Leah Williams and David Baldeon’s X-Factor continues its adventures in the Mojoverse with issue #3. In this issue, we see the team fight their way to the top, rescue their missing mutant, and plant seeds for future storylines of both X-Factor and X of Swords. This issue keeps up the book’s characteristic mix of intrigue, humor, and playful criticism of Krakoa, but the pacing suffers in service of the larger storylines at play.
Joe Caramagna (Letterer), David Baldeon (Art), Ivan Shavrin (Cover Art) Israel Silva (Colors) Tom Muller (Design), Leah Williams (Writer),
September 9, 2020
Mojoverse’s satire of both internet and Krakoan culture continues here as X-Factor fights their way in and out of Mojo’s strange streaming platform. This creates some funny moments, like seeing Spiral’s excitement contrasted with X-Factor’s annoyance and exhaustion. Spiral urges viewers to “give thanks to our supreme leader [Mojo] for his most holy content curation” and tells Northstar “Don’t be shy! Go ahead and say hello to all your fans here in the Mojoverse!” In response, Northstar looks glumly into the camera and says “We’re X-Factor investigations and we’re here about the dead mutant.” X-Factor is trying to take care of serious business and the Mojoverse is dedicated to the exact opposite: silly entertainment.
Williams and Baldeon flesh out their depiction of the Mojoverse with updated takes on Spiral, Arize, and Shatterstar. Shatterstar’s arc forms the real heart of this issue. He begrudgingly helps X-Factor, fighting against his seemingly mind-controlled nature. He performs as a happy showman and wrestler for Mojo, but we see the sadness and struggle he feels. For a moment I thought Shatterstar would become part of X-Factor, and he might still, but not in this issue.
Shatterstar doesn’t fit X-Factor’s original remit of missing and presumed dead mutants, but he shows just how overwhelming their job is. This issue feels like it’s doing heavy lifting and furniture moving because that’s exactly what X-Factor’s mission is. They interrogate the current mutant status quo, answering the questions and characters left on the sidelines of previous X-Men books. It’s a testament to the creative team’s skills that they manage to do this with so much charm and intrigue. Williams and Baldeon juggle and advance a half-dozen plots in this issue without concluding any of them, which is exactly what a good ongoing series does.
Shatterstar’s storyline ends with an exciting heartfelt cliffhanger marked ‘To Be Continued!’; unfortunately, the remaining pages feel like an afterthought. We get three data pages in a row, one of recovered transmissions sent from the Mojoverse and two of Aurora’s detailed synopses of her Mojoverse viewing. These pages provide a more comprehensive synopsis of recent events in the Mojoverse than X-Factor could themselves experience. They also both further flesh out the issue’s most well-rounded characters, Shatterstar and Aurora. We get a sense of Shatterstar’s frustration and loneliness, and in contrast, Aurora’s boredom and perverse enjoyment at Mojo’s livestreams. These also further flesh out characters we don’t see alive in the issue, Wind Dancer and Adam-X. Still, these pages feel like a let down after the more stylized and inventive data pages of the first couple issues. I have to wonder if these summarized events were originally conceived of as another issue’s worth of plot before Williams and Baldeon found out that X of Swords would have to take over their book for issue #4.
Beyond these pages, they cut to a scene directly teasing Marvel’s crossover with Fortnite. Gwenpool’s glib remark “Don’t worry, it’s just a tie-in” made me laugh, but summed up my sentiments. I wish we could’ve seen more of this team and story before cutting to a major crossover event, especially with a two-month gap following the tie-in issue. I look forward to more X-Factor, and I hope it doesn’t get lost in the larger upcoming mutant shuffle.