By Kevin Mahadeo
Writer Peter David knows stuff.
And when it comes to his mutant-filled monthly series X-FACTOR that "stuff" boils down to an uncanny ability to craft stories filled with not only extremely detailed and well-planned plots, but also some of the most creatively complex and quirky characters in the Marvel Universe
This week's release of X-FACTOR #47 continues David's yearlong arc spanning from the present day-where members of X-Factor Investigations fight to protect a client from a mysterious assassin-to the far distant future-where Jamie Madrox reunites with the noticeably older Layla Miller in a battle for the future of mutantkind. The two seemingly separate stories have slowly come together over the past couple issues, but everything crashes into one when issue #47 hits stands.
Not wanting to spoil too much about the future, David took some time to talk about some of the characters featured in the massive storyline, the reaction to the return of Shatterstar and a very valuable resource for penning time traveling stories.
Marvel.com: Currently in X-FACTOR, we see two stories running concurrently with one another, one in the present and one in the future.
Why did you decide to take this particular storytelling approach?
Peter David: Well, I had a cast that was fairly spread out and I had two major venues, the future and the present. It just seemed like the natural direction to go. I didn't want to have two completely different storylines going on because it would seem too disjointed.
Marvel.com: Taking a look at the future, you've introduced a very interesting take on Doctor Doom. He's a bit delusional to say the least?
Peter David: The implication is that he's suffering from dementia. The thing is that if you're someone of Doom's power and ego, it would never even occur to you that such a thing could possibly happen to you. So the notion is that he would not have been diagnosed with it because no one would have dared tell him. And anyone who might have told him he was behaving erratically, he would have disposed of immediately. Essentially, he's in this predicament very much of his own making.
Marvel.com: So you see this as a natural progression of the character?
Peter David: Well, sure. Doom's greatest weakness has always been his own ego. Go all the way back to the accident that caused the explosion that destroyed his face. Reed Richards tried to warn him of it. Reed Richards said that the equations were off and he should re-check them, and Victor Von Doom said, "How dare you try to tell me what to do?" He went ahead with the experiment and it literally blew up in his face. Again, his ego was so massive that he couldn't even accept responsibility for it. Instead of saying, "Oh my god, I totally screwed up. Reed Richards was right," he proceeded to put the blame on Reed Richards and turn all his hatred and rage onto the Fantastic Four even though it wasn't even remotely warranted.
Marvel.com: The end of the previous issue re-introduced Trevor Fitzroy, a future-based character that's been a big part of X-Men lore. However, he has been missing for quite a while. Why'd you decide to bring him in?
Peter David: Well, the thing is that while X-FACTOR is one of Marvel's mutant books, most of the mainline mutant characters are characters that the other books would have first claim to. So, if I'm going to be using characters from the mutant universe, I have to look for characters who haven't been heard of in a while-characters that other writers aren't falling all over themselves to use. Fitzroy was one of [those characters] and it made sense because he's underutilized and he's from the future. It just seemed like the perfect fit for this storyline.
Marvel.com: As a writer, what do you like about the character of Fitzroy? What about him appeals to you?
Peter David: I like the fact that he's this wild card and you don't know which [way] he is going to fall. But I also like the notion that, in terms of the current storyline, he's someone who has not done all the villainous things that he is known to have done. So, this leaves the characters in a bit of a quandary. With the knowledge of what that character will become, do you do something proactive? Do you punish him for crimes he has not yet committed? It's the classic conundrum: do you smother infant Hitler if you have the opportunity?
Marvel.com: Switching over to the present, we left off with Siryn and Monet facing off against a group of Omeganoid sentinels. What can readers be expecting there?
Peter David: Lots of fighting. I conceived [the Omeganoids] to be more pocket-sized Sentinels, as it were, because the big trouble with Sentinels is that you can't send them into any situation without them basically stomping on everything. The Omeganoids are Sentinels for precision. The regular Sentinels are what you send in if you need a bludgeon. The Omeganoids are more scalpels.
Marvel.com: You've also introduced this character Cortex, a villain that plays into the Doomlocks idea, which allow for altering the time stream. Many writers have problems writing a cohesive time travel story, but you seem to be handling it very well.
Peter David: Well, thank you. It's really a matter of thinking through all of the ramifications and all the ways that these things have to be addressed, along with all the questions it raises. Just be sure you've thought of everything, which is not easy. And I'm sure there's something that I have overlooked-some aspect of the storyline that I haven't thought about-and I have every confidence that should that aspect reveal itself, the fans will let me know and very loudly. I'll go, "Whoops!" and then, "No Prize to the first fan who can explain that!" Fans can be a very valuable resource.
Marvel.com: We've hit on Jamie and Layla, we touched on Siryn and Monet, but there's another two characters I wanted to talk about: Rictor and the re-introduced Shatterstar. What has the reaction been for Shatterstar's return and for him and Rictor getting romantically involved?
Peter David: I would say the vast majority of the fans have reacted exactly the way that I hoped they would, which is that they were loudly supportive. They were many fans who said, "It's about time." Some fans wrote to me and said that they were literally in tears because they were so happy that we had stopped mincing around about it and just come out and said, "Yeah. These two guys are in love and that's not that big a deal."
Marvel.com: It really shouldn't be. There's a big fan base and there have been many hints about those two characters and a relationship.
Peter David: Yeah, which is why it broke me up when there were some people who said, "Well this came out of left field." I'm going, "Wow. Anyone who says that really just hasn't been paying that much attention." Some people liken it to slash fiction, but this is not remotely slash fiction. This is not Kirk and Spock. This is a relationship that has a lot of groundwork laid for it.
Marvel.com: Is Shatterstar a character that fans will be seeing more of in X-FACTOR?
Peter David: Yeah. I'm going to keep Shatterstar around for a while.
Marvel.com: What can you say about what's coming up in the book? Can you say what fans will be getting in X-FACTOR?
Peter David: Sure. It'll be 22 pages and it'll be $2.99. Except for issue #50, which will be double-sized.
Marvel.com: [Laughs] Well-played, Mr. David. Alright, well I'll ask this then: I know Shatterstar was one of the two most requested characters to appear in X-FACTOR. The other is Deadpool, as the character shares a history with Siryn. With Shatterstar now in the book, can fans be expecting Deadpool any time soon?
Peter David: I was actually toying with the notion with having him in for a cameo. But if I tell you how, it won't be any fun.
Not a subscriber to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited yet? Join now!
Check out the official Marvel Shop for everything X-Men!