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Feb 14

X-Force #7 annotations

Posted on Friday, February 14, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

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

COVER / PAGE 1. Domino (without any of her plant grafts) about to be crushed by a toppling domino. It’s symbolic.

PAGES 2-5. Domino and Sage discuss a series of freakishly improbable killings.

This is self-explanatory – someone is killing humans who have been prominent supporters of mutants, and is doing so in ways which rely on such ludicrous coincidences that some sort of super power must be involved. For what it’s worth, we haven’t heard that much in the Hickman era about humans who are pro-mutant, as opposed to humans who are just willing to deal with Krakoa for the drugs. But evidently they’re out there.

Domino claims that her luck powers haven’t been working properly since she had part of her skin stripped off by XENO in issue #1. Since the assassin showed up at the same time, she reasonably assumes there’s a connection. Oddly, this scene claims that Domino is consistently rolling double 1s on her dice now – in other words, not only has she lost her superhuman luck, but she’s actively unlucky. We’ve not really seen any evidence of that in the series up till now, nor does it seem to be backed up by anything we see later on.

PAGES 6-7. Recap and credits. The story is “Domino Has Fallen” by Benjamin Percy and Oscar Bazaldua.

PAGE 8. Data page. Subplot time, as Beast records his discussion with Forge about using rocks to record sound, so that they can smuggle them into places disguised as rocks, tiles and so on. Ringing rocks are real things, but this is real Silver Age-style cod science – it resonates, therefore it can be made to do it in reverse and act as a recorder…? Well, it’s comics.

Beast’s list of targets are the obvious major ones in the Marvel Universe. The Roxxon corporation doesn’t come up very often in the X-Men’s stories, but it’s the Marvel Universe’s default evil mega corporation (and has been since the seventies).

Forge. Beast’s relationship with Forge is clearly a bit awkward. In Percy’s interpretation, Forge seems to be more of a jock, and Beast is baffled by how to read his behaviour. But they’re united in pursuing technological ideas without worrying about ethical implications. In Beast’s case, that’s probably because of his ends-justify-the-means mindset. In Forge’s, it’s more likely to be an enthusiasm for the technology as an end in itself.

PAGE 9-13. Domino goes for a run, and crosses paths with Colossus.

Domino’s dream. She remembers being personally dissected by the anonymous XENO leader – the masked man with the peacock tattoo.

“Sometimes it feels like everyone on the island has forgotten the past.” This is a point that we keep coming back to – overall, the people on Krakoa seem remarkably willing to embrace the radical new status quo. Even characters like Domino, who don’t quite get on board with it, appear to accept that it works for everyone else.

“Resurrection has made it possible to choose a future self that’s unburdened by the past, a scarless existence.” Domino seems to mean this literally – that a mutant with injuries or scars could always just commit suicide and start afresh with a new body. It’s not clear that Professor X would necessarily approve of this use of resurrection, rather than as a failsafe – he certainly seemed to regard it as an abuse of the system when Apocalypse intentionally got himself killed in Excalibur.

Since the resurrection system involves restoring the mutant’s memories from back-up, Domino may also be floating the possibility that someone could choose to have inconvenient or painful memories removed, at least if they come too close to the end.

Colossus. Colossus was injured in issue #1 while rescuing mutant refugees from Russia. We’ve only seen some glimpses of that mission in flashbacks. Something seemed to be up with Colossus earlier in the series, but that hasn’t been followed up yet. At any rate, he talks as if the Russian experience was extremely traumatic for him.

Domino and Colossus were (briefly) a couple in Cable & X-Force.

Colossus’s interest in painting has been established for decades. Somehow, he seems to be painting without artificial light at two in the morning. Must be an exceptionally clear and starry night…

PAGE 14. Data page. Another note from Beast, who reports having found a mystery part-burned piece of artisan paper in his study. A “deckle edge” is paper with a rough-cut edge, i.e. not machine-made.

The Russian word written on the paper appears to translate as “chronicler” or “scribe”.

PAGES 15-16. After another killing, Sage and Domino settle on the Sierra Institute as the next target.

The Order of X. A mutant-worshipping cult previously mentioned in Marauders #4. In Marauders, it’s been suggested that these cults are the result of widespread damage caused by Xavier’s telepathic message to the human race.

The Sierra Institute. There is indeed a Sierra Institute in the Sierra Nevada Mountains (which is where Lake Tahoe is), though it seems to be mainly interested in human resources.

PAGES 17-25. Domino stands guard at the Sierra Institute and pursues the assassin to a casino.

The speaker, Professor Elise Owsley, is a new character. So, presumably, is the assassin, who appears to be a lab-grown anti-Domino.

PAGES 26-27. The Krakoan trailer text reads NEXT: INVERTED.

Bring on the comments

  1. Dave White says:

    Roxxxon doesn’t come up much in X-Men stories… But it’s worth noting that the Brand Corporation, where Beast was working when he turned himself blue, is one of their subsidiaries.

  2. Mikey says:

    And then Beast dated Abigail Brand. Weird.

  3. Voord 99 says:

    Dave White brings up one of my pet peeve retcons-that-the-person-responsible-maybe-didn’t-realize-was-a-retcon.

    The original BRAND Corporation is a barely disguised version of the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit thinktank. The BRAND Corporation did not need retconning as being the for-profit “Brand” Corporation, and the fact that the Brand Corporation could then be made the subsidiary of another evil for-profit corporation is because the Marvel Universe already had perfectly good evil for-profit corporations for use in stories. It didn’t need to add another one.

  4. Evilgus says:

    I enjoyed this issue a lot – it was tight and focused. As a character study it gave us a lot of insight into Domino, and also how ressurection-as-tool is going to ultimately have a damaging impact, as with Colossus. They can’t just ‘forget’ the death. It’s quietly effective. Good use of Sage to move the plot forward too.

    I’m liking the coloring too – lots of fleshy and earthy tones. And the art was and layout was kinetic when it needed to be. Think I’m enjoying X-Force more than I expected to.

  5. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    So… the recap page says ‘while Colossus was killed in Russia’. Did any of the previous issues established that he was killed? I’m pretty sure it was specifically said he was heavily wounded, which is why he was put into the healing chambers or whatever they’re calling the place. It wouldn’t make sense for him to be there if he was only just resurrected.

    …unless there’s some really weird backstory we haven’t seen where he’s killed in Russia, resurrected, and then he went on a mission where he was injured and landed up in the healing chambers.

    (There definitely was a plot point where we were meant to think Colossus is compromised and killed the surviving soldier from the assault on Krakoa).

  6. Omar Karindu says:

    The original BRAND Corporation is a barely disguised version of the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit thinktank. The BRAND Corporation did not need retconning as being the for-profit “Brand” Corporation, and the fact that the Brand Corporation could then be made the subsidiary of another evil for-profit corporation is because the Marvel Universe already had perfectly good evil for-profit corporations for use in stories. It didn’t need to add another one.

    Brand was tied to Roxxon by Steve Engelhart, the writer who created Roxxon and who started writing about Brand with its very second appearance when he took over the Beast’s series in Amazing Adventures.

    Around the same time, Engelhart introduced Roxxon’s CEO Hugh Jones in the his Captain America run, and had Jones brainwashed by the Serpent Crown. When he tied together and wrapped up his Cap and Beast plots in Avengers, Jones was shown running Brand as well, and we saw an alternate world where CEOs and the President were all working together other the Serpent Crown’s influence.

    The idea seems to have been to literalize the military-industrial complex metaphor. And also to involve an evil snake-god for some reason. But the next effect is that the retcon happened within a year or two of Brand’s introduction, and was carried out by the same writer who had written Brand’s appearances virtually from the beginning.

  7. Omar Karindu says:

    Sorry, that should be “within three to four years.” It took Engelhart a little while before he brought the Beast from his cancelled Amazing Adventures run to The Avengers, a little more time before he left Captain America and had to tie up his Roxxon/Serpent Crown plot in Avengers as a consequence.

    But hey, at least we got Hellcat out of it.

  8. Chris V says:

    The RAND Corporation was started by Douglas Air Craft Corporation, which was part of the military-industrial complex.
    RAND was created as a “think tank” for the US military.
    I’d say there’s nothing in the real-world which doesn’t fit with the Brand Corporation being revealed as a subsidiary for the Roxxon Corporation.

  9. Omar Karindu says:

    In fairness, the most prominent use of Brand after Engelhart’s 1970s work was in the Roger Stern/John Romita, Jr. run of Amazing Spider-Man, where Brand was treated mostly as Roxxon’s mad science and henchman-production division, with no real sense that it was a defense think tank.

    The 1980s comic that did a lot with the military-industrial complex stuff was Claremont’s X-books, where the Hellfire Club and the later Sentinels iterations were tied up with Gyrich and Project: Wideawake. That concept is reflected in the Orchis stuff in Hickman’s current run.

    The X-books’ take was traditionally a metaphor for how the M-I complex ties into ethnonationalist police state mentalities and practices, all wrapped up as national interest and national defense.

    And to bring it all full circle, that was likely — in a much campier fashion — why Steve Engelhart had his Secret Empire run by Richard Nixon, costumed a bit like the KKK, and using super-technology powered by the brainwaves of captured mutants in some of his other Captain America stuff.

    The Hickman Era so far seems to be equal parts speculative fiction commentary on the nation-state and security states, and exploration of transhumanist themes. It’s rather more indirect as political allegory, and rather more direct as transhumanist speculative fiction. And, of course,

    I’m not sure it;’s entirely possible to square the two ideas, which has arguably always been the latent tension in the X-books as they became both more openly political; while carrying forward the “homo superior” idea of species (or subspecies) replacement. Most runs tended to lean towards the political allegory element, perhaps because Claremont’s material on the transhumanist stuff was either negative — Dark Phoenix — or more informed by fantasy fiction than speculative fiction about transhumanist themes. And, of course, it’s likely that for most readers the political allegory is the more relatable thematic.

    Now, though, the Powers of X material seems to suggest that Hickman sees the transhumanist element as subsuming the nation-state element in the long run, which suggests that he sees the political allegory less significant than the broader ontological question and speculative bent.

  10. Voord 99 says:

    @Omar Karindu: I hadn’t realized that Englehart messed up his own idea. Still messed it up, though.

    @Chris V: Oh, it’s entirely true that RAND was founded by McDonnell Douglas, has close ties to the military, and always has had. My point was that it’s a different sort of thing than a for-profit subsidiary of a for-profit corporation – something much weirder, in fact, and you gain nothing by changing something modeled on it to just another evil for-profit corporation.

    I mean, the RAND Corporation grants advanced degrees. Imagine the storytelling possibilities with getting your PhD in evil supervillain policy analysis.

  11. Matt C. says:

    @Krzysiek Ceran

    I noticed that too. The author was asked on Twitter about it and replied that Colossus did not die (without any elaboration).

    My guess is that someone else (not the author) does the recap page, fucked it up, and no one noticed until it had already gone to print.

  12. One big question about Beast vs. Forge – where the hell is Maddison Jeffries? He would be an obvious addition to their work, but I don’t think we’ve seen him since Age of X-Man.

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