In Time and a Half Madrox was abducted eighty years into the future by a now much older Layla Miller and ran into some familiar faces, among them an aged and decrepit Doctor Doom. His condition hasn’t diminished his arrogance, and early in the book there’s a brilliant two pages contrasting the way Doom perceives what’s occurring with reality. Madrox also recognises someone who’ll become a major threat even further in the future, so an additional conundrum becomes whether or not to nip that in the bud.

In the early 21st century M has been possessed, leaving her under the control of a villain speaking in purple, and writer Peter David begins a series of hints regarding the similarity of Longshot and Shatterstar sustained until the end of the series. His use of Longshot’s ability to influence probability in his favour works well here,

Valentine De Landro’s art is spectacular in places, but he has difficulty with facial consistency, so what is supposed to be a big end of chapter reveal is largely impotent. Where the plot is only dependent on characters being recognisable via costume, he delivers great action scenes and varies his viewpoints for the talking head sequences to keep them interesting.

David is on top of his game here with brilliant foreshadowing, and throwing in completely random elements that work just fine in context. A potential suicide is one example, swiftly and amusingly dealt with. Mr Tripp from the earliest volumes has an influence, and there’s an explanation for a formidable X-Men villain as well. By the clever and immensely satisfying conclusion a lot has been explained about Layla Miller.

For those wanting more, though, there’s a chapter focusing entirely on her. It opens with her earliest experiences after disappearing to the future and follows her escape from a concentration camp until she meets the allies whom she’s still accompanying in Time and a Half. It’s a very effective character study from David with De Landro also excellent.

There are also artistic contributions from Marco Santucci and Craig Yeung in what restores X-Factor to a top of the line product, and the quality level is sustained over the next dozen or so volumes, starting with The Invisible Woman has Vanished.