It probably hasn’t escaped your notice that “X-Factor” is getting some well-deserved publicity at the moment — though not necessarily for all the right reasons. The dramatic reveal of Shatterstar and Rictor’s oft-hinted-at relationship at the end of the previous issue was a cliffhanger destined to be talked about. But as a title, “X-Factor” has other places it needs to go before dealing too heavily with that plot.
David has been alternating plots throughout the last few issues, so this issue, it’s the turn of Monet and Darwin’s sub-plot to get a few pages — though as the end of the arc draws near, David masterfully manages to tie all the three disparate threads of this book back into one plot. It is satisfying, as a reader, to see everything come together naturally when previous issues left you wondering quite how it could work. After all, “X-Factor” is ostensibly a detective book, so it’s appropriate that it keeps you guessing, but delivers answers that definitively come from within the story.
Although thick with plot, the issue isn’t short of David’s dry sense of humor, particularly in the scenes involving an aged, senile and confused Dr. Doom. The comic relief in those scenes does just about manage to disguise the fact that David is really delivering exposition en masse and setting up a new plot MacGuffin that allows the cast to circumvent the usual rules of Marvel time-travel. On one hand, it seems odd that David would bother to set this up; on the other, you can’t help but admire his respect for the readers who’d actually notice if he didn’t.
And speaking of things only long-time fans would notice. . . there’s yet another of “X-Factor’s” trademark final-page reveals that’ll leave you begging for the next issue — although some more than others. The character who appears makes perfect sense, but hasn’t appeared in the X-books in any major capacity for so long, it’s hard to say how many people will actually remember him. The explanation is there on the page, but I can’t imagine the gut reaction will be quite as good if you’ve only got a caption to inform you.
Still, that’s a minor concern in an otherwise enjoyable issue. After floundering for some time around “Messiah Complex” and “Secret Invasion,” “X-Factor” has really fallen back into its groove. Perhaps that’s purely down to David’s writing. Perhaps it’s down to some excellent art teams turning up over the last few months. Or perhaps it’s simply the return of Layla Miller to the title that has re-energized it. Either way, I can’t wait for the next issue.