"X-Factor" #237 by Peter David and Neil Edwards returns to the long-running subplot about Rahne's demonic/Asgardian child and attempts to give it a bit of a kick-start. Although it was allowed to fall by the wayside, long-time readers of the book were confident the pay off would arrive, and it seems that their confidence has been rewarded.
After spending months in the wilderness with a couple of unevenly-executed long-running storylines, the last few issues of "X-Factor" have been a clear return to form for David as he focuses on the shorter, character-driven stories that made his series so well-loved.
The idea with this issue is to get Rahne out of her funk following the birth of her child -- a demonic wolf that she abandoned in a mixture of horror and religious outrage. David uses the issue to take her guilt to a logical extreme, using the familiar face of the reverend John Maddox as a foil for her problems.
Together with the road trip organized to actually get Rahne to the church, it's (not unsurprisingly) a very conversational issue, and while there are moments of action, "X-Factor" is a book confident enough in its own skin not to worry that someone isn't getting punched two-thirds through the issue. David's dialogue shines, as ever, juggling both pathos and comedy like the seasoned pro that he is.
Penciller Neil Edwards turns in some strong work with all the storytelling ability that such an emotionally heavy issue requires -- he's clearly good with things like posture and facial expressions, which is essential when the story relies so much on the nuance of a character's feelings. There is an odd quirk in that most characters seem to have their mouths closed even in panels that show them speaking, but it's not a huge problem and it's only distracting once you notice it (so, er, sorry about that).
So, another good issue of "X-Factor" that recaptures the long-absent spirit of the book's early days. It's great to see a title cast in such a retro mold of sub-plots and single-issue stories that doesn't feel out-of-date. Where most books attempting to do something a bit more traditional end up feeling stilted and outmoded, "X-Factor" combines an older style of comic book storytelling with thoroughly modern techniques -- and the fact that it's not involved in any crossovers right now is just one more reason to enjoy it.