I have asked and I have received: Peter David has put X-Factor back to its focus on the smaller, much more character driven stories that it does best. Layla Miller finds herself in Marrakesh searching for her wayward husband, who is still possessed by a demon after the climax of last issue. When she finds him in the house of a young boy, whose mistaken him for a djinn that will bring his mother back from the dead, the situation turns out about as bad as it possibly could. There’s even an interesting twist thrown in that turns reader expectations about a character completely on its head, and is actually a refreshing moment, despite being extremely brief. Even without the supernatural hooks, at the heart of this issue is an extremely heartbreaking situation of a husband and wife who just want to try and put their life back together, but have a massive roadblock in the way. We’re not actually given much closure on whether or not that’s going to be possible, but there are definitely some signs and some progress made in one direction.
Neil Edwards pencils and does a great job with character expressions particularly, but special attention must be paid to his creature design. I won’t say what the creature is, what it represents or where it comes from, but it’s one of the most genuinely unsettling things I’ve ever seen in a superhero comic and it’s used to great, by which I of course mean absolutely terrible, effect. Layla’s at the center of the story, and her every inner tumult is apparent but the side characters aren’t given short-shrift as frustration, anguish and terror flash across them from one panel to the next. Even poor Jamie, with a supernatural headcrab having taken up residence on his face, communicates and emotes so much with just body language.
If you don’t care about Jamie Madrox or Layla Miller, then you shouldn’t pick this book up. Then again, I can’t imagine why you’d have stuck with the series this long were that not the case. There’s not much forward movement on Jamie’s “demon” situation, and not much is even known about whether the process is reversible, but I’m fine with delayed gratification as long as it gets resolved.
Absolutely amazing. I thought I wouldn’t be ready for more X-Factor so soon after such an emotionally draining arc, and an ESPECIALLY draining final issue of that arc, but here I am ready to love again. The B-story of the boy and his uncle trying to bring back the woman of the house is actually quite affecting and shouldn’t be discounted, but it’s hard to talk in-depth about without revealing too much. Suffice it to say, again, that there’s a great moment when you think a well-worn trope is about to be trotted out, but things go in an entirely unexpected, and absolutely tragic and terrifying, direction. Cover-to-cover a great issue and thus begins the six-issue End of X-Factor, and if it’s any indication, this should be the best arc yet.