Despite no longer relying on shock revelations, Peter David has little difficulty in retaining interest in his reinvigorated X-Factor, here working the rest of the team into the emotionally heightened set-up. There are a couple of slightly ropey moments involving the weaker members of the book’s cast, but by and larger the momentum that the writer has established is enough to keep the action moving.
It’s immediately made clear that Layla Miller’s return from the distopian future in which she was last seen is by no means as clear cut as it appeared. Meanwhile, the X-Factor agency continues to juggle it stock-in trade with rather more action-packed instructions from Val Cooper and the ONE. With an eye to new readers brought to the book by the attention-grabbing events of the previous two issues, David uses the detective agency’s interview with a potential new client as a means of reintroducing the status quo which has so far been absent from this arc, in addition to the more obvious recap of their relations with the government. The characterisation is a slightly more mixed success, particularly with regard to Longshot’s slavish obedience to his libido. A one-joke character is still a one-joke character, even if the joke in question is a good one. Thankfully, the more established members of the team largely make up for the weakness of the more recent additions.
The pencilling from Valentine DeLandro sadly falls somewhat short of his usual high standards, with a noticeable drop in detail since the last issue. David has anticipated this occurrence though, with the plot structured to minimise the impact of Marco Santucci’s additional work on the issue, handling the scenes that do not involve Madrox. Just as great a show of skill on the writer’s part comes during the cliffhanger, which conveys just as great an impact for new readers of the title as it does for those who are familiar with the previous tale it draws upon. David’s publicly stated goal of tripling sales by the end of the year still sounds a tall order, but it’s impossible to imagine a better attempt at that target being made.