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X-Factor: The Quick and the Dead

Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2008
By: Steven M. Bari

Peter David
Pablo Raimondi, Jeremy Cox (colors)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: X-Factor: The Quick and the Dead arrives in stores tomorrow, May 7.

"Once I, Chuang Tzu, dreamed I was a butterfly and was happy as a butterfly. I was conscious that I was quite pleased with myself, but I did not know that I was Tzu. Suddenly I awoke, and there was I, visibly Tzu. I do not know whether it was Tzu dreaming that he was a butterfly or the butterfly dreaming that he was Tzu. Between Tzu and the butterfly there must be some distinction. [But one may be the other.] This is called the transformation of things." Taichi Philosophy

To say the character Quicksilver has been through a lot is an understatement. He was killed by his father Magneto during M-Day, resurrected and de-powered by his sister the Scarlet Witch, divorced by his philandering, Inhuman wife Crystal, lost the Terrigen crystals and the only chance of regaining his powers, suffered a humiliating defeat by selectively precognitive Layla Miller in Central Park, and now rots in a prison cell hopeless, beaten, and going insane.

Yet Pietro Maximoff's physical prison is nothing compared to the prison of his mind. These ghosts of the disappointment, his father, his sister, his wife and child, and Layla Miller visit him. He wants to resign to his inadequacies, his failures, and his inability to live up to their expectations of him. He has no power. He has no one to have that power for. These ghosts think otherwise, however, and Pietro's cocoon of self-loathing may just be a transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. Is he a de-powered mutant dreaming of power? Or is he powerful mutant dreaming he is powerless?

Peter David posits this wonderful query to Quicksilver with hallmark wit and substance. As Layla Miller appears to Pietro, she asks him what he wants. He replies, "You dead." But the underlying reason for him not doing so in Central Park, Layla reveals, is that murder of an enemy, be it his crazed sister Wanda or Layla Miller, was beneath him and he couldn't sink that low. This quality separates him from his father Magneto, whose ends justify the means, and elevates him properly into the realm of hero.

Similarly, Raimondi's humanistic art looks great and captures the emotion of David's words. As Quicksilver imagines being visited by his father and sister, his wife shows up and tells him that she still believes in him, culminating in a tender lip lock. Her body language relays the arousing emotional build up to the kiss, making the event more poignant (and that more amusing when in the next page Quicksilver's fellow inmates watch him embracing an imaginary person).

Now, in all honesty if you aren't the least bit interested in Quicksilver, this book isn't for you. I don't think his well-written sulking insanity will garner converts, but fans of X-Factor and Peter David in general will thoroughly enjoy this book, as well as readers looking for a good hero awakening story. Although not much else may come out of this one-shot, Quicksilver will be a usable player for some writer to use in the future and thankfully that writer won't have to dig the character out of ton of emotional baggage.







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