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Feb 28

X-Force #8 annotations

Posted on Friday, February 28, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition. This isn’t an issue in need of much annotation, but hey, it’s a vehicle for an open thread.

This post has been edited to add the data pages, now that they’ve been included in the digital edition.

COVER / PAGE 1. Domino and Colossus, facing opposite directions, with blood and bodies everywhere.

PAGES 2-5. Domino stops the anti-Domino from killing a politician.

Apparently the minister was intending to support pro-mutant legislation. Well, they are offering very quick trade deals.

The anti-Domino seems to be removing her own ear to use as a weapon. We saw something similar in the autopsy of the Xeno soldiers who attacked Krakoa in issue #1, and the next scene confirms the link.

PAGES 6-7. Recap and credits. The story is “Game of Dominoes” by Benjamin Percy, Bazaldua and Guru-efX.

PAGES 8-9. Domino, Sage and Cecilia Reyes autopsy the anti-Domino.

She’s one of a number of cloned soldiers incorporating strands of Domino DNA (apparently giving them Domino’s powers but not making them mutants – since if they were mutants, they’d surely be easier for the X-Men to track). Killing the duplicates somehow helps to restore Domino’s own powers.

“Only one in 10,000 plants have four leaflets…” Apparently there’s a study that concluded that the frequency of four-leaf clovers was actually one in 5,000, but hey, the 10,000 figure is often cited and the difference doesn’t matter to the plot.

PAGES 10-11. Domino and Colossus talk.

You could call this flirtation, but Colossus’s dialogue is more heavily depressed and suicidal, apparently figuring that he would be somehow free of his baggage upon resurrection. He specifically suggests that they could be resurrected without those memories. Even if the X-Men were willing to do that, though – and by all appearances they aren’t – is this really simpler than just asking a telepath to erase the unwanted memories? At any rate, Domino doesn’t want to lose her painful memories, which are too important to her sense of self.

PAGE 12. A mystery person tests the gate in St Petersburg.

He’s either in league with the Russian authorities, or somehow able to stop them noticing him.

PAGE 13. Sage traces Domino by searching for clovers.

This really is ludicrous pseudoscience, as even Domino feels obliged to point out. Does it fit the tone of this book to ask us to believe that Sage can scan for four-leafed clovers from space?

PAGE 14. Data page. It’s a Quiet Council proposal for a “social venue”, the hope being that the mutants will hook up and breed, as per the “make more mutants” law. This seems a bit odd – it’s not as if we’ve seen much on Krakoa besides endless socialising and partying. Anyway, Black Tom goes ahead and makes the thing without waiting for further approval.

PAGES 15-21. Domino and Colossus board the bad guys’ train and discover blood, organ tanks, and more Domino soldiers.

Domino’s back story as a failed attempt to create a super-soldier dates back a while, but the clearest account of it is probably in flashbacks in the opening arc of the last Domino solo series.

Domino dies in action – Benjamin Percy seems particularly prone to killing off his characters now that he has the option to do so – and makes Colossus promise not to interfere with her memories when she’s revived. Evidently this is where she gets rid of those skin grafts.

We’re probably meant to take it that all the Domino soldiers were killed too (though it’s not actually shown), but perhaps resurrection into a new body will also sort out her power loss. At any rate, if the cloning just splits her power among the soldiers (which is the implication, given that it comes at her expense), you have to wonder what the point is of making so many.

PAGES 22-24. The bigger baddie seizes control of XENO.

Finnegan, the XENO leader’s henchman, doesn’t last long against this guy. He’s kept in shadow, but no doubt we’ll find out more about him next time.

Page 23 is a data page with Beast’s notes on the outgoing XENO leader, the Man with the Peacock Tattoo. The main new information is Beast’s theory that the man’s mask is made of “labradorite”, which is “said to be a stone with a magic connection to transformation and protection.”

Labradorite is indeed an iridescent stone, though Beast is massively overstating how rare it is (assuming that Marvel Universe geology matches the real world). The sort of people who believe in healing crystals do indeed think that labradorite has special properties, for whatever that may be worth to you.

PAGES 25-26. The Krakoan trailer text reads NEXT: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE.

Bring on the comments

  1. YLu says:

    Re: Sage’s clover-tracking trick

    I don’t know, I kind of like that this dark and gritty book is simultaneously willing to have fun with bonkers non-science like rock that records sound.

    Worth noting that your digital version of the comic is missing the data pages…

  2. Moo says:

    Nearly three decades after Lobdell drove one nail after another into the character, and Colossus is still defined by misery? Doesn’t anybody know how to write this guy? Angst is a poor fit for him. It always was. He’s supposed to be the guy who tries to cheer the gloomy people up.

    Ugh. Frustrating.

  3. Col_Fury says:

    So Domino is basically Captain Kirk in Star Trek V, then. My painful memories define me! 🙂

    Glad to see Domino will be losing those awful skin grafts (they were already gone in Wolverine #1). They really weren’t working for me.

    I also prefer happy Colossus. He’s no good when he’s miserable.

  4. Chris V says:

    He’s pumped full of Krakoa downer drugs, what do you expect?
    The poor guy’s greatest wish was to be forever miserable. Everyone on Krakoa gets their fondest heart’s desire.
    It’s that angst which will make him a great mutant artist someday…when the Krakoans get around to mutant culture outside of propaganda and weird cults.

  5. Moo says:

    I don’t care what the in-story justification for it is, to be honest.

    Oh, well. Guess I’ll just have to hope really hard for a Deadpool 3 film.

  6. Chris V says:

    That’s not a real explanation.

    I agree about Colossus. I liked that he was one of the few mutants who was allowed to have a happy childhood.
    Instead of everyone deciding to hate him because he was a mutant, the people of his village thought his mutant power was great because of how much it helped save labour time on the farm.
    I thought Colossus was a great character under Claremont, second only to Storm when it came to character growth.

    Then, we had story after story adding angst to Colossus’ characterization; until the final nail, under Jeff Lemire, when it was revealed that his father was an abusive alcoholic who really did hate Colossus for being a mutant.
    Of course.

  7. Allan M says:

    What baffles me about Colossus is that he’s been perma-miserable for nearly thirty years at this point, and yet the only run where his presence was received positively was in Whedon’s Astonishing, where he was happy. He even tried to make a joke! And then immediately back to sadboy Piotr (for good reason in that instance, to be fair). Most characters inevitably revert to the version that was the most popular and beloved. Colossus seems to be tied to a version that nobody actually likes.

    At least sad Colossus can evoke some pity and I buy his role in this story. The darkening of Beast since M-day drives me up the wall. If we wanted to see what an amoral version of Beast would be, Dark Beast is right there! Or was, anyway. Poor Hank. Never should’ve left the Avengers.

  8. Michael says:

    I still remember the time when Kurt and Logan took Piotr to a bar and got him into a fight with the Juggernaut so he’d stop moping over breaking up with Kitty.

    Honestly, it does seem like his entire existence is miserable. Get tortured by the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, break up with Kitty, get horribly mangled by the Marauders, spend time moping around the Outback, get shoved through the Siege Perilous and rendered amnesiac, wind up with Excalibur, come back, watch his sister die of the Legacy Virus, become an Acolyte, ultimately kill himself to spread the Legacy cure, turn out to not be dead, become the Juggernaut, become a Phoenix, get engaged to and dumped by Kitty — look, I’m hard-pressed to name a significant time when Piotr -wasn’t- angsty, moping, tormented, brooding, guilt-ridden, near-suicidal, or otherwise dour. Like, ever.

  9. MasterMahan says:

    The darkening of Beast since M-day drives me up the wall. If we wanted to see what an amoral version of Beast would be, Dark Beast is right there! Or was, anyway. Poor Hank. Never should’ve left the Avengers.

    I’d blame the amoral Beast trend on Age of Apocalypse, myself. Dark Beast isn’t from a mirror universe – he’s a Hank McCoy who just had his life play out different. Hank went from the smart friendly blue guy to someone who could have become Josef Mengele.

    Which is too bad, because Fun Goofy Avengers Beast and Soft-spoken ’90 Animated Beast were far more interesting than Asshole Beast.

  10. Alan L says:

    Colossus seemed a little uplifted when he and Domino were dating in Cable and X-force. True, he frowned a lot, but placed next to Cable, the frowniest character there is, he came out looking a little lighter.

    I think these characters are often confined by what comics reading the writers have done. Now we’re getting more and more writers whose first experience with Colossus was during the Lobdell era. As a result we have fewer chances to see the brighter, happier Colossus shine through. I’ve been grateful for Dennis Hopeless’ (now Dennis Hallum’s) writing of many of these characters, because he tended to give the characters a deeper, more penetrating read and analysis. I really liked hearing his take on Boom Boom of Jay and Miles X-plain the X-men. It would be great if, when all this HoX/PoX malarky is over they found a writer for the X-men who was willing to do this sort of thoughtful character development. For this era, this X-force comic is better at character work than most, but…not too great. Domino’s singular character beat in this issue seemed pretty shallow, all told.

  11. Chris V says:

    Yeah, but he had relationship troubles as a teenager with a teenager. That’s just to be expected.
    You go out with your buddies, you get drunk, you get in a fight, you move on with your life.
    It doesn’t mean you suddenly turn in to Doestoevsky.
    You know, he’s a character with gigantic mirth and gigantic melancholies.

    I liked that Claremont had an end-point in mind for Piotr.
    He became Nicholas Peters, moved away from the world of violence and superheroics, and was going to live his dream of becoming a painter and poet.
    It was being drawn away from all of that which was his downfall. He could never find a chance to return to the happiness of his younger days again.

    I still point to the Classic X-Men #5 back-up strip starring Colossus as being the definitive Colossus story.

  12. Moo says:

    “I think these characters are often confined by what comics reading the writers have done. Now we’re getting more and more writers whose first experience with Colossus was during the Lobdell era”

    I think you’re right.

  13. Evilgus says:

    I enjoyed the silly pseudo-science employed by Sage. It’s quite arch and some welcome levity, as well as giving her something to do outside of exposition.

    As for Colossus, his character was definitely badly hit by the 90’s angst bus (family slaughter by government! Little sister consumed by terminal disease!). In that way I thought it natural how his arc panned out. But you’d think he’d have reason to be happy again though – his sister and brother (and himself!) all resurrected and together again. He needs a new beat.

    I think Colossus is a difficult character to get right, especially in series predicated on big action and bombast – he doesn’t speak frequently and quite introspective, but that doesn’t mean he’s not warm and caring. He’s suffered from the loss of thought bubbles, really.

  14. Voord 99 says:

    On Happy, Well-Adjusted Colossus: part of why that worked so well is that it’s playing against our stereotypes of what Russians are supposed to be like. And in its original Cold War context, the fact that Colossus was portrayed as a citizen of the Soviet Union who wasn’t a defector or siding noticeably against his government was also part of that.

    (Except when Shooter was writing him and taking a swipe at Steve Gerber, and for that matter his moping over Kitty is Claremont having to deal with a Shooter plot point, not his own.)

    The original Wein/Cockrum intro of Colossus is wonderfully sly. Remove the words, and keep the visuals: the fields, the tractor, the saving of the adorable blond child – and this plays directly into mythologized Americana images of the “heartland.”

    As for why he changed: some of it’s probably because that era is joyless and horrible in general, some of it’s presumably because Beast and Iceman were playing the happy guy role, but some of it is is probably because he fell into being a lazy Russian stereotype. And I think that last factor is probably part of why it stuck.

    Granted, Peter was always likely to change, if he stuck around – his original persona was closely tied to him being the youngest X-Man (until Kitty came along). But, no, it did not to be made as grim as this — Claremont had Peter suffer horrible things, too, but they stood out and counted because they weren’t the constant norm of his entire life.

  15. CJ says:

    I was definitely one of those who started reading right smack in the middle of the Lobdell era. So the Cold War-era implications were lost on me, and he came off as “serious, strong, kinda mopey. Why is he hanging out with Magneto? Why is he about to kill Pete Wisdom over Kitty? Is he insane?”

    After reading the Claremont era Colossus later, it seemed that after Rogue joined the team, being someone who was strong AND had more powers, it wasn’t clear what to do with him. The stories about him I remember the most are specifically about his being metallic, like Proteus and Breakworld. Too bad, really.

  16. Moo says:

    Colossus missed out on an entire generation of fans in the ’90s as a result of what was done with him. When he died curing the Legacy Virus (and remember, they intended for this to stick), I was frequenting a different forum, and I remember being disturbed by some of the reactions that ranged from “Eh, who cares?” to “Good riddance.” But these were newer readers. In most cases, the animated series is what brought them to the comics.

    But I guess I understood. I suppose I might not have cared much for him either had I started reading in ’93 rather than ’79.

    I also remember an argument I had with another fellow about his treatment in the ’90s. The guy argued that Lobdell gave Peter more development than he’d ever seen under Claremont.

    I was like, “Dude, he’s dead! He’s dead, and few people seem to care. Lobdell “developed” him to a point where he actually became regarded as disposable. This would have been unthinkable ten years ago.”

  17. wwk5d says:

    I wonder how different Colossus’ status today would be had been a regular cast member in the cartoon? Granted, that hasn’t seem to have affected Nightcrawler, though he at least in the 90s was still more or less written as a positive happy character.

  18. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Nightcrawler also got a boost from X-Men Evolution and being a main-ish character in the second movie, while Colossus was a tertiary background extra in both.

  19. Voord 99 says:

    Hmm. I think Nightcrawler did fade into the background a bit, if only a bit. Still there, but not one of those characters that *has* to be there. Certainly second-rank, but not first-rank.

    Of course, the line is more stuffed with characters in general. But still, I’m not sure that I would describe Nightcrawler as, on balance, more central than Colossus in the years since Whedon brought Colossus back.

    It’s just that, I think, Nightcrawler feels more like the same character as in the ‘90s with a few more miles on him.

  20. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I’d say you’re right – he did fade into the background, to the point where it was very obvious he was going to die in Second Coming, because suddenly he was in the foreground in the early parts of the crossover. And I remember thinking at the time how unusual that was.

  21. Evilgus says:

    If we’re talking about the relative decline of Colossus and Nightcrawler and popular or central characters to the X-Men line in the 90’s, I’d also throw Shadowcat in there too.

    All three were absent for the longest time, over in Excalibur – all returned together for what felt like the last downhill run until Morrison’s relaunch – and Kitty and Colossus were shuffled off stage left beforehand.

    Could argue that all three were victims of not being front and centre in the 90s cartoon, along with Psylocke (too sexy for children!). But for those three classic characters in particular, it was especially surprising. And it wasn’t clear how they fitted in the modern era. Tbh I’d argue it’s almost lucky they didn’t go the way of Dazzler and Longshot into permanent limbo, were it not for Whedon and Claremont’s love of the characters (Kitty & Piotr).

  22. Pasquale says:

    I agree that Avengers Beast and 90’s cartoon Beast are much better than amoral Beast. But more importantly, I’m wildly confused by Percy’s characterization of Forge. Has he always been a GTL every single day bro dude? Or even close? I remember him being much more even keeled, esp as head of X-Factor in the 90s.

    Also, my version was missing the data pages the 1st time I read it. Weird.

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