X-Factor #4 was the only X-book in stores last week unless you also count that artist tribute to Giant-Size X-Men #1, which I don't. So let's just get down to the recap, shall we?
Sworn to sell comics for Marvel executives who feared and hated the fact that Fox owned their movie rights, The Uncanny X-Men suffered great indignities. Still, thanks to a corporate merger, a line-wide relaunch, and Jonathan Hickman's giant ego, the X-Men can finally get back to doing what they do best: being objectively the best franchise in all of comics for lovers of soap opera drama.
X-FACTOR #4 XOS
(W) Leah Williams (A) Carlos E. Gomez (CA) Ivan Shavrin
X OF SWORDS – CHAPTER 2
Death and rebirth. Corruption. A dark discovery.
In Shops: Sep 30, 2020
X-Factor #4 Recap
There was a storyline happening in the first three issues of X-Factor, but crossover events wait for no storyline, so forget all of that. Instead, this issue picks up right where X of Swords: Creation left off, with a battered team of mutants returning to Krakoa, bringing a wounded Apocalypse and Rictor and a dead Rockslide. All three are brought to the healing gardens as Apocalypse and Rictor share a touching moment while grappling with Pestilence's infection.
Saturnyne closes the gateway from Krakoa to Otherworld, causing Polaris to collapse, and then we get a prose page explaining The Floating Kingdom of Roma Regina. Later, in the healing gardens, Pennance and Prestige do their best to get past a mental barrier set up by Saturnyne in Polaris's mind in order to unlock the information Saturnyne hid there about the X of Swords tournament.
Meanwhile, Rictor is dying, which doesn't sit well with Apocalypse. When Morlock Healer admits they're letting Rictor die so they can resurrect him, Apocalypse goes psycho and starts choking him out. Rachel intervenes with a psychic attack, but when Apocalypse ejects her from his mind, it causes his chest to explode with black goo. That segues into another prose page, this time a Wikipedia entry on another Otherworld kingdom, the Holy Republic of Fae.
Later, at the Hatchery, Polaris talks to Professor X and shows him what happened to Rictor and Rockslide. He agrees to have them resurrected from scratch within the hour. The Five object to moving so quickly, but Xavier asks nicely, so they agree. An hour later, Rictor is resurrected, naked, but mostly fine. Rockslide, however, is another story. There's something wrong with him, and when Xavier tries to intervene, he gets some kind of feedback shock from Cerebro. This spreads to all the other Cerebro helmets on Krakoa (including the one in Moria's No-Place) and causes The Five to pass out.
Rockslide crumbles to a pile of rocks. The Five wake up but have lost their connection with each other and Xavier. Xavier is unconscious and won't wake up. The Five make a split decision to destroy all the eggs as Rockslide rises up, but Polaris points out it's actually someone else. Xavier wakes up, horrified that the eggs have all been destroyed. He reads Rockslide and explains that he both is and is not Rockslide at the same time. The Cerebro helmets are still out of commission. Xavier verifies that Rictor is indeed Rockslide. Hope asks where Rockslide died because she has a theory about what happened to Rockslide.
A prose page detailing a report on the incident reveals that all resurrections have been temporarily suspended. Rockslide is only able to maintain partial form. At a Quiet Council meeting, The Five and Xavier explain what's going on. Dying on Otherworld, which represents a convergence of possible realities, corrupts Cerebro backups and creates a new composite of all possible Rockslides, so this is a brand new Rockslide. Xavier and the Five explain that all previous Rockslide Cerbero backups will be destroyed and replaced with this new one.
Emma Frost is outraged at this since it means the real Rockslide is actually dead now. She suggests they call off the X of Swords tournament before more mutants end up the same way, but Xavier refuses. He says the champions will choose to participate. Magneto uses this opportunity to segue into berating his daughter into figuring out what Saturnyne put in her head. After he shouts at her enough, she recites a prophecy:
- From one womb came two, a hero destined to brandish what the Earth has swallowed, and an echo doomed to yearn for what the stars hath forsworn. (Captain Britain?)
- Lost soul, an edge gained. A lone wanderer returns to a forge left ablaze. (No idea)
- Sword in the stone, stationed in space. A young man, born old, pilots a place. (Cable?)
- A father forsaken, a husband betrayed. An ancient treasure sharpens the death of his children craves. (Apocalypse?)
- Friend-self, friends lost. Out of one comes many. Into many comes one. (Cypher/Douglock)
- Eight years gone in seconds. From a childhood lost comes a woman grown. Her only friends were weapons; now her soul a blade hers alone. (Magik, obviously)
- Once goddess, once queen, one sword with which to split the sky in twain. Vibranium inlaid, a tempest contained, she is the wrath of heavens wielding a legacy. (Storm, obviously)
- Ego death… and broken stone… two wars waged by one champion alone. (The duality here suggests Wolverine, with the swords being his two dicks.)
While she's reading off the prophecies, Polaris accidentally crushes Rockslide, whose head she was holding. She freaks out about this and runs off. A prose page talks in detail about the Rockslide situation, how he may contain parts of different Rockslides, or it may be a completely different Rockslide who's dangerous. The report says Rockslide claims to be feeling fine now.
Magneto and Xavier go to visit Apocalypse. They inform him that resurrections are delayed, for now, so he should try not to die. They also give him a firm lecture about disobeying the council and building gateways that lead to crossover events. He dies. While this is going on, Polaris takes Rockslide's remains into the woods and uses them to create a seal in the Votus Glade with ten symbols surrounding an inner circle. When the ten champions have their swords and stand on the seals, it will open a portal to the tournament. Apparently, Saturnyne wrote these instructions in the Earth's geomagnetic spectrum so only Polaris could read them.
She gathers the X-Men and informs them that this new gate will serve as a memorial to Rockslide called the Sanctus Sacrum. Magik stands on her seal, and the issue ends with a prose page in which Cypher makes predictions about the prophecies, which all basically match mine, except he tags the "lone wanderer" one as Wolverine instead of the two dicks one, so clearly he's wrong. And that's all for X-Factor #4.
I'm torn here. On the one hand, I'm annoyed that we got three issues of an ongoing story in the X-Factor comic before completely abandoning it for the X of Swords crossover. And we won't get another issue of X-Factor until after the crossover is over. And top to top it all off, this book costs five bucks. This is pretty much the definition of a disruptive crossover event. Marauders also cost five bucks this coming Wednesday, but it looks like at least some of the other books will be the regular overpriced four bucks. But, on the other hand, it was an entertaining issue, and it felt like a lot happened in it, as evidenced by it taking a thousand words just to recap.
This issue sets up a few mysteries or story threads to unravel in future issues. Why did Apocalypse want Rictor kept alive so badly? Does it have anything to do with the way he's been getting the members of Excalibur to go along with his plans despite being a lifelong arch-nemesis of the X-Men? Did he do something to their current bodies? Then there's the whole setup of the Otherworld deaths. Yes, in the short term, it's an attempt to give some stakes to X of Swords because characters really can die, but since they can be resurrected with a mixture of various alternate-universe character traits, I have a suspicion this will be a way for Marvel to kill off and bring back characters with just the elements of continuity they want. Maybe we'll get a Wolverine with three dicks.
The X-Men were duped by Summoner, and they trusted Apocalypse only for him to royally screw things up. You'd think this might cause some of them to wonder what they're doing on Krakoa, but then again, the leadership, Xavier and Magneto, weren't so much mad at Apocalypse for what he'd done as for doing it behind their backs. If you're going to engage in large scale manipulation of reality, you better let Xavier and Magneto in on it, god damn it!
Read more X-ual Healing here: