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Jan 30

Marauders #6 annotations

Posted on Thursday, January 30, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition. And yes, this is very late. It’s also the end of the first trade paperback, so I’ll do a review of the first six issues in the near future.

COVER / PAGE 1. Kate Pryde and Bishop fight Hate-Monger and X-Cutioner.

PAGES 2-3. Recap and credits. For the first time in the Krakoa era, the credits page is limited to just one page, presumably in order to squeeze everything in – the actual story is 23 pages long.

This is “A Time To Reap” by Gerry Duggan, Matteo Lolli and Mario Del Pennino. The title couples with issue #5’s “A Time To Sow”. “A time to reap and a time to sow” is a loose paraphrase of Eccelsiastes. It’s the passage that was also used as a basis for the song “Turn! Turn! Turn!”, though that song uses a different version of the reap/sow lyric.

PAGES 4-6. Pyro and Kate fight Hate-Monger and X-Cutioner; X-Cutioner stabs Pyro.

“I don’t think Krakoan laws apply to you.” Kate is telling Lockheed to kill the attackers, since he isn’t a mutant and doesn’t have to follow the rule against killing humans.

Kitty / Kate. We’re still being reminded of Kitty’s change to calling herself Kate as part of her personality shift at the start of the series. In this context of this book, it reads as if Hate-Monger is talking down to her by calling her Kitty, though logically it’s just as likely that he simply doesn’t know about the name change.

Hate-Monger. Whoever is wearing the costume, they seem to be virulently anti-mutant. It’s worth reiterating that the Hate-Monger hasn’t previously shown any particular interest in mutants (though doubtless he isn’t a fan), and also that it’s a little odd to see him directly attacking Pyro in hand to hand combat, which isn’t really his thing either. .

PAGES 7-8. Injected into Pyro, tiny Yellowjacket reports back to Homines Verendi.

Evidently the plan is for the miniaturised Yellowjacket to enter Pyro’s body, Fantastic Voyage style, and then tap into his senses to generate a feed that can be transmitted back to Homines Verendi. It’s not entirely clear how the transmission is going to work; Manuel is worried enough about interception to tell Yellowjacket to go radio silent, but presumably they have a plan to get messages back sooner or later. And there’s a pretty obvious question of how they plan to get Yellowjacket back – capture Pyro when he’s on a mission, and kill him?

Yellowjacket. This is Darren Cross, an enemy of the Scott Lang version of Ant-Man. He first appeared in Marvel Premiere #47 (1979) and became the new Yellowjacket after stealing some experimental armour from one of Hank Pym’s labs in Astonishing Ant-Man #12 (2016). He hasn’t done a whole lot since then, but he is an established character, albeit a fairly minor one. Cross is a millionaire businessman, hence him referring to “our businesses”. Again, he’s not particularly associated with anti-mutant sentiment. He tells us later that he’s been led to believe that the mutants want to exterminate humanity.

EDIT: As pointed out in the comments, while the small print makes clear that this guy is connected with Cross’s company, his speech patterns don’t seem like Darren Cross – it’s possible that this is his son Augustine, last seen in Astonishing Ant-Man #12. He was left comatose in that story, but it does have a passing line of dialogue suggesting that the Yellowjacket armour could also be used to heal him. (Since Darren Cross used the Yellowjacket armour to attack Ant-Man and got handily defeated in public, it’s not clear why the Cross family still have the stolen armour at all – you’d have thought it would have been impounded.)

PAGES 9-17. The Marauders defeat X-Cutioner, Hate-Monger and their leader Donald Pierce, and Kate seizes their cargo of anti-mutant tech.

X-Cutioner. Kate describes him as a “former Fed”, referring to the original X-Cutioner, Carl Denti. In previous stories, Denti wasn’t particularly an anti-mutant bigot, so much as a vigilante going after mutants who had escaped the law. Generally, he was more of a Punisher type. Kate met a second X-Cutioner in X-Men Gold, an anti-mutant serial killer whose family had been killed in a fight with Magneto. The character seen here seems much more like the second X-Cutioner, so maybe Kate is just getting them confused. Note that he responds to Kate by talking about a trail of destroyed human lives, which is much closer to the second X-Cutioner’s origin. Then again, he also gets yelled at by Hate-Monger for not actually trying to kill Kate when he gets the chance, so perhaps there’s more going on with this guy than meets the eye.

Obviously, Hate-Monger and X-Cutioner have been chosen partly because they’re existing characters whose costumes already include Klan-like hoods – something which was entirely deliberate with Hate-Monger, and less so with X-Cutioner (who cobbled his costume together from impounded alien technology).

Donald Pierce. Long time X-Men villain and leader of the Reavers, Pierce absolutely is an anti-mutant bigot. The only surprising thing about seeing him in Homines Verendi is his willingness to take a secondary role to children. But Pierce and his Reavers have slipped badly down the pecking order in recent years, so this could well be the best offer on the table.

“M”. Everyone seems to know what “M” is. Since it’s a destination being chosen as an alternative to bringing a load of anti-mutant technology to Krakoa, presumably it’s Island M, the former base of Magneto, which we’ve seen a few times before in the Hickman era. The Krakoan “next issue” text more or less confirms that.

“Bring Sage and Beast. Forge should examine that anti-mutant tech.” Sage and Beast are both involved in X-Force, Krakoa’s black ops squad, though Kate doesn’t spell that out. As a member of the Quiet Council, she presumably knows about X-Force, even if she never seems to show up for the meetings.

Forge was involved in making devices to suppress mutant powers in his 1980s appearances, including a long running storyline where his technology wound up removing Storm’s powers for a time.

“I don’t need a babysitter.” Pierce talks as if the other Marauders are looking after Kate, and she seems to agree with that reading. We come back to this later.

PAGE 18. Data page with Yellowjacket’s log. Predictably, at this point all he’s seeing is Pyro and co messing around on a boat, and being amazed by Emma Frost’s wardrobe. None of this is remotely what Yellowjacket was expecting, and he seems already to be rethinking what he’s doing there.

PAGES 19-26. The Black King assassinates Kate.

“You’re gonna end up sleeping next to Sabretooth.” Sabretooth has been buried under Krakoa in some sort of suspended animation since the end of House of X, where the Quiet Council banished him for killing a human (despite the fact they hadn’t made that law yet). Kate wasn’t there, but evidently she’s been told.

“Whatever quirk of your powers stops you from using the portals likely keeps you out of the Resurrection Protocols.” Why? There’s no particular logic to this, but everyone’s acting as if they believe it – or at least see it as highly likely. I suppose we have to take it as read that the characters have some reason to think the two issues are connected. At any rate, Kate certainly seems to drown at the end of the issue, so we’ll find out one way or the other whether there are any hitches.

Shaw’s plan. Shaw was hiding on the vessel with the anti-mutant power-dampening armour. He explains that it was all part of his plan to get the Marauders to rescue Shinobi, and then have Kate capture the armour vessel. He claims, at least, that he was using reverse psychology on them last issue, when he tries to send Kate to Madripoor instead. He also claims that Kate played into his hands by sending the other Marauders away, though that seems an incredibly risky bit of planning, so you have to wonder if he really was depending on that.

Shaw is probably not a reliable narrator, even when he’s gloating over his brilliant plan. Nonetheless, he claims that he got Donald Pierce on side by bribery. He also claims that he told Christian Frost that Kate was keeping Iceman away from him, the implication being that this turned Christian against her. Note, though, that even in Shaw’s flashbacks, we don’t actually see Christian’s response to this. Nor does Shaw claim that Shinobi was in on the plan.

PAGES 27-28. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: ISLAND M.

Bring on the comments

  1. Chris V says:

    Wait. Yellowjacket is CEO Darren Cross?
    He was using words like “fly” (as in “cool”) in this story. He was written completely wrong for the character from Marvel Premiere.

    I guessed it was the Rita DeMara version, based on the dialogue. Although, I must have missed the “our businesses” quote.

  2. YLu says:

    I guess worry that Kate can’t be resurrected makes sense if you think of Krakoa as being involved in the resurrection process.

    The problem is that while visually it kind of looks that way, with all those people-pods sprouting out of Krakoa’s root/tree crap, nothing in Hickman’s description hints at any such a connection.

  3. Allan M says:

    I’m thinking that it’s Augustine Cross, Darren’s adult son, who’s in the Yellowjacket suit. He was seriously hurt in his last appearance, but he could have recovered. And he has a younger, more casual vocabulary than his father, who’s a traditional Big Talk supervillain (and talked really weird when in the Yellowjacket suit). (And Darren’s supposed to be in jail, but eh, comics.)

    It would also be another father/son villainous duo where the son’s not nearly as bad as the father, as with the Shaws.

  4. Jeremy says:

    Doesn’t matter how late, just love to see these!

  5. neutrino says:

    Didn’t earlier issues say that the mutants were going to expand their population to Island M?

  6. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I was blown away by that ending, mainly because I convinced myself that the Shaw thread is going to be a slow burning sub-plot that comes to fruition ten issues from now or something like that.

    So I did not see that coming. Strong finish to a decent-to-good opening arc.

    I wonder if Marauders was ever one of the books that were supposed to be a miniseries – I don’t think Jordan White or anybody else ever said specifically which were intended to end at issue six, before the sales results came in.* I don’t see this book fitting into that framework.

    Anyway. This title is far from perfect, but I’m enjoying it a lot. I’d wager that we’ll have to wait until at least issue 8 to get the answer on Kate’s resurrection, but I’ve been wrong before. As explained above.

    *- Guesswork about the original plans for DoX titles:

    There’s no way X-Men would be planned as a miniseries, simply because of the title used for the series. New Mutants is also out – not with the way the book’s been split. Only the Brisson story has been wrapped up by issue six.

    After six issues of Marauders I also don’t see how this book might have been planned as a mini. Well, unless its original purpose was just to set up the basic workings of Hellfire Trading Company and the crew of Marauder. And the Hellfire Kids Homines Verendi stuff. Which… yeah, okay, this could have been a mini. It probably wouldn’t have finished on Kate drowning then. Although if it didn’t, then Sebastian’s plot wouldn’t resolve in any way, so I’d still say that this wasn’t planned as a six issue mini.

    X-Force I can sort of see as being planned as a mini – just to set up the mutant CIA and the Peacock lodge as stuff Hickman will use later in X-Men.

    Similarily Excalibur – by the end of issue six we have the new status quo with mutants in Otherworld and some rough set-up for mutant magic – and that could’ve been it, mission accomplished.

    And finally, Fallen Angels absolutely could have been a mini, though when it was announced that Hill will be leaving it was framed as a ‘suspension’ of the book instead of a cancellation. Why wouldn’t they just say it was always planned as a mini?

  7. Paul says:

    Fair point about Yellowjacket. I’ve added another paragraph on that…

  8. Dazzler says:

    Why so much blather about what was and wasn’t planned to be a miniseries? All of the books were planned as ongoings. There was never a suggestion of any kind that any of them were ever meant to be miniseries. Fallen Angels was doomed at conception, but they certainly hoped it would be an ongoing.

  9. Ben says:

    Thank God the X-Men invented the resurrection gobbledygook right before they all started to gratuitously drop dead like flies.

  10. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    @Dazzler

    I might be misremembering something that was reported as rumours on Bleeding Cool as factual statements. But I read multiple times that while the plan from the start was to introduce new titles – there was talk of Dawn of X wave one and wave two back around September – it was also initially planned that several of the wave one titles will be replaced by the new ones. And that the current situation, in which the x-line is about to double in size and only Fallen Angels is ending, came about due to the reception and sales of the wave one titles.

    If I misremember and it wasn’t officially stated, just Bleeding Cools reporting on rumours – I’d still be interested. BC is right about inside editorial decisions often enough.

    As to why so much blather? Well, I’m a blatherer. I like to blather about comics. I’d expect not be the only one in the comment section of a comics blog.

  11. Chris V says:

    Having (at least) eleven X-titles going at one time, especially if they continue to release each series two to three times a month (!), cannot be a good sign for continued health of sales.

    Not many people can afford to buy that many titles a month.
    Plus, most fans of the X-Men also read other comic book series too.

  12. Joseph S. says:

    Well, we know that virtually all “ongoing” books are going to be cancelled or rebooted to a new #1 eventually. The best you can hope for is an extended run with a fixed creative team and possibly some legacy numbering.

    Unless Fallen Angels inexplicably had been doing big numbers, I sincerely doubt they ever had an issue #7 in mind. Seems pretty clearly designed to lead into Hellions (another 80s throwback that has nothing to do with the original). They say Fallen Angels is on “hiatus,” so we might speculate that the title, or at least the storyline, will be picked up in the cross-over later this year.

    Anyway, Marauders hasn’t been perfect but it’s been enjoyable and has potential. I hope they give Duggan at least 18-24 issues to let it all play out.

  13. Dazzler says:

    1. Blather is cool. It’s what we’re here for. I was just confused by your particular subject matter. Wouldn’t make much sense to relaunch an entire line of books with five ongoings and a mini that does nothing and goes nowhere. Understandable that you thought you read something to the contrary.

    I have no idea why Fallen Angels ever got the green light, let alone being part of the initial launch– my gut tells me this is because that’s the era Hickman is just personally fond of and editors won’t do their jobs or tell him anything– but I’m 100% certain Marvel did not want it to end after six issues.

    2. The sheer number of X-books coming out suggests to me that Marvel is desperate and scrambling. The X-Men line included 7-8 books in the 90s. Makes no sense to me to put out 10+ books (particularly with all of the characters centrally located) other than that they’ve decided to bleed dry all the poor souls who are, like, super into this stuff. I guess we’ll see where the sales end up, but as most of you know I don’t think any of this is a recipe for sustained success.

    3. Just realized Kitty is a central character in the upcoming X-Men/Fantastic Four mini where the X-Men are going to try to follow through on Cyclops’s very heroic threat to kidnap a child based on an incidental genetic mutation the child possesses. Because that’s what our heroes believe in now. You know, ordinary heroic stuff.

    Anyhow, open letter to anyone who’s super into this stuff: Doesn’t this kill the suspense you’re meant to be experiencing? Xavier is killed instantly in a satellite book, but he was all over future solicits. So you’d think the drama should come from the characters not knowing if he can be brought back, but reactions were highly inconsistent among the characters who even had any reaction at all. Apocalypse dies and is resurrected next issue. Kitty will have no problem being resurrected. Even if I was really into most of this nonsense, doesn’t all of this feel so frivolous and stupid?

  14. Joseph S. says:

    My point is just that the distinction between a mini/maxi series and an ongoing in today’s market is very slight. Books like Ms. Marvel and Squirrel-Girl are exceptional for reaching 50 issues, and even they were rebooted at least once. Marvel may not say so, but most of these books don’t have long term plans. It is what it is. Something closer to the season model of TV.

    When Rosenberg killed dozens of characters, we knew they’d be back, because comics (and looming soft reboot).

    Obviously resurrection changes things, and you’re not going to introduce such a device and not use it. Why not, let’s get a decapitated Quire and half a Wolverine leaping around. Obviously we know that neither Kate nor Xavier are going to stay dead. I’m not sure that the stories hinge on how they’ll be brought back. It is going to become gratuitous fast, however, so hopefully there’s a larger story at work regarding the Five and Resurrection. X-Factor will explore that for a while, 6-12 issues I’d wager, and then some cross over will shift the status quo again.

    I think the line has a fair amount of diversity. It’s nkt as if all the books are taking place on Krakoa. The episodic nature of X-Men, or the rotating anthology aspect of New Mutants, helps keep that fresh.

    More concern to me if spotlighting certain characters in multiple books while others have been totally MIA. Whatever you think of the way they handled the Betsy/Kwannon thing, having to books with Psyclocke as lead was a strange choice. Laura in the most recent X-Men seems to have nothing to do with the version of the character in Fallen Angels. Armor’s characterization isn’t as off but still, the character appears in two books released the same day. Odd choices all around.

    But still. The Giant Sizes look intriguing, some of the announced series look promising, and even Fallen Angels has very vocal supporters so, something for everyone I guess.

  15. neutrino says:

    FWIW, I too heard a source quoting Hickman that wave 1 was planned as minis, but it might be changed due to their sales. They might still be planned as 12 issues, which would end around April where a crossover is supposed to be planned.

    How’s Yellowjacket going to cope with the daily EMP blast on Krakoa?

  16. Salomé Honório says:

    I strongly agree that bloating the line to such an extent cannot, by definition, go well, creatively or commercially. Not unless Marvel’s expectation is that each of the books comes to find its own readership. That is to say, that the premise here is that the series are not bundled together as a continuous set but rather working in disparate ways to appeal to seperate publics.

    But this has never worked with the X-Men line, has it? And as is, the current model does not even allow for enough heterogeneity, disparity, dispersion and conflict for each title (or each team) to make much of a dent as a standalone piece of work…

    The Hickman/Krakoa paradigm obviously provides tremendous opportunities in terms of storytelling, at the very basic level of recontextualizing characters in a new world order. The obvious problem for me is that this is not the line’s primary concern: X-Men is now synonymous with “mutantkind” (and this has been in the works for quite some years now) while the concept of mutant nationalism supersedes that of mutant communities.

    The stories feel quite loud and confident about their novelty, but that’s predicated on a complex system of strong concepts and detailed set-pieces, rather than the existence of substantial relationships between characters (be they friendships, antagonisms, romances, partnerships, etc). People and emotions don’t seem to matter much at all, and if Hickman has presented mutant nationalism as so homogeneous and linear only to critique it later, he has done himself a disservice.

  17. Allan M says:

    What I like about Kate being “killed” by Shaw is that her coming back spins the plot into interesting directions regardless if she’s actually dead or not. If she gets resurrected by the Five, we presumably see the Krakoa-Kate mystery advance, and it also fundamentally redirects her character arc and, by extension, the motivations of Storm, Iceman and Bishop to be in the book. Which is why I don’t think it’ll happen. It also means that Shaw made his big play to seize control of Hellfire, which not only failed, but now he knows that’s a completely useless strategy. And on top of that, since Kate wasn’t in contact with telepaths when she died, she’ll likely resurrect without knowing who killed her (but Shaw will, and probably Shinobi).

    If she survives this by more conventional means, she is well aware that Shaw tried to kill her, but then we run into a problem: there’s nothing in the laws of Krakoa that says anything about not killing other mutants. Humans are off-limits, but there’s no law against mutant murder that we’ve seen (unless it’s “make more mutants” but in reverse?). And it’d be a test of the wildly undemocratic Quiet Council, which can never find total consensus on what to do about Shaw, since Shaw’s on the Council himself. Does a simple majority carry the day for burial in Krakoa, or do the suddenly-communal mutants require unanimity? Any scenario drives divisions within the Council and erodes Kate’s motivation to stick with the Marauders.

  18. YLu says:

    I’m not reading it, but didn’t Fallen Angels introduce two new members to the team in the penultimate issue? That doesn’t sound like a planned six-issue mini to me.

    It’s interesting how everyone — myself included — has been treating the announced hiatus as a stealth outright cancellation. I guess it’s because of the negative online reaction to the series, though I’m not sure how much that’s been reflected in sales. On comixology right now, FA #6 is the eight highest selling comic of the week, beating out Immortal Hulk.

    Regarding the overall size of the X-line, I recall someone (Jordan White?) saying they’ll slow down the two issues per month scheduling as more titles launch.

  19. CJ says:

    I hope that Kate’s death leads to something interesting about the Resurrection Protocol (multiple Kates?) and not just a fake-out in issue #7.

    I’m happy with the way the plot is developing, even if Shaw made a Xanatos Gambit to get us this far.

  20. Alan L says:

    Yeah, Fallen Angels introduced Husk and Bling, who I almost forgot was on the team. Neither of them had any effect on the story, which became borderline incoherent in the most recent issue, but which did seem to conclude the book. Kwannon disbands the “team” at the end so she can join the Hellions group, I guess.

    The most recent issue of Fallen Angels also had some of the worst art I’ve seen in an X-men comic inside. Maybe the script was more coherent (though I doubt it), but the art made what was happening really obscure.

  21. Alan L says:

    That was in reference to YLu’s comment, btw.

  22. Dazzler says:

    @Joseph: There’s a lot of rejiggering and smoke & mirrors when it comes to books’ statuses these days. It’s pretty common for books to retroactively become miniseries when sales suck. Therefore, it sounds like Hickman’s comment about how they were sort of up in the air about whether the books would be minis or ongoings could very well mostly be a reflection of the industry. It’s easier to save face with comments like his if things don’t work.

    @Salome: I like your analysis. Can’t stand the double-dipping and these solo titles when so many core characters collect dust and books like Hellions and Children of the Atom are announced. I’m sorry but the sidekick gimmick already feels like a death rattle of a poorly conceived idea by a writer-for-hire who appears clearly not to care about the characters.

    @Allan: Man, it all just sounds so uninteresting. Maybe if someone unexpected killed her, like Bishop is a traitor to Krakoa or some dumb thing. But the big dark secret and dramatic tension would be that she’s killed by the biggest villain of the book? I do appreciate your answering my open question.

    @YLu: I think the problem is that they’re just flooding the market with books. Absolutely flooding it as it is. Even 10 monthly books is too much for the line even in the best of market conditions. It’s even harder to justify when, as mentioned above, the characters’ individualities are drowned out by the homogenousness of this oppressive status quo.

  23. Luis Dantas says:

    Some books of the current relaunch seem considerably more certain of themselves than others.

    Excalibur and X-Force and, for better or worse, Fallen Angels seem to have well defined identities.

    X-Men proper, despite apparently being the nominal “main” title, is among the most directionless, with stories that remind me of something from the 1990s “Unlimited” titles that printed pretty much anything that was not very central for the current storylines. At this point I do not even expect any given issue of this book to continue the plot from the previous issue.

    From what I understand, New Mutants is almost as random, with at least two seemingly unconnected storylines receiving a full couple of issues before giving way for the other plot.

    Between that vagueness of mission and the accelerated schedule, I feel that we as close to recreating the anthologies model as the market will allow. The plan seems to be to put out the highest workable number of diverse plots and situations that the Hickman setup allows in order to gauge reader reaction, even while doing the utmost to avoid the perception that they do not have well established paths ahead for most titles and characters.

    That just might work, given how high general interest turned out to be on the tails of HoX/PoX. But it is an inherently unstable scheme, and I expect it to be almost entirely gone within a year from the launch of mid 2019’s “X-Men #1”; odds are that around June we will have a clear commitment to a few “ongoing” books and better indication of what “should” be perceived as miniseries. Readers won’t commit to books that can’t be expected to keep true to their own plots, and overall sales aren’t high enough for that to be accepted.

    I hope that the new X-Men/Fantastic Four miniseries will make direct references to the 1987 series. The interactions between Kitty and Franklin were a great part of that plot.

  24. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    There will be twelve titles coming out in April, two of which are currently announced as miniseries (Giant-Size and X-Men/FF).

    I think the last time the x-line swelled to such a size was around 2005? There was a point when Gambit, Nightcrawler and Jubilee all had solo titles at the same time. Or at least roughly the same time.

    Oh, and twelve titles doesn’t mean twelve issues, as some of the series will still be on the twice a month schedule.

    Jordan White recently commented that their aim is to have an x-book for everybody, so he at least declares a belief that there is an audience who’ll pick up only some of the titles.

    Regarding the current x-line – whatever the actual quality of the books, I think wave one was pretty well executed in terms of varying the books. Each title found something to do the other books weren’t doing and the characters were decently spread around – sure, some who were featured in other books popped up in X-Men, but with the way each issue of that title was a standalone story with a rotating cast it didn’t grate much. And Cyclops is not in the other books.

    Also, even the fact that there was only one book with X-Men in the title was a huge improvement in terms of clarity – not so long ago we had All-New X-Men, Amazing X-Men, Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine and the X-Men coming out all at once (with Astonishing X-Men and adjectiveless X-Men somewhere in there as well).

    So that’s something I liked about wave one. Which is why it’s disappointing that wave two is about to give us Giant-Size X-Men – a title that re-uses the ‘X-Men’ name, has the same concept as the current X-Men book and will re-use characters already appearing elsewhere (well, the Nightcrawler and Magneto issues will be something of an exception).

    That being said – apart from Giant-Size and Wolverine (and I guess X-Men/FF, which seems to also use characters that already star in other books) – it looks like the books will remain pretty varied with little overlap in terms of characters they use.

  25. CJ says:

    I’m definitely having decision fatigue again about the X-Men.

    The first time this happened to me was in the 1990s, in the post-Claremont pre-Morrison period, where I just took for granted that I was going to miss out on books I couldn’t afford. The deeply intertwined books over a decade without a strong direction was exhausting.

    The second time was as Krzysiek mentioned, in the mid-2000s: couldn’t afford most, and wouldn’t anyway even if I could due to lack of direction.

    Now, with a stronger, maybe too strong, status quo, I would have expected the books to be very focused. But they aren’t: I really enjoyed X-Men #5 but hated #2 and #3 because the stories are disconnected from issue to issue. As much as I liked #5, I know I won’t see the actual consequence of that story for a long time.

    As much as we are encouraged to see this era as a bold new one for mutants, it still feels like an alternate universe to me. I keep on comparing it to Age of Apocalypse, another very focused status quo that had a sharp break with the past because of a drastic change to some characters. AoA was also bloated with a few books going nowhere at all, but it was a story told decently well in 4 issues. The Krakoa era will probably live and die with Moira’s retcon too.

    If we had learned that Krakoa era would be a 2- or 4-year miniseries–and really, what Marvel status quo lasts longer than that these days?–I would be more I would be more at ease, because I would at least have some assurance that this is heading somewhere, or that there is a destination like that ones shown in HoXPoX.

    I still maintain that the Krakoa era would feel more real, and realistic, if there were mutants who, while interested / concerned / affected by Krakoa’s existence, still prefer to live away from it. That would make this era feel like Earth-616, not an alternate universe centered on Krakoa. The “earthbound” arc in New Mutants addressed this a little.

  26. Dazzler says:

    It absolutely, positively feels like an alternate universe. That’s the crux of the problem. It doesn’t feel even the slightest little thing like the real X-Men. Flickers and flashes in Marauders and Excalibur, but that’s about it.

    Also, there most certainly won’t be an X book for every reader unless you have one about a team that’s not participating in this stupidity, just being X-Men, with no data pages. Clearly they’re not doing the job they think they’re doing.

  27. JCG says:

    In case it was not mentioned, Fallen Angels goes on “hiatus” because the writer had more pressing obligations elsewhere, or maybe a better offer, just check the old Bleeding Cool articles.

    That was the official line at least, and looking at its current sales, no need to doubt it.

  28. SanityOrMadness says:

    Thing is, its’ main cast was cannibalised hellavafast for it not to be at least something known well in advance – Kwannonlocke was taken for Hellions, Kid Cable gets his own series, and X-23’s going into the Vault for a thousand (subjective) years in X-Men.

  29. Thom H. says:

    I get the impression that Hickman and Marvel are trying something new here, and don’t really care if any of the series last for longer than 6 issues.

    Clearly, they’ll keep producing them if they make money, but the books are primarily filler until Hickman ties them all back together in his planned crossover.

    That’s what it sounds like from interviews, at least. And while most of the books are exploring facets of the new status quo, none of them are advancing it in any significant way. Sure, characters are dying, but that’s even less significant now than it was before.

    We’re all just treading water until Hickman gets to take the reins again.

  30. Adrian says:

    @Thom

    They are not trying anything new here. This is Marvel’s standard schtick. X-Men big event, spinoff books, another event to juice sales and then some more spinoff books.

    The only twist is that Marvel seem to have decided that since books immediately halve their first issue sales in the next month, perhaps if they shorten the relaunch cycle, they can juice sales through smaller events more frequently (or in Hickman’s case, a story chopped up and spread out).

    Hickman’s story is being stretched out for that purpose alone. The problem is that Hickman’s story (as other people have pointed out) is too narrow a setup for other books to use as a solid jumping off point and spread their wings. Everything has to be tied in to the point of claustrophobia. It actually would work far better contained in an isolated book a la Whedon’s Astonishing. And as you point out, the line just seems to be treading water.

    The story was not properly designed to fit Marvel’s sales strategy.This doesn’t mean it could not have been. They just messed it up I think. For one thing: where are the X-Men opposed to this bizarre Krakoa setup?

  31. Luis Dantas says:

    @Krzysiek Ceran – what do you view as being the mission statement of the current X-Men book? My best guess so far is “Cyclops and his friends”.

    I don’t feel that the current crop is all that varied, personally, although it is far better than many recent efforts. Faller Angels and X-Force, however, are surprisingly close in concepts, and did not have to be.

  32. Luis Dantas says:

    @CJ, @Adrian: I quite agree. Interesting as the Krakoa setup is, it is just not very interesting nor believable that so many of the existing mutants would sign up for that.

    That we see so little disagreement is no doubt a deliberate narrative choice, probably meant to give time for the readers’ reaction to be gauged and editorial to plan ahead in response.

    Unfortunately, that means a long time of plot-heavy, characterization-deficient stories. Marauders seems to be considerably better than the other current books, even New Mutants, when it comes to characterization. But it is still a very decompressed book with only minimal characterization and not nearly enough dwelling on what exists of it.

    How many months are we expected to wait until something beyond vague rumors is made of the current relationships among Wolverine, Scott and Jean? Or until we see Moira again? After all the emphasis on her in HoX/PoX, I expected a bit more of follow-up. Is that unreasonable?

  33. Thom H. says:

    “The only twist is that Marvel seem to have decided that since books immediately halve their first issue sales in the next month, perhaps if they shorten the relaunch cycle, they can juice sales through smaller events more frequently (or in Hickman’s case, a story chopped up and spread out).”

    Yes, that’s the new part I’m talking about. They don’t seem to be all that interested in convincing us that this relaunch is something special that’s going to last.

    Sure, there’s a book called X-Men on the stands, but it’s not the flagship of the line. Previously, books like Uncanny were touted as a big deal. This time, X-Men is just one book of many.

    And the events are all going to be chapters of one overarching story. All written by Hickman (presumably) and able to be read almost independently of the spin-off titles. It’s a familiar formula (event, spin-offs, event) tweaked just enough to form a new storytelling structure.

    Regardless of what you think of the quality of the stories, it definitely looks like Marvel is organizing their storytelling in a different way.

  34. Thom H. says:

    Sorry, on rereading my own post I realize it seems unclear. Briefly:

    The relaunch as a whole (Hickman’s story) is being touted as a big deal, but individual relaunched books (X-Men, New Mutants, X-Force) are being treated as largely incidental placeholders until the next “actual” chapter in the story is told again by Hickman and his collaborators.

    That’s what seems different to me.

  35. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    @Luis
    X-Men is, for better or worse, the title that develops the main plot threads from HoXPoX. Or at least plots tangentially related to HoXPoX plot threads. There is no mission statement, since we’re jumping around, visiting different characters and different plot threads in each issue.

    It’s sort of like… well, since every X-Men discussion goes back to Claremont at one point or another, let’s go there now – the way I see it, X-Men is the book equivalent of long-term claremontian sub-plots that he would visit every now and then to remind the readers they’re still happening. Only Claremont had that as an addition to whatever the a-plot and b-plot were at the time. In this case, X-Men is where we get the background long-term plots simmering, while the a- and b- plots are relegated to the other five books so Hickman doesn’t have to bother.

    (In which case I’d classify X-Force, Marauders and potentially the space part of New Mutants as a-plots and the rest as b-plots).

    This is, of course, based on a potentially misguided belief that there is an overarching plot that Hickman is orchestrating in which all the books have a part to play.

  36. Adrian says:

    @Krzysiek. I think it is misguided. Not that there isn’t one but that the books and their stories are in service to an overarching plot. I think Hickman’s core story is not designed for anything other than itself. I suspect smaller elements were taken and split off to artificially create books. The new mutants arc was basically let’s get the shiar in for the crossover. It was all hacked up and rejigged for sales targets. Nothing wrong with that but it was done badly. None of this feels organic. You can see the editorial strings as they allocate teams and characters using some bizarre football manager. And then figure out how to create stories from smaller pieces of Hickman’s plot.
    A lot of the books seem to just be there to introduce things that will appear in Hickman’s story (and knowing him, likely to fade into the background). His Avengers arc had a gazillion characters and most were largely window dressing. Even worse, the concept is so narrow that books editorially mandated (a magic book) have to do a completely different characterization vs the main book in order to work. There are two Cables, two Apocalypse and so on. And then there is the awkward shoehorning in of Krakoa.

  37. Adrian says:

    @Thom. I see where you are coming from and I agree. It all feels to me like some badly decompressed crossover. These are all the meaningless Secret Wars/Infinity side titles. They are just being published before some of the major crossover events and not concurrently.

    @Luis. The main X-Men title feels like a bunch of random one shots. The real problem with these books is as you point out, characterization. At the heart of the issue is Hickman. His strength is not characterization. He cares little for it. So the main story all of this is built on is a cold foundation. Pieces need to be moved here and there. Central themes set up with only a few central characters who are more like mouthpieces for specific viewpoints. With such a starting point, it is no surprise that the line has very little of it. The core story is not character driven but concept driven. The characters are just pieces on the board. And since all these books exist to service his plot, they can do very little on their own without trodding on the big reveals that Hickman has planned. The books have no room to create independent arcs and stories of their own. Hickman’s plot is stifling.
    This is not all Hickman though. Some of these writers just aren’t that great to me. Excalibur’s d grade generic magic depiction is all on Tini Howard. Gerry Duggan does a good Kitty but I find his writing juvenile and the humour banal. Fallen angels is a mess all around. The second writer in new mutants could have probably done a much better book if he wasn’t stuck playing second fiddle to Hickman and his cringey humour and Shiar royal retread storyline. X-Men is also a mess of bad writing. I think X-Force is the strongest book but even that has bad characterization. That Jean monologue about being a better hero was godawful.

  38. Thom H. says:

    @Adrian: That’s a good way to put it. Luckily for me, I’m only really interested in Hickman’s arc, so I can largely ignore the side titles/spin-offs until Marvel decides to publish his next big story chunk/crossover.

    The rest I glean from reviews and recaps like Paul’s (for which I’m very grateful). But it doesn’t sound like I’m missing any big story beats, so I’d rather save my money.

  39. Dazzler says:

    A lot of people are giving way too much credit to Marvel and Hickman here in terms of what’s intentional. All of the solicits explicitly state that Krakoa is meant to be a mutant paradise, we’ve gotten explicit comments about how it’s utopian and how wonderful resurrection is, and the constant jungle parties certainly support the idea that we’re meant to take this as some kind of heaven at face value. The drama is clearly meant to come from the secrets and hidden agendas and the shady things characters have to do to protect this paradise.

    All of the questions we’ve been asking here about mind control or why is everybody so on board, none of this is reflected in any of the stories or the solicitation copy. The benefit of the doubt extended to the creators is crazy, especially when they’re so clearly flying by the seat of their pants in terms of the publication slate.

    The idea that every failing of the storytelling, of which there are already many, is carefully crafted by very stable genius Jonathan Hickman is absurd. His track record doesn’t support the idea that he’s really interested in who most of these characters are, what motivates then, what they’d do in given situations, or likely any true characterization at all. Everything is in service to the Big Idea.

  40. YLu says:

    It’s true that most of the titles don’t have much affect on the big picture Krakoa status quo. I don’t see how that makes them filler though, any more than HAWKEYE or IRON MAN is filler because they don’t affect the larger AVENGERS status quo.

  41. Thom H. says:

    @YLu: I can only speak for myself, but when I say “filler,” I mean that HoXPoX set up a bunch of high-stakes conflicts and slow-burning mysteries that the regular series are now almost universally ignoring.

    As others have said, it’s only single issues like X-Men #4 that even feel like a continuation of the miniseries.

    Certainly, regular series don’t always have to contribute to the larger narrative. But this X-Men relaunch proposed a radically new status quo for the franchise and then quickly put the most interesting parts of it (in my opinion) on hold. It was kind of anticlimactic.

  42. JCG says:

    I am fine with the current comics just using the Krakoa setup and ignoring the other parts from xOX for now.

    Largely because I felt they were too sci-fi to make a good fit for the Marvel Universe that will be stuck in present time and never move forward. Who cares what will happen hundreds or thousand years from now? Can only ever make for a contrived plot due to these limitations.

  43. K says:

    The latest Black Cat has Kade Kilgore seemingly just out to buy up Madripoor and troll Wolverine while declaring that he is definitely not interested in going to war with Krakoa.

    Editorial oversight aside, why do writers like this kid so much that he’s already in two unrelated books again at the same time?

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