I'll be the first one to admit that "X-Factor" can be a frustrating read at times; the book shifts back and forth from strength to weakness at the drop of a hat, making each issue a bit of a mystery. With the latest storyline, though, I think that Peter David and Emanuela Lupacchino have fallen into a good groove. This is probably the most consistent the book's been in a while, and in a positive way.
After floundering on the edges of storylines, or having ones cut short, Monet and Guido are finally getting the center spotlight in the aftermath of an assassin attack that hit Guido while another targets J. Jonah Jameson. Watching the team scramble to both save Guido's life and also stop Ballistique and Rococo ends up being nicely tense, letting us see just how far they'll go when pushed.
It's Monet who ends up with the most attention here; the story where she tried to save her father had felt oddly truncated, so seeing her get such a meaty role is a nice change of pace. She's never really been an out-and-out superhero (first in "Generation X" and now here in "X-Factor"), so seeing her just boil over with rage and sadness, followed by lashing out at the assassins? It fits. It's all the more interesting because David doesn't try to show it as a mistake or coincidence. It's a line deliberately crossed by Monet, and it's the kind of moment that David is good at building future developments from.
Speaking of which, it's nice to see another character's big revelation about their powers from a couple of years ago come into play for a surprise conclusion to this issue. Readers who've been around for a while will see a whole different level of "oh no" added onto the last few pages; it's a ballsy move on David's part that threatens to tear out the core of the book, and I'm more than a little curious to see how he'll move through this new status quo.
Lupacchino's art is overall good; there are little moments throughout the comic that stood out to me in a visual manner. When Monet's attack hits Ballistique, for instance, there's a grace and fluid nature to the way her body moves backwards that reminded me of artists like Terry Dodson and Matthew Haley. From the curls of hair to the strap on her trenchcoat, you can almost feel the impact yourself by the way her body ripples through the air. And likewise, Black Cat's fight on the rooftop with Rococo is graceful and fun. While Lupacchino's art in general is a bit too busty for my own tastes, I have to admit that with Black Cat it's a perfect look for the character and her history.
With some issues of "X-Factor" I've felt like half the cast missing was a detriment, but here it's to the book's favor. With such a fast pace, slowing it down to bring the rest of the characters in would've been a mistake. I have no idea just what David and Lupacchino have in store for us next, but after this month's issue, I'm dying to find out.