In today’s world, content is king. Content providers are propped up and idolized, often to the detriment of their mental and physical help, their relationships, and much more. However, when you combine that with Mojo, the Marvel Universe’s ultimate content king, then X-Factor is in for a terrifying and timely adventure.
I’ve never understood the Mojoverse. Yes, there are some creepy elements, and the satire of the media was always entertaining. But as a threat, I didn’t get it. At least, not until this issue came along by Leah Williams, David Baldeon, Israel Silva, Joe Caramagna, and Tom Muller.
Now that X-Factor have made it into the Mojoverse, they continue their investigation into the missing mutant left on their doorstep. What they find is a terrifying web of fame, murder and corruption that could tear them apart. And the key to it all appears to be their old friend and ally, Shatterstar!
I did not expect this issue to hit this hard. Williams translates her media literacy into a stunning satire of today’s YouTube and TikTok obsessed young culture. The X-Factor team is drawn into it at the same time the readers are, and it’s impossible to not be stunned at the fame-obsessed society of Mojoworld. It’s only a few steps away from our society, and it’s uncomfortable how close it is. But at its heart isn’t our protagonists, who are just our windows into this world, but the two familiar friends that are victims to it.
On the surface, it appears that Shatterstar is at the top of the world, a pro wrestling-inspired gladiator with the top stream in the Mojoverse. However, he’s clearly a prisoner who can’t ask for help, and needs his friends and family to rescue him. Meanwhile, the issue hints at the tragedy of Wind Dancer, a former New X-Men cast member, who’s been in limbo for years, but now returns with a heartbreaking story that is difficult to parse but is clearly going to come back into play after the upcoming X of Swords event.
Baldeon’s artwork is still far enough outside the norm that people may struggle with it. However, his extremely expressive line heightens reality so much that his take on Mojoworld is fantastic enough enough to pull us in. In the same breath though, he is able to depict these characters as vulnerable and frightened in very subtle and powerful ways, so much so that a simple hug between Shatterstar and Polaris is a breathtaking moment of hope for the suffering gladiator. Silva’s colors bring the disorienting neon of Mojoworld to life, making the twisted reality feel like Vegas gone horribly wrong.
In three issues, X-Factor has quickly established itself as the morally complex and emotionally resonant superhero book we were missing. I’m on the edge of my seat for where this may go next.
X-Factor #3 is available now from Marvel Comics.