It's been a while since the new "X-Factor" line-up was announced with Havok, Polaris and Val Cooper returning to the fold. Now that Peter David and Leonard Kirk have given us the first issue with Havok back in the leadership role of the book he originally took over back in issue #71, it's not as exciting as one would expect.
With Jamie Madrox back from the dead as of last month, you'd probably think we'd see Jamie and Havok interacting. After all, Havok has taken over Jamie's team (under the assumption that Jamie was dead) and the inevitable discussion holds some promise. Instead, David keeps Jamie and Layla Miller off in their own corner of the book, while the other characters are off on a mission. It's a decision I think falls a little flat on its face; the further the issue progresses, the more irritating having them isolated from everyone else becomes. It's a meeting teased out a bit too long already and another issue progressing without it happening is no longer making the eventual moment exciting.
It's a shame, too, because the story with the rest of the team going after a fringe group's encampment is well told and in many ways reminds me of the "X-Factor" run by David and Larry Stroman back in the '90s. David's still got a strong handle on Havok-as-leader, and seeing him and Polaris interact with the rest of the team is natural enough that it feels like they've never been gone. It's overall a good addition to the team and that's the thread moving through the book (versus Madrox's reuniting with Layla, or the teaser with the return of enemy Josef Huber) that makes me interested in the next issue.
Kirk's art looks great here; that title splash page with Madrox and Layla is beautifully drawn, from Layla's look of contentment to Madrox's pensive face. Kirk's art from panel to panel has a strong progression; you can always get a strong feel for the movement of the characters and his clean style results in a series of thoroughly attractive characters. From the typical superhuman pose to a small, tender touch, Kirk's turning out great art here.
It's nice to see "X-Factor" finally moving forward again, but after months of teasing, it feels like we should be a bit further along. "X-Factor" is at its worst when the pace slows down, so hopefully we're finally getting beyond that now.