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Jul 31

X-Men #10 annotations

Posted on Friday, July 31, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-MEN vol 5 #10
by Jonathan Hickman & Leinil Francis Yu

COVER / PAGE 1. Vulcan, Petra, Sway, Cyclops, Marvel Girl and Wolverine in the new Cotati garden on the moon. This is an Empyre tie-in, so it also gets the Empyre trade dress on top of the regular X-Men design.

PAGES 2-5. Flashback to how Vulcan survived.

This is another plot thread where the Covid-19 hiatus has played havoc with pacing. We saw Vulcan having this dream before in X-Men #8, which should have been fairly fresh in the memory. Vulcan is remembering falling into the Fault at the end of the 2009 crossover War of Kings. As I pointed out before, Vulcan wasn’t wearing his superhero costume when that happened. I assumed before that it was a symbolic page, but evidently that’s not it.

“These two kings and their empires waged a war that tore a hole – that opened a door – between this place and that.” Basically the plot of War of Kings. These aliens are new, as far as I know, and where Vulcan has ended up is unclear. They’re absolutely right that Vulcan is very powerful but mentally a bit broken. What they have to do with anything else in Hickman’s grand design isn’t obvious, but Powers of X set up a lot of cosmic concepts which ongoing titles have dialled back from.

PAGES 6-8. Petra and Sway want to party.

They don’t really have distinct personalities here, but then this is from Vulcan’s perspective. We’ve heard before that Vulcan spends a lot of time in self-destructive partying, and we saw him laid out with these two in issue #8. For whatever reason, Vulcan isn’t in the mood today. As for his former teammates, they weren’t like this in Deadly Genesis, so presumably they’re as self-destructive as Vulcan in their way, finding themselves on an island where nobody really knows them, and with a very marginal claim to X-Men status despite knowing nobody on the team.

PAGES 9-10. Credits and recap page, which really just sets up the premise of Empyre. The Cotati garden in the Blue Area of the Moon was established in the prologue issues of Empyre.

PAGES 11-15. Vulcan walks to the Cotati garden.

“Once it was a place of nightmares for mutants.” Because Dark Phoenix died there. It’s not entirely clear what the narrator means by saying that the pain of that memory has been erased forever – at least if he means anything more than the fact that Jean returned and the mutants are on top of the world. But the Blue Area always seemed a strange place for the Summers family to put their home. Has something happened to make it more acceptable to them?

Vulcan finds the Cotati working on some sort of doomsday weapon, and offers a somewhat underpowered objection. Either he’s very confident that he can take them all or he’s got a death wish. Given how depressed he seems in this story, I wouldn’t bet on confident.

PAGES 16-17. Petra and Sway can’t be bothered going after him.

PAGE 18. The Cotati subdue Vulcan and begin psychic interrogation.

Vulcan speaks Cotati, for some reason. Was that really a useful language to him when he was Shi’ar Emperor? Maybe he picked up a whole bunch of major space languages through telepathic means.

PAGE 19. The flashback continues.

Basically, the aliens tell him that since he can’t be “fixed”, they’ve decided to make him superficially reborn and whole, but still broken under the surface. Quite how this advances any agenda of theirs is anyone’s guess, but apparently they just want him around as a timebomb for some reason. It’s possible that the Cotati interrogation is allowing Vulcan to remember this for the first time, or maybe he’s just being reminded of something he prefers not to think about.

PAGES 20-23. Vulcan goes crazy until Petra and Sway arrive to calm him down.

It’s not really clear from the art, but presumably he wipes out all of the Cotati around him, and finishes off that doomsday weapon. Aren’t there any other Cotati in the garden, though? Surely he didn’t destroy the whole thing.

Anyway, Vulcan understandably doesn’t want to be the dangerous ultra-powerful guy, and seems to finish up by going back to the original plan of disavowing it all by getting drunk with Petra and Sway.

PAGE 24. Scott’s letter to Vulcan.

Scott acknowledges that Vulcan couldn’t really come along on the family day trip to the Shi’ar Empire, what with him being the former mad emperor and all. But he’s at least trying to encourage Vulcan to break out of his rut and start to become something else. Maybe Vulcan doesn’t want to do that, because he’s afraid of what he’ll become.

PAGE 25. Epilogue. The Cotati general is told about Krakoa.

Because next issue is also an Empyre tie-in.

PAGES 26-27. Trailers. The Krakoan reads “NEXT: WARGAMES.”

Bring on the comments

  1. Thom H. says:

    Petra and Sway were killed by Krakoa, right? If I found out that I had to live with (or “on” in this case) my killer, I’d probably flip out a little bit. Just another reason they might be drinking so heavily.

  2. Paul says:

    They were indeed. Certainly possible that they and Vulcan all have an issue with that.

  3. Luis Dantas says:

    Shades of the Justice League movie.

    Krakoa doesn’t allow the two of them to live. She doesn’t allow the two of them to be dead either.

  4. Evilgus says:

    Sadly I don’t think Hickman is going to be the one to give Petra or Sway much in the way of distinguishing personalities.

    And even after a full issue spotlight, Vulcan doesn’t have much of one either.

  5. Mikey says:

    I’m really starting to get impatient with Hickman’s overall run.

  6. Gareth says:


    Nah. This was boring rot, and I’m dropping the book.

    I’m really happy that the eight Vulcan fans out there got this though.

  7. Drew says:

    I know mutants are into rejecting human laws and societal norms and all these days, but aren’t Petra and Sway teenagers? Like fifteen or sixteen, something like that?

    Granted, teens drink all the time in the real world, and different cultures have different attitudes toward teen drinking. But it still feels like someone should raise at least a token objection to them pounding scotch or whatever, all night every night.

  8. Allan M says:

    Krakoan society is messed up, exhibit #2135: Petra’s keen on having a wild party with “hot medium-powered mutants”. So now your relative power level determines whether you get invited to parties or not. Mutant power levels = social standing. Which should make Vulcan very popular indeed, seeing as he’s an Omega, but Petra’s not even trying to get high powered mutants to the party.

  9. Chris V says:

    Petra probably realizes that Vulcan is too far above her on the hierarchy.

    The Krakoan government did mention that Omega-level mutants are the greatest natural resource of Krakoa.
    So, it seems like mutants with Omega-level powers will be treated differently by Krakoan society.

    This would also make sense with Apocalypse one of the rulers on Krakoa.
    Magneto believed that mutants were a superior species over humanity, and that all mutants should basically be treated as equals.
    Apocalypse, though, we saw during the AOA sees many mutants as being weak and serving no purpose also. He was only interested in the strongest mutants being allowed to rule.
    So, this hierarchy is probably part of Apocalypse’s dream for Krakoa, since there is a ruling triumvirate.

  10. Josie says:

    Vulcan is the perfect symbol of Hickman as a writer. His mere presence gestures at significance, but everything he does ends up hollow, pretentious, and forgettable.

  11. Bloodredcookie says:

    Gotta be honest: I’ve been paitent with Hickman so far ( mostly because House and Powers were a good read and a few of the tie ins have been really good) but this issue made me really keen to see Hickman wrap up his run so we can get back to a more conventional X-men setup. He’s set to stay on for what? Two more years?

  12. Evilgus says:

    Unless the quality of the main X-Men books, I think I’m sticking to X-Factor and X-Force. Interesting stories playing with the new concepts, with recognisable characters.

    Has it been pointed out by others that with post-Hickman reboot “mutant society” stories, we’re effectively getting what the gradual phasing out of the X-Men in favour of the Inhumans intended? (I may just be slow on the uptake!)

    I.e., a weird ‘other’ non human world. But it works better with the X-Men due to the larger established cast and hierarchies, and the dissonance of how they are behaving.

    Basically we’re getting what should be Inhumans with the X-Men plugged in.

  13. Daniel says:

    Someone help me out: was Vulcan resurrected by The Five, or did he actually survive War of Kings?

    He was a complete psychopath before with limitless power; how did he get to Krakoa and why is he now fine with partying and getting drunk? Why is he accepted? Apocalypse, Sinister, etc. have legit reasons for playing ball and accepting the Krakoan offer and rules. What the hell is in it for someone like Vulcan? Why would he care about any of this?

    Shame we’ll never get a nuanced story of Petra, Sway, and the others sitting down and getting to know the All New, All Different team who immediately replaced them. I’m guessing there would be a lot of mixed feelings there on both sides. Also, I can’t remember exactly how the Deadly Genesis revelation went; was the entire team at the time made aware of the Deadly Genesis team / Xavier coverup or just Cyclops?

    I’m glad these characters are back but there are just so many angles to explore here and I’m afraid they won’t be explored.

  14. neutrino says:

    The initial alien appeared in FF #7, trying to capture Black Bolt, who apparently destroyed it.

  15. ASV says:

    It’s been a year and I really don’t understand what the point of all this is. It feels like for some reason Hickman designed an extremely specific, mannered, and rules-oriented status quo more appropriate for an RPG, and then deployed it as a platform for Wolverine & the X-Men-style comedy (Petra and Sway here, most of the other books) with the occasional pompous overture (everything about Vulcan).

  16. Peter Singer says:

    Weirdly enough, the core X-Men series is the least interesting to me at the moment.

    It feels like we’re still in the setup phase for Hickman, which is very strange considering we’re 22 issues into HIS story…

    It’s Hickman, so I’m still confident he has a plan, but it’s becoming annoying to still be treading water at this stage.

    The pandemic certainly didn’t help with the pacing, either.

    I’m definitely invested in the Marauders, and X-Factor stars several of my favorite characters, but the rest of the line seems either boring or pointless.

  17. Chris V says:

    This doesn’t seem very different than most of the post-Claremont X-line.
    An over bloated line-up of titles. A flagship book which is one of the worst comics in the line. One or two b-level books that end up standing out, while the rest of the line seems pointless.

    Hickman’s run probably stands out more from most with this due to the fact that everyone is waiting for something major to happen. Hickman must have some grand plan in place for Moira and Krakoa.
    Readers don’t know if we’re just supposed to accept this as the new status quo and take it for what it is, or if the writers are just killing time until Hickman plays his next hand.

  18. Chris V says:

    Uhh…You aren’t the animal rights activist Peter Singer, are you? I feel kind of foolish, but I feel I must ask.
    It’d be kind of amazing to find out he was a comic book fan.

  19. Evilgus says:

    Always found ‘the’ Peter Singer quite compelling as a modern philosopher! Must see if he and Onara O’Neill are X-fans…

  20. Luis Dantas says:

    I find myself wondering if Hickman has a long term payoff planned for this setup. Back in the annotations for X-Men #8 I posted that I was frustrated with the pacing. Now I realize that issues #8-#10 are probably all either setup for the Empyre event or tie-in issues for that event.

    And they are barely anything else.

    It sure looks like the plan is indeed to leave us hanging for quite a few plotlines literal years at a time. Who knows how many of those will even be viable after the next few crossovers and events?

    Either Hickman has an unbelievable level of support from editorial offices and there is a n impressive, very long plan with a very slow burn happening under quite the veil of secrecy or this is a lot of set-up for a payoff that can’t help but disappoint when it eventually comes.

    That is a lot of faith, time and money to invest in a story that has so far had very little advancement, very feeble characterization, and has been piling up way too many unsolved mysteries for comfort.

  21. DannytheWall says:

    “It’s not really clear from the art” could be the start of nearly every annotation, above. I wonder if some of that if from the writing side of things, as if Hickman’s script itself is hard to parse and thus becomes reflective in the art. One page of script may mention the cannon, but if it isn’t mentioned in the subsequent script breakdown, it disappears from all subsequent panels.

    As someone who didn’t read much X-Men during any of the comics these characters showed up, I had no idea who any of them are. The women’s names are never used at all, except for the info page. Gabriel’s name is used once. Is “Vulcan” ever used? These annotations are so helpful, but I think I will be dropping this title as well, meaning I’m down to Marauders and maybe X-Factor.

  22. MasterMahan says:

    Have we established that Petra and Sway are actually there, as opposed to being in Vulcan’s head? So far no beside Gabriel has looked at them or addressed them by name.

    Or maybe they just haven’t gotten any characterization beyond “Vulcan’s friends” because of the overly sprawling plot.

  23. Tim XP says:

    This is starting to remind me a bit of Hickman’s Avengers run, where the real overarching story was playing out in New Avengers while the main Avengers book kept introducing new characters and concepts that never really paid off in the way it felt like they were meant to. Except here it seems the New Avengers equivalent title (a Quiet Council monthly?) is missing, so we just get the dithering.

  24. YLu says:

    The Hickman X of Swords interview at provides some explanation of why the macro story is progressing so slowly , I think:

    “We’re in a really interesting time in that the books have launched and they’re all healthy, and the reception of the line across the board has been fairly positive, I would say. And we know the things that we’re doing down the road. And so what we’re doing now — and ‘X of Swords’ is a perfect example of this — is that we’re just trying sh-t out.”


    “Now, I will put a stop to that at some point, because we have bigger and broader things that we’re going to do. But while we’re still discovering interesting things about the books — and we have a couple of new books that are getting ready to start that really work that way — I think we should just keep playing. The moment it feels stagnant, though, I’m just going to absolutely take an ax to it and be like, ‘No, it’s time to pivot hard.’ Jordan [White] and C.B. and everybody at Marvel knows what we’re doing. We just don’t know when we’re going to do it.”

  25. Chris V says:

    My idea for how this all ends is that Moira decides to reveal herself. She sees that Krakoa has become the mutant utopia she has been working towards. She sees it is absolutely awful, it was all just a terrible idea. She kills herself, and Marvel relaunches all the X-titles.

  26. Daniel says:

    Or Scarlet Witch could just say “No More Hickman”.

  27. neutrino says:

    That you need annotations like this to understand the issue completely makes it a failure in attracting new readers.

  28. Peter Singer says:

    “Uhh…You aren’t the animal rights activist Peter Singer, are you? I feel kind of foolish, but I feel I must ask.”

    I was very tempted to not answer this question… But no, I am not THAT Peter Singer.

    Like I said, I’m still on for Hickman’s supposed plan, but at some point major progress on it has to be made. I don’t feel we’ve had that at all.

  29. FUBAR007 says:

    Evilgus: Has it been pointed out by others that with post-Hickman reboot “mutant society” stories, we’re effectively getting what the gradual phasing out of the X-Men in favour of the Inhumans intended? (I may just be slow on the uptake!)

    In other fora, I’ve described Hickman’s run thus far as the best Inhumans story I’ve ever read.

  30. Chris V says:

    A lot better than the mess that was Inhumanity.

    The thing is, Hickman offered a proposal to Marvel for the Eternals and was turned down. Then, they offered him the X-Men instead.
    I could see Hickman refurbishing some of his ideas for Eternals to this series (maybe some hints of it in House/Powers I noticed), but I never heard anything about Hickman showing interest in the Inhumans.
    So. It’s weird this turned in to Inhumanity done correctly, while it seems really wrong and underwhelming for the X-Men.

  31. Abraham says:

    neutrino, I don’t think anyone said annotations were necessary. Paul is doing annotations for every issue of every series. That’s just his thing.

  32. neutrino says:

    @Abraham: I’m saying they’re necessary. Stan Lee is supposed to have said to write every story as if it were the reader’s first, but how would a new reader know who Petra and Sway are? What the Fault is? That the alien that captured Vulcan is the same one that tried to capture Black Bolt in FF#7?

  33. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Well, comics writing has changed quite a lot since Stan Lee’s heyday. Mostly for the better in my mind.

    As for how would a new reader know about Petra, Sway, the Fault and the alien? They obviously wouldn’t, but also that knowledge isn’t required to read the story and doesn’t even particularly enhance it, considering Petra and Sway don’t do anything in this issue and the Fault is just a nightmare flasback. You don’t need to know what the Fault is and who the alien is to get that this is a nightmare flashback.

    Going back to Lee – I heard the phrase repeated as ‘writing every issue as if it was the reader’s first’. If it is ‘write every story…’ then it’s even less aplicable, since X-Men #10 is very much mid-story – mid-Hickman story, mid-Empyre. So it would be more like expecting every chapter of a book to be written as if it was the reader’s first.

    Having said all that, oh my, what a rubbish issue this is. Vulcan is a bore of non-existent personality and if I got anything about him from this comic it’s that Hickman just has him on the board as a ticking time bomb and isn’t interested in him in any way beyond that.
    And I have no idea what’s supposed to be going on with Petra and Sway. Granted, there’s not much to them in Deadly Genesis – they’re just there to die – but still, why have these been resurrected as morning-drinking airheads?

    MasterMahan alluded above that maybe they’re just in Vulcan’s head, since we don’t see anyone else interacting with them, and while that’s a fine theory on its own, it just brings back… every single HoXPoXDoX discussion about Hickman, really. Every single time we get back to, basically, ‘well, this is terrible writing, but it COULD be a hint that interesting and nefarious things are afoot’.

    We’re coming on a year since HoX#1 and not one of those things have turned out to, indeed, be a hint that interesting and nefarious things are afoot.

    They still MIGHT, but good grief, how much longer are we supposed to wait, giving the author this enormous benefit of the doubt?

    And for my second turnaround in this comment, having said that, I only apply the above to Hickman’s books, not the line or the status quo as a whole, since I’m really enjoying several of the other books.

  34. Daniel says:

    Reading all of this makes me think… does it bother anyone else that this Krakoa era has so much damn drinking? Not like Wolverine drinking or Iron Man struggling with alcoholism drinking, but like characters from all throughout history getting plastered day and night? I’m sorry but it’s freaking weird.

    Also, I drink too much. I’m no stranger to it. I’m not very healthy about it sometimes. I’m not offended by the sight of comic characters drinking. But thinking about Kitty Pryde and Pyro getting wasted on a boat and getting tattoos and crap like that… honestly it seems kind of juvenile and depressing.

  35. Abraham says:

    neutrino, in Stan’s day, single issues were the only way you could read a comic. You usually couldn’t go back and start at issue #1. Comics then didn’t do yearly relaunches, they relied on readers getting hooked in the middle of a publication and staying on.

    Today, nearly everything is published with the collection in mind. This isn’t a bad thing.

  36. maxwell's hammer says:

    I still remember my first comic book (Wolverine, volume 2, issue 33), and it was mid-story and I fell in love with all the stuff that was going on that I needed to go back and learn about by hunting down back issues. I really don’t need (or even like) big exposition dumps every issue (though I did like those old school foot notes pointing me to which issues I needed to read to learn more about something). I mean honestly, do you really think you’d be a decades long collector if every issue was like your first issue and written by Stan Lee?

  37. neutrino says:

    The idea behind what Stan Lee was saying is that you should make each issue have something that would make a new reader want to continue buying it and not get lost in an incomprehensible continuity. John Byrne cites it as a goal. Is abandoning it really a good idea?

    @Krzysiek Ceran Petra and Sway are the ones who talk Vulcan down (after mysteriously appearing). So what’s their relation to him? Are they random airheads, his girlfriends, or his babysitters? You’d want to know that, along with how Vulcan was captured in the first place. That’s a callback to FF issues a decade ago. (Granted, Hickman did try to do explain with the data pages in X-Men #9, but that was a couple of months ago.)

    @Abraham So where are the readers come from to buy those collections? Readership has gone way down. Making things inaccessible to new readers won’t help.

    @maxwell’s hamme That’s the effect Stan Lee wanted. They did it without data pages. Nowadays, we don’t even get the footnotes. If that hadn’t been Stan Lee’s philosophy, would Marvel Comics have achieved its popularity, including the X-Men?

  38. maxwell's hammer says:

    @neutrino – I definitely missed the footnotes once they were phased out. Hunting down the back issues the footnotes directed me to was half the fun of reading comic books.

  39. Abraham says:

    But . . . nobody is saying the collections are inaccessible.

  40. neutrino says:

    I am, if they continue like this. It has references to continuity from over a decade ago, like Deadly Genesis, some not even in the X-office (War of Kings, FF). Petra and Sway’s names are given only on one data sheet, with no indication of their relation to Vulcan.

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