Between Heart of Ice and this volume X-Factor were involved in Messiah CompleX, a crossover between assorted X-Men related titles. The lasting elements impacting on this series are that Madrox now sports a big M facial tattoo identifying him as a mutant, a souvenir of a trip to an unpleasant future where Layla Miller remains, also with facial disfigurement.

The X-Factor ending this volume is considerably re-shuffled, with members departing, their area of operations considerably re-modelled and their terms of reference modified. Layla’s absence prompts Madrox’s descent into self-doubt, well delivered by Peter David, with Madrox missing the most important cues while mistakenly prioritising other matters. Among the assorted unpleasant types in Messiah CompleX were anti-mutant bigots the Purifiers, and Rictor’s successful infiltration led to their downfall, which their leader has taken very poorly, engaging a familiar X-Men foe to provide his revenge.

Much of David’s writing revolves around the finely turned phrase and meticulous plotting, but here he also manages to deliver tragedy, especially over a well-chosen few panels with observing firemen. X-Factor are needed for a widescale rescue mission, and David humanises those being saved in typically eccentric fashion.

In terms of art this is one decent volume, with two of the best X-Factor artists. Pablo Raimondi delivers his final work on the series and Valentine De Landro his initial chapters. The volume closes with the re-invigoration of Quicksilver. It’s a weaker story that re-programs the character for use, but in suspect fashion, as his mutant abilities are somehow restored while all others remain powered down. The next volume is Secret Invasion.