Sometimes books you like let you down just because they've got a big cast of interesting characters and you're way more interested in what might be happening off-panel than in the story you're actually reading. Such is the case with "X-Factor" #219.
Monet is a character that doesn't work so well as a lead. She's better as the arrogant but somewhat reluctant hero with the dry sense of humor, standing in the background throwing cruel barbs around just because she can. She could certainly grow out of that role and into something bigger and more interesting, but for me, Peter David doesn't manage it here, or in the last few issues where she's been more front and center. Her response to Guido's death/near death has lacked believable emotional resonance, and her "revenge" attempt in this issue feels ho-hum, despite both David and Emanuela Lupacchino's best efforts. I find myself turning pages and hoping maybe we'll be getting more Black Cat, or Layla, maybe some extra Longshot and Shatterstar, even Madrox. But alas, this is heavy on the Monet and also a bit on the exposition, neither of which are wildly intriguing.
That said, Peter David simply writes good solid comics. He knows his characters and moves them about the board expertly. While this particular story doesn't get my blood going so much, I have no doubt that in his hands, the next arc might. And even when David's not hitting it out of the park, there's still plenty of funny, such as Black Cat and Longshot realizing that their luck powers are canceling each other out and screwing everything up. The handful of funny panels David is able to get out of that reveal alone are the kind of little things that just make well-written comics so fun.
Emanuela Lupacchino continues to be a massive talent that this book is extremely lucky to have. Her art is exceptionally pretty but always functional and clean and easy to follow. She pays wonderful attention to details like Theresa's freckles, and to clothing both superhero and otherwise - something vital, but frequently glossed over in comics. In truth, her work is slightly too voluptuous for me in general, and of late, Monet's outfit seems to have a magical sliding neckline, which is irritating. But, on the whole, it's beautiful work, beautiful enough that I recognize that it's really just silly to complain, if only more comics could look this good.
Overall this issue of "X-Factor" underwhelmed and I find myself anxious to move onto the next. But month after month "X-Factor" delivers solid superhero tales full of fantastic characters, so it's just a matter of time before David nails another issue perfectly, and until then, there was still fun to be had here.