The latest episode of the ComicsXF podcast Battle Of The Atom with Zachary Jenkins and Adam Reck, talking to comic book writer Leah Williams, whose Trial Of Magneto is published from Marvel Comics tomorrow, spinning out of the X-Factor series. And it makes for one hell of a listen. She talks candidly about the series and working for Marvel Comics, some things we knew, some we definitely did not.
Leah Williams tells us that X-Factor was canceled because Leah's pitch for the Magneto/Wanda story for X-Factor, now called Trial Of Magneto, became such a popular pitch at Marvel but they thought the reader numbers for X-Factor wasn't big enough for this story, so they wanted it as a separate comic. And canceled X-Factor #10 rather than seeing it run as originally planned, with the Trial beginning in X-Factor #15. Williams says she only learned about the cancellation of X-Factor when she was writing #9, so as she had to finish the series quickly, squeezing six issues worth of story into those last two issues, calling it "cramped and rushed".
Regarding Trial Of Magneto causing the X-Factor cancellation, "I hope it's going to be worth it, it was explained to me as being the biggest thing I've participated in." The title wasn't Leah's idea, it was a marketing choice, "I don't have the hubris", and is intended to focus more on Scarlet Witch. Leah says she wants to rehabilitate Wanda's image with the rest of the mutants on Krakoa, and make reinterpret her powers as empowering others rather than being a chaotic variable. She says that her goal is not to write the next defining Magneto story but to write an "empathy engine", as a Wanda sympathiser, to authentically tell a story that's going to be about healing and catharsis.
She says with X-Factor #10, she realized how little control the writers have, she didn't know what the final result would be as there were several artists on the last issue and apparently several writers/editors making changes. Leah says that there were pages in the final issue she didn't know about, her dialogue was changed as well as the artwork she had originally seen, and she only found out about those changes when the issue was printed and released, some of which she was really unhappy with, and objected to, such as the shots of Prodigy's naked dead body which she didn't script. After public response, the artwork was changed for the download version. She says she also had to change her goodbye letter at the end of X-Factor #10 three times, because she was giving away too much of what the previous plans had been and Marvel didn't want to make the cancellation look like the last-minute decision it clearly was, and that this was planned all along.
Some of those lost plans include that Shatterstar was supposed to become the New Krakoan God of Battle by defeating the Morrigan, while Morrigan became a God of Rebirth and Healing – dialogue explaining that was removed from the final issue. Leah planned to add "gods" to the creation myths of Krakoan. Siryn's new power was gonna be that she could talk to the dead, which would have been huge for the investigations. Intriguingly, Jean Grey has been revealed able to do just that with Lorna in the X-Men title. Lorna was gonna do a one-woman prison breakout at some point. And Prodigy was going to pass the Californian bar exam.
And while there have clearly been unfortunate experiences on the book, Leah says that these are things that publishers and IP owners are totally allowed to do, but she found it a difficult experience and says that both she and series artist David Baldeon both cried when they found out of the cancellation. But she also noted that, on the X-books, she has never had this much attention on her work before. Which makes her decision to transition to writing for Substack, alongside many other comics creators, to be totally understandable. And the podcast, with so much more than the above, can be listened to right here.