X-POSITION: Peter David's Evolving "X-Factor"

The great thing about Marvel Comics' X-Universe is that it constantly changes: good guys become bad; bad guys become good; heroes and villains die (and possibly get resurrected); members switch teams; some people give birth, and those babies are then tossed into the timestream or age at an unexpected rate. If a fan misses a few months of reading, they may find an entirely new status quo for their favorite book when they return.

It's a beautiful thing.

One X-book that seems to embrace this idea of beauty (through constant change) is "X-Factor." This is one title where every issue brings a twist that alters the status quo. If you haven't checked it out lately, there's a lot you don't know about Rahne's baby and Guido's soul (among other fun plot points). To help bring you up to date, the book's writer, Peter David, stopped by to answer your emails. Ready? Buckle up and let's get going...

Our pal Robert is up first with some kind words and a question or two:

First off, I'm sure I've said this before, but thank you for your work in making "X-Factor" one of the consistently best comics available today. I'm writing in about Killcrops, which I find interesting as a notion, seeing as how a number of popular characters have had their powers since birth. It's been awhile since you've broached the subject. Any plans on addressing it in the future? And will we see the Isolationist again anytime soon?

To me, Robert, the concept of the Killcrop is that their powers don't manifest in exactly the same way as those of other mutants. There are some greater dimensions to those with that particular power set than there are for (pardon the oxymoron) normal mutants. And I have every intention of exploring that very soon, in fact. Nothing is forgotten, and all the track work that I lay, sooner or later, winds up with a train running down it. As for the Isolationist: yes, before the end of 2012, he will be back (although whether that qualifies as "soon" is entirely up to you).

Oh, and no matter how many times you've said it before, I never get tired of hearing people say "X-Factor" is one of the best comics today. But hey, don't tell me; you're preaching to the choir, son. Go tell your friends!

Levi could help spread the word as well, as he enjoys his monthly fix of mutants with a noir twist:

I love "X-Factor!" Your original run was the first comic I ever subscribed to when I was just eight, so these characters will always be special to me. My questions are:

1) Given Jamie's fractious nature, will parts of him actually choose to follow Havok rather than Jamie Prime? Could he have a Schism unto himself?

2) You've tackled characters with problems like alcoholism before. Recently, Rahne seemed to be binging to console herself over the loss of her child. Is this a temporary state, or will it be an ongoing situation? Will we have another Karma on our hands here?

First of all, Levi, I always appreciate a long-term fan. The group and the tone of the book are very different from back in the day, but I'm glad you're still along for the ride. In answer to your questions...

1) Yes, it's entirely possible that some of Jamie's dupes could feel different about Schism -- and who to side with -- than Jamie himself. That doesn't mean that they're going to operate in a manner contrary to Jamie's own interests, or even openly rebel. They'd confine their attitudes to annoyed comments such as, "If only we'd stayed in Utopia, we wouldn't have to be running from this giant freaking robot right now." That kind of thing.

2) Rahne is in deep agony/frustration/mortification over how she reacted to the birth of her child. Right now it's manifesting by trying to bury herself in ice cream. But no, she's not going to become super-obese or, for that matter, throw herself into drugs or alcohol or in some other way embark on a self-destructive binge. Not when she's got close friends who have had their own personal demons to battle. We're going to see an upcoming issue where Lorna and Theresa decide a sort of intervention is necessary and will take definitive steps to aid Rahne and put her in a more positive direction. Because, really, Rahne's been Murphy's law's piñata for years now.

Everything that can go wrong for this poor girl has gone wrong. I'm as responsible for that as anyone else, and since she's in my hands now, I'm tired of her being fate's bitch, and I'd be surprised if others aren't as well. No one should have this much darkness without the slightest sliver of light (and no, it won't be from an oncoming train -- hmm, we seem to have a sort of train theme going today). So the bottom line is that yes, she's binging, and yes, it is a temporary state, because she's going to be dealing with her emotions in a more positive manner -- with major ramifications for both herself and other members of the team.
There is another upcoming event that is making Zulu curious. Can you dish a few details?

The connecting of two of Marvel's premiere mutant families (Summers & Eisendhardt/Lehnsherr) and the children conceived out of this union has been a possibility that has not been explored for decades. Are you in need of a wedding planner for the inevitable "Havolaris" wedding event? Will Jean Grey return to be Lorna's Maid of Honor on her most special day?

First of all, Zulu, let's get our terms straight: Havolaris? No. The correct portmanteau for them is "Polavok." This is the longstanding term for the couple that I just made up. Second, no, a wedding has not been discussed, either between them or at Marvel central. Personally I think that they're way more comfortable with the fluidity of their relationship.

I mean, you've got a guy whose name is a synonym for trouble and a woman who is literally bi-polar (magnetically so, but still). Although they're both crackerjack people to have on your side in a fight and have various leadership skills at their command, from an emotional point of view -- I don't see either of them as quite capable of boarding the Stability Express to Marriage Town anytime soon (yup, definitely a train theme).

All aboard! Morbid Meghan is up next with some festive queries:

1) Mr. David, I am a rather morbid young woman by nature but, interestingly, I have never been inside a morgue before. It came to my attention (as soon as they moved in) that X-Factor now reside in an old morgue. Will we ever get to see the inside of the place or at the very least a floor plan? I'm rather interested on what they're doing with the place...

2) Out of curiosity, what did X-Factor do for Halloween this year?

Well, Meghan, just to clarify, their headquarters isn't a morgue -- it's a funeral home. Being a funeral home, it has a prep room where corpses were kept. But that's why it also has larger rooms that were once used for chapels, receptions, small family rooms, etc. that have all been converted over to XF's needs.

A floor plan of the place? No, I don't think so, if for no other reason than that I haven't the faintest idea how -- short of TARDIS technology -- we could depict all the rooms I've shoved into the place as being there in any sort of reasonable or believable way. On the other hand, for all I know, Leonard or Emanuela might be reading this right now and saying, "Challenge accepted!"
As for Halloween, most of them went trick or treating. Madrox went as the New York Giants; Theresa went as the Black Widow and Longshot was Hawkeye; Shatterstar went as Gomez Addams (since he got to carry a sword) and Layla was Morticia; Rictor went as Archie Andrews, Monet went as Veronica. Rahne went as Sansa Stark and Pip went as Tyrion Lannister.

Meanwhile Guido went as the Hulk, but decided he wanted to get candy faster. So he went back to headquarters and put a sign up on the door that said, "If you're close enough to read this, you're about to die." Then when kids got close enough, he threw open the door and roared at them. They'd scream, drop their bags and run. Then he'd just gather up the fallen candy, go back in, eat it, and wait for the next group.
If that was an actually issue, I'd have bought three copies. I swear!

Taimur Dar wanted to inquire about a couple of names recently appearing in the book -- one old and one new...

1) I'm curious what motivated you to use Pantheon's Agamemnon in your latest "X-Factor" arc?

2) Is the name of Rahne's child as an adult -- Tier -- meant to be a reference to Tyr, the Asgard war god? Or does it have another significance?

I used Aggy, Taimur, because I've wanted to visit with him for a while, plus his origins and background fit in nicely with not only the story but also with what I wanted to do with Hela, given their relationship.

As for Tier, no, it has no relation to Tyr. It's a shortened form of "Tearloch," a Gaelic name meaning "full grown." Which he was: Rahne's child full grown. But I thought shortening it to "Tear" would be confusing since it would be read as either "tear" as in crying or "tear" as in ripping something. So I changed the spelling.

Renaldo provides us his usual list of entertaining questions -- let's see what is on his mind this week:

1) Did you lobby for X-Factor to take Logan's side? Or did you think that the team would be more of a fit with Scott's vision?

2) Are the "family-swords" going to cross since Alex is opposing Scott's view (and Lorna is opposing Magneto's)?

3) Any future plans to have the "rejuvenated" Fantastic Four version of Doom visit Layla and Jaime?

4) Lastly, after your Aquaman run in the past, did the thought of doing a Namor book ever cross your mind? And if it did, which artist could you see drawing it?

Lot of questions there, Renaldo. Let's see:
1) Lobby? Not at all. X-Factor had already made its position clear in terms of their feelings about the path Scott had chosen. So from the team's history, the direction that they would choose would seem clear. From an editorial point of view, the notion that Havok and Polaris would side with Wolverine was one that was presented to me, and I went "okay" and just decided to run with it.
2) No immediate plans for the teams to go head to head. Honestly, we've got enough going on within the group in terms of conflict and persona dynamics; we don't have to bring in the X-Men to add to the angst. Which isn't to say that Alex and Scott won't wind up having some face time to discuss their... differences.
3) No plans for Doom or any aspects of the FF to show up in the near future. But as for the far future, well, you're going to be seeing Layla make more and more use of the things that Doom taught her, and there's no reason to think that the good Doctor might not be checking in with her to see how it's going.
4) Man, I'd love to do a Namor book. As for who to draw it, I dunno. I've never had a chance to work with John Romita, Jr., on anything. So that'd be great.
Our final email of the day is from Derek, who has a request as well as a philosophical query:

1) Is there any chance of bringing Quicksilver back, even for just one issue? I loved Polaris and Quicksilver's scenes in your original "X-Factor" run, and I'd be curious to see you explore their relationship post-brother/sister reveal. In addition, I would love to see his reaction to Layla being all grown up. Now he doesn't have to feel guilty about wanting to kill her...

2) It seems Madrox is finding it difficult to deal with the return of the more senior Havok, but what about Banshee? She's always gravitated towards leadership, and she's been Madrox's de facto number two. With the return of Havok and Polaris, does that make her number four?

3) So far, we haven't seen Strong Guy behave any differently without a soul. How do you view him living without one? Is it similar to a de-souled vampire in the Buffy-verse? Is he a golem? Or are you operating under the philosophy that people aren't born with souls, they have to earn them?

Well, let's start with the top, Derek:
1) I'd love to see Pietro come back since there's a lot of unresolved history between him and various of our crew. It's not happening anytime soon, but I wouldn't take it off the table.
2) Whattaya mean Madrox is finding it difficult? Remember, in real time, Havok hasn't shown up yet. The only thing upon which you can base Madrox's reactions is trying to read between the lines of things I've said. And you never know if I've been entirely truthful since writers are nothing but professional liars. (We make stuff up and people pay us to do so.) So it's way too early to come up with conjecture as to how Madrox is going to react. As for Banshee, my view of Theresa is that she doesn't actively seek a leadership position. She's not afraid of it; she doesn't hesitate to step into the breach or rise to the occasion. But she's not inclined to sit on the sidelines and be pissy thinking, "Man, I should be in charge; I could be running things so much better."
3) Well, I think we have actually been seeing Guido act differently. Enough so that both Madrox and Monet have noticed it. In terms of his being without a soul, I don't see him as eating brains anytime soon or turning into Angelus. To me, it's way more complicated and nuanced than that. Actually, we're going to be addressing some of these points directly in #230, so you'll want to be there for that.

We will! And now, it's my turn for a question! Per a suggestion from one of our readers (Madroxdupe024), I'm asking all of our guests the following: assume you were a mutant and needed to choose a side in "Schism" -- whose side do you pick and why?

If I were a mutant? Probably Cyclops. I'd see his entire approach as being fueled by a "it's us or them" philosophy and I could get behind that. I mean, there's already plenty of people who want to kill Jews, so my being a Jewish mutant? My instinct would be that circling the wagons and having the literal high ground is a pretty good way to survive.

In seven short days, Rick Remender -- the writer of "Uncanny X-Force" -- stops by to answer your questions about his unique team of mutant mercenaries. Sound like a bloody good time to you? Just type up those emails and send them to me as soon as you can. Throw an "X-Position" in the subject line, and you'll make me happier than a chipmunk in a chest of chestnuts. See you in seven!

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