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Dec 21

X-Force #4 annotations

Posted on Saturday, December 21, 2019 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

COVER / PAGE 1. Domino fires a gun and Sage uses a computer. Generic solicitation art, really.

PAGES 2-3. Recap and credits. This is “Blood Economics” by Benjamin Percy and Joshua Cassara.

PAGES 4-6. Soldiers attack a Krakoa drug station.

Xavier Pharmaxeuticals. The first time we’ve seen exactly how the legitimate drug channels operate. As you might expect, the handful of black market ships from Marauders aren’t serving the whole world; when they can supply openly, the Krakoans just go through gates. We’re told later that this station is 15 miles from the coast, in which case it’s (just) outside the US’s territorial waters. Presumably some regular US boats come and collect the stuff.

The only recognisable staffer is a Madrox dupe – wearing his original costume from the 70s and 80s – though there are some armed guards seen on the first page of this sequence too. Not that they do any good.

PAGE 7. Xavier addresses the Quiet Council.

As usual, Kate Pryde is missing from her seat. Presumably this is all building to some big moment when she takes her place and does something game-changing.

Hercules and Athena. The backstory of the Twelve Labours of Hercules is rather glossed over here; the Twelve Labours were also supposed to atone for his murder of his children (while driven mad by Hera). Defeating the Stymphalian birds was the sixth labour; Athena gave Hercules a rattle which he used to scare them into taking flight, at which point he was able to shoot them down with his bow. So Xavier’s claim that Athena personally scared away the birds is a slight overstatement.

The golden apples of Hesperides come from the eleventh labour. There’s a version of that story where Athena returns the apples to their rightful place after Hercules has stolen them, but the labour itself was to steal them in the first place, so again, Xavier is overplaying Athena’s role. As for Hades, that’s the twelfth labour (the capture of Cerberus), and the description of Athena’s role is fairly standard.

PAGES 8-12. Beast, Marvel Girl and Sage investigate the drug station.

The soldiers. Beast points out that while the XENO soldiers in issue #1 were heavily customised lab-grown soldiers, these guys appear to be high-end regular human soldiers using conventional equipment. So either they’re not connected with XENO after all, or XENO doesn’t have an endless supply of Reavers to throw around. At any rate, Sage concludes that the real aim was to get access to Krakoa’s computers, which are apparently much easier to get into if you’re on the station.

The Krakoan text on Sage’s computer screen reads CLASSIFIED – DO NOT SHARE WITH HUMANS.

PAGE 13. Data page. A list of companies associated with Professor X, none of which have been heard of before. They all have fairly obvious X-Men references in their names (though “Uncanny Valley Farms” is only an X-Men reference in our world, not theirs). Predictably, 2019 Professor X has also launched a cryptocurrency. The positioning of Xavier as one of the ultra-rich is new; he’s always had seemingly bottomless resources to fund the X-Men’s activities, but more in the sense that it meant writers could ignore the practical issues 99% of the time. Some might be a little concerned about the fact that the entire economic wealth of Krakoa seems to be going into Xavier’s personal pockets.

PAGES 14-16. The Quiet Council meet again.

Sebastian Shaw isn’t all that bothered about any of this stuff, since he can’t really see the practical impact. But Apocalypse pushes the mutant unity angle and the need to keep the humans in line. Sinister immediately suggests killing them all, despite the fact that there’s meant to be a strict prohibition on killing humans. Maybe he’s joking (or everyone assumes he is).

It’s Mystique who compares X-Force to the CIA, though Nightcrawler and Marvel Girl are willing to go with it. Nightcrawler is at least somewhat troubled by the implications regarding the CIA’s ethics, as a template. Mystique seems to think the X-Men are embracing a morality which is, ultimately, just nationalism (and she’s amused by that – she clearly thinks that running a country is making the X-Men see things more like her).

Cypher can be seen in the background in a couple of panels, reclining in his translator’s tree. So apparently this story takes place after the New Mutants return from space. Either that or it’s a continuity error.

PAGES 17-20. Forge equips Domino, Wolverine and Kid Omega.

Echoes of all those scenes where James Bond gets his equipment before the mission, of course – with a neat bit where Kid Omega tries to act as though he’s above all this and is then put out when Forge pretends to take him at face value and moves straight on to the next person.

Adamantium. On the Professor’s orders, Forge is keeping adamantium for use in reinstating Wolverine whenever needed. Nobody seems to have asked Wolverine himself how he feels about this, but we’ve already seen that Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton appears to have somehow been restored after he was resurrected in a cloned body. Why Wolverine is quite so relaxed about it, given how much trouble his adamantium has given him over the years… well, that’s curious, at least if you’re looking for an explanation beyond “it’s his schtick”. Then again, Wolverine doesn’t seem to have known that Forge had this, and he seems to have some ideas for it.

PAGE 21. Data page. Forge’s “daily planner”, which is more of a hyperactive to-do list. The last entry relates to Wolverine’s request for Forge to build something – for some reason, Forge’s response is to wonder how long to make Wolverine wait just to annoy him.

Pretty much everything else on the list is a stream of consciousness of ideas for inventions and personal training goals. For some reason, bacon is apparently “black market” on Krakoa. Why you can’t take it through the gates is curious. Presumably the black market involves the handful of characters from the Hellfire Club who come and go from the island by boat (or under their own power, but there’s a limit to what most of them could carry).

Terra Verde. Of possible plot significance is a passing note that Terra Verde is not dealing with the X-Men because they too are developing organic technology, or “telefloronics” (Forge’s new word). Terra Verde’s only previous appearances are in a handful of early 70s Fantastic Four comics, which don’t seem particularly connected to that concept. (Terra Verde also gets a passing mention in this week’s New Mutants, but only because they recycled a graphic from Marvel Atlas that happened to show it.)

Black Tom. Forge also notes that something’s up with Black Tom, who seems to be taking on a merged identity with Krakoa, and looks really uncomfortable. That keeps his plot ticking over.

PAGES 22-25. The XENO (?) soldiers attack a San Francisco facility, and X-Force race to deal with it.

Conveniently, the character who gets chopped off in mid portal is the one who can most easily recover from it. Handy, that. One of the soldiers refers to the mutants as “so-called gods”, referring to Magneto’s rhetoric about the mutants being humanity’s new gods.

PAGES 26-27. Reading list and trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: HALF MEASURES.

Bring on the comments

  1. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    ‘Conveniently, the character who gets chopped off in mid portal is the one who can most easily recover from it. Handy, that.’

    Um. Apart from Wolverine getting bisected by the gate, Quentin gets beheaded.

    I remain surprised by how much I enjoyed the 3rd and 4th issue, after being left very cold after the opening.

  2. Chris V says:

    It doesn’t really matter if Wolverine can regenerate from being chopped in half or not now, because we know that they’ll be instantly resurrected from the dead, if they do die on a mission.
    If you die in service to Krakoa, you are apparently rushed to the top of the list, as with the Krakoan mission to destroy the Mother Mold.
    Everyone died and was immediately cloned.

    I see that Mystique now has contradictory characterization between stories.

  3. How did the twelve labours play out in the Marvel Universe, since the Greek gods actually exist there?

    Presumably Xavier’s claims about Hercules can be fact-checked on Earth-616 by asking him.

  4. Chris V says:

    I remember there being some discrepancy in the Marvel Universe about the twelve labours, versus what was recorded.
    The only place I think they were discussed was in the Incredible Hercules comic.

    I seem to remember Amadeus Cho pointing out that Hercules’ story didn’t fit with the stories as recorded in the books.
    Hercules told Cho that he was missing the point about myths.

  5. Daibhid Ceannaideach says:

    IIRC, Labours were also done by the Forgotten One of the Eternals, in a series of extremely similar but apparently unrelated events.

  6. Chris V says:

    I think in the Incredible Hercules story, the Forgotten One accomplished one of the tasks for Hercules, but Hercules took the credit.
    The cleaning of the stables labour.

  7. ASV says:

    Since basically nothing kills Wolverine, it’ll be interesting to see if he’s stuck having to “heal” from being cut in half, complaining the whole time that he wishes he were dead.

  8. Paul says:

    Yeah, that’s the thing. Wolverine, given his powers, gets a potentially survivable injury. Assuming he doesn’t die from blood loss before his healing factor stabilises him of course.

  9. Michael Hughes says:

    I got caught up with the Doug Ramsay cameo in the background. Considering how tightly timed the rest of the books have been, this seems pretty glaring. I assume that means the new mutants will be back from space soon then.

  10. Taibak says:

    Ah, but you’re missing the big picture.

    If Wolverine is cut in half, won’t his healing factor produce *two* Wolverines?

  11. Moo says:

    I’m thinking they might be setting him up for two ongoings. Wolverine: Upper and Wolverine: Lower.

  12. Chris V says:

    Wrong! They’re setting up the next big event…the Death of 1/2 of Wolverine.

  13. Luis Dantas says:

    Now I want to see those stories.

  14. CJ says:

    Looking forward to Red and Blue Wolverine. One has claws, the other has a healing factor. They’re the best at what they do.

  15. Moo says:

    Wolverine: Lower will last longer as a series than Wolverine: Upper. It’s got more legs.

  16. JCG says:

    I am pretty sure the goons aims to finish Wolverine off.

    Can he defend himself without his lower body?

  17. Col_Fury says:

    Oh damn. Yeah, Quentin done got decapitated.

    Not mentioned in the Marvel Universe, but not only did Hercules murder his children (while driven mad by Hera), but he bludgeoned them to death with the corpses of his other children. Pretty brutal. One of the few things I remember from my college mythology course.

    Odd that Doug appears here. I guess we’ll find out if that’s a goof soon enough.

    This issue moved along pretty quick. I agree the series is better than it started.

  18. Andrew says:

    I’ve found it quite interesting that the over-arching plot, if there is such a thing with Dawn of X, seems to be happening in X-Force of all books.

    It’s certainly the book which seems to be focusing on Krakoa’s relationship with the outside world and the violence it’s encountering.

    It’s been a pleasant surprise so far.

  19. Luis Dantas says:

    For good or worse, this new take on Xavier is much better aligned with the concept of X-Force (hypocritical as it is) than with that of the X-Men proper.

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