Somewhere along the way, “X-Factor” seems to have gotten a little lost. In interviews, Peter David claimed that he no longer had a long-term strategy for the book because everything kept changing, and if so it explains a lot about the book’s current status. “X-Factor” #50 wraps up what should have been a huge storyline; the return of Layla Miller, the Summers Rebellion in the future, the arrival of Shatterstar. Instead, though, the end result is a bit of a jumble where seven of the nine main characters don’t even appear, and one of the remaining two has to recite a lot of exposition to lead the reader through its conclusion.
The thing is, if you go back and look at David’s earlier “X-Factor” issues, that wasn’t a problem that appeared. Stories felt a lot tighter, all the characters had something to do, and everything clicked together seamlessly. So what happened, exactly? It probably didn’t help that David ambitiously told a story set in both the present and the future, and one where actions at either end affected the other side. Still, with a year’s worth of issues in which to tell the story, it should have had more than enough space to show its material. Instead we’ve got a saga where the character in the future they’re trying to save, Hecat’e, hasn’t appeared since #43. And when pieces of the story get close to coming together, the resolution happens in the recap page, or it’s a “tell, don’t show” situation. Valentine de Landro’s art is ok, but like the script itself, it doesn’t feel like it’s working on a lot of inspiration. He’s done better before, and as a good-bye issue for “X-Factor” it’s curiously lackluster.
It’s frustrating because there are little sparks of good peppered throughout the issue. When we finally get big revelations about Layla Miller’s powers and how she “knows stuff,” it reminds me of the older issues of “X-Factor” where it felt like something big happened every month. Likewise, David makes Trevor Fitzroy an interesting character for the first time since he was introduced in 1991. With the team potentially back together for “X-Factor” #200 around the corner, I’m hoping that the book regains its groove.