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Nov 6

X-Force #1 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2019 by Paul in Annotations, x-axis

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers are from the digital edition. And really, this does contain spoilers.

X-FORCE: This is the sixth volume of X-Force. The first ran from 1991 to 2002 and covered the adventures of the New Mutants after Cable restructured them into a more paramilitary group (and then turned into X-Statix near the end). The second was a six-issue reunion mini from 2004-5. The third is the Kyle/Yost run from 2008-10, where X-Force was reused as the name for the X-Men’s black ops unit during the Utopia era; it was followed by another 35 issues as Uncanny X-Force. Volume 4 was the Marvel Now version from 2014-15 (the Si Spurrier book with Cable, Psylocke, Fantomex and the like). And the fifth volume is the run with the teen Cable that came immediately before House of X.

The running theme in all this is that “X-Force” tends to be attached to an X-Men spin-off team which is either a black ops unit or takes a more paramilitary approach to matters than the regular X-Men. This first issue, however, doesn’t actually feature an X-Force team at all, or even many characters doing anything particularly X-Force-like. Presumably all that emerges over the course of the first arc. But it does take a much grimmer tone than any of the other Krakoa-era books.

COVER / PAGE 1: The team shot, though several of these characters only make brief appearances in the issue, and one doesn’t appear at all. From left to right, these are Black Tom Cassidy, Sage, Beast, Marvel Girl, Wolverine, Domino, Colossus and Kid Omega. Marvel Girl, Colossus and Beast are unusual inclusions on an X-Force team.

Kid Omega’s T-shirt (which always changes from issue to issue) has the first names of the original X-Force line-up: Nathan (Cable), Neena (Domino), Gaveedra (Shatterstar), Tabitha (Boom-Boom), Maria (Feral), Sam (Cannonball), James (Warpath) and… actually, the list ought to end there. Strictly, Domino wasn’t really a founder member of X-Force, because she had been replaced by Copycat at the time… but never mind.

PAGES 2-6. Domino infiltrates a meeting of anti-mutant zealots, but is exposed when they insist on blood tests to check for infiltrators.

Domino has been a member of various X-Force line-ups, including the most recent. She’s a mercenary with luck powers, and hence (depending on who’s writing her) a tendency to march into very inadvisable situations and literally trust to luck. She’s a completely natural choice for this sort of mission, if you leave aside the fact that she’s instantly recognisable without the mask.

The villains are not identified and seem to be new. The script, which is included in the digital edition, contains nothing to suggest that they’re meant to be established characters (though there’s also a redacted passage). The big hulking henchman is named in the script as Finnegan and he appears to be new. As far as I can tell, the only Finnegan in Marvel history was a wrestler from Fantastic Four vol 1 #15 (1963). We’ll see later that this bunch are associated with a new version of the Reavers, which might suggest that the guy in charge is Donald Pierce – but if it is, he’s got a peacock tattoo on his hand for some reason.

It’s not hugely prominent, but the art is meant to indicate that these people come from all corners of the globe, hence the vast range of clothing beneath their masks. The blank masks have a half-black, half-white design which doesn’t look familiar, though it’s vaguely reminiscent of the white masks worn by members of the Sapien League from Peter Milligan’s run. At any rate, it’s yet another hidden conspiracy against mutants, of the sort that’s familiar for the X-books.

PAGES 7-9. The usual recap and credits page; the small print just says “Mutant espionage, Law Order X, Probe.”

PAGES 10-12. On Krakoa, Wolverine rescues Beast from a weird animal thing with loads of teeth.

Self-explanatory, really. Wolverine and Beast don’t need any further introduction here. But this animal is the first time we’ve seen anything remotely dangerous wandering around Krakoa, and it’s a weird creature too – a sort of giant boar with massive sharp teeth. Beast approaches it with scientific interest, but also seems to be trying to rationalise away what such a thing is doing on Krakoa. Wolverine seems more sceptical – he doesn’t seem especially interested in where it comes from, but takes it as read that there will be predators everywhere. Interestingly, the way he puts it is that Krakoa “makes everyone feel safe”, which he thinks makes them vulnerable – it’s not clear how literally Wolverine means this.

PAGE 13. A data page on the security features of Krakoa, all of which are linked to Black Tom Cassidy. Basically, Krakoa is surrounded by tiny spores in the air and plankton in the sea, which let it sense what’s happening miles away. Plus, the X-Men have insisted that all vehicles stay far, far away from them.

Black Tom Cassidy: His role in Krakoan defence was previously mentioned in Powers of X #4. Black Tom is Banshee’s cousin, and originally he was just an all-purpose rogue with the mutant power to fire energy blasts through wood (in practice, he was an Oirish villain who fired blasts from a shillelagh). A botched experiment with a healing serum left him with much more extensive plant-control powers, as seen in Generation X #25; later, that was made permanent by declaring it to be a secondary mutation in Uncanny X-Men #411 (2002). He’s evidently been selected for this role principally because of his convenient powers. From time to time he refers to himself and Krakoa as “we”.

PAGES 14-16. The Marauders return to Krakoa by boat, bringing mutant refugees with them.

I’m not going to attempt to identify the characters standing on the beach as the Marauders arrive; they’re shown only vaguely, and the script just asks for some generics.

The Marauders already visited Russia in Marauders #1, but this is a different mission. They’ve stolen a new boat, brought a bunch of refugees back with them, and they have a badly injured Colossus aboard. Colossus has been in Russia as part of Professor X’s plan for dealing with hostile nations, which we learn more about on the upcoming data page. It’s not entirely clear why the Marauders have brought the rescued mutants back to Krakoa by boar instead of using a gate, but perhaps they just didn’t have any seeds left by the time they stole the boat. (It might also be that there’s just nothing to plant the seed in, but if that was it, you’d have thought it would be simpler to stop at any old island.)

But Tom, Krakoa and Marvel Girl are all concerned that there’s something not right aboard that boat. We’re led at first to believe that it’s to do with either Kitty smuggling stuff onto Krakoa, or the general psychic pain of the refugees – but our attention is also drawn to the fact that when people arrive by boat, Krakoa doesn’t get the chance to screen them in the same way as it does when they use gates. We’re meant to pick up, later in the issue, that something isn’t right with Colossus in the medical bay; I’m not sure how clearly that comes across without reference to the script.

Colossus and Kate Pryde had a long-running on and off again relationship dating back to the 80s, which nearly resulted in a wedding during X-Men Gold until Kate cancelled it on the day. That’s why she doesn’t “want to see [him] hurt anymore”.

PAGE 16. A data page with the X-Men’s official and unofficial plans for dealing with nations who won’t recognise Krakoa. Basically, the official line is to be nice to them, as long as they don’t do anything actively hostile towards mutants. The unofficial line is to shut down any black market trade in mutant drugs that isn’t sanctioned by the Black King (this is part of the set-up of Marauders), and to have cells of mutant operative working to undermine the government. We’re told that those mutant operatives are mainly working on helping mutants to escape, but bear in mind that the list of non-treaty nations in the past also included Wakanda. It’s unlikely that the Black Panther is refusing to let his nationals leave for Krakoa if they want; presumably, then, there’s a mutant cell in Wakanda quietly working towards his overthrow.

PAGE 17. The Stan Lee page.

PAGES 18-19. Some sinister looking people get on board a passenger airline.

These are some of the people who are going to attack Krakoa later in the issue. None of them are named, and they’re all supposed to be new characters. According to the script, the guy with the mole on his forehead is meant to give the impression of a “CIA spook”, and he’s referred to as such (in quotes) throughout the rest of the script.

PAGES 20-21. After another unsuccessful attempt to find Domino, Professor X goes to the nation of Sokovia, which has supposedly just decided to recognise Krakoan sovereignty. They put a tiny thing in his drink.

The script describes the thing in his drink as a tracer device – the idea is that the attackers later will use it to hunt him down. It’s barely even visible in the actual art. Quite why Professor X is going to a potentially hostile nation entirely alone, relying on their authorities for his protection, drinking potentially dubious drinks, and not mind-reading someone to check for a scam… is difficult to fathom. Unless he’s playing along for some reason, I suppose.

Sokovia is one of the Marvel Universe’s many, many fictional eastern European microstates. It actually comes from the Captain America: The Winter Soldier film, but also appeared in Captain America: Steve Rogers during Nick Spencer’s run. It used to be overrun by Hydra, but presumably it’s better now. The capital of Sokovia has previously been identified as Novi Grad, which makes it a curious example of a fictional country that appears to have a real capital city.

PAGE 22. The Healer looks after the refugees and Colossus, who seems to be feigning something.

It’s not desperately explicit, but that’s Colossus they’re treating, and he was feigning unconsciousness until they looked away.

The Healer is the Morlocks’ medic from 1980s stories, apparently back thanks to Krakoan cloning. He survived the massacre of the Morlocks, but seemingly died in Uncanny X-Men #291 (1992) when he burnt himself out while trying to heal Callisto. As far as we know, the Healer isn’t a trained doctor, just a mutant with healing powers. For some reason the script specifically calls for him to be wearing bandages.

PAGES 23-25. The four sinister people hijack the plane, knock out everyone else aboard, and prepare to parachute to Krakoa.

It’s one of those lovely overly elaborate plans, where instead of just hijacking a plane, you feign a pressure drop and then gas everyone through the face masks. Which is endearingly silly.

The Reavers. The helmets which the attackers wear are clearly intended to evoke the helmets worn by Cole, Reese and Macon, the three normal-looking ones from the classic Reavers. The script has various redactions here, but pretty much confirms that this is intentional.

PAGES 26-36. The Reavers attack Krakoa and seemingly kill Professor X.

Somehow, the Reavers are able to trick Krakoa into mistaking them for Domino – it might have something to do with the black spot on the “CIA spook” character’s forehead, which echoes the huge spot that covers much of Domino’s face. Or maybe they’re just all carrying chunks of Domino – it’s X-Force, after all. Presumably the advantage of this is to confuse the mutants long enough to get past Krakoa’s early warning system.

“All mutants can be trusted.” Xavier is weirdly emphatic about this when speaking to Black Tom. It reads as another signal that something’s up with Krakoa, since otherwise Xavier has no apparent reason to believe this. On the other hand, if Krakoa is generating peace-and-love vibes for the mutants, it clearly doesn’t work on the Reavers.

“There are always predators.” Beast is obviously referring to the Reavers, but since he’s just leaped on the blond guy snarling in the same way that the weird creature did at the start, there’s also a suggestion that Beast himself is the predator.

“Your anger and surprise – I just don’t understand it.” The Reaver is being absurd about the anger, but he has a point about surprise – given the history of mutantkind, everyone really does seem weirdly taken aback by the idea of Krakoa coming under attack. Maybe we’re just meant to take it that everyone’s been too caught up in the hype and they’ve let their guard down, or maybe there’s more to it than that.

“We’re your only chance at…” Professor X’s final words before the Reaver shoots him seem to be starting some sort of point about how the mutants are going to save the humans – which, at least in terms of his public statements to date, is curious. It makes a little more sense if his agenda is really about the machines from Powers of X – and indeed these Reavers are already part-machine, which is a Big Warning Sign in terms of Powers of X cosmology.

The death of Professor X. The art only shows a shattered and blood-stained Cerebro helmet and Xavier’s hand as he lies on the ground, which by comic book standards counts as ambiguous. The script is much more clear that this is what it appears to be. Of course, we know that the X-Men can bring anyone back from the dead… but Professor X presents particular difficulties there, because he’s the one who restores their minds from back-up. House of X #5 indicated that in principle other telepaths could do it too, but also made it fairly clear that none of them were trained up yet. So the Professor’s restoration could be more complicated than others. And, of course, the shattered Cerebro helmet is shocking just because it’s destroying a symbol of Krakoa-era X-Men in the very first issue.

Cameos: The script simply calls for any old mutants not otherwise engaged, but recognisably present are:

  • The Vanisher. A member of the Kyle/Yost era X-Force, though mostly a villain. He was killed during the Rosenberg run, in Uncanny X-Men vol 5 #19, but unsurprisingly he’s been restored from back-up.
  • Boom-Boom, wearing her 90s costume for some reason.
  • Prism of the original Marauders, getting shattered to pieces yet again.
  • Caliban, another character associated with the original X-Force.

PAGE 37. The trailer page. The Krakoan reads NEXT: REGICIDE.

Bring on the comments

  1. Col_Fury says:

    I was getting a Reavers vibe from these guys, and was hoping it was actually them and not just me assuming. I’ve always liked the Reavers as villains, probably because they were the bad guys when I first started filling in the back issues of my X-Men collection.

    Also, I think I was one of three people actually excited that the Reavers were the villains in the Logan movie.

    Kitty’s fancy Hellfire boat isn’t ready yet, hmn? I still don’t get why she isn’t using the Blackbird.

    So Monet can turn into Penance and back, AND there are other little Penances running around? I was never very clear on the whole Penance/Monet/her sisters thing worked, but for some reason I have it in my head that only one was Penance at a time. I’ll have to go back and read some Generation X comics.

  2. Paul says:

    Kitty specifically says that they stole that boat while fleeing Russia, but presumably they didn’t leave the big shiny one behind.

    I’ll come to M when I do New Mutants.

  3. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Colossus has been a member of the ‘Cable and X-Force’ team during the era of ‘let’s publish two X-Forces at the same time for no good reason at all’. (The other was ‘Uncanny X-Force’, the non-Remender, shite one with the great Kris Anka costumes).

    This has been the first DoX that left me completely cold. X-Men has at least been somewhat focused, this jumps from scene to scene with characters acting either stupid (Xavier in Sokovia, nobody listening to Black Tom even though they specifically made him head of security) or generically toughguybadass-ly (I hate when Wolverine is as he is here). And the art, while nice and dramatic, is terrible at conveying what’s actually happening, as made clear by every ‘the script says’ mention by Paul here.

    But most of all – it’s another ‘suddenly the mansion blows up and a bunch of students gets killed’ plot. Only it’s Krakoa instead of the mansion. Dawn of X was supposed to be a bold step forward. This is a retread of many, many other stories.

  4. Evilgus says:

    Nice fast review Paul!

    Love the artwork and colouring on this comic. It’s suitably ‘sketchy’.

    Not sure about semi feral Wolverine and his speech to Beast about everyone getting soft on Krakoa. Contrast that with the weird Logan we saw frolicking with kids in HOXPOX..

    I like the use of Black Tom and Sage among others in this. It’s a clever way to incorporate very minor characters into the wider tapestry with defined roles. Weirdly though we get a LOT of Black Tom, at the expense of other arguably more interesting characters.

    Marvel Girl’s outfit looks particularly out of place in the scenes she is in…

    I enjoyed it and like the signals that we are entering books having ramifications across the X-line (with Kitty’s Marauders showing up). But maybe we are enjoying these less than HOXPOX as they aren’t an elegant puzzle being gradually revealed? Or if they are, it’s much slower burn/comics as usual.

    And I highly doubt Prof X would be so dumb as to go out alone, then get himself shot and killed … Was the tracker meant to lead the Reavers to him? I call false cliffhanger!

  5. Col_Fury says:

    Oh, cripes. I read both this and New Mutants together and got M mixed up in which book she appeared in. Sorry about that. 🙁

    Also, thanks for pointing things out from the script. As you (Paul) suspected, not everything came across in the book itself.

    My guess is Xavier knew about the tracker, and that it was leading the Reavers to him, and that his “death” is a telepathic illusion.

  6. Zachary Adams says:

    Page 15, last panel. The person on Iceman’s stretcher is too indistinct to make out, but that’s very much an Allred X-Force costume. Maybe one of the team who died in 116?

  7. Michael says:

    For some reason, the Morlock Healer (welcome back, dude!) has always worn bandages on his hands, and covered his head, so maybe he suffers from permanent wounds he can’t cure himself of? It was never explained. IIRC, he used to speak with a weird pseudo-Shakespearian accent (thee, thou, thine) but that came and went, probably depending on if Claremont was writing him or not.

    And wow, Vanisher, back in his original outfit. It must have been Throwback Night on Krakoa.

    One of the things which excites me about this whole set-up is the number of old characters who have come back.

  8. Col_Fury says:

    Regarding costumes, Hickman’s said in interviews that characters will be changing their costumes/looks according to artists, like people change their regular clothes. So, sometimes Tabitha will dress like Boom-Boom, sometimes like Meltdown, etc.

  9. Mark Coale says:

    I thought this was okay. Definitely preferred New Mutants of the two books.

    To me, Black Tom is always just Cain’s buddy,

  10. CJ says:

    I like this mainly because I’m glad everything isn’t just all smiles and sunshines in Krakoa, although I’m surprised we went to this extreme in the first issue.

    Even though he’s not in this issue, I wonder if Quentin Quire would have the capability of helping revive Xavier (assuming the inevitable Cerebro backup, or that this guy was a decoy).

  11. Ben says:

    I took it that the white strips on all the Reavers where in fact skin grafted onto them from Domino.

    Which is how they tricked the defense system.

    She isn’t dead and in the resurrection system, she’s a stealth skin farm.

    How grimdark.

  12. Michael says:

    “I took it that the white strips on all the Reavers where in fact skin grafted onto them from Domino.”

    Please enjoy this moment of bodyhorror.

  13. Si says:

    Having the same characters in different costumes when drawn by different artists is not a good idea. The costume is the identity, both in a meta way and in a more mundane way. With the fairly minimalist art in superhero comics, as well as the way every character is young, hot and athletic, you as the reader need to have the costumes to know who’s who.

  14. Adrian says:

    This left me cold as well. It beggars belief that can entire island full of mutants (including all the A-List characters and villains) are caught off guard by some goons with guns. The art is trying for gritty but comes across as muddy and messy. While the characterization isn’t particularly compelling, at least they do not come across as robotic as Hickman’s flagship title. Black Tom is a bit of a gimmick though. Yikes. Last time I checked, he was a villain. Is any writer going to give us some context on why the X-Men would trust him with security operations?

    The plot though…. Why is Xavier going to visit countries on his own with no entourage? And why is he constantly wearing this ridiculous helmet? Who wants to deal with someone who cannot show his face? It is no longer creepy. It is just silly and ridiculous at this point.

    The silly boat gimmick aside, there are some interesting mysteries with respect to the wildlife, what Xavier was going to say and Colossus. We will see where it all goes but I will wait for the trade after I see some more annotations on here.

  15. YLu says:

    “And the art, while nice and dramatic, is terrible at conveying what’s actually happening, as made clear by every ‘the script says’ mention by Paul here.”

    I don’t think that’s really fair. Pretty much every comic script I’ve ever read, when compared to the actual comic, includes stuff that the art didn’t make clear.

    I think it was Charles Soule who said a writer can typically expect 80% of what’s in their script to actually make it into the art.

    I haven’t read this issue’s script, but reading the comic itself I was never confused about what was being depicted.

  16. Alan L says:

    I don’t see anything to be excited about in this comic. I liked the art on first glance (but perhaps I liked it because of Dean White’s colors more than I enjoyed the actual art underneath?)––and after Paul’s recount of the points of the script the artist refuses to make plain or clear, I have to say the art is as bad as everything else in the comic. The formation of this very strange X-force team is not coming together too quickly (honestly would have been more fun if they had already formed the team before the start of the issue, and they could get on to some kind of story). The Krakoans seem very unstressed about Domino being out of communication for over a week after they had her infiltrate a secret society of bigots––after the melodrama of dying mutants in House of X it’s discordant to see that no one cares so much about Domino. After the very sympathetic Domino Dennis Hopeless wrote in Cable and X-force, it’s dispiriting to see Domino turned into a devious spy who gets captured and tortured––kind of a re-tread of her two original roles in X-force, as the devious copycat and as Neena, strung up by Deadpool and, one imagines, tortured. The Reavers coating themselves with patches of her skin is in pretty bad taste. Colossus has been her romantic interest in the past, and seeing Colossus torn up in his initial appearance and implying Neena’s been torn up as well seems like it’s meant to be some kind of parallel track for the two of them?

    True to the Hickman style, there is no character work in this issue, except to give us this curious new Black Tom Cassidy. That’s fine with me, but I don’t feel any closer to getting what’s going on these days with Logan, Beast, or Marvel Girl. Marvel Girl especially is just a frustrating and increasingly dull mystery at this point. She is in a lot of Hox/Pox and Dawn of X, but she does very little and thinks even less. If something is up with her (we must be meant to think so––the teenybopper costume cannot just be what all the different artists prefer her to wear), we get no further with it in this issue. Beast eviscerating someone with his claws and Marvel Girl looking like she wants to do the same is very out-of-character-seeming for these particular characters. I’m not sure why this is an X-force team in the making. And the decompressed storytelling in this issue moves with painful slowness. Again, I’d have preferred it if we got into this issue with the team already formed, and maybe with this Reaver attack as a flashback recounted later on, because the decompression of the story means we just get almost no incident or event moving this story forward. We get no explanation for why this X-force team forms, because they haven’t formed by the end of the issue. Of course, the issue labors over the idea that this X-force team must exist because they aren’t safe on Krakoa, but really, who isn’t safe? Any given mutant on that island could tear apart these Reavers any number of ways within seconds of their landing. The Reavers are the ones in danger on Krakoa. Two of the lesser-powered X-men, Logan and Beast, decimate them inside of a minute. The island is home to not just the X-men, but all their most threatening villains as well. What is going to be the issue here? It would have been more to the point if the rescue mission for Domino had been the purpose of the issue. Then, at least, this X-force would make some kind of sense. That seems to be something they’ll save for the capstone of this larger story arc, which is a mistake, I think. We’ve had so much endless exposition in this relaunch; it’s time for some action, and this allegedly X-force comic is not delivering. Plus, as Krzysiek Ceran pointed out, it makes no sense how little Professor X and others pay any heed to Black Tom, even though they’ve made him head of security. He was basically barking up and down the issue trying to stop the mutants from doing foolish things, and nobody listened to him. Professor X arriving by himself in some country for photo ops was also not credible.

    I don’t know how much of this issue to chalk up to bad writing and how much to the problems of an over-complicated new status quo. People spoke about this while talking about last week’s Excalibur issue, which came off to me as a sibling to this week’s New Mutants issue, but in this X-force comic I do see signs of the strain that other writers are facing trying to make the new status quo of the X-men stick. In theory the X-men are very well-defended on Krakoa. In practice, the issue spends nearly all of its page count showing characters defeated every level of defense and magically getting the killshot on the character they came to get. To do it they needed him to appear by himself, unprotected, in a foreign country and drink a tracer in a specific flute of champagne. It’s a little too much of a rigged situation. I’m not sure why when Black Tom knows these intruders are up to no good, someone like Sunfire can’t just fly up there and incinerate these Reavers in the air. My big problem is that all of this takes up a lot of pages, and by the time you get done with the book, the team isn’t even there yet. By the same point in Kyle and Yost’s X-force, not only had the team been formed, but they had engaged their enemies and come to a genuinely tense cliffhanger. By the same point in Remender’s Uncanny X-force the team had killed Apocalypse. Here we get just one more “Professor X is dead” scare, some hints of a more sinister new Reavers team out there, and…I don’t know. Not much. A sort of general theme about predators and prey, that doesn’t really work too well unless you decide that all the regular mutants on Krakoa are sort of like innocent sheep in need of protection by an X-force. But I think the premise of the new status quo is making things much harder than they have to be. So much of this issue is about penetrating the defenses of Krakoa, in a way that it’s unlikely anyone could repeat successfully. The problem, I think, is partially just boring writing, but also partially that the new status quo is less of a drift and more of an overarching story. It’s requirements are so particular. It’s hard to tell where these other stories––of X-force, of Excalibur, etc., are supposed to contribute to the general flow of that larger story upon which the others are premised; the story of Krakoa and it’s fall, of Moira and her scheme, and of the disappointingly ceaselessly manufactured dire fates for mutantkind every writer seems obligated to concoct for their X-men titles since Claremont. Not only is that much story too much for a status quo, but Hickman seems determined to start each of the new books at the very beginning of this giant swath of a chronicle; at the beginning of Krakoa, so we can see how every little bit of it is set up. His story spans eons, and alternate histories, as well. Now that HoX/PoX is done, is he ever going to revisit any of that? The scope of the setup for these new series seems completely out of control, and with such a big canvas used for the set up (and honestly, a very clear sense of where it was all going that now in the Dawn of X seems already nearly fully squandered), it seems really weird to see these new series drop back into business-as-usual, decompressed comic storytelling––into regular story arcs that seem to have almost nothing to do with the premise set up in HoX/PoX. Excalibur and this series seem the most detachable from the main story, but Marauders shows every sign of getting caught up in some smaller story arcs as well. New Mutants this week already seems set up to spin its wheels, having its characters get lost in space with a version of the Starjammers even off-brand from their appearance in Hickman’s previous comic. Some of these stories might be fun if it wasn’t still creeping around in the back of my mind that the X-men were fighting a war against the future, and such. The stakes of this are so extraordinary, and yet these books are taking such a pedestrian approach.

    Amongst other annoying stuff in this issue, the Reaver with the black splotch on his forehead looked like Colossus. I thought that plane flight was a flashback at first. Domino’s adventure in the beginning of the issue wasn’t connected clearly to the Reaver’s attack––a better sense of cause and effect would have given the whole story a little better shape––and the Professor X death is so obviously a fake-out that it’s a bad element to position as the emotional centerpiece of your team’s main mission. It was not at all apparent that those stripes on the Reavers were skin grafts from Domino. They reminded me first of the bands that Gentle wears. And seeing Boom Boom in that later-day X-force outfit was really jarring. This glub new rule of Hickman’s about the artists drawing the X-men wearing any old costume from the past cannot last. The costumes the characters wear have an iconic resonance that goes beyond the prosaic narrative of the comics. I see Boom Boom in that costume and it makes me think of the mid-90s, when she briefly had her jaw wired shut, when she started dating Cannonball, when X-force was being drawn by Greg Capullo. It was a different era, and Boom Boom was at a very different point in her character evolution. Seeing her wearing that costume now (to lodge a more prosaic, in-story complaint, her hair is all different lengths for her various costumes over the years––is that going to change by the day, depending on what costume she feels like wearing? She hasn’t worn her hair that short since the Meltdown era) seems preposterous not just because it’s from a different era, but because it makes her character seem like it’s the character from that previous era. It’s a poorly-considered graphic conceit of Hickman’s to have the extras wear whatever costume the artist feels like drawing. It further messes with the continuity of these characters’ development, and it underlines how little Hickman regards the characters in the X-men universe as being important or valuable to his project.

  17. Col_Fury says:

    The Wolverine/Beast conversation early in the issue regarding “Krakoa makes the mutants feel safe” did foreshadow everyone being surprised at being attacked later in the issue, to be fair.

    Re: Si
    I’m with you there; I like consistency. But, that’s the explanation we’re getting, in that mutant culture allows for mutants to switch up their costumes (also “explaining” why mutants eat a family dinner while in costume, I guess). Again though, I’m with you. 🙂

    Also, Xavier’s helmet didn’t bother me until this issue, where he’s wearing it with a suit and tie instead of with his bodysuit. The combo this issue was kind of off-putting to me for some reason. *shrug*

  18. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    We already saw the helmet+suit combination in House of X, during the celebration after the UN security council vote.

    And it’s shown again on the cover of X-Men #4, I think? The one where Xavier, Magneto and even Apocalypse are all in suits, looking like they just broke off with the senior partners to go and establish their own law firm. (Sorry for the tangent, I saw a tweet about Xavier, Lehnsherr & Nur, attorneys at law, and it stuck).

    Oh, and also? Maybe they shouldn’t put the ‘very dead, oh so dead, whatever shall we do now that he’s so much dead’ character on the cover of a book coming out in a month’s time.

  19. Col_Fury says:

    Oh yeah, the United Nations thing. I forgot about that. Yep; it’s creepy there, too. 🙂

  20. YLu says:

    A lot of these characters have a certain look that’s consistent across their different costumes, so I’m not sure recognizability would be much of an issue. Wolverine in a new costume is still instantly recognizable as Wolverine, for example. Emma Frost always looks like Emma Frost.

    @Alan L

    “It was not at all apparent that those stripes on the Reavers were skin grafts from Domino.”

    This is still just speculation, right? I feel like I’m missing something with how people are talking about it like it’s established fact. Was this another of the things mentioned in the script?

  21. Ben says:

    I mean, the white skinned Domino is missing.

    The Reavers make it into Krakoa by somehow mimicking Domino’s mutant signature.

    They’re all clearly shown with white strips that look organic covering their bodies.

    I’m not sure I’m taking a big swing here.

  22. Paul says:

    “Was this another of the things mentioned in the script?”

    The script says that it’ll be explained in the next issue, but that there ought to be enough clues in this one. The panel descriptions for the scene on the plane where we first see the white strips are largely redacted, but there’s a reference to “design of white skin”.

  23. Luis Dantas says:

    X-Force was always a difficult concept to reconcile with the presumably idealistic premise of the X-Men.

    That makes for an interesting if inherently unstable combination with this new, contradictory premise of Hickman’s X-Men.

    X-Force can’t exist without directly contradicting the public face of Krakoa as a mutant haven.

    But Krakoa, as has been made clear since at least Powers of X #6, is indeed plagued by inner contradictions. Something akin to X-Force will naturally arise from it, and more than likely enable its eventual collapse by existing. So if they are embracing that logical consequence of X-Force this time around, I may well enjoy it.

    Seeing Jean with her classic costume makes me wonder if she is supposed to have been de-aged by the ressurrection process. It sounds likely, but raises many significant questions. Will Krakoa mutants even have the choice of being ressurrected at some specific biological age? Are we headed towards an eventual society of perenially young mutants who end up seeing their non-mutant brethen whiter and die decade after decade? I don’t see that working, personally, but the path for that realization could make some very interesting stories.

    As for changing costumes according to the mood of the day, I am all for it. It is a natural enough development, and one long due.

  24. Chris V says:

    They would have to skip ahead far in to the future to show that the mutants on Krakoa are staying perpetually young, while the rest of humanity ages.
    Because, Peter Parker is always going to be somewhere in his late-20s or early-30s in the ever-current Marvel Universe.
    It could get problematic to actually show the mutants not aging sets them apart from anyone else in the Marvel Universe.

    After all, Magneto is already a person born before 1941 who is currently only in his 50s.

    In the year 20136, when Disney no longer exists and Marvel Comics are no longer published, we see that the mutants on Krakoa are still perpetually young, while Peter Parker is now an old man of 70!

  25. Jerry Ray says:

    I just hope the resurrection gimmick isn’t taken as license to kill and mutilate characters left and right because they can just be brought back intact later. (I mean, it seems like it already was in that previous Uncanny run, but I mean going forward.)

    In this issue alone, we see Colossus maimed, Domino possibly skinned, and Professor X possibly shot in the head. I hate what Wolverine’s ever expanding healing factor has allowed writers to do with that character (like the cannibalism issue in Old Man Logan), and I really don’t want to see that expanded to every character in the line.

  26. Chris V says:

    I have serious doubts that Hickman has shared his grand plan with any of the other writers on “Dawn of X”.
    It is seeming, more and more, as if Hickman just told the writers to write something that involves Krakoa in some way, but that nothing too drastic can be done with the mysteries of Krakoa at this point.

    So, basically, we are just getting some X-titles that could have existed at pretty much any point, with something Krakoa-specific added.
    Then, Hickman will write some event book that explains more of the concepts of Krakoa.

    I don’t see this working out in the long-run, as far as sales are concerned.

  27. Col_Fury says:

    Here’s something I expected to happen at some point, just not this early.

    “Logan, stop! We can’t kill them all. We need someone left to question.”

    I thought one of the RULES was that mutants can’t kill humans? And Sabretooth was exiled because he killed humans? Does that mean Wolverine is going to be exiled? And Beast either also killed one or really maimed him…

    Or is self defense an exception?

  28. Chris V says:

    I’d have to assume that self-defense is outside of the rules, especially when there is an invasion of their homeland.
    Otherwise, why even bother to have a military-type force (the one led by Cyclops, I forget the name)?
    If you have to stop an attack on the island, there’s most likely going to be casualties.

  29. Jacob` says:

    This is the first one that left me cold as well. The addition of the “Kill Book” by Kyle and Yost, first by slaughtering the New X-Men, then by making it official in their X-Force, is something that I wish could be abandoned. But here we are, having the slaughter again.

    This book feels like it doesn’t really fit with the narrative. It’s like it thinks what is going on is cool, but wants to put the kill book spin on it, except that it doesn’t work. To have Krakoa attacked so easily and so early after establishing how together everything is seems like a whole lot of fail just for the sake of having a bang bang issue I just don’t like it.

  30. Mark says:

    @Adrian: “It beggars belief that can entire island full of mutants (including all the A-List characters and villains) are caught off guard by some goons with guns.”

    The Reavers have had this problem for decades. It’s a good name and they’re great Wolverine adversaries. But the notion that they’re any sort of the threat to more than a couple of X-Men together was always ridiculous. As a kid I was mystified when the team fled through the Siege Perilous at the first sign of a Reaver attack. (“Bank robbers! Colossus, run!”

    The realization that they were merely plot devices to clear the decks for the next story arc didn’t sink in ’til later. In that respect, you could read this ridiculous issue as an homage to the Outback Era.

  31. Dave says:

    “during the era of ‘let’s publish two X-Forces at the same time for no good reason at all'”
    Do neither of those books count as volumes of X-Force?

    “The island is home to not just the X-men, but all their most threatening villains as well.”
    I think this issue should have had a villain or two shown defending the island. In addition to Tom.

  32. Chris V says:

    I like that the Reavers play in to Hickman’s grand narrative about post-humanity.
    The Reavers were villains whose basis is that regular humans can never compete with mutants.
    So, they turn to technology as a way that humanity can compete with mutants.
    The fact that Claremont portrayed them as such a great threat at the end of the Outback Era just adds to the narrative.
    It’s always made perfect sense to me.
    It was the perfect evolution of what Claremont was doing with his run on the book.

  33. Loz says:

    I really REALLY don’t like Jean’s costume. I would have hoped that it’s the sort of thing we moved past years ago, although the cover to my version has her wearing some sort of leggings underneath the skirt, it’s only the interior art that has her showing skin.

    I hope we’ll see the countermeasures Xavier has to protect himself next issue, it would be a massive nuisance if, to accept the premise of this book, we have to assume that all the main characters are really, really stupid.

  34. Jason says:


    I’m on team Fury once again! “I’ve always liked the Reavers as villains, probably because they were the bad guys when I first started filling in the back issues of my X-Men collection.

    Also, I think I was one of three people actually excited that the Reavers were the villains in the Logan movie.”

    With you on all of that!

  35. Luke says:


    – Agreed. Out of all the shifts in the status quo and characterisation, I feel like Jean has suffered most. This isn’t the same character that was in New X-Men or Red. It feels like she’s been regressed to token female X-Man, circa 1969 again. Hickman’s reasoning on AIPT seems to be some oblique reference to Uncanny 137, but that feels weak. (
    This was at least better.

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