Peter David's mutant team book is really a solo book for Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man, one of Marvel's most interesting C-listers. Madrox underwent a retrofit prior to this series: originally his power was the ability to make duplicates of himself that were basically puppets; now, the "dupes" embody facets of his personality, meaning they often have quite different personalities from the "original" Madrox—and they often don't want to be reabsorbed when their task is done. Months ago, Madrox sent dozens of dupes out to learn and bring their experiences back to him, and now he's traveling around reabsorbing them. In this issue, he tracks down the dupe he created to study religion, who has now become an Episcopal priest. Not only that, he's married with a young son, and has no interest in leaving his life behind to be absorbed into Madrox-prime's decidedly less holy life. The issue opens with the dupe delivering a sermon—and a pretty good one, too—about Gen. 1:28 and the idea of dominion.
"Is [the earth] really ours? Really our property? Are we kings? Absolute rulers of all that we see? How presumptuous would that be, for us to consider ourselves in that way? . . . We are not masters of this world. That's been proven over and over again. No, my friends... we are merely caretakers."
The sermon builds from the idea of dominion over the earth to stewardship of it, the key concept in Christian environmentalism. The story cuts the sermon off before that conclusion is made clear, and in context it becomes a message about the precarious nature of the dupe's position in relation to Madrox-prime—a sinner in the hands of an angry mutant. The confrontation between the two is powerful and cleverly-constructed, though there's another Biblical allusion that David perhaps should have made: the prodigal son. X-Factor has been hit and miss for me so far, but this issue nails the characters perfectly. Like Superman #659, it sets strong characterizations against a religious backdrop, and the result is an excellent standalone story.