In true ‘milk’em for all their worth fashion,’ Marvel Comics announced the relaunch of the well-known X-Men title X-Factor.
It comes as no surprise since the successful House of X and Powers of X crossover event managed to breathe new life into the criminally neglected comic franchise. Following the event’s success, Marvel has chosen to essentially flood the market with everything and anything having to do with X-Men.
This time around the book will be helmed by talented writer Leah Williams and artist David Baldeon. Williams is something of a current-era veteran of the franchise having already written on several X-Men projects including the Age of X-Man limited series; X-Tremist, What If? Magik, X-Men Black: Emma Frost, as well as the non-X-Men title, Gwenpool, Strikes Back.
As for the story, Marvel details the X-Factor team will be looking into the deaths of mutants and how they died. Not only will they be looking into the deaths of their fellow mutants, but they will also be tasked with keeping the rules of reincarnation set forth in the resurrection protocols.
Here’s how Marvel puts it:
“By the grace of The Five, the resurrection protocols can bring back any fallen mutant. But such a huge enterprise isn’t without its problems and complications… When a mutant dies, X–Factor is there to investigate how and why to keep the rules of reincarnation.”
The roster for the new team has already been selected. Daken, Northstar, Polaris, Rachel Summers, Eye-Boy, and Prodigy will all be featured. Any X-Men fan worth their salt will immediately pick up on the fact that literally, half the characters are LGBTQ, most famously among them being Northstar, who in recent years was part of a high-profile marriage to his husband. Since Astonishing X-Men, he’s been one of my favorite X-characters. Much to my delight, Williams chose him to fill the role of ‘team leader’.
Williams, being a member of the LGBTQ community herself, will undoubtedly have a unique angle while writing these X-Men. The composition of the team was deliberate and well-thought-out, if not a bit chancy in terms of its general mass-appeal.
Speaking with Polygon, Williams explained the team:
“Eye-Boy was a given, both in having x-ray vision and fulfilling the requisite team role as “baby.” I knew we’d need a team telepath, and Rachel Grey was my top pick. She’s fascinatingly under-utilized yet over-powered as a character and carries so, so much incredible lore and untapped potential. She’s our team’s James Dean. Then I snapped up Prodigy because there’s so much more to explore with his character in Krakoa, as well—and his powers make him an investigative Swiss Army Knife. Then I was like “ok this team still needs a f**ky thot enforcer” and scared the crap out of Jordan by asking for Maggott, so we went with Daken instead because there’s a lot of interesting story-mining to do with the Snikt family.”
Eye-Boy is a character from the more whacky Jason Aaron ‘Wolverine and the X-Men’ era that followed ‘Schism.’ Going back to my concern over mass-appeal, Eye-Boy has been much more of a creator-darling than a true a fan-favorite. Rachel has been in and out of lineups since the War of Kings (2009), and Prodigy has spent much of his time as part of the now-canceled America Chavez title. He was also de-powered years ago during M-day. Perhaps he’s been reborn via the resurrection protocols?
Leah’s ‘f**ky thot enforcer,’ Daken, is one of the better-known characters that has something of a fan-following – although one wonders what function he’d serve to the team as being a famously uncooperative and blood-thirsty antagonist. However, he has spent much time in recent years with X-23. He even gave Gabrielle (Honeybadger) her codename.
The last member of the team she discussed was Magneto’s last existing child, Polaris.
“Polaris was the last variable and the hardest for me to wrap my head around. I tend to only feel comfortable writing characters I already love, but for the longest time Polaris honestly wasn’t someone I connected with that deeply. But she’s a legacy character, an actual X-Factor alumnus, and has so much character work that desperately needs doing; and I didn’t want to omit her just because I was afraid to tackle her story.”
Williams would go on to explain how she reached out to X-fans with ample amounts of Polaris-love to help her better understand the character including her relationship with famed Summers’ brother, Havok.
“She’s not team leader, which may rub people the wrong way at first but it’s a decision she makes for story reasons, and I promise it’s because we’re just making sure she has the available bandwidth for so, so much more growth. After I turned in X-FACTOR #1’s script, Jordan realized it first: Northstar may be the team leader, but Polaris is the north star. For everything.”
Polaris not being the team leader does make sense. During her last tour as a member of the title – during Peter David’s All-New X-Factor – she took on the role of a leader and she struggled, partially due to her mental instability. Being the daughter of a member of the Quiet Council’s executive board, her presence will probably come with some hurdles to clear. All-in-all, Marvel could have chosen worse to helm the title. Leah has proven able to write intriguing believable characters and in my opinion, has more than earned this shot.
X-Factor by Leah Williams and David Baldeon will be available in April.