Marvel Comics released X-Factor #4 on September 30. Writer Leah Williams, artist Carlos Gomez, colorist Israel Silva, and letterer VC’s Joe Caramagna continue the story begun in X of Swords: Creation #1, showing the aftermath of the battle in Otherworld, the fates of the fallen mutants, and raising the stakes of the upcoming conflict with Apocalypse’s children by throwing a wrench in Krakoa’s resurrection protocols.
While X of Swords: Creation established that the X-Men would pick ten champions to fight on behalf of Krakoa, it was easy to wonder, “What’s the big deal? These characters will be resurrected anyway” (not just in a typical comic book-y way, but in a Krakoan resurrection protocol way). Sure, even if they were resurrected, their loss in the tournament will still ensure the invasion of Krakoa by Arakko. This issue, however, really raises the stakes by revealing that one’s death in Otherworld messes up one’s Cerebro back-up, replacing it with some Otherworld amalgamation of one’s identity. Indeed, we learn in this issue that while a version of Rockslide has returned, this is not the same character who died in Otherworld, and so Krakoa suffers its first real loss and permanent death. This event just got some teeth!
Polaris takes center stage in this issue, caught between her grief over Rockslide’s death, her inability to stop it, and her father’s harshness. It is truly heartbreaking to watch Lorna gather the pieces of Rockslide as she mourns his loss and carry his pieces off into the night. Gomez’s artwork does a good job capturing Lorna’s emotions in her desperate gathering and clinging to Rockslide’s remains and her forlorn wandering into the night.
But there is an arc here that ends in triumph, as Lorna works through the darkness of the night, Gomez and Silva portray Lorna the next morning as having gone through her dark night, having understood Lady Saturnyne’s message to her, and constructed a casting circle out of Rockslide’s remains as a tribute to him.
There is a beautiful image of the image drawn by Gomez and colored by Silva of Polaris standing in the center of the sunrise, with a gorgeous lens flare. This is juxtaposed to a sad-looking Apocalypse who sits in the darkness being scolded by Xavier and Magneto, who note that no one will miss him. In some ways, Apocalypse’s own despair mirrors Polaris’s, and as the sun shines on her, so does the morning sunshine in on Apocalypse, as Caramagna’s letters present Lorna’s inner monologue about pain, redemption, and the hope for something better. As the sun has shone on Lorna, so it may shine on Apocalypse once again.
X-Factor #4 was a strong second chapter to the X of Swords event, elevating the threat that Krakoa faces and potentially shaking up Krakoa’s status quo. The possibility exist that some of the residents of Krakoa may not make it out alive, or, since this is comic books, may at least have their characters or personalities transformed by the time this event ends.
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