X-Factor writer Peter David had a stroke on December 29. He's recuperating but it's slow and therapy is intensive. I've been reading Peter David's works for about as long as I've been reading comics. I believe my first was a spectacularly avant garde Wolverine story he did with Sam Kieth in Marvel Comics Presents in '91, and I kind of noticed him ever since. From Hulk and Aquaman to Fallen Angel and most seminally to me, in the 1990's, X-Factor. At the time X-Factor was the heir apparent to the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League which had just ended, but it carried on its tradition of building a dysfunctional family team dynamic with heart, humour and plenty of action.
I'm a fan. Obviously, I've not read everything he's done over the years mind you, since he's done so much, but I know there's something in his oeuvre for everyone. (I just remembered that my wife has his Young Justice run which I've been meaning to read for years so I may dig those out soon). David is a journeyman writer, true, in the sense that he is most frequently a writer-for-hire, but he's also a talented one, able to manufacture a dramatic output effortlessly with a consistently high level of quality. He's never reached outright superstardom in his comics writing career, though I don't think he's ever courted it. He seems quite content to work in any corners of any universe presented to him, and in every example of his work I have read, he's able to do something interesting and entertaining with it.
X-Factor is the only title at Marvel that I pick up monthly right now (and has been for some time, though to be honest, I pick up a few others in trade). David is obviously the key to that, considering he's cycled through dozens of artists at this point. Marvel revived the title 100 issues ago (or 102 I think, if I did the math right?) starting with issue 1 and then renumbering again after issue 50 to issue 200 (for whatever reason). The truly surprising thing is it's only been about 7 years (which, looking at the math, would take most series about 8 1/2 years), and with only a few artistic weak points and overlord-mandated crossovers to gripe about.
Since hearing about his stroke, I've been wondering about what will happen to X-Factor. I imagine David has quite a few in the pipeline as is (hopefully the entirety of the "Hell on Earth War" which kicks off this issue), but obviously recuperation is of highest priority. David's wife is updating his blog (peterdavid.net) and twitter feed (@PeterDavid_PAD) and David managed to use a dictating service to verbally write a script, so he's still working (I get the feeling very little could stop him from writing).
If you want to help... picking up X-Factor, adding it to your pull list is about the simplest thing you could do (and it's freaking worth every penny), or you can buy David's novels via the links on his website (my wife picked up a half dozen of them tonight, having much of his prose library already on her bookshelf), or you can donate (tax deductible) to help with medical bills.
The Hell on Earth War that starts this issue is indeed a jumping-on point that will allow new readers a lifeline to get in, but also a great payoff for some long-running plotlines in the series. It's, as usual, exciting, surprising, and entertaining.