With Darwin returned to his father last issue, the characterâs story seemed to be at an end. Unusually, the apparently neat ending was actually a colossal fake-out, and Darwinâs plight once again return the character to the spotlight, definitively paving the way for his integration into the cast -- assuming he makes it out of this arc alive.
David also brings Longshot to the cast, this time in non-Skrull form, and immediately starts having fun with his oft-ignored âattraction auraâ power, last mentioned by a writer some time in 1822. Longshot is seemingly an odd choice to join the âX-Factorâ cast -- but under Davidâs stewardship, that paradoxically leaves him the perfect choice. His presence returns some of the lightness and humor the title lost when Layla Miller disappeared, but the character does get some serious material, too. While the character is frequently the butt of industry jokes, David manages to keep him believable, even in the context of a grounded title like âX-Factorâ.
Stromanâs art regrettably drags the book way below par. While it recalls his collaboration with Peter David on the original âX-Factorâ many years ago, it isnât quite as solid as back then -- the evolution of his style since then makes for one ugly looking book. The series to date has been cursed with a succession of inconsistent artists, and while itâd be nice to get someone on regularly who can keep up the pace, Stroman doesnât seem destined to be the one who fills that role, based on the reaction heâs been getting.
After a long period of derailment following the Messiah Complex crossover and the loss of two of the titleâs better cast members, âX-Factorâ does finally appear to be regaining its pace. While itâs easy to pine for the return of Miller, itâs worth remembering that David has consistently shown a masterful ability to take the unwanted and unexpected and run with it until, against all odds, it works -- even the original inclusion of Miller in the cast was an example of this. âX-Factorâ, if nothing else, is a title thatâll reward readers in the long haul as much as on an individual issue basis.
Unfortunately for readers, while the story and script are both engaging, neither can be fully appreciated until Stroman tightens up his work. You know thereâs a problem when the artwork actively distracts you from the story. It feels harsh to criticize so strongly, but it canât be ignored that Stroman is clearly capable of much better work, and the buyers of âX-Factorâ deserve better too.