Art by Pablo Raimondi and Brian Reber
- Name: Layla Miller
- Code Names: Butterfly
- First Appearance: House of M #4 (Sept ’05)
- Powers: Knowing stuff, reanimation while taking away the subjects soul
- Teams Affiliation: X-Factor
There is a special breed of kid. The kind that spent their free time with their nose in a book. The kind that could recite the taxonomy of fossils from the Jurassic period. The kind that felt more comfortable at the grown-up table. Considering you are reading an article about characters and continuity from a convoluted fictional world I imagine many of you were that kid. That precocious kid is a trope across fiction, from Matilda to Linus from Peanuts and the X-Men got their own with Layla Miller, the girl who knows stuff.
Layla woke up one morning and realized the world wasn’t right. The world she knew wasn’t ruled by the House of Magnus. Her parents weren’t alive and this wasn’t her home at the orphanage. Maybe this world was better for her, but it wasn’t right and that couldn’t stand. She made her way to Luke Cage, a notorious criminal, and leader of the Human Resistance Movement. She showed him the world she remembered, a world where Luke was a hero and expectant father, and set him on a path to tear fix reality. She helped him reveal the truth to others and soon they led the opposition against Magneto. They were able to revert the world to the way it was with one key difference, the overwhelming majority of the earth’s mutants were depowered.
Art by Olivier Copiel, Tim Townsend, and Frank D’Armata
She ran away from her orphanage and found X-Factor Investigations. No one there knew her, but they weren’t willing to get in the way of the determined little girl who seemed to know stuff. And know stuff Layla did. She had an almost precognizant knowledge, which almost came in as useful as her filing skills. She refused to tell anyone exactly how she knew so much stuff, which caused a rift between her and some of the investigators at the firm. It got so bad that Layla returned to the orphanage. Rhane Sinclair saw the abuse Layla received from the other kids while visited and worked out a way for Layla to live with X-Factor.
Art by Ryan Sook, Wade von Grawbadger, and Jose Villarrubia
Layla was shockingly useful to the team when Quicksilver decided to cause trouble for his old team. She thought herself his nemesis and made it a point to ruin his plans. He had rallied depowered mutants to follow him, but Layla turned the tables when she revealed that she revealed his role in the Decimation. She continued to frustrate X-Factor with her knowledge of the future, including her insistence that one day she would marry Jamie Madrox. Still, the knowledge of stuff was a burden to the young girl. She felt like a simple pawn in the game of life, she was disposable, and she was forced to ensure all the stuff she knew came to fruition.
Art by Pablo Raimondi and Brian Reber
When the first mutant child was born after M-Day, Forge determined that the timeline had split into two. Cyclops asked Jamie Madrox to send a dupe into each one. Layla decided to throw herself onto the time platform with one of the dupes, and Jamie Prime looked on in horror. He knew that it was a one-way trip and Layla was trapped in the future. This world was one where mutants were trapped in concentration camps, an average X-Men future. Layla and the Jamie were captured, shaved, and branded with an “M” over their right eye. In the camps, they met a young Lucas Bishop who told him how this future was all the fault of the “mutant messiah”. Armed with that information, Layla killed the dupe so that the information would be passed to Jamie Prime in the past and Layla was left alone in dystopia.
Art by Scot Eaton, John Dell, and Brian Reber
Using the stuff she knew, Layla escaped the camps and searched for a way to ensure the stuff she knew came to pass. In Atlantic City she found the cybernetic Cyclops and his daughter Ruby Summers and pushed them into rebellion against the oppressive government. Years passed and Layla used sci-fi technology to bring Jamie back to the future. They enacted a plan to solidify victory for the rebels once and for all but a key player in their plan, Trevor Fitzroy, was killed. Layla chose to use her mutant abilities, finally revealing them to Jamie, and reanimated Fitzroy sans soul. She knew this would lead to Fitzroy going mad and eventually killing many people, but the future was set in stone. She was just a pawn in it. Layla and Jamie grew close during the rebellion, even kissing, but Layla knew they couldn’t go back together. She sent him back to the right time and sent herself back a couple years earlier.
Art by Valentine De Landro, Andrew Hennessy, and Craig Yueng
Where she returned to was St. Joan’s Orphanage, home to the young Layla Miller. See, the Layla from the future found journals that she had written in the past. She read them and retained all the knowledge of her future. Meeting with her much younger self, Layla transferred all her memories, all the stuff she knew, to the child. It broke her heart to force the girl to be a pawn of fate, but Layla had to make sure she always knew stuff.
Art by Valentine De Landro, Pat Davidson, and Jeromy Cox
Waiting for time to catch back up with her, Layla met with Doctor Doom to learn about magic. If some members of X-Factor didn’t trust her before, training with a supervillain didn’t help. Still, she eventually regrouped with the investigators and her romance with Jamie was a source of tension. One of Jamie’s dupes, one representing his impulsive side, asked Layla to marry him and she accepted, knowing they would eventually get married anyway. Layla wasn’t omniscient and the death of her teammate Strong Guy took even her by surprise. She wasn’t willing to let her friend go and used her mutant power to resurrect him, regardless of the consequences.
Eventually, she and Jamie did get married. During the Hell on Earth War, Jamie was mutated into a demonic form, but Layla was committed to her husband. On the old Madrox family farm, she kept him safe until Siryn used her new godlike powers to revert him to normal. Layla and Jamie decided to retire there, enjoy life together, even start a family. She knew a lot of stuff, but more than anything else, she knew this made her happy.
Art by Neil Edwards, Jay Leisten, and Matt Milla
I’ve stated before and I’ll state again, Peter David’s X-Factor just didn’t resonate with me the way it does for others. That being said, the early stuff, especially with young Layla, is incredibly good. She is a precocious kid who gets just to the line of anything the reader without ever actually doing it. Check out the first chunk from X-Factor #1 through to Messiah CompleX for an engaging story with real consequences and great drama.
Art by Ryan Sook
The worst thing to ever happen to Layla Miller was aging her up. I never bought her relationship with Madrox, and a big part of that is because all the hoops David had to jump through to make the relationship OK. Beyond that, she lost a lot of the juxtaposition that made the character work when she aged up. It is unfortunate because early Layla is so great. The highest ranking X-Factor member we have is M at 22, and there is no way Layla is better than her. I like her more than Polaris and Darwin near the bottom of the list, but I think Longshot is a more exciting character overall. Frenzy is right below him and I’d rather see more Layla than more Frenzy. That puts Layla Miller, the girl who knows stuff, in as the new #51 in the Xavier Files.
Layla Miller was requested by /u/wintersleep13. Thank you for the request. If you have a request for how about you send it below? If you want to cut to the front of the two-year long line, we have a Patreon you can support Xavier Files for just $1 to get a line cutting reward.