Marvel is Creating Their Own Version of CSI: X-Men

This month’s issue of X-Factor sees the team bringing their investigative game to a whole new level, and perhaps the start of a brand new era.

Warning: this article contains spoilers for X-Factor #6

X-Factor is back and it looks as though Marvel Comics’ Head of X Jonathan Hickman has big plans for the mutant sleuth team. With the Krokoan resurrection protocols in full swing, someone needs to investigate dead and missing mutants, which is where X-Factor comes in. With the X-Men roster getting a shake-up, and the other X-teams branching out, it’s time for X-Factor to start broadening their interests. And that’s exactly what fans of this X-franchise are getting. 

Led by the French-Canadian mutant Northstar, with the help of his twin sister Aurora, X-Factor has assembled an eclectic bunch of superheroes, including the mutant phenom Prodigy, the psychic powerhouse Prestige, the big gun Polaris, the super-perceptive Eye-Boy, and the cunning Daken. It’s hard to imagine these individuals getting together under other circumstances, and more than the other teams it has a cast of characters quality to it: a mixture of strong personalities with unique skills, and a charismatic leader, perfect for delivering entertaining episodic stories. Sound familiar? What’s more, in the latest issue, X-Factor is becoming far more specialized, and for good reason. 

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In X-Factor #6, written by Leah Williams and illustrated by David Baldeón, the team is alerted that mutant remains have washed up somewhere in the United Kingdom. The body belongs to a former X-Men and X-Factor member Siryn, who has died twice under mysterious circumstances in as many weeks. Naturally, this raises a lot of red flags. Nevertheless, it’s another opportunity to put their abilities to good use. Between Prodigy’s incredible knowledge absorption, Eye-Boy’s “nearly limitless varieties of spectral visions”, and Daken’s supercharged animal-like senses, X-Factor is essentially an unparalleled mobile crime-scene investigation lab. But it doesn’t stop there. Though their powers are widely different, each can be applied as infallible lie-detection methods. 

After a rocky bit of business trying to propitiate the local cops, Northstar is frustrated at the lack of expeditious authority his group possesses – the kind that comes with official identification, such as a badge. According to the Krakoan treaty accords, law enforcement organizations around the world are obligated to report these kinds of events to mutant authorities. But this isn’t enough for Northstar, he believes it’s high time that they had full investigative jurisdiction over mutant crime scenes. All things considered, this isn’t an unreasonable demand. Polaris agrees to request that the Quiet Council bring it up for review at the next meeting. 

Readers may have been surprised to discover that modern forensic sciences haven’t yet included any serious study of post-mortem effects on mutant bodies. Thanks to Prodigy, and his absorption of Dr. Reyes’ extensive medical knowledge in the Healing Gardens Hospital Morgue on Krakoa, X-Factor has set up a body farm just outside of their main residence to study the rates of mutant decomposition. A macabre task to say the least, but a crucial one. With enough study, Prodigy reckons he’ll be able to determine both cause and time of death at a glance, but also pioneer an “entire academic field.” A game-changing upgrade to be sure. 

This is no mean feat, and X-Factor certainly has their work cut out for them. Ultimately, the team’s business is solving problems, and that’s exactly what they’re doing. As far as trials and tribulations go, they may not have the same epic gravitas as saving the world or battling otherworldly forces on a monthly basis, but it’s exactly the kind of grounded intrigues the X-Men and Marvel Comics need right now. 

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Updated: January 8, 2021 — 5:38 pm

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