Writer: Peter David
Art: Todd Nauck
Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release Date: 7/21/2021
It is no secret, but I am a major fan of the X-Men Legends (comics and games) series. After the last two issues (numbers 3 and 4 respectively) we are fast-forwarded to Peter David’s X-Factor run with X-Men Legends #5. As much as I am a major X-Men fan, I have not read David’s X-Factor before this issue. Going in, I knew that it was the government-approved version of a mutant hero team. Other than that, I have never really given it a second thought; it was blended in with the other X-Comics of the ’90s. After reading this issue (Note: it takes place between issues number 75 & 76 of the original X-Factor series), perhaps I have missed an important chapter in Mutant History. Let’s check it out.
The first thing that stuck out to me in this issue, is the cast of characters. Now, if I could turn back time (Cher reference ftw) to the ’90s, most of these characters were B-Listers at best. We have Lorna Dane and Alex Summers (fans of the mainline X-Series will know them best as Polaris and Havoc), Rahne Sinclair (Wolfsbane from the New Mutants) Jamie Madrox (Multiple Man) Pietro Maximoff (should we use the original, the retcon, or the MCU version of him…Quicksilver), and Guido Carosella (Strong Guy, however, I seem to remember him as a bodyguard for Lila Cheney). These heroes represent the various aspects of mutantdom all lead by Dr. Valerie Cooper (the last time I read something about her, she was a part of the team that zapped Storm’s powers).
With this being the first issue of this story, a lot of setups have to take place. Thus far, various members of X-Factor, are being questioned by the government to discuss a battle that took place in Latveria. The one thing that stood out the most to me, was the blatant double standard that the mutants were facing then (and arguably now). Valerie puts it bluntly, that if the Avengers had interjected themselves into the Latverian Situation (a coup from a group of mutants who are sick of Dr. Doom), they would have had been awarded medals. THIS is what I both love and hate about Marvel.
The Heroes and Mutants:
The X-Men (and other mutant teams/heroes) have proven their worth 50 million times over. In some cases, they have done way more than what the Avengers and Fantastic Four have done. Even though they too are an A-List team, they (and the rest of the mutants both of yesterday and today) are still viewed as the underlings of society. Marvel still plays this ideology to perfection. This remains to be the status quo. It is annoying that after close to six decades of story, very little has moved forward with mutants. To an extent, they are still feared. On the other hand, this subtle tension between the Avengers/FF and the X-Men creates the perfect drama. It is an uncomfortable truth. Now, I could dive into the social commentary that the X-Men and mutants represent, but that could easily become a dissertation. For now, we can say that there is a blatant double standard. The FF and Avengers can have gods, magicians, and green people running around and that is ok. But to be born differently means you must have a government-sanctioned team. In X-Men Legends #5 by Peter David, David does an amazing job with snapping (get it) us back to reality as to how far mutants have come AND how far they still have to go.
As I stated earlier, I have not read too many issues from Peter David’s X-Factor run. After reading X-Men Legends #5, I can say that I potentially need to buy the omnibus when it comes out (late this year or early next year). The senate hearing model coupled with the blatant disdain towards mutants serves as a perfect reminder of how mutants are still viewed (even today). If you are either a fan of Peter David OR if you have never dived into his X-Factor run, now is this time to do so with X-Men Legends #5. You will not be disappointed.