When "X-Factor" came back with issue #200, I remember hoping that we'd see a version of the series that had some shorter, snappier stories; the series had just gone through a year-long story that had dragged on far enough to make a lot of readers forget just what was going on. With this month, "X-Factor" wraps up its new storyline in just three issues, and it feels like a nice breath of fresh air.
In short, this is the sort of story that I was enjoying in earlier issues of "X-Factor." Peter David mixes drama and humor, and a strong sense of how to write other people's characters. His take on Franklin and Valeria Richards is spot-on perfect, and I'm fully ready to petition Marvel for a "Guido Baby-sits the Richards Kids" mini-series. There's a nice give and take humor in the New York scenes, and I was grinning and nodding the whole way through.
The Latveria half of the storyline is good, although the conclusion to what was happening with Reed Richards (as well as the missing Sue Richards) felt a tiny bit rushed, a big information dump thrown out to the reader and then moving on. Still, if that meant the story wrapped up at a good pace, I can't complain too much. David's doing a good job of juggling his large cast here, and it feels like there's a real direction for the comic again.
Overall, I do like Bing Cansino's art; his characters look lithe and limber, and there's something about the way he shades his art that bizarrely reminds me of old time indy comics artist David Chelsea. I'm mostly happy with Cansino's work here, and think that on the whole he's a good addition to the title. On the other hand, there seems to have been a slight artistic mix-up towards the end of the book, with scenes involving Layla Miller accidentally having Monet drawn into the scenes instead. There's a hastily added "M" onto Layla's face to try and make things clearer, but with darker skin tone, hair, and Monet's jacket all showing up along with Layla's "M" tattoo, it's a screw-up that you'd think would have gotten fixed when the pages were first turned in. Even if they hadn't redrawn the issues, a little blond hair would have gone a long way.
Still, this is a massive improvement from "X-Factor" six months ago; the book feels energized and alive again, not counting out its pages and glancing at its watch. Who knew that adding 150 onto your age could make you feel young again? That might not work for people, but in the case of "X-Factor" it did the trick quite nicely. "X-Factor" is back in action and I'm happy to see its return.