When “X-Factor” started its run, it was routinely praised as the best X-Men book being published at the time. Although its star has diminished (largely due to the rest of the line improving around it) it remains a solid monthly read, and recent months have seen PAD attempt to redefine its existence slightly in an attempt to boost the profile -- and sales figures -- of the series.
It’s a little disappointing, then, that PAD’s commitment to having a shocking moment in every issue seems to have faltered after a few issues. The last two twists have both relied on readers being unfamiliar with characters who previously appeared in the “Layla Miller” one-shot some months ago, and while that might work for any new readers who have arrived on the series, it’s a little disappointing for those who have stuck with “X-Factor” since the beginning.
Now, that’s not to say the issue’s bad -- purely as an X-Men nerd, it’s enjoyable to see PAD putting some events behind the “Summers Rebellion” name, which was occasionally thrown around by Bishop during the 90s without ever being expanded upon. PAD also makes particularly good use of a Sentinel, presenting it as a genuine threat while simultaneously showing how Madrox might reasonably fight one. It’s a nice, inventive action scene and those are all-too rare, even in superhero comics.
In a more general sense, the return of Layla Miller to the pages of “X-Factor” has put some real energy back into the series, though the development of non-Madrox subplots -- including one intriguing moment with Longshot -- is more than welcome after the series recent focus on its main cast member.
There’s very little to criticize about X-Factor as it stands -- Valentine DeLandro’s work is light years ahead of most of the book’s previous artists, and it’s particularly nice, as a reader, to see some consistency on a book that’d been dogged by artistic reshuffles in recent years. It might not be quite so obviously the best X-title around anymore, but it makes me care about the characters and never fails to leave me ready for another issue. In that respect, it’s got everything I’m after in a comic.