“X-Factor” #258 by writer Peter David and artists Neil Edwards and Carmen Carnero continues the “End of X-Factor” storyline which is (ostensibly, probably) wrapping up “X-Factor” for the time being. It’s fair to say that the title, while still consistent, has left its best days way, way behind it. If this is indeed the end (for good), then as conclusions go, there are worse ways to check out than with a long run of planned epilogues.
Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still stories to get through. This issue gives Rahne a chance to head back into character limbo, tying up her loose ends and explaining why she might not turn up next time someone gets all of the X-Men together. At the same time, there are questions left hanging. Not about her, but about Guido (who’s still running hell, in what can charitably be described as a precarious piece of continuity) and specifically about Madrox, who remains trapped in the demonic form he was given during the “Hell on Earth War” storyline.
The recurrence of the Reverend John Maddox helps give this story an extra sense of weight, since the character only turns up sporadically and usually to important effect. It doesn’t feel unnatural — there’s precedent enough for his use to signify a turning point in someone’s arc — but despite David’s best efforts, it takes a lot of manuvering and exposition to get the characters on the same page, and the story contains the kind of contortions that would make a pretzel wince.
The presence of two artists is rarely a good thing for a title, especially with no clear division of labour, but “X-Factor” #258 does seem to ride out the switch without any tonal change becoming apparent. Neither artist has a huge amount to work with in story terms. The action is front-loaded and over quickly, while the latter half of the issue takes place in a largely featureless snow-covered landscape. It’s fair to say nothing’s bad — although Wolfsbane’s wolf form isn’t entirely successful in either case — it’s all just okay. Luckily, a writer like David doesn’t require flashy visuals, because his dialogue does most of the heavy lifting in his stories anyway.
At this point, it remains to be seen whether this is just a series of epilogues of if there’ll be a last-minute twist drawing everyone back together, but either way, at least no-one’s getting neglected. That said, Wolfsbane has never felt like a natural fit for the superhero lifestyle so there isn’t much drama over her leaving it. It’s an issue that’s fine, but has no huge surprises to deliver. Of course, next issue promises to finally address the relationship between Shatterstar and Longshot, so if it’s surprises you want, maybe that one’s worth waiting for.