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Jan 6

X-Factor #6 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

X-FACTOR vol 4 #6
“Suite No. 6: Scio Me Hili Scire ‘Second Movement'”
by Leah Williams, David Baldeon & Israel Silva

COVER / PAGE 1: Siryn, with her voice forming the image of a death spirit of some sort.

PAGE 2: An epigraph from Siryn, though with an asterisk to something redacted. Presumably this is supposed to indicate that it’s actually the death spirit that’s possessing her (of whom more later). Though this seems to be an original quote, the basic observation that death is comparable to waking from a dream isn’t new.

PAGES 3-4. X-Factor relax at home.

“May have gotten lonely and left an ill-advised voice mail to Alex last night.” Alex Summers (Havok from Hellions). Lorna and Alex were a couple for decades, but haven’t had many dealings lately. It feels a bit odd for people on Krakoa to talk about using regular mobile phones.

“It’s a nineteenth-century beekeeper almanac.” It is indeed. Specifically, Prodigy is reading excerpts from The American Bee Journal (“Oldest Bee Paper in America, Established 1861”). On page 3, he’s reading from a short article entitled “Bee Humbug” by J H Thomas of Brooklyn, Ontario, published either September 1870 or September 1873 (the Project Gutenberg page lists both dates). It’s an article about the problem posed by unscrupulous or incompetent sellers of poor-quality beehives. For some reason, on the next page Prodigy has moved on to a different issue, published in 1894. Eye-Boy’s line – “Good for Texas” – is actually the next line of the original text. “Mrs Atchley” was Jennie Atchley, a regular contributor to the Journal at around this time. Isn’t this all wonderfully calming and irrelevant?

Bush bagels. The Five gave X-Factor a “bagel plant” as a housewarming present in issue #1. (Thanks to Zack from Comic-XF for pointing that out, since I’d completely forgotten it.)

Aurora and Daken‘s sexual tension has appeared in previous issues.

PAGE 5. Recap and credits. The title continues the classical music theme from earlier issues (except the “X of Swords” crossover). The subtitle, “Scio me nihil scire”, is Latin for “I know that I know nothing” – i.e., I am aware of the limits of my own knowledge – which is a paraphrase of a comment attributed to Socrates.

PAGES 6-12. X-Factor attend the second death of Siryn.

Siryn’s first inexplicable death was in the previous issue, when she somehow managed to fall to her death despite being able to fly.

The police. This is a faithful rendition of the UK police, but nobody seems to raise the question of what Siryn was doing in the UK in the first place. She was born in the Republic of Ireland. One of the cops, Theo, is blatantly prejudiced against mutants; the woman who does most of the talking seems pretty reasonable, and actually quite sensible given X-Factor’s rather high-handed attitude towards her. (She’s awful at asking questions, though. If you want actual answers, don’t ask a string of unrelated questions in a row without waiting for an answer.)

There’s an odd idea in this scene that X-Factor ought to have exclusive jurisdiction over mutant deaths even when they raise obvious suspicions of criminality (as Siryn’s surely does, at least from the police’s point of view). Are X-Factor seriously suggesting that if she had been murdered by a human on British soil then they would expect the killer to be tried in Krkaoa? If not, what’s their objection to the forensic scientists gathering evidence to be used in a trial?

The Krakoan text. On page 9 panel 3, the text on Prodigy’s tablet reads:

KRAKOAN SEARCH ENGINE
HONEYDEW HONEY
HOLLYHOCK POLLEN HONEY
CHALK (wrongly written with separate C and H – there’s a CH symbol)
UPLOAD TO BONEYARD SERVERS
DAVID’S IN___ (with a regular apostrophe).

PAGES 13-14. Prodigy speaks to Dr Reyes.

The Krakoan text on Cecilia’s screen reads:
SIRYN
RIGHT LUNG
WEIGHT
340G

Mutant remains. This is a question that hasn’t been raised before, and it’s interesting that Cecilia suggests that she might not give a full and accurate answer to everyone asking. Since Krakoans are resurrected, it would be a little uncomfortable to have their previous dead bodies lying around. In Marauders, Kitty was buried at sea precisely because there are no graveyards on Krakoa. So the implication seems to be that – as far as the Krakoan public are concerned, at least – the bodies are cremated. The fact that Cecilia has some lying around suggests that it’s not quite that simple.

PAGES 17-19. Siryn argues with X-Factor.

Alcohol. Siryn was a recovered alcoholic in X-Force, so this isn’t a particularly good excuse for her to offer up if she’s wanting to deflect attention. The team seem to be awaare of this, judging from their response.

The corpse garden. The team seem keen that Siryn shouldn’t see David’s collection of decomposing bodies, perhaps particularly so because one of them appears to be her own previous body. Presumably this part of the grounds has somehow been sealed off from the rest of the Krakoan public.

“I don’t remember interrogating folks about the nature of their deaths back when I was a member of X-Factor.” Siryn was a member of X-Factor Investigations (Madrox’s private eye group), which would never have been confronted with this situation anyway.

PAGES 20-23. Polaris goes after Siryn.

“I once came so close to cracking this world apart like an egg that you had to make a deal to host an ancient death goddess just to save my ‘fractured’ mind.” The “ancient death goddess” is the Morrigan, one of the Celtic Gods. In X-Factor #244, Siryn invoked the Morrigan in an attempt to cure Polaris’s mental breakdown, and (as prompted) killed the Morrigan’s previous host in order to become the new Morrigan. She showed up again as the new Morrigan in X-Factor #262. That was seven years ago, and it all seemed to have been forgotten about when she showed up on Krakoa.

PAGE 24. A set of data messages between Prodigy and Sofia Mantega discussing the plot of the previous arc.

David says he “died around the same time as Loa and Rahne” and that their “deaths were presumably related.” If he means that it was a directly connected event, then that can’t be right. However, Rahne was killed by passing bigots who she happened to stumble across in Uncanny X-Men vol 5 #16. Loa was reported dead at the hands of anti-mutant activists in Uncanny X-Men vol 5 #11. So presumably David just means that he met his demise at the hands of some of the general anti-mutant violence that was going on during Matthew Rosenberg’s run. But it reads as if there’s more to it than that.

Tommy. Speed from the Young Avengers – he and David met in Young Avengers vol 2 #6, and there was some movement towards making them a couple. A flashback in Lords of Empyre: Emperor Hulkling #1 showed them dating “a few months ago”; that seems far enough back to work in continuity.

PAGE 25. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: HYPNOSIS ACTIVATED.

Bring on the comments

  1. SanityOrMadness says:

    When did the “sonic hypnosis” become a thing? I hoped you would touch on that

  2. JD says:

    IIRC Siryn had suddenly acquired hypnosis powers by the first issue of X-Factor v3, where she used it to coax information out of a source.

  3. Evilgus says:

    I’m liking the respect to continuity. This feels like the closest thing to a traditional X-Men comic, in that every character gets a moment, powers are used in interesting ways, while still advancing the unsettling Krakoa mythos (what *does* happen to old bodies?! My bet is they get fed to Krakoa).

    I’m a sucker for David’s X-Factor run, all the way through to the slightly bizarre mythological end. So the fact Williams is bothering to deal with Siryn is very much to her credit, in my mind.

  4. Chris V says:

    I mean, is that really a big deal?
    If they buried the bodies on Krakoa, they would just rot and the nutrients would be taken in by the landmass.
    If it’s a way to keep Krakoa fed without needing to feed off the living mutants (if that’s possible, as I’m unsure exactly of what Krakoa feeds with mutants), I’d say it’s a decent idea.

  5. Taibak says:

    Evilgus: Picking up on a comment from a previous post, the bodies would also make good sources of marrow for Emplate.

  6. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Probably my least favorite issue so far, kinds felt a bit muddled like too much was happening all at once.

    Still the best X-book right now.

    Did anybody else pick up Eternals?

    It’s really not going to dampen down the theory that Krakoa is just Hickman’s Eternals plot pasted onto mutants.

    Not to say that is was bad at all, just baffling similar to Krakoa.

  7. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I remain very entertained by this book. Less by the plot and particular cases – they are fine, I guess? But the characters are fantastic, every issue packs a lot of great small moments, brief asides and casual observations. I don’t think there’s another book in the current x-line where the cast feels this much, I don’t know, alive.

    I have no idea what’s going on with Siryn, but there’s definitely a story to be found in how a death goddess reacts to a society of serial resurrectionists.

  8. Thom H. says:

    Ditto all of Krzysiek’s points.

    I love how much thought is going into each character’s powersets and how subtly they’re all being expanded or honed. Krakoa is supposed to be a celebration of mutant abilities, and this book is getting that idea across as clear as a bell.

    I’m also glad we’re seeing some of the promised character work with Lorna. Her reaction to Siryn’s secrecy made a lot of sense. Lorna is the long-time friend who everybody neglects. Getting mind controlled *again* will hopefully pay off in terms of character, too.

    Finally, I like how much is packed into this series and this issue in particular. It rewards re-reading, which makes the current cost of floppies seem worth it. And if it gets cancelled in 12 or 18 issues, then at least it will have made a real dent in the characters’ lives instead of just gathering the team and fizzling out.

  9. David says:

    I loved Peter David’s X-Factor dearly, but I was never very keen to see more of this Morrigan plot. I really always wanted to know more about the status of Monet’s soul, but based on her subsequent appearances, I guess she still has it. Anyway, I do wanna see where this goes.

    My one major gripe this issue- am I wrong, or is Prodigy’s power being presented a little strangely? He can absorb skills and sets of knowledge from other people. But in this issue, he seems to imply that once someone knows something specific (like the result of a medical test), he can also know it via proximity. That’s verging on conventional telepathy, and definitely not the way I see his powers working. Am I mistaken, or did I misread?

    That said, I also find the idea of studying how mutants decompose versus how humans decompose a little silly, certainly not worth filling your lovely garden with corpses, but we can assume that will pay off later. Presumably Krakoa does have some kind of environmental effect on the bodies.

    Did anyone recognize the bodies aside from Rockslide and Siryn?

  10. Thom H. says:

    I gave the decomposition thing a pass for the same reason. I assume we’re going to find out about Krakoa’s effect on mutant physiology soon enough. It’s actually an interesting twist on X-Factor’s investigative mandate, turning it inward instead of just outward.

    But Prodigy knowing every thought of another character (as opposed to just their knowledge sets) seems iffy. Especially since he’s present at Siryn’s interrogation. Shouldn’t he just be able to know what she knows about her own life and end the mystery? It didn’t seem to work that way, but why not?

  11. Thom H. says:

    As long as I’m here…

    “Are X-Factor seriously suggesting that if she had been murdered by a human on British soil then they would expect the killer to be tried in Krkaoa? If not, what’s their objection to the forensic scientists gathering evidence to be used in a trial?”

    I read this as another example of mutants overstepping because of their newfound power and, frankly, arrogance. Which blends well with Northstar’s history of arrogance.

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