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And yet, this cover is AMAZING.

And yet, this cover is AMAZING.

X-Factor #258

Written by Peter David

Pencils by Neil Edwards & Carmen Carnero

Inks by Jay Leisten

Colors by Matt Milla

Review by Joey Braccino

Peter David’s final “arc” on X-Factor continues with another one-and-done, character-centric issue. This time, David shifts his focus to a mourning-mother Rahne Sinclair and dupe-turned-preacher John Madrox.

The issue opens with a jarring sequence involving gun violence in Madrox’s congregation. Given the current cultural and political events regarding gun violence, the opening scene is particularly shocking, and, while I’d usually trust David’s scripting to the ends of the earth, I couldn’t help but remain a bit unsettled through the rest of the issue.

With that complaint aside, however, the rest of the issue demonstrates yet another example of David’s deft character work. We here at Talking Comics often praise X-Factor for its humor and team dynamic, but issue #258 eschews that standard fare for a more introspective, meditative, somber tone. **SPOILERS for “Hell on Earth War” ahead** Rahne has just lost her son, Tier, at the hands of her former friend, Guido, and this issue gives us a glimpse into her rage and her sorrow. There is a particularly moving sequence with the deceased Hrimhari in Niflheim that reminds the reader of just how much continuity is woven up into these final stories.

The resolution to this issue feels a bit empty, and it doesn’t help that David reminds us that the last John Madrox/Rahne Sinclair story back in issue #237 was so darn good. The ending hinges on the aforementioned shocking opening, and it’s reached in just a few panels. Furthering the “rushed” feeling of the issue is the fact that art is split between Neil Edwards and Carmen Carnero. While both have exceptional artistic styles, the changeover between the two is apparent. Rather than splitting the artwork according to the narrative—real-time and flashback or setting to setting—the artists literally split the story in half. I don’t know what changed since last issue, in which the two split duties as well, but the change is much more apparent, and much more jarring, this time around.

Verdict

While last issue’s Madrox/Miller-centric story rested on the laurels of its humor and character-work, issue #258 falls a bit flat. Yes, it provides some resolution to Rahne’s story, but said resolution feels empty and contrived. This may be due to Rahne’s character, which has been all over the place over the last few years between X-Factor and X-Force, or it may be the result of the higher level of continuity present in this issue. Nevertheless, part 2 of “The End of X-Factor” falters where part 1 did not. Here’s to hoping that next issue—centering on Rictor and Shatterstar—regains some of the momentum David’s series had coming out of “Hell on Earth War!”

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