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May 14

X-Factor #9 annotations

Posted on Friday, May 14, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-FACTOR vol 4 #9
“Interlude: DJ Mark’s Mixtape of Mojoverse Beats to Make Out To”
by Leah Williams, David Baldeón & Israel Silva

COVER / PAGE 1. Dazzler and Lila Cheney perform in the Mojoverse, with X-Factor in the foreground.

This is the penultimate issue of the series, and issue #10 is a “Hellfire Gala” tie-in. So if you’re wondering why this issue seems in a terrible rush to tie up its storylines…

…well, there you go.

PAGE 2. Opening quote. Wind Dancer talks about her new role as reluctant overseer of the Mojoverse – she’s appointed as the Krakoan envoy later in the story. This is why she has a movie studio on hand to make promo videos for X-Corp in X-Corp #1.

PAGE 3. Recap and credits. Seems a bit odd to bill this story as an “interlude”, when it’s actually full of vital plot content. “DJ Mark” is DJ, the music-powered teen mutant who’s also appeared in Way of X.

PAGES 4-9. X-Factor in Siryn’s psyche.

When we left off, X-Factor had just driven the Morrigan away, and a temporarily-lucid Siryn had begged for help in getting rid of her. The previous issue ended with Northstar asking Siryn to “tell us about the new bargain you’ve struck with the Morrigan.”

Rachel takes the group back through Siryn’s memories, which are exceedingly hazy, presumably because the Morrigan has been the dominant personality for most of the time that she’s been on Krakoa.

“You made us into a mutant circuit.” Several titles, notably New Mutants and S.W.O.R.D., have been pushing the idea of mutants working in synergy as a big deal. This seems to be something along those lines.

A geas is basically what Prodigy describes it as – a magical obligation to not do something or suffer the consequences, sometimes with a reward if you do honour the obligation. The suggestion seems to be that the Morrigan is magically blocking some of Siryn’s memories, so they aren’t there to be viewed (or at least they can’t be accessed).

Kyle is returning from a weekend babysitting Shogo, as he mentioned last issue. I like him trying to start a mundane conversation in the middle of this.

PAGE 10. Data page – an exchange of text messages between Northstar and Mirage. This follows up on an exchange of memos that we saw in the previous issue, where Northstar was asked to keep the Quiet Council informed about the developments in Trevor’s powers, and he flatly refused to do so. He says here that he’s distrustful of what the Quiet Council is going to do with anyone who might potentially be a soldier (and by implication he wants Trevor to remain the noncombatant he is now). Obviously, this is being cut into the middle of a scene of Trevor casually announcing that he can see magic.

Dani is a curious person for him to approach – it’s not like they have any significant history together. But she is semi-officially in charge of the training programme for young mutants over in New Mutants, which is presumably what he has in mind.

PAGES 11-12. The geas directs X-Factor to Shatterstar.

Northstar specifically tells Trevor not to share information about his powers with anyone (but doesn’t specifically mention his concerns about the Council).

Somehow or other it’s Daken who figures out that the thing to do is wake the enchantment with a blood sacrifice. Not sure about this – shouldn’t figuring this out be a role for either Trevor or David?

The geas responds with a riddle that the group immediately figure out relates to Shatterstar (who they met in the Mojoverse back in issue #3). They helpfully explain most of the riddle, except for the “father to his father” bit, which David glosses over with a bit of handwaving. It’s a reference to X-Factor #259, which establishes that (1) Shatterstar is indeed the biological son of Longshot and Dazzler, as suggested in X-Men vol 2 #11; (2) a time-travelling Shatterstar was also the source of the DNA that was used to clone Longshot; and (3) Shatterstar was sent a hundred years into the future to be raised in order to distance him from Longshot and thus minimise the potential for temporal paradoxes.

The kid with “an advanced form of acoustikinesis” is DJ.

PAGES 13-15. The liberation of the Mojoverse.

X-Factor aren’t allowed to enter the Mojoverse (which you wouldn’t think would bother them that much, considering they’re there to overthrow the regime), and so they send some of their allies. Specifically, it’s DJ, Lila Cheney, Wind Dancer, Surge and Dazzler working together to create a musical distraction for the Mojoverse audience, while the New Mutants sort out Mojo himself. It’s an odd choice for the penultimate issue of the series – this feels like something the regular cast ought to be doing.. We also see trainees Rain Boy, Nature Girl, Anole and Dust (and one unrecognisable guy).

I’m not exactly sure what Magik means by the “show you [Mojo] made about me.” But making films about the X-Men has been Mojo’s schtick for years. Honestly, the whole thing crumbles far too conveniently, but that’s rushed wrap-ups for you. Mojo doesn’t seem to be deposed exactly, but forced to rein in his worst excesses under threat of being removed.

PAGE 16. Shatterstar arrives back on Krakoa.

Sofia really doesn’t look too happy about this job, does she?

PAGES 17-19. Shatterstar fights the Morrigan.

Most of this, however, is a flashback to Morrigan striking her bargain with Siryn. The Morrigan wants to slaughter mutants for her own power; Siryn is offering herself as a sacrifice instead. Basically, Siryn has been trying to kill herself often enough to match the mass sacrifice that she bought off.

PAGES 20-21. The Morrigan’s agenda.

Presented in a very symbolic, myth-like art style. Basically, Morrigan feels threatened by the mutants transcending death, but sees the opportunity for the endless deaths and resurrections to make death more powerful than ever.

PAGES 22-23. Shatterstar defeats the Morrigans.

For whatever reason, Shatterstar is magically able to defeat the Morrigan for good. Maybe if there had been more time, we’d have got a more compelling reason for why it had to be him in particular.

The Morrigan finishes by leaving some sort of curse for Shatterstar and his former lover Rictor, now a regular cast member in Excalibur.

PAGE 24. Trailers. Most of the Krakoan this month has just read “Next: Hellfire Gala”, but this one reads NEXT: INVITE ONLY.



Bring on the comments

  1. Thom H. says:

    I can’t tell you how disappointed I am that X-Factor is cancelled, especially since Tini Howard has been handed a second book to turn into nonsense. What a waste.

    Still loved this issue, although it’s quite apparent that the plot was rushed. Just like last issue, it’s not entirely clear how the fight with the Morrigan is working, but otherwise I appreciate the ideas Williams brings to the table.

    Interweaving the Mojoverse, Shatterstar, and Morrigan storylines was a fun surprise, as was the guest appearance by the New Mutants, who certainly sound more like themselves here than they did under Hickman.

    There are underdeveloped subplots with Aurora, Polaris, and Prodigy (at least) that will hopefully wrap up somewhere (during the Trial of Magneto?), but I’m not holding my breath. Maybe everyone will just blurt out big revelations during the Hellfire Ball and the final issue will smash cut to credits. Ugh.

  2. Suzene says:

    “Dani is a curious person for him to approach – it’s not like they have any significant history together.”

    This is another deep cut from Williams. Northstar, Dani, and Karma were the only three X-Men to be full-time teachers during the New Mutants/Academy X run, up until Northstar got offed by Wolverine and Karma took over Alpha Squadron after his death. So it makes sense that he’d turn to them about his current concerns about the QC’s intentions towards the younger mutants. (And Northstar and Karma were teammates during Liu’s Astonishing run as well.)

  3. Mikey says:

    This is the best current X-book, and they didn’t even give the customary 12 issues?

  4. Suzene says:

    Yeah, that seems weird to me too. I’m not up on how the sausage is made, so maybe someone can shed some light here, but I thought creative teams usually knew pretty soon after the pre-orders for the next arc came in how much rope they had to work with. So getting word that the book was canned at the tail end of the second arc seems a bit unusual.

    Also, knowing the book only had 10 issues makes me more bitter now that we had to waste one on XoS.

  5. MikeyWayne says:

    X-Factor was my favorite current x-book, and I love this cast, so count me as particularly disappointed to hear of it ending. Sure, the latest issue was a bit rushed and not up to par, but it was clearly trying to tie up things as quickly as possible. Leah Williams had a very good grasp on the characters and was doing interesting things to do with each of them… I particularly liked Daken’s and Aurora’s flirtation and the development of Eye Boy’s powers.
    That X-Factor is being replaced by more Tini Howard is doubly disappointing… X-Corp was a confusing mess. Ugh.

  6. Bengt says:

    Disappointing that one of the few good X-books gets cancelled, and with little notice for the creatives at that.

  7. Matt says:

    Cancelling this book is a mercy killing. What was the point of this? Good cast, fine concept, and an execution that just meandered off into nowhere.

  8. Zoomy says:

    I love the reference to the entirely off-screen but apparently close working relationship of Jean-Paul and Dani from New X-Men (she was terribly upset about it when he was temporarily killed by Wolverine)!

  9. Evilgus says:

    What a frustrating issue. The rushed plotting to fit everything in was really a confusing hammer blow, as you can tell the were meant to be longer term plots that crossed into other series.

    It’s a shame as to me, this series had one of the most intriguing premises in the new era (investigating deaths), had strong respect for previous continuity and was giving characters a chance to grow. Williams’ humour isn’t too everyone’s taste, but I enjoyed it.

    Any indication as to why cancelled – sales, or planned relaunch (Trial of Magneto), or removal of Polaris for the main X-Men book?

  10. JD says:

    Looking at the only semi-recent sales figures I could find (for March : ), X-FACTOR was indeed the second lowest-selling X-book (the lowest being CABLE, which is also cancelled.)

    It’s indeed one of the lowest-selling ongoing Marvel series ; the only ones below being CABLE, DOCTOR APHRA (I presume the SW license has different standards, also it’s about to join a big crossover), GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (big retool the next issue + upcoming mini-crossover), CAPTAIN MARVEL (probably stable at this stage), CHAMPIONS (heavily retooled with issue #6), and BLACK PANTHER (concluding with the next issue).

    Looking at that chart, the current hierarchy of X-sales is :
    [probably WOLVERINE]
    [X-MEN LEGENDS, but this was issue #2 so probably dropping]
    [probably MARAUDERS]
    SWORD [boosted ? by crossover]
    [probably NEW MUTANTS]

    (MARAUDERS, NEW MUTANTS & WOLVERINE didn’t ship in March, and the previous figures I could find date back to… October 2020, in the middle of X of Swords, so take my estimates about their placement with a heavy grain of salt.)

  11. Luis Dantas says:

    This is a bit disappointing, all the more so if the cancellation is due to low sales. This book seems to have been one of the strongest in the last ten years or so. Characterization looks like it is well above average.

    I get the sense that Rachel, particularly, has rarely been written quite as well.

  12. Peter Singer says:

    “I get the sense that Rachel, particularly, has rarely been written quite as well.”

    Man, as a long-time fan of Rachel Summers, this is so true.

    The first time since… Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire, I think? that she’s had more than minor appearances and now canceled.

    It’s not like she’s very likely to get more major appearances anytime soon.

  13. Allan M says:

    I get that Williams was rushed due to the cancellation, but did we actually need to circle back to settle the Mojoverse/Shatterstar stuff? Wouldn’t it have been a lot simpler and easier (and more satisfying) if X-Factor had solved the problem? Did we really need to drag Dazzler and Magik into the story at this late stage? And given the now-finite space, was this really the time for three pages to talk about dinner plans?

    This issue clarifies that Polaris defeated the Morrigan by using electromagnetic force last issue, which makes sense because… death goddesses are weak to that, apparently? Williams also kicked off the series by having Polaris’ lack of identity be an explicit plot point, and nine issues later, the sum total of character development is that Polaris got mind-controlled yet again. If you want to do something new with Polaris, maybe do literally anything except a mind control story.

  14. Thom H. says:

    I liked that Williams brought in other characters to save the day, especially since many of them have relationships with current team members. It’s not like Shatterstar was picked out of thin air — he’s a former member of X-Factor himself. Northstar’s been in contact with Dani and Xi’an anyway, and they have shared history.

    One of the things I’ve really liked about this book is the attention to relationships. The current team is building their relationships over time while acknowledging and deepening relationships with other “factions” on Krakoa. It gives us a glimpse into how community on the island actually works.

    Williams also seems intent on gathering together the X-franchise’s queer characters, which adds another layer of community to the proceedings. Not to mention the mentoring aspect of the book or the mutant “circuit” aspect. It all seems to be about working together for a greater good.

    Anyway, I agree Williams really missed out on her stated goal with Polaris. Maybe that was coming later? But yeah, mind control is not a forward-thinking plot for her.

  15. Mikey says:

    I hope Marvel is as keen on Leah Williams as they are on, inexplicably, Tini Howard.

  16. Matt C. says:

    Yeah, I was a little leery of Williams because X-Tremists was so flawed, but this run on X-Factor to me showed the problem was just not having the right characters for what she wanted to do. Here, she did, and she did a great job with them. Whereas everything by Howard has been the same confusing, unfocused mess regardless of characters/concept. Really hoping X-Factor (or something similar) gets a reboot after Trial of Magneto.

  17. Evilgus says:

    I do feel any plans for Polaris have been significantly derailed by that X-Men vote.

    And this has been the most recognisably ‘Rachel’ Rachel for years – great design and character posture (always depicted slightly aloof from group), sardonic humour, powerful, and finally engaging with the chromo skimming powers. I want more!

  18. Joseph S. says:

    Those numbers only tell us so much, of course, as they don’t include trades etc. Just based on X-Twitter and word of mouth, the book seems to have a lot of good will. I certainly have been enjoying it. As a freelancer, Williams can only say so much, maybe there’s more going on behind the scenes, but I suspect it just comes down to the Trial of Magneto. It would probably be redundant to have her on two books simultaneously with similar casts, and as others have mentioned with Polaris on the new X-Men book it made the Gala a convenient place to end “Season 1.” Obviously, Magneto will not be an “ongoing” (whatever that even means anymore), so we’ll just have to read and find out. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we get some sort of X-Factor “Season 2” afterwards, even if it ends up with a different artist and even a different title.

    Anyway, I agree this issue misses the mark a bit, but all things considered it handled the wrap up pretty well. Williams really gets a lot of characterization out of even little bits of dialogue. That whole scene with Kyle was great. I do hope we get to see more of this cast soon.

  19. Sol says:

    Yeah, this book was at worst my second favorite X-title of the last year. Most of the characters were ones I didn’t have any particular attachment to before this book (excepting Rachel!) and about half the stories were concepts I wouldn’t have been excited about, but dang, this book just took joy in sparkling characterization and made me eager to find out what crazy thing was happening next. Very disappointed to learn the title has been canceled.

  20. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Of course the one Krakoa era book I really enjoyed gets shitcanned.

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