Everywhere you look, another comic rolls out an "Everything changes!" storyline. With Marvel NOW! scheduled to happen later this year, it certainly makes sense; a lot of characters are about to get shuffled around at Marvel, and now is the time to best reflect those changes. With that in mind, enter "X-Factor" #241 from Peter David and Leonard Kirk. With Havok on the cover of this fall's "Uncanny Avengers" #1, readers know there are some changes heading for "X-Factor," and based on this opening chapter, that's definitely the case.
With a 12-character main cast, "X-Factor" definitely has a large line-up, which David has had mixed success on juggling. This issue is definitely one of the better examples, as nine of the twelve characters make an appearance (and the remaining three have recently headed out on a mission). Everyone feels like they have a purpose and the book is on track. This issue also follows up on the earlier subplot of Madrox's enemies from other dimensions following him to the main Marvel Universe, and considering it was a group of characters that never felt very interesting, it's nice to see them not only have a purpose but also get placed in the center of a genuinely interesting plot. It feels like it was a long play to get to this point, but ultimately David's plotting brought them to a satisfying spot.
In many ways, "X-Factor" #241 feels like the end result of lots of subplots. That's good for those who have been reading for some time and wondering what ever happened to certain villains, or shifts in personality for some of the characters. The one downside is that it's not quite as new-reader friendly as a direct result. New readers will miss the importance of a lot of the moments peppered throughout this issue. With these subplots presumably getting wrapped up and cleared out, though, it does mean that once the dust settles it should be wide open for new stories and be that much more new-reader friendly.
Kirk's pencils look nice and clean as always. Characters like Dormammu look imposing, and the grimace on Monet's face as she digs into a tub of ice cream gets David's character notes across in a satisfying way (despite the cliche of ladies eating ice cream when the going gets tough). The best thing about Kirk's art this issue, though, has got to be when Monet flies. There's something so graceful and fast about the moment that it actually feels like we're seeing her move across the page, rather than a static image.
"X-Factor" #241 is fun, but it's also the first of five parts for "Breaking Points." It could all still come tumbling down, but for the moment, it feels like David and Kirk are on the right track.