When "Messiah Complex" spilled over into "X-Factor," the title was utterly subsumed, and while the impact of that story was far-reaching, it undoubtedly sucked some of the momentum out of the ongoing plot for a few months. Can the "Second Coming" tie-in issues avoid the same mistakes?
Well, sort of. Since "X-Factor"'s relaunch was supposed to position it more as a Marvel Universe title, I have my doubts about whether that comes across if you participate in a major X-Men crossover several issues in, but then, there was really no way to avoid it.
Although David has tried to weave the plot of "Second Coming" into the ongoing arc of the book, the results still feel like an interruption. Its true to the spirit of the story, perhaps, but less satisfying as a piece of fiction. Baron Mordo already felt like an incongruous villain for an X-book, so having him pushed into the background in favor of Trask and Bastion's goons makes the plot seem even less coherent. It doesn't help that the cast is all over the place, either.
Since it's a Peter David book, there are a lot of decent moments, however. David knows how to build up his cast, with several members of the team (Banshee in particular) getting a moment of brilliance usually reserved for the likes of Wolverine. It reminds you exactly why mutants might be so feared in the first place, and contrasts perfectly against Bastion's genocidal imperative. Similarly, the divided cast is used as a counterpoint for the team's decision not to join the X-Men on Utopia. It's testament to his abilities as a writer that even David's weaker issues are thoughtful and amusing.
De Landro has always been, in my mind, the definitive artist for "X-Factor," and this issue showcases that perfectly. The visuals are strong, and David's essential comic timing is played to magnificently. It's not uniformly excellent -- Darwin, in particular, struggles without a very recognizable look -- but, generally speaking, the art is high-quality and enjoyable.
Although the issue is subtitled "Second Coming Revelations," there's nothing here that actually expands on the main plot of the crossover. It simply shows Bastion's fight against mutantkind on another front. It's good news for "X-Factor" fans, but not so much for anyone who bought the issue for the crossover tie-in.
Still, it's hard to criticize a book like "X-Factor" for looking after its core audience, and if some incoming readers recognize its quality as a result of the crossover, well, that can only be a good thing.