This second storyline in X-Factor has been rather fascinating to me. While Leah Williams and David Baldeon maintain the same dramatic stride issue to issue, it is all too evident that they, along with Israel Silva and Joe Caramagna, have been waiting for X-Factor #8 in particular to ramp things up and really push the tension to almost a breaking point.
David Baldeon (Artist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer), Tom Muller (Design), Ivan Shavrin (Cover Artist), Israel Silva (Color Artist), Leah Williams (Writer)
March 10, 2021
On the first page, Jeanne-Marie sets the tone of the entire issue when she says she wants “to watch a terrible B-movie tonight. Something so bad it feels like a fever dream.”
Baldeon’s staging of a relaxed Jeanne-Marie does its job quite well, allowing the readers to connect with her on an emotional level. It is also a fun bonding moment between her and Jean-Paul, which had been a bit lacking (though understandably) in prior issues. Jeanne-Marie additionally is elevated to the role of the unwitting omniscient narrator, as the issue very much follows the plot of a horrific B-movie.
The following pages show with an abundant clarity why this story falls into the horror genre. Amazing Baby’s heavy barking awakens Rachel, who then hands him off to Trevor, leading to the pair being witness to an unseen killer. This scene induces a feeling of dread and paranoia. Despite Trevor and Rachel’s dialogue taking up a sizable portion of the two pages, they contain a pervasive silence that Israel Silva maximizes on in the coloring. The bubbles representing Trevor’s line of vision closely surround him and, combined with the close-up shots of the Morrigan, attain a feeling of drowning. That sense is exacerbated by Trevor being at the ground floor of the Boneyard and the high ceiling resembling the ocean’s surface.
Fun connective framing for Trevor and Daken, seen in their character-centered pages, makes it clear the two men are co-leads in this terrible horror movie. Both Trevor’s and Daken’s powers are affected by emotional cues, which in turn makes them uniquely suited amongst the team for this new threat. At the same time, a similarity between them is the fact that they’ve been victimized in different ways by the Morrigan: Daken through verbal abuse and Trevor through stalking. Baldeon’s artwork pushes this connection further with the juxtaposition of hot and cold between Daken and Trevor. It makes me quite interested to see what will happen to them and who will be the last man standing.
Morrigan’s appearance is every bit as horrific as had been built up over this storyline. Baldeon’s pencils and inks present her as someone who is very ghostly and Silva’s colors make this scarier with the substantial increase of black to represent the shadows. As a result, her design looks like she has leapt directly from a nightmare. Baldeon and Silva have crafted an effective horror movie monster for X-Factor to fight.
Silva specifically strikes the exact frightening mood in coloring the Morrigan’s scene, as the addition of the Morrigan’s glowing eyes makes her appear even more ghostly and less human. Caramagna’s lettering was very in tune with Baldeon’s artwork and Silva’s colors and thus made the dramatic scenes tenser and the horror much more striking. X-Factor #8 is another fantastic issue and the creative team takes full advantage of horror tropes–from an up-close encounter with a monster to surprisingly sudden deaths–to deliver an especially chilling read.