Review: X-Factor #244
It’s Banshee’s turn at the plate in Breaking Points, and she knocks it out of the park with a touching, personal look at her character. The mysterious ‘guest’ she’s been hiding the past few issues is revealed, and by the end of the issue, her status quo is changed in a very significant way. It’s a sad change, but still cool in its way. Part of me thinks it’s a little too easy, and a little too apropos of nothing, but it definitely works. Throw in some good art and some strong appearances by the rest of the cast and you’ve got yourself a very nice issue of X-Factor.
Who could ask for anything more?
Comic rating: 4/5: Good!
For the most part, writer Peter David has been doing an acceptable job of cleaning house in X-Factor. I know that X-Factor is going to remain relatively untouched in Marvel NOW!, but that doesn’t mean he might not give it a fresh coat of paint or something. Ditching a few members of the bloated cast is a great idea, in my opinion, and he’s been doing a fine job in figuring out what to do with these guys. PAD takes a strong, hard look at Banshee in this issue, and the emotions that drive her, but he does so with a character he created only a few issues ago, a character that doesn’t have the history or the impact to be such a big deal in Banshee’s life, in my opinion. But it works. PAD shakes things up, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
PAD also manages to work his magic with Havok and Polaris, two characters who have definitely suffered from being suddenly, unceremoniously dropped into this comic. There are some continuity conflicts with Avengers vs. X-Men, but who cares? I’m curious to see if PAD will play any part in preparing Havok for his upcoming leadership position in Uncanny Avengers. He seems to be doing a nice job of preparing Polaris for her stay in X-Factor.
But more on that later. Join me after the jump for a full synopsis and more review!
We open, of course, in ancient Ireland. Because why not?
In 158 BC, a red-headed Irish warrior babe is ready to kill some kind of demon witch banshee lady. The banshee has killed the warrior’s father, and the warrior has sold her soul to a demon for the weapons to kill the banshee. But now with the banshee at her mercy, the woman is convinced to instead ally herself with the banshee, who promises she can save the woman’s soul.
What all of this has to do with Theresa Cassidy and X-Factor, we’ll find out later in the book.
But speaking of her, she’s currently in her bedroom, talking with her mysterious guest: it’s her father, Sean Cassidy! He’s been appearing as a reflection in her mirror, and convinces her that she’s not losing her mind, and that she shouldn’t be scared.
Meanwhile, downstairs, Polaris is still kind of freaking out since last issue she discovered that she was responsible for the plane crash that killed her parents. She used her powers to steal Longshot’s throwing knives, and is wildly spinning them around her. The others can only stand by and try to talk her down. Though Longshot just wants his knives back.
Polaris gladly gives them back – by hurling the knives at the members of X-Factor. Then Monet sneaks up behind her and grabs Polaris’ head. She says she should just snap it, but that would make Havok whinier than usual. So instead she just mentally knocks Polaris out with her telepathy.
And what about those knives that where thrown? Longshot caught all of them.
Havok picks Polaris up in his arms to carry her up to her room. He’s angry at how everyone is treating her, and what they put into her mind. But Monet isn’t hearing it. She rightly points out that Polaris was the one who demanded and threatened her in order to get Monet to help with Longshot’s vision last issue. Polaris wanted this, and it’s not fair for Havok to get mad at them just because the answer wasn’t what they wanted.
Havok concedes that Monet is right. He’s not going to argue with her and he carries Polaris out of the kitchen.
Monet wonders “where’s the fun?” in not arguing.
Back up in Banshee’s room, she’s still talking with the reflection of her father. He wants her to do something, with a woman who she barely beat last time. She’s scared, and her father knows this. But he still thinks she should go through with it.
Layla shows up to help. She knows what’s about to happen, and she knows that Terry believes she is really talking to her dead father. But Layla doesn’t know if this thing she wants to do is going to work. However, if Terry wants to go through with it, Layla promises to help make it happen.
After a moment of thinking it over, Terry wants to go through with it.
In another bedroom, Havok has Polaris laid out on her bed, still a little wonky. He’s talking to her, opening his heart. He wishes they could just go back to outer space, where things were less complicated. Now they’re wrapped up in all this mutant nonsense, with a split team of X-Men and a war with the Avengers. How Havok found the time between AvX battles to have all these X-Factor adventures is anyone’s guess. But Havok doesn’t know his place in the world anymore. Polaris was the person he could talk to about it, but now even she’s gone.
Elsewhere, Terry has gotten into costume and Layla has prepared a summoning circle. Layla has read off an incantation, and after a moment, it starts to work. Terry is transported to meet the Morrigan, the real banshee that she battled several issues ago. The Morrigan is amused that Terry is there, but then immediately puts a hand around her neck. She’s ready to kill Terry, but asks why she was summoned. Terry says she wants a boon.
Terry explains that she wants the Morrigan to help soothe Polaris’ mind. Morrigan knows about the bond between an Irish lass and her father, and she is the reason that Banshee has been talking to her father’s reflection.
Morrigan points out that Terry has come to her because she no longer has faith in the Christian God, that her prayers are falling on deaf ears. Whereas the Morrigan is clearly real and talking with Terry, so why not get her help? But Morrigan says she can’t help Polaris because Polaris doesn’t believe in her…but Polaris believes in her friend Terry.
And then we find out that the Morrigan was that red-haired warrior from the ancient flashback in the beginning.
It turns out that Morrigan traded places with the old banshee to become a new one, to spare herself from torment. But now she’s tired, and she misses her own father. So now she’s making the same offer to Terry. Terry says she’s doing it in order to help a woman who, if she goes too crazy, could alter the electromagnetic boundaries of the Earth. So Terry takes Morrigan’s hand and they make the exchange, and Terry promises that the Morrigan’s father will be happy to see her, even after all this time.
Terry then screams through the Morrigan and apparently through time and space. Her scream cures Polaris, who sits up in bed, finally thinking clearly.
But the cost is great.
The new Banshee visits Multiple Man, her ex-lover.
She has become a real banshee now, and forgives Madrox of all the troubles they had. Then she tells him that if he ever needs her, all he has to do is pray. She disappears, leaving Madrox to call out to her even after she’s gone.
Poor Banshee! But wow, that’s a big change. I did not see that coming. Definitely one of the more drastic ways to take a character out of the book. But I suppose Banshee hasn’t really done anything of substance in a very long time. She’s safe to get rid of. And her final scene with Multiple Man is rather touching, calling back to some of the better issues of X-Factor.
Which is what my problem is with this issue. The Morrigan came out of nowhere only a few issues ago. And now she’s greatly altering Theresa Cassidy’s character? This is seemingly irreversible in many ways. Terry is forever changed. And I guess I wish this episode had gotten deeper into her emotional state. They mostly just talked about her being afraid or not having faith in her usual God anymore. Considering some of the things Terry has been through in X-Factor, I felt PAD could have gone much deeper.
Still, we had some nice scenes with Multiple Man, Longshot and Havok. He finally got some nice character growth – only to disappear in an issue or two. Uncanny Avengers comes out next month, I think.
And it looks like he might be leaving Polaris behind! Check out the cover preview for November’s X-Factor #249.
Not only is Polaris still in the comic, but she’s getting a new, X-Factor appropriate costume! My prayers have been answers!