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Feb 11

X-Force #17 annotations

Posted on Thursday, February 11, 2021 by Paul in Annotations, x-axis

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

X-FORCE vol 6 #17
“Omega, Reconsidered”
by Benjamin Percy, Joshua Cassara & Guru-eFX

COVER / PAGE 1. Kid Omega and Phoebe of the Stepford Cuckoos, blissfully together wile X-Force do X-Force stuff behind. The comic in the bottom left shows the cover of issue #15.

PAGES 2-4. A montage of Kid Omega’s deaths.

I don’t think any of these are meant to be specific scenes that we’ve seen before; we might or might not be intended to take them literally, and it doesn’t really matter.

The Commander Islands are a group of sparsely populated islands in the Bering Straits – they belong to Russia, but they’re pretty close to the outlying islands of Alaska. No bears live there, cyborg or otherwise, but they do have a lot of seals and guillemots.

Another of Quentin’s deaths comes from a poisoned bunch of flowers from the Church of Humanity, the Chuck Austen-era religious extremists.

The suggestion here is that Quentin is particularly prone to getting killed on X-Force missions. That’s not really borne out by the series to date. Quentin has been killed three times in this series, which doesn’t particularly stand out in the context of Benjamin Percy’s writing. He was decapitated in issues #4-5 when XENO shut down a portal while he was going through it; he was killed by telefloronics in Terra Verde in issues #9-10; and he was run through with the Cerebro Sword by Mikhail Rasputin in issue #11-12. As against that, he went on perfectly successful missions in issues #2-3, #6 and #16, and he doesn’t appear at all in issues #1, #7-8, #13-14 or #15. So this opening flashback is trying to set up a fall-guy gimmick that really hasn’t been established in the previous issues.

PAGES 5-7. Kid Omega boards a cruise ship and sees something awful.

The presence of things like cruise ships makes stories feel weirdly detached from reality, over a year into a global pandemic.

At any rate… Quentin is trying to be a good soldier here, but there’s a lot of trying to convince himself of his own hype too.

PAGE 8. Recap and credits.

PAGE 9. Data page. Beast concludes that the attack on the cruise ship was part of an anti-mutant propaganda campaign involving a group called SAPIENS. He pretty much accepts that some of the allegations directed at mutants are in fact within their technical capabilities and are things he would absolutely do in the right circumstances – he doesn’t outright say that he hasn’t done so.

PAGES 10-11. Kid Omega is resurrected and reunited with Phoebe.

The logic of this scene is a bit wonky; Kid Omega should only be missing the memories after his last backup, so he ought to remember the time that he and Phoebe had spent together. Let’s take it that she’s reminding him of it. Still, Quentin understandably feels that having so many gaps in his memory (in which he died but doesn’t remember it) is an unpleasant feeling.

PAGE 12. Data page. Kid Omega has been taking the opportunity presented by his frequent resurrections to ask the Five to improve him. While we’ve been told that the Five are indeed willing to modify people’s bodies and improve them (consciously or otherwise), Kid Omega’s highly specific and fiddly requests are just annoying them. It’s hard to believe that Quentin, as a telepath, doesn’t know this full well. Actively annoying the people responsible for his resurrection feels like either an attempt to impose his authority on the proceedings, or just part of his self-destructive streak.

PAGES 13-14. Kid Omega and Phoebe visit the cruise ship survivors in hospital.

Again, the plotting here is a bit wonky. We were specifically told that the cruise ship was near to Krakoa – that was essential both to justify Kid Omega being there, and for the anti-mutant propaganda angle to work. But Krakoa is in the Pacific. So why have these desperately ill survivors been taken to a hospital in New York?

Presumably, the Kid Omega-related weapon that attacked these people is whatever XENO cloned from Quentin’s body after it was provided to them by Mikhail Rasputin in issue #12.

PAGES 15-17. Kid Omega and Phoebe talk afterwards.

Phoebe reassures him that he definitely didn’t commit the attack during one of his memory gaps. She basically tells him that his persona – which we’ve seen running even in his internal monologues – is holding him back with its self-loathing elements, and encourages him to confront the private parts of his mind that have something to do with this.

“You all used to hate me. You all used to call me a freak.” The Stepford Cuckoos were quite scathing about Quentin in their early appearances back in New X-Men.

“But what if we’re not?” Quentin rightly observes that his persona has always involved the sort of mutant superiority angle which, in the Krakoan age, has now become the dominant mutant culture. Note that instead of asking whether he’s no better than everyone else, he asks whether mutants as a whole are no better. He’s doubting the mutant-nationalist premise of Krakoan society here.

PAGES 18-19. Kid Omega’s flashback.

Basically, he tells us that prior to his powers properly emerging, he killed his own parents who he describes as being in some degree abusive. It’s left ambiguous precisely how abusive they were, and how conscious any of this was on Quentin’s part.

The fact that Quentin was adopted is not new. He mentioned it in New X-Men #137, when he suggested it had something to do with his motivation for trying to build himself up as a gang leader – though in fairness, that was part of a drug-fuelled incoherent ramble.

PAGES 20-24. Quentin gets his new costume.

The gag of the falling piano would work better if this sort of thing had actually been happening to him more in the series.

It’s a little debatable whether it’s necessarily a good thing for Quentin to retool himself to look more like everyone else on Krakoa. But his persistence in not dressing like the other mutants would be doubly obnoxious in the Krakoan context, and besides, it’s very dated. If your character has had the same youth-themed dress sense for a decade plus, well…

Presumably Quentin wasn’t paying attention to the shop sign, because he seems to be surprised to find Jumbo Carnation in his own boutique. We’ve seen the mutant fashion designer frequently in Marauders, but I think this is his first appearance in X-Force. Poor old Jumbo is presumably attacked by the XENO copy of Quentin, with the still-anonymous XENO leader monitoring int he final panel.

PAGE 25. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: NIGHTMARE VISIONS.


Bring on the comments

  1. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Quentin was still alive when Mikhail dragged him away. When he presents Quentin to the Peacock Man it’s not clear whether Quentin is alive or dead. He might have perished between panels. However it would be a nice fit for the various Krakoa resurrection themes if XENO was using a mindwiped or otherwise coerced Quentin – and current-Quentin was a backup made against the resurrection protocols… specifically because X-Force has priority on resurrections that overrides the regular protocols. Including obtaining a proof of death.

    So I don’t think XENO cloned a weapon from Quentin, I think they’re using a captured Quentin and we’ll get a Quentin vs. Quentin conflict.

    Which would also fit with this ‘be better than you were before’ theme started in this issue.

  2. Anthony says:

    Not only did Quentin mention being adopted in New X-Men #137, we actually see him finding out he was adopted in his first appearance in New X-Men #134.

  3. Adam says:

    The he’s-always-dying gag would certainly work for Empath over in HELLIONS.

  4. The Other Michael says:

    And to take this a step further, all of those deaths we see depicted here have come since the other Quintin was abducted, and his duplicate, subconsciously or unconsciously aware that something is wrong, has been trying to die to restore the natural order of things.

    In a twist, the storyline will end with multiple Quentins all alive and acting as their own hivemind, at which point someone will be all “But what’re we going to do with 13 Quentins???” in a callback to the classic line from the end of Giant-Size X-Men #1.

  5. Rybread says:

    The premise actually worked for me because personally, it feels like Quentin has died more than 3 times (4 if you count the Pale Woman mission from Wolverine #1). I was actually surprised to see it was only 3 times in X-Force proper. Phoebe made a comment about him frequently dying on X-Force missions in the previous issue as well, which might add to that overall feeling.

  6. Si says:

    He gets a new costume but he keeps his early 00s pink Mohican? Even Gertrude in Runaways realised that wild colours aren’t so wild any more, and are mostly the domain of middle aged women these days. I see a lot of kids with mullets lately, if he wants to be a teen “rebel”, that’s the way to go.

  7. Jon R says:

    I have nothing really to comment on except from The Other Michael’s.

    Now I want to see “Seven Quentins for Seven Cuckoos”.

  8. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Huh, I thought for sure Krakoa was in the Atlantic now between the US and Northern Africa.

    But I looked it up, one of the HoXPoX data pages shows an Atlantic “Krakoa” in that location that acts as a transit hub for the proper Pacific Krakoa, I must have glossed over it.

    PS- I just looked up the new QQ costume. It’s harmlessly generic but those pink “glasses” made my eyes twitch.

  9. Allan M says:

    This issue neatly sums up my frustration with Percy’s X-Force. The montage of Quentin’s grisly deaths chews up way too much space and doesn’t really contribute anything except shock value. He’s died four times on-panel since X-Force began! That’s plenty! All you really need is one more at the start of the issue to trigger his reflection on it. But Percy wants his gross-out black comedy, so montage it is.

    But then he actually builds on his previously one-note handling of Quentin and moves him towards a moment of revelation, and a bit of maturation, rooted in backstory not just from the Morrison run, but subsequent stuff like the Aaron run. There’s some thought into the emotional consequences of what routine death and resurrection has done to him emotionally, a subject which is the best part of this run. Where everyone else in X-Force is being ground to dust by the job, Quentin’s ablek to experience growth and love.

    I could be interested in a black comedy ultraviolent X-Force. I would definitely be interested in one that’s concerned with the psychological toll of inflicting and receiving death in perpetuity. But Percy’s attempt to do both at once does not work for me.

  10. Col_Fury says:

    re: cruise ships and not referencing the pandemic

    In my headcanon, the Krakoan drugs quickly cured the coronavirus in the Marvel universe and it ended up not being a thing. 🙂

  11. SanityOrMadness says:

    I feel like Cassara did a LOT of heavy lifting on this issue. While any script could be wrecked by a bad artist, this is ropey enough that it really wouldn’t have taken much to sink it.

    Re: Col_Fury

    Come on Fury, that would mean some of the mega-tech/etc in the MU actually did something other than commit ever more bizarre crimes or clean up messes caused by similar megatech :p

  12. Chris V says:

    That is a problem with this new direction for the Marvel Universe.
    They can’t address the pandemic in-story because of the Krakoan drugs.
    (Not that I think they need to address the pandemic.)

  13. Paul says:

    The Krakoan drugs have only ever been stated to be effective against certain conditions (otherwise they’d break the Marvel Universe regardless of the pandemic). The problem with the pandemic, I suspect, is that when it started, the calculation was that by the time they’d adjusted long running storylines to take it into account, it would probably be over. With hindsight that was wrong, but it’s too late now, given the lead-in times for comics. So we’re stuck with the equivalent of being way into 1940 and World War II not having started yet.

  14. Chris V says:

    I’ve misunderstood the Krakoan drugs’ effects.

    I thought that the one drug could be used to treat any virus and some cancers.
    Instead, it says the drug is an “universal antibiotic”.

    I also thought that the life-extending drug extended the life-span by five years per pill.
    It seems it means extending life by five years in total.

    I thought the Krakoan drugs were going to change the Marvel Earth completely.
    I was expecting that Krakoa was offering virtual immortality to humans with the drugs, since mutants have the resurrection process.

    I guess the third drug is the most important and making the greatest changes amongst humanity, as it’s the one that is probably pacifying humanity, in order to slow technological progress.
    The first two drugs are probably just a carrot to tempt humanity to take the third drug.

  15. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    To be fair, a potent universal antibiotic would change medicine and the world about as much antibiotics did the first time.

    But yeah, none of this stuff was ever going to change the everyday 616 any more than all the gods or alien invasions do.

    Or mutants.

    If they wanted the world to actually accept mutants, just park Elixir in an NYC hospital actually healing people. Or have any number of high level telepaths help the mentally ill and addicts. Or use Storm and Black Tom to grow food to end world hunger.

    But a DC/Marvel convention long decided upon was that none of the super geniuses or magic or dinosaurs can ever actually change the world.

  16. Emmanuel says:

    I don’t know about the others, but one of the deaths on page 3 looks to me like a homage to the album “Consuming Impulse” by Pestilence.

  17. Peter Garcia says:

    Furthermore, the cover is probably inspired by the cover of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.

  18. neutrino says:

    Marvel has been all over the map about what the drugs can cure. The chart in House of X says it’s an adaptive antibiotic, but Prof. Xavier says it can cure “certain types of cancers”. In Deadpool, the White Queen tells him that they don’t have a cure for cancer. In Wolverine, the drug puts that CIA agent’s daughter’s leukemia in remission.

  19. Thom H. says:

    I have a feeling that Marvel staff, like many people, have no idea what an antibiotic actually does.

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