Well, that's a little more like it. After a year of a lackluster storyline set in the future, "X-Factor" is back with a new numbering system and a bit of pep in its stride. (Considering that the previous "X-Factor" concluded with #149, I suppose it makes sense that the current run got to have both an issue #50 and #200 back-to-back.) That's right, the fun has returned.
No longer in exile out in Detroit, Jamie Madrox and the bulk of the team are now based out of New York again, and that's a good thing. Part of the fun of "X-Factor" is letting Peter David get his group of misfit characters interacting with the rest of the Marvel Universe, and with 90% of them in New York, all sorts of opportunities are open to David once more. This issue doesn't disappoint, with the highly-publicized story of searching for the missing Invisible Woman kicking off in high spirits.
The more you look at "X-Factor" #200, the more you can almost feel a checklist in the back of your head that was titled, "Things I Liked About X-Factor Scripts." Smart-alec lines? Check. A mystery? Check. Guest-stars getting mercilessly teased? Check. Drama? Check. Fun? Check. In fact, it's that last one that was in short supply over the last year's worth of "X-Factor." Everything was so grim and serious that seeing a lighter side in "X-Factor" #200 is a breath of fresh air. Sure, Guido making gladiator movie jokes is a tiny bit predictable, but I found myself just glad that characters in the book are able to crack jokes again. (I also don't ever recall finding the character of Shatterstar interesting before now, so chalk another victory up to David's scripts.) I also appreciate that there are subplots running in "X-Factor" that are holding my interest. Monet's new storyline looks promising, and I'm willing to wait and see on Siryn's personal journey.
I don't remember seeing Bing Cansino's name on a book I've read before, but it's nice. I appreciated right off the bat that everyone has different body types here, from Guido's hulking torso to the leaner Shatterstar. Cansino spends a lot of time on Madrox's face, and I think the effort pays off; the crosshatching and expressions meld together in a slightly moody, sad looking Madrox. It's perfect for David's script, and hopefully he can stick around for a while on a book that seems to shed artists left and right. Karl Moline penciling a back-up story was a nice surprise as well; his pencils always have a pep to them that livens up what is otherwise a rather downbeat story.
If you've never read the current incarnation of "X-Factor," this issue even includes a reprint of "Madrox" #1, the first issue of the mini-series that lead up to the return of "X-Factor." Hopefully all of this influx of energy will get the book the attention it once more deserves. This was a pleasant surprise