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Mar 11

X-Factor #8 annotations

Posted on Thursday, March 11, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-FACTOR vol 4 #8
“Suite No. 8: Scio Me Nihil Scire (Tritone Substitution – Jazz Arrangement)”
by Leah Williams, David Baldeon & Israel Silva

COVER / PAGE 1: X-Factor overshadowed by the Morrigan.

PAGE 2. Aurora and Northstar watch TV.

This scene takes place just before the final page of the previous issue. That final page showed Daken, Prodigy and Eye-Boy hiding from the Morrigan in the living room, with Rachel, Polaris, Aurora and Northstar already dead.

Aurora is wet because she was in a hot tub with Daken, in the immediately preceding scene of the previous issue.

PAGES 3-4. Rachel finds Eye-Boy.

It’s the old trope that animals can sense things that humans can’t, although in this case it’s Amazing Baby detecting something that the normal-by-Krakoan-standards Rachel can’t pick up.

Eye-Boy is obviously aware that something is wrong, and scared, which begs the question of why he doesn’t just tell Rachel so – particularly as he cries out for help a few pages later. He tells Amazing Baby that “I can see something too”, but from what he says later on, it seems that he’s aware of it but can’t focus to look directly at it. The images we see here, which aren’t particularly intelligible beyond being A Bit Wrong, presumably reflect the vague impressions he’s picking up. They appear to be glimpses of the transformation that the Boneyard is going to undergo by page 18.

PAGE 5. Recap and credits.

X-Factor really is gunning (quite deliberately) for the most pretentious story titles of the Krakoan era. “Scio me nihil scire” – “I know that I know nothing” – was also the title of issue #6. A tritone substitution is a chord substitution found in both jazz and classical music (basically, it involves substituting a dominant seventh for another chord which is three tones higher or lower). The implication is that this is in some way a modified reprise of issue #6.

PAGE 6. Prodigy examines the photograph.

This is the photograph that Speed gave him last issue. It’s supposed to prove that Prodigy couldn’t have died in the incident that he believes he died in, because he and Speed were together that night. Some sort of face or persona appears briefly in the feed before vanishing when he removes his VR glasses in panic.

PAGE 7. Data page – Prodigy’s notes on the photograph.

According to Prodigy, the photo data has been altered to include GPS coordinates, a date and time stamp, and device information showing that the photo was taken on his old phone. He suggests that he himself left the data as a message for himself, but understandably wonders why he would have gone about it in such a roundabout fashion. A fairly obvious question which Prodigy doesn’t seem to ask himself is who took the photograph.

Prodigy tells us that the photograph was “not taken at Club Pepper in West Hollywood”, but was posted from there. As I mentioned last time, the photo is clearly based on the nightclub scene from Lords of Empyre: Emperor Hulkling #1, which had similar furniture, and showed them wearing the same clothes.

He also tells us that the photograph was both taken and posted “during a Cerebro backup blind spot”, meaning the week between one backup and the next. If the backups only occur weekly, then it’s not obvious why he should be attaching any real significance to this. Seven days is a fairly long time in which to take and post a photograph.

PAGES 8-9. Daken has a nightmare.

Daken is still in the hot tub where we left him last issue, and he’s dreaming about his encounter with Aurora. He thanks Aurora for saving him when Morrigan dumped him in the snow, also last issue. But that was Northstar, not Aurora – as the dream-Aurora points out. Is this a romantic triangle, then?

I’m not going to attempt to decipher the string of characters that appears next to the Morrigan, or the Japanese.

PAGES 10-13. Daken finds Eye-Boy, and they flee the Morrigan.

The idea seems to be that Daken is so sensitive to other people’s pheromones that he can be woken up by someone being agitated in another room. His initial reaction isn’t exactly constructive, but he quickly settles down into being more sensible.

This takes us up to the end of the previous issue.

PAGES 14-15. Prodigy examines the bodies.

He’s using his powers to share Eye-Boy’s abilities, in order to directly inspect the forensic evidence. “Tiny secrets” was the cutesy term Eye-Boy was using for that in issue #6.

Hollyhock, honey and chalk were all among the forensic evidence found on Siryn’s body in issue #6, although you had to decode the Krakoan on a tablet computer in order to spot that. Quite what its significance is beyond that, I’m not clear.

PAGE 16. The Morrigan kills Daken.

Being the closest this team gets to macho, Daken hurls himself at her for a second battle, and accuses Morrigan of using mind control to make him feel worthless. We’re probably meant to take Morrigan at face value when she says that was nothing to do with her, and that Daken is just making excuses for his own self-image. He won’t remember any of this – as Prodigy pointed out in the previous scene, they’re between regular Cerebro backups.

PAGE 17. X-Factor are resurrected.

Evidently they go right to the front of the queue. Kyle Jinadu shows up to express the natural doubts about whether the revived Northstar is for real, which really isn’t something that you’re meant to question no Krakoa. The “I can see you now” line alludes to the usual routine on resurrections where somebody proves their genuineness by saying something characteristic.

Daken’s last memory is being impaled in the snow – thus, he doesn’t remember his encounter with Aurora in the hot tub, or (presumably) being rescued by Northstar. If everyone’s working from the same backup date, presumably neither of them will remember those events either.

The “zombie situation” is apparently that the Morrigan has revived the corpses in the Hanging Gardens as zombies, though they get despatched so offhandedly in this issue as to make you wonder what the point is. Perhaps something will come of them later.

PAGES 18-23. X-Factor drive off the Morrigan.

And pretty easily too, once they have the initiative and a plan. Siryn’s relationship with the Morrigan remains to be resolved.

PAGE 24. Data page – Professor X asks for information about Eye-Boy’s developing powers, presumably something to do with the suggestion that he was able to anticipate what Morrigan would do to the Boneyard. A curiously suspicious Northstar flatly refuses to cooperate.

PAGE 25. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: MONSTRESS OF DEATH BEGONE.

Bring on the comments

  1. JD says:

    The Japanese on page 9 basically translates to Daken admonishing himself to get his shit together. About what you’d expect from context, then.

  2. MasterMahan says:

    I think we’re supposed to take it that Aurora remembers the hot tub encounter.

    I do wonder if COVID or something forced this story to be cut short. “Superhero team retakes their headquarters and fights their own zombified corpses” seems like too juicy an idea to relegate to a few background panels.

    Perhaps Xavier is concern that Eye-Boy is developing the forbidden power of precognition? I’d assumed he could just detect the Morrigan’s presence, seeing how Amazing Baby was also agitated and “sees magic” was one of the first things established about his power set.

  3. Thom H. says:

    I also took away that Aurora remembered her time in the hot tub with Daken.

    On a practical note, why would you go straight from the hot tub to the couch without drying off? Ick. Especially if you can dry yourself at super-speed?

    Yeah, Eye-Boy’s powers seem to be leaking into precognition, which might have interesting consequences down the road for Hickman’s larger narrative.

    I generally like the pace of this book, but I agree that the zombies could have gotten more face time. I didn’t register that they formerly belonged to X-Factor members until a second read-through.

  4. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    I’m normally a big fan of the book, but this was a bad issue.

    Very confusing in writing and art, weirdly paced.

  5. Leirus says:

    Even if Eye-Boy is not precognitive, he could see Moira in her No-Place and wonder who she is and what is she doing there. Also, the chalk and Hemlock thing seems to point to Theresa invoking the Morrigan again. In X-Factor they used a chalk circle to do the summoning.

  6. Chris says:

    There’s a larger narrative?

  7. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I liked this issue, and yet I feel like it maybe should’ve been decompressed a bit? I usually like how dense this book is, how much text there is and how many panels Baldeon fits on every page. But keeping that style for action scenes – or at least: keeping that art style, since the action scenes are very light on dialogue – makes them… well, compressed. But more than that, sort of chaotic and hard to read.

    Which works very well when it’s Morrigan dismantling the team! Or Daken, as the case may be. But in the second half of the issue, with the team executing their plan to take Morrigan down – that’s where things get hazy.

    On the other hand, I guess there is something to be said about being able to fit the surprise attack that destroys the team, the resurrection and the counterattack in one issue. And if the writer is clearly more interested in the character dynamics, banter and plot progression – maybe it’s for the best if the action scenes are over and done so quickly.

  8. Suzene says:

    I think re-taking The Boneyard would have benefitted from another couple of pages. But the book didn’t have the real estate for that, and I’d rather the fight scene be a bit rushed than the plot extend out another whole issue.

    A little fast, but I’m still adoring this book.

  9. MasterMahan says:

    @Krzysiek Ceran: That’s true – Williams is clearly writing this as a character-driven book. The previous issue put Daken’s fight with the Morrigan entirely off-panel in favor of more time focusing on his trauma after it. Which was a good decision for that issue.

    I just like the concept, really. Much like “trapped in haunted house with the powerful guys already dead”, it’s a great idea of something unique to do with the Krakoa setup.

    Maybe X-Force will run with the zombie selves plot. It would be a good fit for that book.

  10. Thom H. says:

    I love the focus on the characters. I honestly can’t believe that I care about Eye-Boy and Daken, but there you have it.

    Weirdly, Polaris hasn’t gotten a lot of definition even though that was one of the stated purposes of the book at the start.

    She acts and reacts like a person which is an improvement, but I still don’t have a good idea of her core characteristics. Hopefully, Williams has some solid Polaris moments waiting in the wings.

    Also, I take it this book is sitting out the Hellfire Gala in June. It’s not listed as a participating title which is…good news for the ongoing storylines? bad news for the book’s future prospects? something else?

  11. Leo says:

    Although I agree with some of the criticism of this issue about clarity, it feels like the lack of clarity is meant to be there for now and that it’s part of the plan. And it’s such a nice feeling after 15 years of dreadful stories to know that there is a consistent vision and direction in the line, that a less than great issue here and there is not a problem

  12. SanityOrMadness says:

    KC> Which works very well when it’s Morrigan dismantling the team! Or Daken, as the case may be. But in the second half of the issue, with the team executing their plan to take Morrigan down – that’s where things get hazy.

    Yeah, I have no idea whatsoever what Polaris was contributing in the attack where they took Morrigan down, except maybe distraction, even though she gets equal billing with Rachel in the final attack.

  13. Thom H. says:

    Oops — spoke too soon. Now that the solicitations are out, it looks like X-Force is participating in the Hellfire Gala.

    And check out Rachel’s gala outfit: Rat tails galore!

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