For those who have never heard of Jamie Madrox (much like myself before reading the series) he is the Multiple Man. A mutant capable of creating an almost limitless number of duplicates of himself. Sounds like an awesome power, doesn’t it? Well, it comes with a catch. He can’t control it. It simply happens when his body receives some kind of reasonable impact. It can be as simple as being punched or hitting a wall. It also doesn’t help that each of these duplicates contain different segments of Jamie’s personality, which generally leads to chaos and arguments ensuing as he fights with himself (literally) to get jobs done.
After the semi-disbandment of X-Factor (the sister group to the X-Men), around the time of the events of House of M, Jamie Madrox decides to start up a private detective business in the aptly named Mutant Town (a place of refuge for some of the few remaining mutants after Scarlett Witch’s wish). He, along with his former X-Factor team-mates, Wolfsbane and Strong Guy, takes on all manner of cases. Nothing’s too big and nothing's too small, as long as it pays the bills.
The story is narrated by Jamie and feels just how it aims to, like an old noir thriller from the 1950s. Yes, it’s set in a modern environment, but it harks back and pays homage to the genre brilliantly. It has the same story beats, the same thought-provoking narration, the same downtrodden detective and even a femme fatale. What more could you ask for?
All of the characters are brilliantly fleshed out and feel as three-dimensional as two-dimensional characters can. All of them also have their weaknesses, and it’s these that make them so believable. The most important of these weaknesses is Jamie’s fear of what life is all about, as he no longer knows where he belongs. He has the ability to go down as many routes as he likes simultaneously (which he regularly does) and to learn anything his duplicates learn. It’s a fascinating character study and brings up some interesting questions about life.
I cannot praise this mini-series enough. It’s both a brilliant starting point into the world of X-Factor, and a clever standalone story that feels constantly fresh and interesting. So, if you feel like trying something a little different to the usual superhero fluff of recent years, give this a go. I hope you too will find it to be a deep, character driven detective story, with amazing writing and fantastic art, which stands above the crowd.
The Madrox mini-series is included in the X-Factor Complete Collection: Volume 1, as well as the first 12 issues of X-Factor Investigations.