When X-Factor was first announced, it seemed as though the series could go on for as long as the Krakoan era itself, exploring all kinds of mishaps with the resurrection protocols. Because of its short 10 issue run, X-Factor ended up having one big plot: Theresa Cassidy’s mysterious deaths and new deal with the Morrigan. X-Factor #9 completes that arc, paving the way for a final issue where things fall into place perfectly.
SPOILERS AHEAD for X-Factor #9!
One thing about Baldeon’s work on X-Factor #9 that needs to be said is that it’s a visually interesting issue. From the way Rachel’s powerset is shown to Trevor’s, the uniqueness is eye-catching. The section about the Morrigan’s lore is also visually interesting, making the book stand out and never feel boring.
Exploring Theresa’s psyche is interesting, if only because it gives a chance for Rachel Summers to really shine. Siryn’s view of always being watched by something dark and looming is a great touch. Jean-Paul and Kyle’s little conversation would be kind of an odd interjection if it wasn’t just so charming — instead, the interaction becomes something wholly endearing. It’s also a testament to the team dynamic of this X-Factor, showcasing that these characters feel safe enough to have full-on family conversations in front of each other — it’s a nice little touch.
The Mojoverse section is where the issue loses a bit of steam, however. The Dazzler pages feel like they go on too long and begin to feel like they’re wasting space rather than saying anything important. Shatterstar’s return is a great thing — one fans will surely be overjoyed about — but having him kill a death goddess seems a little…easy? It shouldn’t have been a problem so easily fixed, especially given the old rules of the Morrigan in X-Factor volume 3. Theresa became the Morrigan in the first place because she made a deal that involved killing the original host — so who becomes the Morrigan now? Not Shatterstar, since it was historically passed down from woman to woman, though this particular comic never specifies that. The stakes of killing the Morrigan just aren’t there this time around.
Though, the ending panels are surely to please all the Ricstar fans out there, which is always a plus.
Theresa’s new deal with the Morrigan is finally revealed and it feels wholly true to the character. One of the most interesting aspects of the Morrigan being on Krakoa is that it is an island with no death — something Leah Williams used to her advantage when crafting this story. The thing that has always been true about Siryn is that she does love her friends, sometimes to a selfless degree. In X-Factor volume 3, for Lorna she became the Morrigan and for Jamie, she put her personal grief aside to beg for his recovery. Terry has always been selfless even when it doesn’t pay off for her, and that’s exactly what her new deal with the Morrigan is. It’s a great choice on Williams’ part and keeps in line with the character’s often tragic story.
In many ways, Williams’ X-Factor feels like a love letter to two series: New X-Men (2004) and X-Factor volume 3. The first few issues of the title really put a spotlight on the 2004 kids like Sofia and her friendship with David, while the Morrigan plot has really stressed a few volume 3 relationships. In issue #9 alone, Theresa and Shatterstar share a moment to honor their roots, in which he tenderly kisses his former teammate’s forehead, and Rictor’s famous first on-panel kiss with him is shown in a flashback. Terry’s friendship with Lorna has been a staple of this entire arc, even if it doesn’t get much play in issue #9.
With Shatterstar’s return and Theresa’s mortality restored, the stage is set for a sweet ending on X-Factor‘s part. But who knows? The Gala might stir up some trouble for these characters in the end…
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