel's greatest story lines to make money."

The biggest casualty in bringing back Jean Grey wasn't Jean, but rather Cyclops. Scott Summers was portrayed rather pathetically in that he abandoned his wife and child to go gallivanting around with an old flame, with whom he avoided mentioning that he was married.

While I have to admit it was fun to see the original X-Men together horsing around, Iceman and Beast hanging out together, and setting up that familiar love triangle between Angel and Cyclops. But, I wonder if they would have been better off setting up Angel with Jean and reuniting Cyclops with his wife?

With that said, the basic idea behind X-Factor was a clever one. Taking advantage of mutant hysteria to locate mutants under the guise of a mutant-hunting organization was solid, especially when they got concern that their goal was fostering more mutant prejudice.

The X-Factor event started in Avengers #263, which had the Avengers come across a mysterious cocoon, and Fantastic Four #286, which freed Jean Grey from the cocoon and realized what the Phoenix entity had done to her.

X-Factor #1 brought together the original X-Men and they decided to form the X-Factor organization under the watchful eye of Cameron Hodge, who would later become a thorn in their side.  Their first story arc had them track down a young pyrokinetic, Rusty Collins. Their second story arc led them into a confrontation with the mysterious Apocalypse and his Alliance of Evil. X-Factor #6 introduced Apocalypse (he did have a brief cameo in the shadows of issue #5) who would go on and become one of the X-Men's deadliest foes.

The creators of X-Factor didn't stay onboard for very long. Creative differences were stated as the reason for Layon's departure, as well as deadline problems, according to Louise Simonson.

Bob Layton stated it was mostly politics, so much so that he was never asked to do any other X-book.

In X-Factor #5's next issue blurb, a special note announces that "creator/writer Bob Layton takes leave of X-Factor". Louise Simonson took the helm as X-Factor's new writer and stay on for several years. Jackson Guice left the book with issue #7.


  1. I just reread these issues, including Avengers #263 and Fantastic Four #286. Both the Avengers and FF issues were great... I love the work of both Stern and Byrne. However, I must admit that I didn't like the issues written by Layton, particularly for the reasons you mentioned. Cyclops comes across as such a huge jerk. And Madeline was good character. After Jean was brought back, they had to do something with Madeline... so they turned her into the Goblin Queen. I was not a fan.

    Still, I thought the title ended up being really good for a long time, after Louise and Walter Simonson took over!

  2. Was introduced to comics when I purchased from a friend a great X-Factor run: #1 - #26, I think. That's what got me hooked.

  3. Hey Kelly, thanks for the comment.

  4. Hey rallenrader, the Simonson run was a lot of fun for a few years!

  5. For all its faults I would love to see this series get an omnibus release one day, heopfully soon



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