First Published: October 2005
Contents: Avengers #262 (December 1985); Fantastic Four #286 (January 1986); X-Factor #1 (February 1986) to #16 (May 1987); X-Factor Annual #1 (1986); Thor #373 (November 1986) and #374 (December 1986); and Power Pack #27 (December 1986)
Key Creator Credits: Bob Layton, Jackson Guice, Roger Stern, John Byrne, Louise Simonson, Walt Simonson, John Buscema, Sal Buscema, and others
Key First Appearances: Rusty Collins (Firefist), Cameron Hodge, Artie Maddicks, Tower, Frenzy, Apocalypse, Skids, Trish Tilby, Blockbuster, Prism, War, Famine, Pestilence
Story Continues In: Essential X-Factor Vol. 2
Overview: It’s the original X-Men, reunited once again! Cyclops, Angel, Beast, Iceman, and Marvel Girl. No longer students at Xavier’s school, what do these five friends do to continue Professor X’s dream of humans and mutants living together as one? Let’s pose as mutant-hunters, and secretly bring in mutants to start training them on how to use their powers. Maybe not the soundest start to a team, but it works for X-Factor.
X-Factor started off with sincere intentions. The team did find mutants unable to control their powers, and a cast of characters developed around the X-Factor team. But once you’ve been an X-Man, you are an X-Man for life, which means you get sucked into what ever ongoing storyline is occurring in Uncanny X-Men.
In this case, X-Factor finds themselves right in the middle of the Mutant Massacre, as the Marauders go on a rampage in the Morlocks’ tunnels. While trying to defend Artie, Angel is pinned to a wall by his wings by Harpoon (X-Factor #10). Due to the extensive injuries and infection, doctors are forced to amputate Warren’s wings in X-Factor #14. Warren has a hard time coping with the loss of his wings, and (apparently) commits suicide at the end of issue #15.
What makes this Essential?: The original X-Men hold a special place in my heart. They were the first, and to see them reunited was an exciting moment in my comic reading history. While their desire to train mutants like Professor Xavier trained them made a lot of sense, and I liked that aspect of the title. The fact that they were posing as mutant-hunters just never sat well with me.
The early issues of the title seem a little stiff. It’s only when the Simonsons come on board – first Louise and then Walt – that the book seems to come alive and move forward. These are the issues that really matter, and make it an Essential read. However, if you are going to read this, you should also read Essential X-Men Vol. 6 in order to read the complete Mutant Massacre storyline.
Like a Phoenix Rising from the Ashes: Let’s flashback to Uncanny X-Men #137 (See Essential X-Men Vol. 2). The X-Men are battling the Imperial Guard for the life of Jean Grey, who is controlled by the Phoenix force. In her last moment of clarity, Jean professes her love to Scott (Cyclops) Summers, and then commits suicide. Or did she?????
Jump ahead a few years and the Avengers discover a cocoon at the bottom of Jamaica Bay in New York. The Avengers bring the cocoon to the Fantastic Four, because Reed Richards is the smartest guy in the world. During his examination of the object, it opens up and out walks Jean Grey, alive and well. Apparently when the X-Men were returning from space, they crash-landed their shuttle at JFK Airport in New York City, coming to a rest in the aforementioned Jamaica Bay. Prior to the crash, the Phoenix force placed Jean Grey in this protective cocoon, and created a new body in Jean’s image to inhabit. It was this host body that died in Uncanny X-Men #137. So now Jean is back, with no memories of what happened since the the shuttle crash
Footnotes: X-Factor #9 to #11, Thor #373 and #374, and Power Pack #27 were also reprinted in Essential X-Men Vol. 6.
If you like this volume, try: the All-New X-Men series by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen. As part of the Marvel Now campaign which launched several years ago, All-New X-Men brings the original X-Men team (circa Uncanny X-Men #9) from the past to the current day, in an attempt to make them aware of what their future would look like and try to get them to change. The original team is shocked by how their lives have played out, but choose to stay in the modern times to find out more. This is the perfect jumping on book for anyone afraid of how large the X-Universe has become, because the reader shares many of the same questions as the original X-Men. This is still an ongoing title, and the early issues have been collected in multiple trade paperbacks and hardcovers.