X-Factor #7 opens on a high note — the highest note of the series thus far — and it’s one Young Avengers fans have been waiting for for a long time. It also serves as a really strong argument for Leah Williams to write more Young Avengers characters, as she absolutely nails the voice of Tommy Shepherd.
Thinkfast (the relationship between David Alleyne and Tommy Shepherd) is a unique little ship. They’ve only technically appeared in one and a half issues of comics together, but their chemistry was so off the charts, fans seemed to really latch on to them. Eventually, they made it into canonization in an AU in the form of Secret Wars: Secret Love, but it wasn’t until 2020’s Lords of Empyre: Emperor Hulkling that the two got any canon confirmation in the 616. The fact that they’re together is almost entirely on fan enthusiasm — and for writers for listening to them — so seeing their interactions in X-Factor #7 will feel like a big win for many Young Avengers fans who were championing this pairing for a long time.
Their relationship isn’t ever really defined in this issue, but something about that feels so in character for the two of them and how they interact with one another. Williams understands Tommy’s particular brand of chaos very well and her interactions between Tommy and Jean-Paul are some of the best in the issue. It’s funny almost, that a Young Avenger showing up in an X-Men comic is the highlight, but it totally is.
On a pure plot level, Tommy’s involvement mostly exists to help uncover the mystery of David Alleyne’s death. X-Factor #7 takes a moment to drop more breadcrumbs in this investigation, with Josh saying David was believed to die during Uncanny X-Men (2019) alongside Loa and several other Academy X kids. It’s clear that this mystery isn’t done yet — and that Josh’s answer isn’t quite good enough.
While Thinkfast’s chemistry sizzles, the other pairing Williams devotes these early pages to, Akihiro and Aurora, is less exciting. Once all is said and done, maybe this pairing will fare a little better, but it’s certainly awkward to read their interactions at times. It is nice, however, that Aurora often calls him “Akihiro” instead of his codename, which is a very welcome move considering the derogatory roots of that word. Like Greycrow, Akihiro has been one Marvel character in desperate need of a name change.
It’s also really interesting to see the term “flatscan” come up again. When Fabian Cortez used it in S.W.O.R.D., it didn’t come as too much of a surprise since he used it before in the 616 quite often. But seeing it become a normalized term amongst Krakoans and hearing Akihiro say it is certainly an interesting thing to note.
The main star of this arc overall, however, goes to Ms. Theresa Cassidy. Williams expands a little on the lore of the Morrigan, a concept introduced in Peter David’s X-Factor when he had Siryn take over the mantle to save Lorna. While X-Factor questions those close to Theresa, several interesting tidbits are brought up. For example, Siryn is apparently part of Dazzler’s band, who we saw perform in X-Force previously. A singing gig is a cute little nod not just to Siryn’s vocal-based powers, but to the fact that it was revealed she sings in the shower in the original X-Force run. Now she’s made a career out of it!
Though it’s unlikely this will ever be touched on further, Jamie Madrox calls his involvement with Siryn “a one time thing,” which raises a ton of questions for X-Factor fans. Is he saying he’s had some sort of romantic entanglement with his ex-girlfriend, Siryn since coming to Krakoa? Or is the “one time thing” in question him referring to his old relationship with her? Where’s Layla and what does she think of all this? It’s a small detail that actually raises a lot of questions.
Or, maybe I just care about Siryn too much. Both seem likely.
Williams’ expansion to the Morrigan lore is interesting, but if the Siryn we’ve been seeing this whole time is just the Morrigan posing as her, where’s Theresa? What happened that made the Morrigan split from using Theresa as a host to just shapeshifting and stealing her place altogether? Or is the Morrigan merely using Terry’s body still, challenging her for control? Kyle’s conversation about abuse seems to hint that might be the case. It’s likely this arc will answer those questions, but it’s certainly good food for thought. Considering Theresa’s ascension to godhood only happened because of her desire to save the world and her love for her teammate, Polaris, it’s good to see Polaris take a front seat in this arc.
The ending pages almost seem like something out of a horror movie, which is a weird but totally neat addition to this issue. Williams and Baldeon are at their best here and this is, without a doubt, X-Factors best arc yet –and it only seems to be getting more exciting by the minute.
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