X-Position: Peter David

Delving into a lengthy story is a commitment - as well as a bit of a gamble - on behalf of the reader. It takes a good amount of their time, concentration, and patience to follow all the threads and plot points the author has laid out in their narrative.

If the scribe has done their work well, there are huge dividends for the reader - the thrill of a greatly-told tale is hard to top for those who love literature. If, however, the author has failed to connect story points and delivered a lackluster ending...well, the reader has just spent a lot of time (and, occasionally, a decent amount of money) on disappointment. Granted, this disappointment may have more to do with the reader's expectations than the writer's skills, but it's still a tough pill to swallow.

With all that in mind, Marvel Comics' recently released "X-Factor" #50 wraps up several long-standing storylines, and from feedback around the internet, hardly anyone seems disappointed in the resolutions! Writer Peter David took elements that seemed almost random at the beginning of his run and has wrapped them up and delivered it all with a bow to his readers. While the recent issue seemed to provide a ton of answers, there are still questions - which is why we're here at X-POSITION! Expect spoilers a-plenty, and brace yourself for some startling revelations...

Dimitris starts things off for us with a tablespoon of praise, but needs a teaspoon of clarification. Can you help him out?

1) Issue #50 was epic and it really showed how you had things planned from your very first arc of "X-Factor!" Bravo! However, I'm still confused about some of the details surrounding Cortex.

We found out that he got his abilities when he was trapped in a vortex, trying to return to the present. But we also know that Forge sent him to an entirely different future than the one Layla ended up on (the one with Falcone and Ruby and Fitzroy) - so what's the missing link here? Or is Cortex simply due for another, more exposition-y appearance?

He won't be back imminently, but there is definitely more to Cortex's origin that I intend to explore further down the line. What I was trying to convey was that he had found a way to dimension-jump from the timeline he'd gotten stuck in over into the other timeline, but something happened along the way that caused him to wind up the way he did. Presumably Tryp was deeply involved and pulling the strings. But I didn't want to stop the story to have an entire origin-of-Cortex digression, so I figured I'd save it for another time.

2) Also, why was Cortex so eager to wipe out Hecat'e's family tree? From what we saw, she didn't have much of an impact to his or Falcone's plans...

His activities weren't restricted to Hecat'e. Remember, he'd been active for awhile before X-Factor entered the situation. He was simply being systematic: the notion was that he was eliminating all mutants retroactively one by one. It was simply when he got to Hecat'e that he came a cropper because Lenore had the presence of mind to get protection.

Remember that she mentioned that a friend of hers had already died under suspicious circumstances. Well, someone in the future vanished as a result. And it's impossible to know how many future mutants Cortex took out by that method. But because it was so time-consuming a process, Falcone had come up with Operation Clean Sweep so the elimination of mutants wouldn't have to be so piecemeal.

3) Strong Guy's issues with Rictor's bisexuality were major fun! (And, as a gay man, I didn't find them offensive at all.) Are we going to see more of this in the future? I hope Guido doesn't get over it yet, because so far he's been comedy gold!

Oh yes, definitely. I particularly like the notion that Guido considers himself to be very liberal. He would think he wouldn't be bothered by someone's sexual preferences. So he's as annoyed with himself to discover he's uncomfortable with Ric and Star's relationship as Rictor is with him because of his attitudes. It's kind of a learning experience for both of them.

Brian Edwards also wants to learn. Do you have a lesson plan to share, Professor Peter?

I loved "X-Factor" #50. It was a great wrap-up to a very involved and complex storyline. The biggest and most fun surprise was the reveal of how Layla "knows stuff." How much of that was your plan from the start? And if it wasn't, how and when did it come about?

I did the same thing I usually do: had several different scenarios in my head as to the origins of Layla's talents. When this particular storyline developed, I decided this was the way to go. But I always knew about Layla's other talent, as revealed in #50. I even foreshadowed it way back in issue #10, I think it was. Always wondered why no one ever questioned how Layla brought the dead butterfly back to life.

RickyD410 is reevaluating Layla's earlier appearances in light of recent events. He's pulled out his magnifying glass, but he's not quite sure what he's looking at...

1) How does the Layla's reveal at the end relate back to her "House of M" powers/appearance? Or are they completely unrelated?

Although HoM was Layla's first appearance, I've always used that as a jumping off point to do all kinds of other things with her. I honestly haven't made any real attempt to square everything in my own mind because I'm not sure it's possible and I didn't want to hamstring myself. But hey, if you can make it all work seamlessly, I'm all for it.

2) And what was the deal with her appearance in "Messiah CompleX," where Layla sometimes appeared as a mutant, and sometimes as a human?

The nanomites in her head were a futuristic technology that thwarted the detection devices. What nanomites? Funny you should ask...

3) When Layla went back in time (at the end of issue #50), did she appear to herself before or after "House of M"? And what did that device do exactly?

I actually figured it was post-HoM, while she was in the orphanage. That it was, in fact, the catalyst event that prompted her to take off and join X-Factor. She did that because she'd just received the knowledge that she was supposed to do that. That's just my feeling, though. Others may feel it works better if it happened pre-HoM, and if that's what they want to go with, I'm perfectly okay with that since I have no intention of exploring the timing.

As for what the device did, basically it downloaded the equivalent of adult Layla's diary into the young Layla's cerebral cortex using nanomite technology. But, as the adult Layla said, there was only so much that the child's brain could absorb.

4) If Layla did go back in time and stayed there, does this mean that adult Layla has just going about her life - albeit "lurking" in the background - throughout the entire "X-Factor" series? And if she's finally caught up to the present, does this mean she doesn't "know things" anymore?

In retrospect, I wish I'd had artists randomly drawing adult Layla into crowd scenes throughout the entire series, so that readers could go back and make it like "Where's Waldo?" But the truth is that Layla has in fact been up to other stuff in the intervening year or so of Marvel time that the series has been running. And I promise you that we're going to be finding out very soon what that something is.

And yes, she still knows stuff (not "things" - stuff! How many times does she have to say the catchphrase?). Remember, she made a point of saying that she downloaded information covering things that she had learned about what had happened the subsequent eighty years. So basically she's covered through the end of the 21st century.

5) And why is Layla's "mission" to make sure that X-Factor doesn't find out the truth about Decimation? She told that to the Singularity operative waaay back at the beginning. And why is it her job to make sure that "reality stays on track," as she says to Jamie in this issue?

Because she wants to be able to be of continued help to X-Factor. If matters wander too far afield, then the things she knows could become moot and she wouldn't be of use. As for the Decimation, well, there's still stuff about the future that Layla knows that she hasn't tipped her hand to. She had her reasons for wanting to keep X-Factor in the dark, and we may not know all of them yet.

Andre4000 feels like he's in the dark too. Can you enlighten him?

1) According to what we've learned in issue #50, Layla's only mutant power is resurrecting the dead, correct? And if what she's said about Fitzroy being soulless is true, that power doesn't seem very useful...although it does sound pretty darn scary. Will her powers come more into focus soon?

We'll see them in use again. And they can indeed be useful. It's just a matter of picking your shots.

2) With Layla's power, it seems as though she should be involved with "Necrosha." How come "X-Factor" isn't tying into this event?

Timing didn't really work out. We were moving to the #200, we were setting up the crew in their new digs and working on the new status quo; just didn't seem the time to jam in a crossover as well.

3) What can you tell us about the team's move back to New York and/or their "Nation X" issue? Which takes place first?

The relocation to New York is definitely first. In fact, although the team is still splintered in #200, everyone appears in the "Nation X" issue. So in terms of our chronology it actually takes places a few issues down the road. If nothing else, it should ease concerns that the group is going to remain in pieces indefinitely.

Michael Hall asks a couple of questions that I see nearly every week. Maybe it's time for some answers...

1) Is there any chance Longshot will meet up with Dazzler soon? Maybe in "Nation X"?

Ohhhh yes. Yes, they definitely hook up...uhm, run into each other...in "Nation X."

2) Will we be seeing Ruby Summers again? Maybe in an upcoming arc? I'd love to see her meet up with M in the present...

No immediate plans. Honestly, everyone seems to be waiting for her to show up in modern day, and if everyone's expecting it, that's certainly the perfect reason not to do it. Unless of course I come up with a story concept that's just irresistible. But it would have to be really good for me to do it since, right now, my instinct is to leave her where she is.

3) Regarding the "Dark Tower" series, will you be writing stories that fill in the gap between the Marvel Comics stories and Stephen King's first novel "The Gunslinger"?

We are going to continue charting Roland's journey from a young man to being the last of the gunslingers.

We began today talking about plot points that have been planted early in your run. Well, there are still a few left. Dayspring has a theory regarding one of these, and it's fairly solid. Let's see what you think...

I'm calling it right now - Layla Miller is sister to Valeria Richards and the daughter of Doctor Doom. This explains her unusually cordial relationship with Doom in the future, Guido and Jamie's comment that Valeria reminds them of Layla in #200, and the fact that Layla is included in Nick Fury's caterpillar file as a child of a "superhuman." I assume you'll un-convolute Valeria's origins and, in the process, reveal that orphan Layla is Layla von Doom. I'll wait for my no-prize in the mail...

No, Layla isn't Valeria's sister. But her relationship with Doom...that's a different matter.


And on that ominous note, I'm closing out today with a new segment which we began last week. I'm asking our guests a more personal question to give us a peek "behind the X" (so to speak). Therefore, in light of the recent holiday, what is the one type of candy you find impossible to resist? And conversely, what type of candy can you not stand?

Ghirardelli chocolate bars. They're the best. They make great brownies, too (check out their mix). And good chocolate fudge.

Candy I can't stand? Anything with nuts in it.

Thus concludes a very savory X-POSITION (please excuse the drool - I like Ghirardelli too). In seven days, it's a free-for-all as the X-editors join us to answer all your mutant-related missives. So send me all those questions as quickly as you can, and I'll pass them along with a Tootsie Roll and a strain of the Legacy virus (I received both for Halloween this year). See you soon!

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