The ninth in a group of like 12-15 posts on X-Factor volume 3.
Those First Few Dominoes
This'll probably be a quick one, because these are quick little tales.
Even if you count X-Factor #233 & 234 as one story instead of two (the argument can be made strongly for either) these eight issues still comprise five distinct narrative arcs. That's a lot of story in a fairly small space, but Peter David utilizes it well, getting a ton of set-up work done for things that'll pay off in the future. It does mean some of the A-plots of these issues are fluffier fare so the background material can introduce more important things, but even the lightweight stuff has consequences and/or dangling threads that we know will be tied off eventually.
The first two issues focus on the team settling into their new enormous lineup now that Havok and Polaris have signed on and Madrox is back from the dead. It's not an easy adjustment for any of them to make, and so we watch them butt heads with each other instead of villains for a little while until they find a place of tenuous calm. Then there's a two-part story about a bad guy from Mojoworld named Scattershot that doesn't fully resolve. Shatterstar defeats him, but then lies to the team about some of the details, and we don't know yet why a new agent of Mojo's would be causing trouble on Earth in the first place. It's a fun ride, though, and Scattershot has a hilarious 90's throwback look, so fingers crossed that we'll see the real conclusion of that story someday soon.
I love X-Factor #237 because I'm always a fan of the Reverend John Maddox, and his conversation with Rahne is a powerful and necessary step in her personal arc. She's overdue for a bit of redemption, and who better than the Madrox-dupe-turned-priest to deliver it? Also Banshee and Polaris have a nice interplay, and it's the first time Polaris gets to be that big a part of an issue, which is all good to see. A simple story, but significant all the same. It's followed by another two-parter, this one centered on Banshee's struggle against Morrigan, a true mythological banshee who dislikes having her name misrepresented. Like the Scattershot tale, Morrigan's story only partially concludes here, but its final resolution comes very quickly (as in it'll be part of the next batch of issues discussed). What we get for now is a sudden and maybe overly simple temporary fix in the form of help from an unexpected third party, and though it works fine, overall I think these two issues are the weakest of the group. Morrigan needed to be established here, but the story around her introduction isn't all that meaty.
Lastly there is the Layla-narrated X-Factor #240, which sheds some light on how her future-seeing abilites work and what changed about them after she brought Guido back to life. It also shows us glimpses of her more distant future: a life and family with Madrox and the possibility of losing him too early. I quite like the idea that she is already working behind the scenes to save and secure their love. And even though she'd already explained a lot of it, however cryptically, I appreciated a chance to finally see the "stuff" she knows from her point of view and hear her internal take on it. She's been such an important force in this title since the very start, it was high time we peeked inside her head, even briefly.
These are a remarkably swift-paced bunch of issues. The amount of new information given and new seeds sown is impressive, and David fits in several complete smaller narratives, too. But I think that the most important purpose this era in the title's life serves is to get all the dominoes lined up so David can knock them over for the incredible five-part arc that follows, aptly titled "Breaking Points." That's where my next post will begin, and it'll end with the "Hell on Earth War" that's currently under way.