As X-Factor collections go, “limp” about described Together Again for the First Time, in both the physical sense at a mere five issues, and in terms of content when compared to the remainder of the run. Physically this is even limper at only four issues for $17, but otherwise there’s not a comparison at all as The Road to Redemption is solidly entertaining.

Peter David has always been a clever writer, and there’s shining proof here in the final chapter. We’re presented with the world as experienced by Layla Miller, who knows portions of the future, but rarely with an exactitude. Here she’s aware she has 23 minutes to save a woman’s life, but David displays all the decisions and alternatives that come into play as she considers the best method of doing so. The work put into this would be more than satisfactory for most writers, but David also provides us with a surprise to conclude the 23 minutes, and a great explanation. This could be seen as a 21st century updating of the classic Spirit story ‘Ten Minutes‘.

That’s the standout, but all the preceding material is compelling if you’ve come to love the cast. The series was becoming over-crowded, so a few members take off (although we’ll be seeing them again in the following Breaking Points), and some members who’ve faded into the background are kicked back into focus. Among them is Rahne Sinclair, Wolfsbane, Scottish self-flagellating Christian werewolf. Her purpose over the past few books has been to wallow in misery, and both the readers and her team-mates have had enough. Cue a road trip in the company of Polaris and Siryn (now Banshee), a surprising intervention and a conclusion to that plot seguing into another.

Longer consequences stem from Banshee and Havok’s trip to the New York town of Ulster where an ages-old threat awaits with some foreboding words about the future, masterfully delivered. This is an instance of mysticism and superheroes meshing very well indeed.

Were this Scandinavia the idea of a book written by David with Paul Davidson providing the art would have a greater meaning, but it’s quite the wry coincidence. Davidson would be better on the later Short Stories, but here his layouts are okay, if his art’s not quite finished article, with faces that are flat and stiff figures. Neil Edwards, also just starting out at Marvel, is a few stages ahead, and up to providing the emotional content required for the opening and closing chapters.