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Apr 18

Dead X-Men #4 annotations

Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2024 by Paul in Annotations

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

Writer: Steve Foxe
Artists; David Baldeón, Bernard Chang & Vincenzo Carratù
Colour artist: Frank Martin
Letterer: Cory Petit
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1. The X-Men fight their alt-Moira.

PAGE 2. Paul Neary obituary.

PAGES 3-4. The X-Men and Moira are dragged back through time.

Issue #3 ended with the cyborg alt-Moira from issue #1 attacking the X-Men and their local counterparts in Moira’s fifth life. This turns out to be a bit of an anticlimax, as Dazzler calls on Rachel to haul them all back through time and bring Moira with them.

The montage on page 4 shows scenes from Moira’s earlier lives.

  • Top left: Moira sees Professor X in a bar in her second life. This is page 8 panel 4 of House of X #2.
  • To the right of that, a generic-looking campus scene. By elimination, this is probably meant to be her uneventful first life.
  • On the second tier, on the left, Destiny threatens Moira before killing her in her third life.
  • To the right of that, a Sentinel blasts Professor X and Moira in her fourth life. This is page 17 panel 4 of House of X #2.
  • Below that, Moira and Logan in the Preserve in her sixth life.
  • In the bottom tier, on the left, Moira and a wheelchair-bound Xavier in a futuristic city. This is Moira’s fifth life, where they built a mutant city.
  • To the right of that, Moira with a sniper rifle, about to kill one of the Trask family. This is her seventh life.
  • Next, Moira approaches Magneto. This is her eighth life, and specifically page 21 panel 2 of House of X #2.
  • To the right of that, Moira with Apocalypse. This is her ninth life.
  • And finally, above Frenzy’s head, a generic head shot of Moira, presumably representing her tenth and present life (from the perspective of this divergent Moira).

PAGE 5. Recap and credits.

As with every issue of this series, the story title is a Björk song. “Hyperballad” was a top 10 hit in the UK in 1996.

PAGE 6. Rachel dispenses with the alt-Moira.

Rachel appears here between pages 14 and 18 of Rise of the Powers of X #3; she’s just learned that Professor X is actually planning to kill the young Moira, and she’s understandably keen to get rid of this alt Moira summarily.

PAGES 7-12. The X-Men defeat alt-Moira.

Rachel dumps the X-Men and Moira back in the aborted timeline where Moira came from in issue #1. This means that they’re back at the location where Orbis Stellaris is about to attempt his ascension, and we pick up with that action sequence where we left off.

Dazzler’s death and return refers to a dropped plot from New Excalibur where she was apparently immortal; this was previously mentioned in issue #1. Apparently Dazzler does indeed have a built-in resurrection power as previously shown, but it didn’t work at X-Men Hellfire Gala 2023 because the damage done to her body by Nimrod was too extreme.

PAGES 13-14. Orbis Stellaris reclaims the M’Kraan Crystal shard from Prodigy.

This thing lodged in Prodigy’s chest in issue #1. The crystal itself speaks to him here, in what he interprets later in the issue as a lesson that every life matters. Rachel’s explanation is that taking this fragment of the M’Kraan Crystal through “ten lifetimes of the mutant experience” -has connected the Crystal itself to “every individual ever”, which somehow or other creates the power source to resurrect Phoenix. Whether any of this makes the slightest may be respectfully doubted. (If every individual is already the whole, how does hauling the crystal through defunct timelines add anything?)

PAGES 15-16. The local X-Men and Starjammers defeat Orbis Stellaris.

We saw all of these characters previously in issue #1.

Orbis Stellaris’ attempted ascension fails for the same reason as all the other Sinister clones: he’s just there to provide information for Enigma.

PAGES 17-20. The X-Men take stock in the White Hot Room.

Rachel recaps the plot of the first half of Rise of the Powers of X #3 for the benefit of her team.

Page 18 is a double page spread with each of the team members surrounded by images of themselves in early costumes. The point of all this is largely to reject the idea of rewriting the timeline and losing Krakoa (though Cannonball is more concerned about more general losses from a timeline reboot). Frenzy’s claim that Krakoa allowed her to change her story for good is a bit tenuous; she’s been associated with the X-Men since the Decimation era, long before Krakoa.

Part of the idea here seems to be that Rachel had previously rejected the fallback plan of resurrecting the Phoenix due to lack of power, but has only just realised that Prodigy has generated a power source – thus giving her a further reason to reject Professor X’s plan.

PAGE 21. The X-Men stop Professor X from killing Moira.

This is the very end of page 18 of Rise of the Powers of X #3, and continues directly into that scene. Suffice to say that Professor X is very moved and persuaded not to destroy Krakoa.

PAGE 22. Trailers. The Krakoan reads RISE.

Bring on the comments

  1. Diana says:

    A fine mini overall, *certainly* in comparison to whatever the hell FotHoX is doing – I just wish it had gotten another issue or two, you can tell someone’s pushing the fast-forward button at the end there.

  2. Si says:

    It’s weird that the team could travel through infinite alternate timelines for six months and still have an existential crisis about one getting changed. As Morty of Rick and Morty said on the subject, ‘Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV’

    By the way, Dazzler gets to be immortal but Cannonball doesn’t? Boo!

  3. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Seniority, I guess? Nobody wants to outright reject a Claremont plotline, even if it is from New Excalibur.

  4. Michael says:

    If Orbis Stellaris needed the shard that was in Prodigy’s chest to ascend and to trigger the creation of Enigma, then why didn’t they just toss the shard somewhere in one of Moira’s first 9 lives, where Enigma can’t get to? If the idea is that none of the team realized it, then why didn’t Xavier and Rachel consider this option when thinking of ways to stop Enigma? Stealing a crystal and tossing it somewhere is much less disruptive to the timeline than killing 13 year-old Moira and much easier than resurrecting the Phoenix.
    I’m not sure I like the idea that Sam views Magneto as a hero and Moira as a monster. Yes, Magneto was Sam’s headmaster but Sam’s seen Magneto do some horrible things and some noble things and he met Moira plenty of times when he was a New Mutant, when his teammate Rahne viewed her as an adoptive mother.
    How was Moira able to hurt Sam while he was blasting? As the writers never stop reminding us, Sam is invulnerable when he’s blasting.
    Ironically, Rachel and the Dead X-Men convincing Xavier not to kill Moira results in Xavier going with his third plan, which involved killing those soldiers who were trying to attack Orchis. The preview for X-Men Forever 2 is out today, and it makes it clear that was always part of the third plan and Xavier asks Hope to apologize to the Dead X-Men for this, since they didn’t understand what path their request would lead him to take.

  5. S says:

    Well, nigh invulnerable anyway.

  6. Luis Dantas says:

    I don’t buy Sam calling Magneto a “hero” so emphatically and with no obvious qualification either. Sam is smarter than that and he _has_ seen Magneto’s actions long enough. I would assume that he is trying to put Moira off-balance, but his personality is not like that either.

    For a while now I have been trying to understand why this book exists. It can’t very well justify its existence on its own terms, after all. It tells no story.

    It springs into existence from necessary events told elsewhere, it performs a few scenes and speeches, it ends without any conclusion or resolution so that it can dutifully dive back into the plot that it means to adorn. The series was probably misnamed, since it creates an entirely unproper perception of somehow standing on its own.

    So, why does it exist, and why does it exist under the guise of a series of its own?

    One minor reason is to offer a test plataform for this roster. The series provides a conveniently compartimentalized environment for would-be fans of these characters to look for them and make Marvel notice if it turns out that there is a ressurgence of interest in any of them – Dazzler, Jubilee, Cannonball, and perhaps most of all Prodigy and Frenzy.

    But that is not the main reason, or at least I hope it wasn’t; a deep character study this series was not.

    Instead, I have to conclude that this was a test plataform – an internship task if you will – for the writer and probably the artists as well. That must be the decisive reason to create such an otherwise unnecessary series.

    Since Steve Foxe is already confirmed to write another series in less than two months time, I will assume that it may also have been a stepping stone to ease the editorial transition from Jordan White to Tom Brevoort.

    Those are meritorious enough purposes. But on another level I am sorry that this wasn’t clearly branded as the entirely optional, skippable series that it is. This is anthology fodder with an unusually high page count. This is “X-Men Unlimited featuring the Dead X-Men team”. This is “Fall of the House of X: Secondary Tales”. Try-out books are necessary, but they should not be marketed under false pretense.

  7. Matt C says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if a large part of it was to placate people who were upset that this team of X-Men got killed off before having the chance to, well, be the X-Men. Especially since the team was decently diverse; there were a lot of comments about how immediately killing them felt like a rug pull.

  8. Midnighter says:

    Well, Magneto has long since redeemed himself, is the founder of the mutant nation, and died heroically during Judgment Day…. It is normal that he is seen as a national hero in Krakoa! Sam was never directly involved with Magneto’s crimes and had come to respect him during his time as headmaster of the school. It fits that after the whole Krakoan epic he is one of those who see him as a hero (even though he actually spent most of his time on Chandilar rather than Krakoa).

  9. I’m still having trouble processing the fact that the X-Men comic with Bjork songs as story titles *isn’t* the Gillen one.

  10. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    @Luis Dantas – I’d say Steve Foxe has finished his internship. He’s written a lot of the usual ‘somebody has to write it, give it to the intern’ stuff – side-stories in event tie-ins (Spider-Verse related publications), story arcs in X-Men Unlimited (starting way back in XMU#50, turns out) as well as random miniseries (X-Men 92: House of XCII) and oneshots (e.g. the X-Men Annual starring Firestar).

    He also wrote the recently published (and much better) Dark X-Men mini.

    At this point I’d expect him to get one of the three ongoings that still don’t have creative teams announced.

    (Also, after Dark and Dead X-Men, I bet his next one is going to be Damned X-Men. Or at least Dextrous X-Men. Doddering X-Men?).

  11. Sam says:

    Here’s my head canon/no prize attempt: Cannonball is nigh invulnerable when he’s blasting, but only to those who have a less thick accent than his own. As he has a Claremontian Deep Southern accent, this affects most of the population. However, Moira’s thick, Claremontian Scottish brogue developed over many lifetimes is superior to Sam’s, and, thus, she is able to ignore his blasting field.

    Either that, or she whispered something about speculative sci-fi and he got so excited that he let his powers drop.

  12. Michael says:

    @Midnighter- Sam saw Magneto try to cut a deal with N’astirh during Inferno, fought Magneto in New Mutants 75 and saw him offer Selene a free hand to do with Amara and her people whatever she wanted and was present when he crashed Illyana’s funeral and tried to kill everyone in Salem Center, including X-Force. His feelings about Magneto should be conflicted.

  13. Mark Coale says:

    “ By the way, Dazzler gets to be immortal but Cannonball doesn’t? Boo!”

    Disco is forever

  14. Drew says:

    You’ve all got it wrong: Moira heard Sam say he’s “naaagh-invulnerable while ah’m blastin’” and thought he said he was “nae invulnerable,” so she just shot him.

  15. Luis Dantas says:

    @Midnighter: I realize that there are people, both in-world and in Real Life(TM) that feel that Magneto has redeemed himself.

    I can’t in good faith say that I understand how come. He saved Kate from her world bullet attachment issues, I suppose.

    Myself, I have a hard time attempting to think of terrorists who killed at least a few hundred people and served no prison time as redeemed with no clear reason nor rationale.

  16. Mark Coale says:

    Keep forgetting to use this joke

    “Dead X-Men aren’t much fun.”

  17. Chris says:

    Redemption is a stupid concept for fictional people.

    The question the X-Men should ask is whether Magneto should be an incapacitated foe or a capable ally.

    What good can Magneto do in service to those he hurt if he is left confined to perform acts of restitution rather than confined to a box?

  18. Diana says:

    @Luis Dantas: His first official act after joining Utopia was to save all of San Francisco from a potentially devastating earthquake, which in 2011 had a population of roughly 800,000 people. One could opine that’s a start.

  19. neutrino says:

    Magneto, Apocalypse, Daken, and Gorgon are heroes, while Professor Xavier, Moira, and Hank McCoy are monsters. Fair is foul and foul is fair.

  20. Michael says:

    @neutrino- Regarding Xavier,in fairness, if you read the previews for X-Men Forever 2, you see that Gillen’s portrayal of him is a lot more nuanced:
    Yes, he killed those men as part of a plan he and Destiny came up with stop Enigma but he realizes that the fact he did so means he no longer has the right to lead the X-Men.

  21. neutrino says:

    @Michael: I was thinking more of the fanbase opinions. Any faults of Xavier are lovingly exhumed (like thinking he loved Jean in an early issue of X-Men), while Apocalypse’s are consigned to the memory hole.

  22. Omar Karindu says:

    I think there’s a broader double standard among fans. A reformed villain — or even a villain who acts kind of noble once in a while — tends to get a pass from fans, or at least can still be seen as awesome.

    There used to be a similar dynamic with Doctor Doom and Mister Fantastic, until Marvel’s writers settled fully into writing Doom as utterly irredeemable.

    Even so, you’ll still find more fans talking up Doom’s awesome feats, while Mister Fantastic’s many heroic acts are ignored in favor of calling him an a-hole.

    And arcs that try to redeem or salvage heroes who’ve done bad stuff don’t seem to stick. Some writer always wants to play up the faults and mistakes for conflict.

  23. Luis Dantas says:

    I am not sure redemption arcs work. Editorial decree seems to be more effective overall.

    Readers won’t consistently be aware of the redemption stories, let alone find them convincing. But they will deal with changes of exposition and presentation that are ultimately editorial decisions – if for no other reason, because they have no choice if they want to keep following current stories.

    Besides, attempting to use the story panels themselves to change the perception of a character or team too often seems to backfire more often than not. The end result tends to be division of bringing the attention to the perception itself and making a talking point out of it.

    There are some interesting counter-examples, though. Frank Miller turned Foggy Nelson into a mostly humorous character pretty much instantly and after that he gained some nuance, but no radical change. It is probably far easier to tweak a character if he is not very exposed. At that time Foggy was seem six time a years in bimonthly issues of Daredevil and hardly ever anywhere else.

  24. Diana says:

    @Luis Dantas: I have no idea where you’re getting that from – if anything, readers tend to push back more frequently against editorial decrees that *ignore* carefully-constructed, long-running, on-panel redemption storylines. Fatal Attractions comes to mind, but it’s hardly the only example – Juggernaut’s backsliding certainly wasn’t appreciated at the time either.

  25. Mike Loughlin says:

    In terms of consistent characterization in X-Men, I would rather read about someone more interesting than “hero” or “villain.” Frankly, I think magneto’s path from villain to seeking redemption by following Xavier’s path to realizing he couldn’t makes sense. I don’t care how one-note he was until Uncanny X-Men 150. The revised version was a more interesting character. The fact that post-Claremont writers and editors screwed it up is beside the point. I like Hickman’s & Ewing’s Magneto, I don’t care if his whole history doesn’t line up perfectly. Give me the better character.

    Similarly, original-flavor Apocalypse was pretty boring. I found the idea that Krakoa aligned with his motives logical enough, and enjoyed seeing him interact with other mutants in new ways. I’m okay with him returning to villainy (potentially) because he feels betrayed by the other leaders of Krakoa. I don’t like reading about simplistic villains, usually, and like that X-books can and will explore other avenues for their characters.

  26. Luis Dantas says:

    In all honesty, I had to guess that you meant to talk about Magneto with your mention of Fatal Atractions, @Diana. I may be mistaken, even.

    Which is probably my point. Such self-conscious storylines don’t seem to succeed all that well. Readers won’t always accept the conclusion. I for one don’t even know that Claremont _attempted_ to build a redemption arc for Magneto; he seemed to believe that he did, for what that is worth.

  27. neutrino says:

    @Omar Karindu: Doom’s coming off as somewhat heroic in X-Men and Fall of the House of X, saving the X-Men from the Negative Zone. That’s ironic, since Doom is more of a fascist than Orchis.

  28. Omar Karindu says:

    @Nuetrino: Doom seems to have settled into a pattern when he shows up in stories about other villains’ schemes. He helps the heroes against more immediate threats villains, often getting scenes where he gets to condescend to the main antagonists.

    But then he’s almost always given a moment in which he says or does something to remind the readers that he’s only doing things out of ego or power-lust, after which he’s either shoved roughly out of the plot by another character or gets a little speech in the epilogue.

  29. Si says:

    I personally don’t think nuanced exploration of morality really works in superhero comics. Not beyond say, original Thunderbolts level or maybe early 80s Wolverine. I want my bad guys bad, and the good guys beating them because that’s what good guys do. When you start delving into the complex feelings of a despot who actually loves his people, and he also has an army of robots and a time machine, and sometimes gets into fistfights with a man with the powers of play doh, it just highlights the silliness. The uncanny valley of goof.

    For comparison,Judge Dredd often had nuance, usually in the form of satire, and that worked. Despite being nearly as silly as a superhero comic.

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