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Sep 10

X-Factor #3 annotations

Posted on Thursday, September 10, 2020 by Paul in Uncategorized

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

X-FACTOR vol 4 #3
“Suite No. 3: Mojoverse Sonata the 2nd, a Celestial Rondo”
by Leah Williams & David Baldeon

The title of the previous issue was “Suite No. 2: Mojoverse Sonata Xf. 3 Op. 45, Danse Macabre”, so we’re continuing a theme here.

COVER / PAGE 1. Mojo (who doesn’t actually appear in the story) watches various police shows starring the X-Factor cast. Though surely X-Factor aren’t actually the Krakoan police…?

PAGES 2-3. X-Factor make short work of Durkitt’s crew, and Spiral welcomes them to her show.

This sort of playing to the crowd is out of character for Spiral, but we’ll see later that people in her position need to keep up the act. She describes Mojo with a bizarre pile-up of titles – benefactor, executive producer, democratically-elected ruler, king, supreme leader, and “most holy”. Clearly Mojo remains firmly in charge despite the supposed democratisation of the new Mojoverse. The logical end point of this direction for the Mojoverse is Mojo as Mark Zuckerberg.

PAGES 4-5. Recap and credits.

PAGES 6-11. Spiral reveals who the dead mutant was, then packs X-Factor off to an arena.

Wind Dancer. Sofia Mantega was a major character in the early-2000s iteration of New Mutants, where Prodigy also made his debut. She was depowered on M-Day, and was last seen in the depowered-mutants version of the New Warriors, where she was wearing a bootleg set of Dr Octopus tentacles and calling herself Renascence. She hasn’t been seen since that volume of New Warriors was cancelled in 2009. What on earth she’s doing in the Mojoverse, and why she’d be remotely interested in killing herself for views, all remain obscure, but of course that’s the plot. I suppose she might just be trying to sidestep Crucible and get herself resurrected with her powers restored, but that would be a high risk strategy given the obvious difficulties for Krakoa in verifying her death.

“Her identity was hidden behind a paywall.” This doesn’t really make sense to me. Spiral seems to say that she has the power to conceal the dead girl’s identity from nonsubscribers (and let’s assume that Mojoworld technology lets her stop them from spreading the knowledge). But in the data page later on, we’re told that Sofia allowed herself to be killed for views after polling her own followers. So… why is any of this information under Spiral’s control?

The Headshot dancers are dressed like Rachel Summers as Phoenix from the early years of Excalibur vol 1 – the costume Rachel wore when she escaped the Mojoverse.

Ginny and He-Lix. Spiral’s two aides are both pre-existing characters though very obscure ones. Ginny Guzman was a supporting character in the 2013 Uncanny X-Force run. She’s a psychic, and Spiral was initially using her to induce drug-like experiences in customers. They seem to have settled down into a working relationship. He-Lix is obviously a male version of Spiral; his only previous appearance was as a henchman of Mojo in Howard the Duck vol 6 #9 (from the Chip Zdarsky run).

The battle pits have the logo of the fast-growing top streaming service, which we saw on a data page last issue. We’ll see later that this belongs to Shatterstar. It’s possible that Spiral is also trying to help X-Factor, though in a less heavy-handed way than Shatterstar, and that this is why she sends them in his direction – but she seems to be enjoying herself too much for that.

PAGES 12-14. Daken and Aurora talk.

“Psychic voicemails”. As explained in issue #1, these floating things are messages about missing mutants, submitted via “fleet seeds” by the inhabitants of Krakoa.

In asking his questions to Aurora, Daken is still trying to fully understand the plot of issue #1, but he’s (uncharacteristically) getting ahead of himself in terms of earning her trust – perhaps he’s actually trying to do it without using his powers.

PAGES 15-20. X-Factor reach Shatterstar.

“Arize & Shine”, advertised on the blimp, is covered in the next scene.

Shatterstar has been seen on Krakoa before, but his last major storyline was a miniseries where he was trying to live a peaceful life. Here, he’s reverted to his original role as a gladiatorial showman for the Mojoverse. But Shatterstar is very, very obviously playing a part here and keeping up appearances while not-very-subtly hinting at what X-Factor ought to be doing. The Mojoverse inhabitants would have to be really slow on the uptake to miss this, but then it’s not like they’re known for their intelligence or their grasp of subtext..

Shatterstar dodges the question of why Wind Dancer let herself be killed, but implies that he intervened to stop Sofia’s body being used as a source of DNA for Mojoverse clones. He seems to have pitched the live-streamed autopsy as a way of stalling for time while hoping to get a message to X-Factor. His data page later in the issue confirms this more explicitly.

PAGES 20-23. X-Factor retrieve Sofia’s body from Arize & Shine.

From context, you’d assume that Shatterstar’s one line of Krakoan reads NO. But in fact, it reads HI – apparently the closest Shatterstar can do to giving a direct answer is to repeat what he just said in mutant language.

Arize is the scientist who created Longshot’s lab-grown slave race. He’s a member of the same race as Mojo, but developed an exoskeleton to compensate for his lack of a spine. In the original Longshot stories, Arize is a broadly sympathetic character who tries to design the slaves so that they’ll eventually turn on their masters, and who gets exiled by the Spineless Ones for not building them weapons. Arize hasn’t been seen in many, many years, and his depiction as a part of mainstream Mojoverse culture is unusual. Shatterstar clearly sees him as a villain. On the other hand, the data pages at the end of the issue present him as a somewhat harmless yoga guru.

PAGE 24. Data page – fragments of heavily encrypted messages from Shatterstar which explain some of the plot more directly. The “DR” who translated them is Cypher (Doug Ramsey).

PAGES 25-26. More data pages – Aurora reports on Mojoverse television.

Major Domo is Mojo’s longtime aide, who has apparently taken up ASMR (“autonomous sensory meridian response”)

Adam X, or the X-Treme, is the notoriously uber-90s character who was teased for a while as a possible third Summers brother. He’s not a villain, but for some reason he’s now the fifth biggest streamer in the Mojoverse, making reaction videos where he reacts to people dying. It’s not immediately clear why Adam X would have an interest in this.

Aurora goes out of her way to stress that the cloning of her body for resurrection is definitely very different from what’s happening in the Mojoverse. Definitely.

PAGE 27. This is a trailer page for Fortnite – Storm, Psylocke, Domino and Mystique are briefly transported away to appear in the game story, and come straight back again afterwards. Yes, that’s Gwenpool sitting with them – she arrived on Krakoa at the end of her last miniseries, having apparently managed to define herself into being a kind-of-sort-of mutant in order that she could live on in peace as a background character.

PAGE 28. The trailer page, as always this month, says NEXT: X OF SWORDS.

Bring on the comments

  1. Rob says:

    Hasn’t Adam X been seen in the background on Krakoa a few times, including in this week’s X-Force?

  2. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Background scenes aren’t really canon, though. Especially since that’s where most low-level continuity mistakes happen. Wolverine fighting the Cotati on Krakoa when he’s in New York with the Richards kids. Et cetera.

    As for this issue – huh, I was expecting the Mojoworld plot to wrap up by now. An extended Mojoverse arc right at the start of a series, followed by being part of a mega-crossover? I mostly loved the first issue and the series has a strong concept, but I worry these circumstances will drive readers away.

    As it is, there’s some nice scenes here – I like that Williams is using Wind Dancer. Normally I’d be sad that a character I once liked is being brought back as a corpse and a plot point, but this being the Krakoa era that probably means we will see Sofia alive again, soon.
    Also Shatterstar as a not subtle at all… I don’t know, double agent? I enjoyed that. And with the promise given here I expect we will see him again. Maybe even on the team? I wouldn’t say no to another character linking this X-Factor to the previous incarnation.

    (Of course, this Shatterstar in this Mojoverse doesn’t really link to the last time we’ve seen Shatterstar and Mojoverse, but then again… I have a feeling Mojoverse is more or less rebooted every time we come back to it? Not in-story, it just feels that way to me).
    (Though wait, there were some in-story reboots as well, right? Longshot breaking out and leading a revolution again and again, not remembering the previous times? I’m not making that up, am I?)

    And last but definitely not least, I am very much on board with what Williams is doing with Daken here. That kitchen scene with Aurora was great.

    That being said, well, the rest is mostly regular Mojoverse and I get bored by Mojoverse fast.

  3. MWayne says:

    I’m in agreement with Krzysiek Ceran: I really love the character work Leah Williams has been doing from the get-go, I like this mix of characters, and I particularly liked the Daken-Aurora scene in the current issue, but… the Mojoverse? Ugh. I find the Mojoverse to be so off-putting, filled with chaos and arbitrary rules that don’t make for good story-telling.
    I don’t know anything about WindDancer, but I learned to like Shatterstar when Peter David got his hands on him, so I certainly wouldn’t mind if he came back with the team.

  4. Karl_H says:

    Yeah, the Mojoverse is so meta that it overshadows what’s happening on the page. The plot takes a back seat to the metaphors and nothing seems like it really matters. (I have the same issue with “we have landed in a dimension where everyone is an animal pun” and the plot is just a framework to go from Iron Mandrill to Captain Americougar or whatever.)

    Isn’t there some history between Rachel and Mojo/Spiral to explore?

  5. Thom H. says:

    I think the mysteries of various characters’ connections with the Mojoverse (i.e., Sofia, Adam X) can be explained with the idea of Krakoan gates. The gates seem to be everywhere mutants have ever been, so maybe some characters have drifted into other locations or dimensions given nothing else to do.

    Also, seeing Wind Dancer in this issue for the first time (I didn’t read that iteration of New Mutants), it’s definitely more likely that Aurora is the dancer on the cover of #2. Weird choice unless it’s a clue of some kind?

    I *really* like this character mix and idea, so I hope the Mojoverse and a cross-over don’t put too many people off the book. It’s so fun to have a queer corner of Krakoa that’s solving mysteries.

  6. Evilgus says:

    @Karl, I’d love to see more Rachel/Spiral resolution but I suspect that’s a continuity deep cut too far. They mentioned Rachel had spent time here before but I think that’s all we’re getting.

    I’m enjoying this. There’s plenty of ideas (Krakoan cloning is definitely different!!), dense plotting, a bunch of minor X-people are getting some healthy fleshed out character work… Hey, isn’t that what X-Factor has always been good at? It’s also not taking itself too seriously, but balances the comedic and the dark. I don’t think this series is too impacted by X of Swords, so we should see this arc wrap up and onto the next?

    I like the bright bouncy artwork too. Though I’m not sure why characters always seem to be looking up??

  7. Luis Dantas says:

    About the past history between Spiral and Rachel…

    Back in 1986, in Uncanny X-Men #209 (or maybe 208) there was a weird sequence where a Rachel that had just been mortally wounded by Wolverine (so that she would not kill Selene. It was a weird time, and more than a little bit judgemental and hypocritical of Wolverine if you ask me, but I digress) was relying on her own telekynesis to keep her heart pumping. Spiral meets her and either causes, furthers or notices Rachel beginning to hallucinate and become sugestionable.

    Rachel is convinced to follow Spiral to her Body Shoppe and that is the last we see of her until the Excalibur Special that introduced that team, a couple of years later.

    But Claremont had plans to give her a limited series in the meantime. It strikes me as not too different from what we saw a few years down the road in the “Days of Future Present” crossover that ran in some 1990 Annuals.

  8. Chris V says:

    That was the worst plotting I ever saw in Claremont’s X-Men.
    Wolverine suddenly decided that “X-Men don’t kill”, so he tries to kill Rachel to stop her from killing a villain.
    Even though Wolverine has killed in the past, not to mention the very hypocrisy of such a statement while trying to kill a teammate.
    Then, they just let mass-murderer Selene go free, who is obviously going to kill more people, because she needs to in order to survive.
    They can’t even bother to stop her, because Wolverine finds killing Rachel more important, I guess.
    Even worse, none of the X-Men, even her best friend (and I guess Secret Lover, heh) Kitty, bothers to try to help Rachel. Everyone just basically forgets about her.

    I think there was some editorial reason why Rachel had to be written out of the book at the time.
    Claremont couldn’t have tried any less had he simply said, “A wizard did it!” and moved on.

  9. Matthew says:

    Guys, I’m pretty sure Shatterstar saying “Hi” in Krakoan is a mistake. If you check the translation guide Marvel did, it has the English alphabet over the Krakoan symbols and the letters H and I are directly over the letters N and O in the way it is laid out. I think the letterer used the guide and instead of using the symbols below the letters N O, he looked at the symbols above (H I).

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