Serialized stories need to be careful when it comes to how many installments they run. Too few and it run the risk of feeling shortchanged; too many and the story starts stretching into eternity. In the case of “X-Factor” #254, Peter David and Leonard Kirk are unfortunately starting to give the impression that the Hell on Earth War has overstayed its welcome.
The big problem with “X-Factor” #254 is that it feels like most of the plot points are already exhausted, and now it’s just wheels spinning. Thus, readers end up with characters talking about doing something, and then that something not happening for the rest of the issue as everyone’s whisked off into another big fight scene. The fight itself is part of the problem, too; it doesn’t feel surprising or original or even out of the ordinary. It’s a bunch of people punching one another, with occasional scenes of Hell gods also fighting one another. And in doing so, the story loses all of its impact. The gods aren’t actually dying, so why care about the outcome? With the members of X-Factor, this is truly the most generic fight I’ve seen in a while; it’s almost as if you could swap one out for another with no real difference in the outcome.
Kirk does his best to try and spice things up a bit, but there’s only so much he’s been given to work with. There are a lot of images of people yelling, the occasional zooming through the air and some thoroughly cluttered scenes of chaos as New York gets trashed as part of the Hell on Earth War. Kirk’s storytelling is normally a bit stronger than this; it’s not hard to follow, but it’s not as clean or smooth as you normally expect.
It’s tough seeing “X-Factor” stumble a bit here; I want not only the book to succeed but its creators as well. In a collected format, I can’t help but think that this particular chapter of the “Hell on Earth War” is going to feel a bit skippable. Earlier installments were much more fun, but this one fails to ignite.