"X-Factor" #250 written by Peter David and drawn by Leonard Kirk sees the X-Office's most consistent title hit yet another numerical milestone as a year of storylines masterfully converge and collectively kick off David's latest opus, "Hell on Earth War." The issue very much feels "in progress", as characters return and secrets are revealed. At the same time, it's the start of a new story. This, in a way, is "X-Factor" in a nutshell: there's never a better (or worse) time to start reading, and you'll enjoy picking it up as you go.
Reading this issue, the concern is that David's strengths typically lie in the small stuff -- character, dialogue, subplotting, etc -- so when a book like "X-Factor" kicks things up a gear and tries to take on an end-of-the-world sense of gravitas, it risks losing its very identity. That said, David has done his best to keep the focus tight on the characters despite the chaos surrounding them, and that helps to keep his best qualities up front. Darwin's internal conflict is particularly strong, but it's Tier who ultimately walks away with the spotlight.
Kirk's artwork works in harmony with the writing, as it should. In many ways, he's the visual equivalent of David's literary style -- technical but emotive, full of depth and offering substance before flash. That's not to say that there isn't flash, but it's deployed sparingly and appropriately, and all the better for it. The final page, in particular, is a fantastic image.
Whether a book that's ostensibly about a superhero detective agency can handle the transition to featuring a supernatural war is definitely something readers might worry about, but if anyone can make it work, Peter David can. The center of the story is an age-old philosophical quandary, and David's characters are all strongly-developed enough that they're all sure to have different viewpoints on the correct way to deal with the situation.
According to publicity, the Hell on Earth War storyline is one that has been percolating David's books as far back as his run on "Incredible Hulk," so for those readers who have followed his career since then, it's tough not to be excited at the prospect of a larger denouement. "X-Factor" is rarely anything less than great, and with so much work already having gone into this storyline, there's every reason to believe that, like this issue, this story's going to be even better than usual.