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Feb 4

X-Force #6 annotations

Posted on Tuesday, February 4, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

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

COVER / PAGE 1. The Beast beats up some G-men while reading a book.

PAGES 2-3. Recap and credits. The story is “Intelligence”, by Benjamin Percy, Stephen Segovia and Guru-eFX.

PAGES 4-6. X-Force are on a mission in Terra Verde, guided by Beast and Sage back on Krakoa.

Parts of this issue are narrated by Beast in a monologue about his role in X-Force – basically, he’s very proud of his achievements as a co-ordinator of intelligence and coverer-up of inconvenient news.

Terra Verde. One of the Marvel Universe’s many South American micronations, this one coming from a Fantastic Four arc in the early 70s. Its experiments in “telefloronics” were previously mentioned by Forge in issue #4.

PAGE 7. Data page: “Xavier’s Confession.” As with some previous data pages in this series, this is basically a text piece, rather than something bearing to be a document or database extract. It’s written from Xavier’s perspective (though in the third person) and claims that Xavier was hoping to get assassinated because he believed that it would be a unifying event for mutantkind.

This doesn’t necessarily imply that Xavier was actually complicit in his own assassination in issue #1, merely that he was consciously leaving room for it to happen – we were told that his levels of security were almost absurdly low before the assassination, and increased afterwards. It’s not at all clear whether any of the X-Men were in on the plan, and confident that Xavier could indeed be restored from back-up – though it might explain why Cyclops, Cable and Prestige seemed so relaxed in X-Men #2.

PAGES 8-10. Flashback. Professor X attends a treaty signing in Terra Verde, and comes under attack from plant creatures; Black Tom defends Xavier.

Largely speaks for itself. Though why Black Tom? His role is tied to the defence of Krakoa itself, and in X-Men #4 we were told that Gorgon normally serves as the bodyguard for Xavier. The answer may simply be that Black Tom is a regular character in this book, and Gorgon isn’t…

PAGE 11. Black Tom reports to Sage and Beast. Sage concludes that the attackers actually wanted President Cocom’s son.

Black Tom is inordinately pleased with himself for having actually succeeded in his assigned task. To be fair, given his track record as an X-Men villain, it must be a novel experience for him.

PAGES 12-14. Beast and Marvel Girl confront President Cocom.

The upshot is that the bad guys are scientists who were working on “telefloronics” (plant-based technology), and who’ve gone mad and possibly been taken over by “a hostile botanical intelligence”. We’re getting a few plant-based villains, such as Hordeculture over in X-Men, no doubt linked to the X-Men’s new reliance on Krakoa and organic technology.

PAGE 15. A data page on Terra Verde. The gist is that the tiny country has poured its resources into the “telefloronics” technology, but never quite got it to work, and now finds itself outflanked by Krakoa.

PAGES 16-20. X-Force track down Cocom’s son Hadwin, who turns out to be in on the telefloronics scheme.

Beast narrates this scene, comparing the telefloronic weaponry to the cyborg technology used in Omega Sentinels (humans who were turned into Sentinels against their will). Beast also spends a lot of time congratulating himself for being five moves ahead of the competition; this turns out to be ironic.

PAGES 21-24. Beast deliberately lobotomises Hadwin to stop him developing telefloronics as a threat. But it seems to go wrong, and Hadwin turns into an outright telefloronic supervillain.

Beast’s basic concern seems to be that telefloronics might actually work, and if it did then (a) it could weaponise the Earth itself against mutants, but also (b) it would destroy Krakoa’s economic leverage over the rest of the world. He keeps what he’s doing secret even from the rest of X-Force, and his narration is a surprisingly robust piece of self-justification.

Beast has shown a degree of hubris before, but he was meant to have learned a bit of humility after his bizarre idea to bring the Silver Age X-Men to the present day. He’s much more “ends justify the means” here than we’re used to seeing; whether that’s creative interpretation or a deliberate change is difficult to judge.

PAGES 25-26. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: DOMINO.

Bring on the comments

  1. Joseph S. says:

    My initial reaction to the inclusion of Hank and Jean on this team was skepticism, but the more I see it play out the more sense Beast makes. Certainly his humour always masked some insecurity about his appearance, while playing up the contrast. But ever since the Dark Beast was introduced, Beast’s character development has proceeded in that shadow.

    We’ve been getting a Beast Breaking Bad arc. Bitter Beast’s hubris at bringing the O5 to the present, Young Hank’s flirtation with magic, etc. That’s the thing about hubris, right, when you are convinced of righteousness of your ends, you can justify any means. This fits into the broader themes with Moira (And Xavier, Magneto, and Apocalypse), but also seems a logical place to follow through on Hank’s transformation. Yes, it smudges the resolution of the O5 a bit, but not nearly as bad as Bendis’ #600 and what came immediately after it. I think in the big picture, it works.

  2. Salomé says:

    I enjoyed the issue quite a lot. Two quick notes:

    1) The info bit about the entire nation’s resources being invested in telefloronics yet it remaining a state secret did not make much sense to me. I was confused about whether it was a nationalised public asset or the product of classified technological research.

    2) The Beast’s self-aggrandising diatribe and his implacable confidence in himself, ultimately superseding the collective decisions of the unit he’s part of, made me think of Dark Beast. Glorified ambitions substituting for collective concerns or empathy with others struck an odd note. Given how Hickman’s set-up is so preoccupied with mutant history and mutant mythology (say: the inevitability of the “Nimrod” moment, etc.), I wondered whether this might have been an intentional nod.*

    (*Apropos of the time-displaced 05: didn’t the clumsy climax of Bendis’s run end by hinting that the judgement of Beast was actually yet to come?)

  3. Ben says:

    I think this book is alright, so I picked up one of Percy’s novels this week.

    Some interesting ideas, but it was a real mess.

    And he sure does love rape, mutilation, and death.

    I also read his new issue of Weapon Plus, and ho boy was it bad.

    Kind of reconsidering the idea that this comic is good or that it’s going to go anywhere interesting.

  4. Taibak says:

    Speaking of the Dark Beast:

    Shouldn’t he be on Krakoa somewhere?

  5. Col_Fury says:

    Would they consider Dark Beast a duplicate Beast? He’s from a different reality, so maybe not?

    I can’t see if a character from a different reality dies they’d be excluded from being brought back. What if Rachel dies? Or Bishop? But they don’t have counterparts in this universe, whereas Dark Beast does…

  6. Mike says:

    Didn’t Dark Beast go back to the AOA reality?

  7. Taibak says:

    If I remember right, one of the mysteries Claremont set up in the original Excalibur was that Rachel was unique. In all the realities the team went to, they met multiple versions of Brian, Meggan, Kurt, Kitty – even a few Lockheeds. But he made it abundantly clear that there’s only one Rachel in the entire multiverse.

    Granted, given Marvel’s approach to continuity I doubt anyone will ever bring this up, but there shouldn’t be a duplicate Rachel anywhere.

  8. Col_Fury says:

    re: Mike
    He did, but then he came back and appeared in Rosenberg’s Uncanny run, where he died (again).

    re: Taibak
    I remember at the time rationalizing that in my head was because Rachel was from the future (not born yet) and wouldn’t be around in any “current” alternate earth (because she wouldn’t be born yet).

    But what if there’s a reality where Scott and Jean retired early? Well, she’d just be a kid, and not enough to “matter.”

  9. Col_Fury says:

    old enough to “matter.” Darn no edit button.

  10. SanityOrMadness says:

    No, Claremont’s intent was definitely that Rachel is unique in the multiverse. He even tried to reassert it in his ReLoad-era UXM run after alternate Rachels had been seen, claiming they weren’t “real” alternates of her, just different female kids of Scott & Jean given the same name or somesuch hairsplitting.

  11. Paul says:

    Claremont certainly tried to establish that Rachel was unique in the multiverse, but even at the time, that didn’t really work, because she’d been seen in various issues of What If…? Fundamentally it’s a concept that doesn’t work in the branching model of time travel that Marvel followed at the time. What happens when a timeline diverges – does Rachel suddenly vanish from one of them?

  12. YLu says:

    Currently, Marvel is (or was last I checked) trying to do the same “unique in the multiverse” thing with America Chavez. They even made a point of it in Secret Wars. They’ve been able to be consistent about it so far, since it’s been a long time since there was a What If series, but we’ll see how long they keep it up…

  13. Arrowhead says:

    I remember a throwaway line in Morrison’s run when Beast said he was feeling “manic-depressive mood swings.” Hank suffering from Bipolar Disorder actually strikes me as a plausible explanation for his alternating “bouncing Beast” and “brooding scientist” characterization – assuming the writer had a legitimate understanding of the disorder, its symptoms and treatment.

  14. JD says:

    Marvel is also doing the “unique in the multiverse” thing with Rikki Barnes (the Heroes Reborn Bucky) in the pages of Future Foundation, although with the slightly more palatable angle of “serial reincarnation” (anytime she dies, she reincarnates into a different dimension).

  15. neutrino says:

    Is Hank McCoy redeemable after this?
    In the Claremont years, I thought he was summed up by these thoughts in Uncanny X-Men #137, The Fate of the Phoenix:
    “The law separates humanity from its animal ancestors and the law protects everyone. It has to or it and civilization aren’t worth anything. If Jean were the devil, she’d still have to get a fair trial. If Lilandra wants Jean’s life, she should prove her claim in court and give Jean a chance to defend herself. Lilandra’s exercise in raw power is as reprehensible in its own right as Dark Phoenix’s deeds.”

    How did this moral devolution take place?

  16. CJ says:

    Reboot him from a previous mind, I guess. Maybe he’s on Kick.

    As others have pointed out, this would have been a good role for Dark Beast (overconfident, seems cultured but is pretentious). But I don’t think anyone really thinks Earth-616 needs two Beasts anymore, so maybe they have been collapsed into one.

    Sort of like Kate’s violence over in Marauders, I’ve also been a bit surprised about Hank’s coldbloodedness in this series. Hank’s interrogation of the mook an issue or two ago seemed unlike him.

  17. neutrino says:

    Maybe this is the Dark Beast. Xavier brought him back to use his amoral genius.

  18. Luis Dantas says:

    That makes some sense. For all I know, whatever reasons they have to refuse to have spare reborn mutants running around may well apply to interdimensional counterparts as well.

    Perhaps this Beast has the Dark Beast’s mind, as opposed to 616’s? Perhaps the Krakoans do not even have the means to choose between the two Hank McCoys? Perhaps this is in fact a melange of the two and Krakoa and the Five are in fact powerless to split them apart?

    I was commenting a few weeks on how ruthless Storm is being in the Marauders book… maybe this is either a reborn Bloodstorm or a fusion of her with 616-Storm?

    Come to think of it, if NuCable ever goes through the ressurrection process, do we have any reason to expect him to return as himself? Why not the previous Cable instead, or, again, a combination of the two? Is he even allowed to go through it, since Nate Grey is supposedly alive wherever he was at the closing of Age of X-Man?

  19. CJ says:

    The absence of Nate Grey from this era is curious. The guy can overwhelm Xavier on the psychic plane and made easy work on Magneto and Apocalypse. He can travel between universes easily the mutant vs. human problems in the future.

    You’d think if there’s a mutant database with every mutant Xavier knows about (and the X-Men do know about him), replicating an army of him would be high on the list.

    (Obviously he’s a game-breaker, and not sure if people are clamoring for more of him, so those probably explain his absence.)

  20. CJ says:

    *travel between universes and easily solve…

  21. Michael says:

    Clearly, after Age of X-Man, Nate is in time-out until they really need him. Maybe Legion is also. I could just imagine them keeping a strategic reserve of mutants who are just too powerful or annoying or dangerous to have on the loose, who they keep in reserve for dire situations.

    It’s just like why no one is clamoring for the return of Huumus Sapien from the Thunderbolts–a guy whose powers literally murder random people whenever used can’t be high on the list for rescuing/recruiting if he’s not doing any harm wherever he is now.

    Kind of like Siena Blaze, whose powers could conceivably destroy the world… do you bring her back -now- or wait a while?

  22. Taibak says:

    Wait… Nate says he’s a mutant, but is that actually the case? And if he’s not, why would the X-Men bring him back?

    And, for that matter, how do we know that characters like Nate, Siena Blaze, et. al. aren’t already imprisoned with Sabertooth?

  23. Si says:

    Isn’t Nate still living in the Age of X-Man universe? I can’t remember where Legion ended up, but I’m pretty sure neither of them died.

    Adding to Rachel Summers and America Chavez, Longshot (as well as Mojo and all them) is also unique in the multiverse. It seems being unique is not unique.

  24. michael says:

    The weird thing about trying to make someone unique in the multiverse is when you establish, as noted above, alternate timelines branching off of the one in which a character is unique. So even if you say that there’s only one America Chavez or Rachel Summers to be found, that’s clearly not the case when all it takes a simple What If…? divergence to create a second, third, or fifth version of that character.

    Proposed: some characters are unique UNTIL a point of divergence occurs in which they are then split off. They’re unique to that branching “tree” of the Multiverse, which is to say all timelines which could be considered to branch off of 616.

    1610, the Ultimate Universe, was never a branch of the 616. Nor was the New Universe, the Squadron Supreme universe, and other specific imprints, all of which can be considered to be their own specific branches of the greater multiverse.

    Furthermore, you see timelines that have, for instance, members of the Captain Britain Corpse, or iterations of the Spider-totems. These are clearly connected to the larger multiverse, and you’ll have a dinosaur Captain Britain or a pulp Spider-Man, but you’ll never see a Rachel Summers or an America Chavez in these, because they’re not part of the branch in which these characters originated/are active.

    In other words, when someone claims to be unique to all of creation, they’re still subject to the laws of timeline divergence. But the multiverse will undoubtedly attempt to keep them separate just in case, possibly repelling or merging these duplicates just to be on the safe side.

    Meanwhile, there’s a person named Bob Smith in literally every timeline ever. It’s just that he’s so insignificant, no one notices or cares.

  25. Moo says:

    I’m not even sure what the point is in trying to assert that some character is unique to the multiverse. Even if they are, so what? What does that mean in practice?

    Maybe if there were something about Rachel’s timeline that’s unique specifically because of her and her uniqueness that made it unique, but her timeline isn’t even all that unique. She comes from a dystopian future where mullets are fashionable. So does Bishop.

  26. Michael says:

    Oh, and my thoughts regarding extradimensional, cross-time, and other such duplicates:

    As long as a character is sufficiently different from their base self, they’re eligible for Krakoan Protocols. Dark Beast, being from a significantly different timeline and being so far removed from the 616 Hank, would easily count as a separate and new entity for Krakoan purposes. Ditto Old Man Logan if he was still around. The O5 X-Men, on the other hand, might be a confusing case, seeing as how they were supposedly the past selves of the 616 X-Men; they might not have enough divergence to register as different from their other selves… but then again, near the end of their run they’d had enough experiences and changes that they might have been considered entirely different people.

    If Young Cable dies, I’m sure he’d be brought back as Young Cable. But they have to have Old Cable on tap, right? So why not bring him back as well? Because time travel. You need Young Cable to become Old Cable. (And clearly, there has to be an Old Cable in existence somehow, in order to do all the shit Old Cable did before dying.) But not vice versa. And you clearly can’t have two Cables running around, because of duplication. Honestly, the answer here is that Cable’s timeline diverged as soon as Young killed Old, they’re now two separate entities, and the only reason to not resurrect Old is to avoid duplication or because he’d be inconvenient.

    Bishop? There’s only ever been one of him, for all his wacky time travel shenanigans. There’s no real issues with resurrecting him, as long as they use the right backup.

    Madrox? Oh ho ho, there’s a sticky wicket. Which Madrox do you bring back if he dies? Presumably only the Prime, whoever that happens to be. Dupes, even though they count as their own separate individuals as we’ve seen time and again, don’t get brought back. Only whichever Madrox you want to designate as the Prime… which means that even if we want the -real- Madrox, the one who retired at the end of PAD’s run, we have to make sure another didn’t get designated Prime. (Though after Rosenberg’s run, it’s probably open for discussion.)

    The other question is, do the Krakoans feel any obligation to do anything for other timelines/dimensions? Do they care about worldhoppers or timejumpers like Bloodstorm, Jimmy Hudson, Kymara, or Fitzroy? How far does their mandate extend? Knowing what they do about the Age of Apocalypse, for instance… (And when do we start seeing alternate timelines which have also followed the Krakoan model? At what point will they diverge enough to become unique?)

    Mark my words, this won’t end well.

  27. Salomé says:

    I’m surprised others bring up the resurrection process as something that plays into the (re)construction of the characters we’re presented with. I didn’t make the connection in terms of the options available for the process’s implementation (616, AOA, etc.) but rather in terms of a more long-term narrative about the Hank McCoy we’ve known for a long, long time as ultimately being someone quite different to what he may convinced himself he is.

    Of course, this kind of understanding of character-construction in terms of ongoing development (i.e., across time, in distinct contexts, according to different circumstances…) doesn’t quite cohere with the resurrection paradigm as presented so far. Because as far as we know, genetic make-up is in and of itself a thing of value (to be a mutant; to make mutants live) rather than personality, ethics, politics, etc (i.e., Sinister and his scientific kink for the Summers).

    I really wish these sorts of confusions or generalisations (of who a character is, of what being a mutant means, of the possibility of mutant community) felt more deliberate than they do. Instead, it’s a bit more like an awkwardly perfect model of socialist eugenics which seems overtly composed the better to fall apart in some oncoming catastrophe (aka Summer Crossover Event).

    This being said, this is still the most excited I’ve been about the X-Men in ages. Even when I can’t point to any given title in the line as indispensable, or at some kind of creative peak… Possible exception? The visuals have been very impressive across the board.

  28. Dimitri says:

    All this talk of alternate universes made me realize something: Since the Age of Apocalypse branches off from the 616 tree (to use Michael’s rather helpful terminology) and the point of divergence in Legion Quest happens after Moira’s birth, AoA Moira ought to have the same time-rebooting powers as 616 Moira. That means time should have rebooted after her death in X-Universe, making everything that happens after completely moot. Also, since time would reboot before the point of divergence, does she become 616 Moira again, and would she remember the AoA timeline as one of her past lives?

    While we’re at it, let’s talk about Kid Cable. He’s relatively new to the 616, while Classic Cable had been around for some time and would therefore have had more opportunity to have his mind backed up. On top of that, he would have both the memories of his younger self and all the experiences he accumulated as Old Cable, right? Sooo… if Kid Cable died, would Old Cable’s mind be uploaded to the new clone, or is that just wishful thinking on my part?

    And for the record, I am fully aware that the correct answer to both questions is “Shut up, neeeeerd!”

  29. Dimitri says:

    I just realized that in my effort to edit down my previous comment, I made it look like I was ignoring Michael’s own take on Kid Cable/Old Cable.

    I had a whole ramble about how it might be more ethical to backup any resurrected Cable with Old Cable’s memories since they would include the experiences of both Kid Cable and Old Cable, allowing both to live on in a way.

    It didn’t address either the idea of preserving the timeline or that they’re separate entities (both sensible explanations) because I just wanted an excuse to propose the notion of Old Cable in Kid Cable’s body.

  30. Voord 99 says:

    And for the record, I am fully aware that the correct answer to both questions is “Shut up, neeeeerd!”

    Not at all. I for one am impressed by this high-quality continuity worrying.

    We must solve the AoA Moira problem! I propose drawing on Age of X – Legion definitely can have a reality-rewriting aspect to his powers. So AoA is only *mostly* an alternative timeline. It’s also got certain hidden aspects of rewriting reality to it: AoA Moira ability to reboot time edoes not exist, is suppressed, counteracted (whatever).

    This is Legion’s gift to his father. By undoing Moira’s power, he allows Charles Xavier is the most important person in the entire universe, which is, after all, just the way Charles Xavier would want things to be. In fact it wasn’t an accident that he killed Dad at all — what could possibly be better for Xavier than to be this indispensable?

  31. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Regarding the multiversally unique characters – I think that’s indefensible. We already had the weak ‘those weren’t actually alternate Rachel Greys’ line. And we would have to use the same weak line for Longshot, Mojo and so on – there absolutely was an Ultimate Longshot and Ultimate Mojo story.

    And America Chavez is only unique as far as we ignore the Marvel Rising/Secret Warriors comics – which are animation tie-ins, sure, but, well, they do exist. In comic book form.

    Regarding Nate Grey – he’s still busy being the Age of X-Man universe. (Not ‘in that universe’, but being that universe; though he can also exist within it). Although he was also dying in that story.

    As for Beast – I don’t see X-Force Beast as anything other than our regular Beast. He has been portrayed as more and more pragmatic for years now. He deployed an atomic bomb against enemy forces in Secret Avengers under Warren Ellis if I recall correctly. He used the Legacy Virus against the Skrulls during Secret Invasion (acting on Scott’s direct orders). He was part of the worlds-destroying Illuminati under Hickman. Running black ops operations and undermining other countries for Krakoa’s sake is pretty decent in comparison.

  32. Taibak says:

    BTW, whatever happened to John Maddox, the Multiple Man duplicate happily living as an Episcopalian priest up in Vermont?

    If there’s any mutant out there who wouldn’t go along with Krakoa, it’s him.

  33. Luis Dantas says:

    @Taibak: I have read around some indication that the married Maddrox, or at least some duplicate of his, may still be around but “off-camera”, so to speak. That is another mutant who is unlikely to want to become a Krakoan.

    This is really something that needs addressing, and soon. Perhaps during the X-Men/Fantastic Four miniseries that is coming? Franklin Richards is hardly the only mutant that we can expect to favor some other life over the one that Xavier and company are offering them.

  34. Karl_H says:

    Hm. Presumably Xavier has backups of the O5 from their time in the “present”, no? Could be a back door to bringing those versions of the characters back without screwing up the past. If anyone would want to. And being comics, someday someone will want to.

    And on a tangent, Kid Cable continues to bug the shit out of me, because if he does any more time hopping, he’s bound to run into Old Cable again at some point. And because, did Old Cable never travel to the near future after Kid Cable killed him, and learn what happened?

  35. Jerry Ray says:

    I see that there’s a new New Warriors comic coming out that features Firestar (who I assume is still a mutant), so maybe that’s another mutant who’s not tied to Krakoa (or else she’s just commuting.

    Now that I think about it, I wonder how many people are living on Krakoa, and how they live. (Are there big apartment complexes or what?) It’s getting weird to have this radical shift in the status quo without much detail about the practical realities of it.

  36. Dimitri says:

    Regarding Kid Cable eventually running into Old Cable:

    Well… you know, uploading Old Cable into the new clone when Kid Cable dies would fix that issue, as it would make it so that Old Cable knew that he would eventually get killed by Kid Cable and let it happen because it means him getting a de-aged shiny new body down the line. (It would also mean Cable experiencing his own life out of sequence, which is neat.)

    I’m obviously still lobbying for Old Cable in Kid Cable’s body.

  37. Chris V says:

    Luis-I’m guessing you haven’t read the X-Men & FF first issue yet.
    That’s certainly not the case with Franklin.

    I’m also pretty sure we did see Firestar on Krakoa at one point. In the background somewhere.

  38. Daibhid Ceannaideach says:

    @Krzysiek Ceran I dunno. Ultimate Mojo is a fat human named Mojo Adams. There’s a case to be made that he is not a counterpart of the bright yellow extradimensional being, just someone filling a similar role. (I’m less sure about Arthur Centrino/Ultimate Longshot, because that involves thinking about Mojoverse-Longshot’s origin, and then I get a headache.)

    I would probably say the same about the human Ultimate Lilandra, but nobody ever claimed Lilandra was unique in the multiverse, so it doesn’t matter so much.

    Then again, the Marvel wiki lists four parallel Mojos who are bright yellow extradimensional beings, not including the animated versions, so your point stands.

  39. YLu says:

    Just because someone’s shown up on Krakoa doesn’t mean they’re living there. With the gateways, they could easily just be dropping by.

    We’ve already seen that with Wisdom, who by all appearances owns an apartment in London and seems to have an active career working for the British government, yet also pops by to Krakoa occasionally to get drunk apparently.

    @Daibhid Ceannaideach

    Hey, unless we saw those other Mojos die or something, who’s to say they *aren’t* actually the same one our X-Men keep running into?

  40. Dimitri says:

    @Voord 99

    I’m sold on your AoA explanation. There’s something beautifully pathetic about Legion buying this much into his father’s hubris. Plus, it still works if he kills Xavier accidentally!

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