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X-Factor Is Testing the Limits of the X-Men's Age of Ascendance

Siryn trying to get the hell out of dodge.
Siryn trying to get the hell out of dodge.
Image: Carlos Gomez, Israel Silva, Marvel

Though X-Factor was quite busy with its own contained story about its team discovering the latest, most grotesque programming to come out of Mojoworld, the onset of X of Swords has shifted the series in a drastically different direction. It’s established a terrifying complication for the X-Men’s carefully constructed plans to ensure immortality for all mutants.

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Illustration for article titled iX-Factor/i Is Testing the Limits of the X-Mens Age of Ascendance
Graphic: Jim Cooke

Today’s X-Factor #4—written by Leah Williams, penciled by Carlos Gomez with colors by Israel Silva, and Joe Caramagna lettering—opens just moments after the group of mutants who ventured into Otherworld by way of Apocalypse’s external gate learned that Apocalypse’s grandson Summoner was actually in league with the four original Horsemen and plotting to invade Krakoa. After witnessing Rockslide’s death, and both Apocalypse and Rictor being seriously wounded by the Horsemen and their horde of demons, the X-Men haul ass back to their island where their allies can presumably be revived in the healing gardens. But what they find back in their home reality is that deaths in Otherworld function...differently.

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As part of their plan to ensure that mutants never face extinction again, Charles Xavier and the rest of Marvel’s mutants have developed a complicated system through which any mutant can be brought back to life when Hope Summers, Elixir, Tempus, Egg (formerly Goldballs), and Proteus combine their powers and create what’s essentially a genetic duplicate of the dead mutant. Thanks to an enhanced Cerebro that periodically creates backup saves of a person’s mind, the newly created mutant shells typically wake up with all of their memories—but when the Five come together to resurrect Rockslide, something goes terribly wrong that none of the X-Men anticipated.

The Five bringing Rockslide back to life.
The Five bringing Rockslide back to life.
Image: Carlos Gomez, Israel Silva, Marvel

While the Five are able to successfully bring Rictor back after his “first” self dies in the healing gardens on Krakoa, the Rockslide who emerges from his resurrection egg is...wrong, not through any fault of the Five per se, but because of the way Otherworld’s magical energies fiddle with reality. The moment Rockslide is reborn, each of the cradles (essentially the servers where the mutant mental profiles are stored) around the world shorts out, and for a few minutes, Xavier passes out, and Rockslide quite literally crumbles into an assortment of rocks before reforming himself and making clear that he doesn’t properly remember who he is.

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In their initial panic over what’s happening to Rockslide, the Five make the snap decision to destroy all of the already-prepped eggs out of fear that they might somehow be tainted, but Hope is able to deduce somehow exactly what went wrong as Xavier comes to.

The Five explaining why Rockslide's resurrection didn't work properly.
Image: Carlos Gomez, Israel Silva, Marvel
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Because Otherworld functions as a nexus between all possible realities, Rockslide’s death there more or less blended together a number of different versions of his consciousness that caused each of the different Cerebro servers to short out. The Rockslide who’s been resurrected is technically him, but not the exactly the man the X-Men once knew. Emma Frost is the only member of the Krakoan Quiet Council who seems to be properly alarmed at the reality that Xavier’s grand plan for immortality has a massive flaw in it.

Under normal circumstances, it would be relatively easy to warn mutants not to be foolish enough to die in Otherworld, but because X of Swords is building toward a major battle against the Horsemen there, it means that going forward, there’s a very good chance other X-Men will fall, only to be brought back as new versions of themselves. To Emma’s point, this means that there’s a real chance that some people are going to straight-up die and never be brought back as they were, which gives X of Swords a wholly different kind of gravity.

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The question now is who will be the next, and just what sort of people they’ll become should the X-Men choose to revive them.

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io9 Culture Critic and Staff Writer. Cyclops was right.

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DISCUSSION

saintheartwing
SaintHeartwing

To Emma’s point, this means that there’s a real chance that some people are going to straight-up die and never be brought back as they were, which gives X of Swords a wholly different kind of gravity.” Gee, I can’t imagine what it must be like to just die and not come back as you were...unless, I dunno, I was one of the billions of humans on the planet WITHOUT special powers. You know what the really stupid part of this is? All of this is Apocalypse’s fault and the island’s fault. The Council, upon realizing the immediate danger the other realm was, voted in a majority to close the gate. If it’s gone, those other people can’t cross over and endanger the world. What did those two do? They said no, thus keeping the gate open, and therefore, potentially dooming the entire world, perhaps even the universe, to ruination from uber-powerful mutant children of Apocalypse who WIPED THE FLOOR with him when he showed up.

Like, literally anybody with half a brain could have told these people “Don’t give Apocalypse a position of power, he’s Apocalypse, he’s a genocidal, bigoted, psychotic, megalomaniacal monster, he is the worst person you could put into a position of power”. Did you listen? Did the authors listen? No. Because they wanted to push the “Krakoa is for all mutants” thing even if that’s a dumb idea that can only backfire considering mutants are just as crappy as normal people, only they have superpowers to boot.

I’m only reading on to see the chickens come home to roost. That’s it.