I’ve never seen the movie Run Lola Run, but I heard about it after The Fifth Element since it shares the same female lead. That’s how I was able to get a fun little joke in the middle of this issue. After finishing the issue I looked up Run Lola Run on Wikipedia. It turns out that this issue of X-Factor has the exact same premise as that German movie. Both works of fiction are about how our actions spiral out and have unintended consequences. And both of them show the consumer what happens each time through. But don’t take that to mean Peter David has run out of creativity. After all, Butterfly Effect and Sliding Doors also have the same premise, but they are wildly different movies.
In fact, using a premise like this one is, in fact, a perfect way for Peter David to showcase how his decision to give Layla some character development is affecting her and forcing her change her approach to life. She first appeared during M-Day as one of the few people who knew the world wasn’t right. After that she became someone who “knew stuff” and eventually we learned it’s because she kept a detailed diary and then sent herself the information in the past. If we ignore the time travel causal loop it makes for a pretty interesting character. Even so, after a while, “I Know Stuff” gets a bit tiring so, in an attempt to explore the concept of free will, Peter David has her diverge from what she knew to be future by saving Strong Guy.
And while she can talk about how things have changed because of his resurrection, I think this one-off issue demonstrates perfectly what it’s like for her to see all the possible futures she’s causing through her actions. Every inflection point splits the page into a series of nearly identicle scenarios playing out. For example, when she bumps into a guy affects whether he gets beat up, ends up depressed, or hired for a top job.I tend to really enjoy these types of stories - I like exploring how the smallest differences in what we do can potentially have a large effect on the lives of others.
I think the only thing I didn’t like about the way the issue was structured is that it wasn’t clear to me which reality prevailed. Maybe there are some clues in the issue or maybe we’ll find out in the next issue, but one of the multiple reality scenarios involved some of her teammates with some pretty big consequences depending on which reality happened.
Neil Edwards did a great job on the pencil art. The only thing that was a little distracting was the veins he drew on Strong Guy during a fight. Rachel Rosenberg does a great job with the color art, especially in the tinted panels depicting the different realities. Of course, she’s already proven herself in that tasks with her work on The Manhattan Projects.
Peter David continues to do good work with X-Factor - you should pick up this issue as it appears to be a great jumping on point before the next major arc.