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Feb 4

X-Factor #7 annotations

Posted on Thursday, February 4, 2021 by Paul in Annotations, x-axis

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

X-FACTOR vol 4 #7
“Suite No. 7: Scientia Vincere Tenebras”
by Leah Williams, David Baldeon & Israel Silva

COVER / PAGE 1: A rampaging Polaris with Eye-Boy in the background. It doesn’t have that much to do with the story.

PAGES 2-3. Speed visits Prodigy.

This continues the subplot of exactly how Prodigy died and how he came to be resurrected. While it’s been suggested that Sofia might have engineered her own death so that she could be resurrected with her powers restored, this issue suggests that Prodigy genuinely believes that he died in circumstances he doesn’t remember, and was legitimately resurrected.

Prodigy claims that he died “during the same O.N.E. attack on Xavier’s Institute that wiped out a bunch of other kids”. In the previous issue, he was vaguer in talking to Sofia – he told her simply that he had “died around the same time as Loa and Rahne”. Taken together, this account is decidedly confused. Rahne died in Uncanny X-Men vol 5 #16; Loa was reported dead in Uncanny X-Men vol 5 #11 (both part of the Rosenberg run). There was no O.N.E. attack on the Institute at around that period. The Institute had been destroyed by the Horsemen of Salvation in Uncanny X-Men vol 5 #3. A group of O.N.E. Sentinels commandeered by the Reavers did attack the Institute in Astonishing X-Men vol 4 #16-17, but it didn’t seem to kill any of the kids.

Of course, this isn’t necessarily a continuity error – Prodigy’s knowledge of this period seems deliberately hazy, perhaps because he’s chosen not to ask too many questions about something he assumes would be painful.

Judging from their clothes and the seat, the photo that Speed produces seems to have been taken during the nightclub flashback in Lords of Empyre: Emperor Hulkling #1. Although if so, it’s odd that Speed doesn’t recall it more clearly, because that scene ended with the Skrulls showing up to claim Hulkling as their new emperor, and a big fight. Maybe it’s just meant to be another night in the same club. Speed does seem to suggest that there’s something odd about this photo, since it was the only thing posted on the anonymous account in question.

Note that Daken and Aurora can be seen in the background of the final panel in this scene.

PAGE 4. Data page (ish). A note from Elixir of the Five, telling Prodigy that he was resurrected without a body because he was just on the list produced by Wolverine and Cyclops. This is… a little worrying. The distinct possibility exists that Prodigy has been resurrected without actually having died first.

PAGES 5-9. Daken and Aurora.

Continuing from their appearance in the last panel of the previous scene. Much of this scene seems intended to make clear that Daken can’t simply manipulate the vulnerable Aurora’s emotions with his pheromone powers in the way that Aurora (and the readers) might otherwise fear. They’re being played down here, but there’s nothing particularly new in what Daken is saying. We’ve seen before that his pheromone manipulation isn’t especially effective against people who know to look out for it; as he says, he can simply heighten or suppress emotional states that already exist. (Of course, sometimes Daken uses that power in combination with generally charming people in more conventional ways.)

I’m not quite sure I see why Daken’s heightened perception, however limited in scope, is meant to be “wretched”.

“Why do you dress like a Sunday school teacher every day?” Back in Alpha Flight, Aurora’s style of dress was explicitly linked to her multiple personalities; Jeanne-Marie was fairly conservative.

PAGE 10. Recap and credits. The title, “Scientia Vincere Tenebras”, is the motto of the Free University of Brussels (or rather, both of them – it split into French and Dutch language versions in 1970). It means “Conquering darkness by science.”

PAGES 11-12. Polaris interferes with the investigation.

Polaris was hypnotised by Siryn/Morrigan at the end of the previous issue, to make her sabotage any further X-Factor investigations into Siryn. Eye-Boy immediately realises that Polaris is lying but keeps his counsel for now.

The Krakoan title at the top of the screens just reads X-FACTOR ASSIGNMENTS.

PAGES 13-14. Speed and Northstar trade notes.

Northstar’s claim that he can go faster than the speed of light – even in theory – is new. But the basic point has been made before: in theory Northstar’s powers would allow him to get close to the speed of light, but he’d tear himself apart in doing so and do enormous damage to the environment, so it’s not a particularly attractive thing for him to try.

PAGE 15. X-Factor ask around about Siryn.

Fairly self-explanatory. Polaris is ignoring Daken’s calls because of the hypnotism. He’s followed Siryn to Anaconda, Montana, which is a real place – it’s got a population of 10,000 or so. Lucille Ball lived there briefly as a child.

That’s Feral from the original line-up of X-Force in the background at the Lagoon.

PAGE 16. Another data page (ish) about the Morrigan, though taking the form of a manuscript. I’m not sure it makes sense to use the “BCE” date notation if you’re going for a historical-document vibe – surely it wasn’t in common usage until relatively recently?

The idea of Morrigan passing from host to host comes from Peter David’s X-Factor, though the specific flashback in X-Factor #244 was set in 150 BCE, not 250 BCE as it says here.

The key point here is probably that the Morrigan can “only pass into a new host upon death of the former host.” Is Morrigan trying to get out of Siryn for some reason, and being stymied by the repeated resurrections?

PAGES 17-19. X-Factor finally rescue Daken.

Self explanatory.

PAGES 20-22. Aurora and Daken in the hot tub.

Daken seems decidedly unthrilled by his performance of late, and clearly registers that he’s lost a lot of his hard edges in this incarnation.

“When you get a chance, ask him about his experiences in Nate Grey’s false utopia.” Referring to Leah Williams’ own Age of X-Man: The X-Tremists, where Northstar was among the characters policing Nate’s bizarre, love-free utopia. Northstar’s memories of his husband eventually resurfaced in the course of that series, and he wasn’t best pleased about the whole thing. Daken’s “younger sisters”, who were also in Age of X-Man, are X-23/Wolverine and Scout – also the genetic children of Wolverine / Logan.

PAGE 23. Essentially an unexplained flash forward – presumably more of the Morrigan’s influence.

PAGE 24. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: NO-ONE IS SAFE.


Bring on the comments

  1. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Another good issue.

    The big question- is Speed actually a mutant?

    And even so, how does everyone feel about him being Wanda’s kid (kinda.)

  2. Si says:

    I like Speed, it’s a pity he’s not used more often. I mean, on a surface level he’s just photocopy of Quicksilver, far more of a direct copy than any of the other Young Avengers. And who needs a third arrogant superfast guy? But under the right writer he’s much more human, more of a brash teen than an imperious jerk. And then there’s the idea (I can’t remember where from) that his speed is actually a form of reality warping, a variant of Wiccan’s power. You could do a lot with that.

  3. Jon L says:

    I was wondering if he counted as a mutant also. I think that’s been left unresolved.
    I appreciate how deftly that seems to have been sidestepped by having Northstar not have any clue who he is.

  4. Evilgus says:

    “This is… a little worrying. The distinct possibility exists that Prodigy has been resurrected without actually having died first.”
    That’s how I read it too. And should be an interesting plot – especially if it’s one of X-Factor themselves ‘illegally’ resurrected. I don’t know enough about Prodigy to know if/when he actually died, if at all, so works for me.

    I am liking this book. Everyone gets a moment. The team dynamic is fleshed out. And we get interesting examinations of powers, and the current status quo, rooted in character history. And it’s clear to follow. I appreciate it.

  5. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Whatever happened to Prodigy it happened off screen, so it’s a total mystery.

    I also think it’s setting up the inevitable “oops we have two identical people… sharing a soul I guess” story that fits this book.

  6. Thom H. says:

    I’ve decided this is the Friends of the current X-books. Siryn brainwashing Polaris is like Phoebe tricking Rachel into some wacky scheme.

    Also — totally unrelated — so many bisexual characters getting their moment to shine. Let’s hear it for bisexual visibility!

    Can’t wait to see what happens when not-dead Prodigy is revealed. He was depowered, right? So they’ll have to choose between a depowered Prodigy and a powered-but-heretical Prodigy. Not great.

  7. SanityOrMadness says:


    Or kill ’em both and let The Five sort it out.

  8. Chris V says:

    I think the whole sanctity of resurrection thing is a scam being run by Xavier.
    I don’t think that Xavier or Magneto believe or care about this concept of “souls”.
    I think it’s just to prevent what happened in life nine from occurring again and to keep Moira’s secret.

    I think if they don’t treat resurrection as sacred and build up this cultural norm about each mutant being an unique individual whose soul is uploaded by Cerebro, then Krakoa might want to pursue mass cloning.
    Then, it’ll end up like life nine. They’ll decide to create multiple iterations of certain individual mutants to increase Krakoa’s population.
    Eventually they’ll begin to question how slow the Five’s process is and Sinister will offer to take over the procedure.
    Xavier and Magneto won’t be able to reveal to Krakoa why this is a horrible idea and that events are repeating, because Moira must be kept secret.

    I think that’s the sole reason why Xavier and Magneto act so concerned about guaranteeing that there is only one of each being.

  9. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Thom H.-

    It’s nice to see such an LGTBQ friendly book that also doesn’t make a huge deal about it or people’s orientations.

    They just are.

    Which brings up another thing I’ve wondered about resurrection, are they going to have a trans mutant ask to have their body switched to the proper sex.

    S or M-

    I mean, they already have a death match arena.

    Two Prodigys enter, one Prodigy leaves!

    Chris V-

    It’s definitely horse shit, I’m just not sure exactly how it’s horse shit and how it’ll all fall apart.

    Some stuff in the Hickman area (characters going along with all this pretty unquestioningly) could end up just being a writing choice.

    Hickman’s put in enough red flags about resurrection it has to be a thing.

  10. Chris V says:

    I’d love to see gender fluid issues explored a lot more on Krakoa, especially if mutants are supposed to be moving beyond current-day human norms.
    Not only would it be great to see trans characters addressed with resurrection, but it would be nice if they began to question gender altogether, for some individuals at least.

    They’d want to try being a female in their next life and then might not enjoy it, so they say that in their next life they’d like to go back to being male, but they might want to try being female again in a later life.
    Hickman loves sci-fi, and that’s a very interesting concept for science fiction to explore. Krakoa could have the “technology” available to explore those concepts.

  11. Thom H. says:

    This book has already brought up the idea of multiple clones of the same person in the Mojoworld story. It’s nice to have a book that’s exploring the weirdness surrounding resurrection – hinting at problems from multiple angles.

    And I agree – it’s refreshing to see queer characters and sexuality that aren’t the focus of the plot. It’s like the opposite of Sina Grace’s Iceman book.

    Aurora and Daken are the Monica and Chandler of the group, maybe?

  12. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Sina Grace’s Iceman- where coming out as gay just means clubbing and going on Grindr.


    Not that anyone else has done anything interesting with the idea either.

  13. The Other Michael says:

    One thing I’d like to see addressed in the Kroakoan era is how mutants who made peace with their deaths feel about being brought back.

    Take Mastermind, for instance. He made peace with it before his death to the Legacy Virus, or so it seemed, and now here he is, right back to being his usual shady asshole self. How did he feel when they yoinked him back from the beyond?

    I wonder if there’s any more memory manipulation going to “Reset” these mutants back to a certain state of mind in some cases.

    What if someone doesn’t WANT to be alive? Will the Krakoan powers that be return them anyway? If you suicide after resurrection because you genuinely don’t want to be around, will they reboot you again? I mean, we’re seeing some of that with Siryn, but what if you’re a total mutant nobody instead of an A- or B-Lister?

    There’s just not enough time or space in the comics to address all of the potential ramifications and complications of the process. For every “we removed the memory of how you died for your own good, despite your explicit instructions” they pull on someone like Domino, or “We’ll keep bringing you back no matter what” of Siryn, there’s a dozen more twists that pop up.

    Explicit manipulation of powers–refusing to fix Omega Red, locking down Orphanmaker’s abilities, unlocking secondary mutations in Monet.

    The theory that some mutants are being brought back in a younger/fresher/more innocent/devolved state.

    I swear, if Hickman and friends had a massive series Bible where they’d determined all of this, I’d buy it.

  14. Bengt says:

    The Other Michael – Well suicide is considered a sign of mental illness in most places and there are often laws that allows authorities to lock up people to stop them trying. So it wouldn’t be far fetched if the Krakoans would repeatedly resurrect anyone who kills themselves regardless of what they say.

  15. Chris V says:

    I thought there was something about punishment for those who kill themselves, in that they are put at the end of the queue.
    It would depend on the person though. Individuals who are considered important to Krakoa’s functioning are given priority, regardless.

    You wonder if they might tamper with the person’s mind to make them happier….

    It’s just sort of been accepted on Krakoa that everyone would want to live forever.

  16. Jon R says:

    As a small thing, I was really happy that Lorna’s outing was set up last issue with the various lying-radars, and then wasn’t drawn out or going into a long set of accusation/denial. No huge fight either as she’s revealed, just happy smirking Rachel and Polaris banter. Two thumbs up, no need to bog down the plot with Yet Another Brainwash Fight.

  17. Evilgus says:

    “I swear, if Hickman and friends had a massive series Bible where they’d determined all of this, I’d buy it.”

    This, seconded! There’s obviously a lot of thought going into this. All the writers mention collaborative platforms like Discord… Be very interested to see cutting room floor ideas.

  18. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Jon R-

    Agreed glad they didn’t drag all this out too long, this book has a nice sense of forward momentum.

  19. neutrino says:

    “Which brings up another thing I’ve wondered about resurrection, are they going to have a trans mutant ask to have their body switched to the proper sex.”

    Will there be any trans mutants who want to de-transition?

  20. Salomé says:

    And more simply: are there any trans mutants,that we know of?

  21. Chris V says:

    Not really, no.
    Most of the characters considered trans in the Marvel Universe, so far, are shapeshifters.

    I think Dr. McGowan from Immortal Hulk is the only exception. She’s not a mutant though.

  22. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Koi Boy from Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is a trans man, though I only now that as a bit of comics trivia since I haven’t actually read the series… He’s also not a mutant as far as I know.

  23. Si says:

    Sadly, Koi Boi was never shown canonically as trans. In a couple of panels he was shown wearing what could be a chest binder, if you know what a chest binder looks like, and that’s it. Erica Henderson, who drew said panels, said outside the comics that he’s trans, but there’s nothing really in the comic. If anyone ever uses the character again (which is very unlikely), they will be free to make him super-cis and hardly anyone will even notice.

    So I’m pretty sure the *actually* trans population of the Marvel Universe is exactly one, and she’s been around for about a year. It’s a problem.

    Al Ewing is probably the only creator at Marvel today that has both the influence and the will to get such a character through. See also Hercules finally being properly bi.

  24. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    True to all of the above, though they could just introduce a new character from among all those mutants living on the island somewhere we never see.

    Or just reveal a character is trans and always was.

    I mean how do we know what genitalia Bishop or Elixir or Lady Mastermind were born with?

  25. Chris V says:

    Would the future from which Bishop comes be one that would be tolerant of transsexualism (or anything else considered “different” really) though?
    It seems that everything would be very repressive in Bishop’s time.

    Otherwise, yeah, very true.

  26. Si says:

    Literally any existing heroic character that isn’t a shape shifter can be retconned as having been trans all along, and it would cause zero continuity problems. I suppose there might be one or two cases where the character is shown as a baby and is called by certain pronouns, but other than that it’s the easiest retcon to make.

    Having someone transition in-story would be even better though. Imagine if one of the Stepford Cuckoos took that step?

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