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May 31

The X-Axis – w/c 27 May 2024

Posted on Friday, May 31, 2024 by Paul in x-axis

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #141. By Steve Foxe, Steve Orlando, Phillip Sevy, Yen Nitro & Travis Lanham. The penultimate chapter of this exceedingly protracted arc, and at least it’s a half-decent closing fight, I guess. But it’s clear we’re not going to get anything at the last minute to tie this whole thing together in any very satisfying way.

RISE OF THE POWERS OF X #5. (Annotations here.) Right, the main event. And Kieron Gillen and Luciano Vecchio give us a rather more satisfying resolution than we had in Fall of the House of X. In itself, that doesn’t come as a great surprise – the Enigma storyline seemed to be able to play out more or less as intended, and Rise was able to leave Fall to try and make something of Orchis. But I had my doubts about how well the Enigma storyline would work as a resolution for the Krakoan era, as opposed to just being a big storyline that happened to be ending at the same time. What did Dominions ever have to do with Krakoa, really?

As it turns out, Gillen ties everything together remarkably well on that level too. Yes, sure, there’s a degree of arbitrariness going on in the plot. Stuff happens with Phoenix because, well, because it’s Phoenix and stuff can just happen with Phoenix. But you can get away with that if it makes sense thematically, and in the end Rise does bring it together. The latest explanation for Phoenix – there’ll be another one sooner or later, I’m sure – has them as an embodiment of mutantkind, and frankly, that makes at least as much sense as any other explanation that’s been offered in the past.

By tying those two ends together, the idea of the background population of Krakoa remaining in the White Hot Room forever starts to make sense. Of course, it serves the immediate purpose of removing Krakoa from the board, without sealing it off forever. But it lets Krakoa retain its status as a mutant paradise or even a mutant afterlife. Perhaps part of the angle is that without the big name characters seizing control of everything and steering the ship themselves, the true promise of Krakoa can now be realised – though if so, that’s undermined by the fact that the fall of Krakoa was never really caused by anything the Quiet Council did, unless you blame them for lax production line security. At any rate, I do like the possibilities of the remaining mutants being the fighters who were cast out of heaven, and the people who never wanted to go to Krakoa in the first place.

And hey, if you really want to use a random background mutant (who isn’t Jumbo Carnation), you can always say they were among the no-names who got detoured to Vanaheim in Realm of X. Nobody’s really off limits.

On the Enigma plot itself, the Dominions refusing to help him is on one level an anticlimax, but works because it fixes the obvious plot hole of explaining why no other Dominions are around to hold him in check. They don’t care, because they really transcended the material world. He’s the one still insisting on trying to control it, because he still never really got it. Sinister (of sorts) achieves his grandest ambition and still lacks the perspective to make it work. That works.

Vecchio does some nicely weird work on the Dominions, but also echoes House of X rather nicely in the Xavier/Moira scene – and tacks well to George Perez-style crowd scenes when Phoenix has to channel all the mutants. It’s visually overwhelming but also crystal clear, and the effort has gone where it needed to go.

Moira, then. Giving her a happy ending of sorts makes sense as a way of closing the door on Krakoa. Turning her into a one-dimensional villain after she left Krakoa was a terrible mis-step, and one which Gillen deals with here largely by pretending that she’d been more nuanced all along. Fine by me. The character deserved some last minute rehab after the way she was treated post-Inferno, and the last page of Moira celebrating her own freedom strikes a suitably ironic note.

Just one week to go, then.

WOLVERINE #50. (Annotations here.) Hmm. “Sabretooth War” certainly turned the ship around from the first couple of chapters, which were just terrible. Despite the hype and the “Parental Advisory! Not for Kids!” warning on the front cover, subsequent issues dial back to fairly routine levels of violence for Marvel. In the end, it turns out to be a strange, half-formed story that feels full of stray threads that never come to anything. It does have a reasonable angle on Sabretooth himself, playing up the love-hate aspect of his feelings about Wolverine. But what was the point of all that stuff about alternate universe Sabretooths, and Graydon Creed? Do the Exiles really get very much to do here? And if you’re going to depower Wolverine, having him get his powers back in the last issue from a device that apparently just happened to be built into the armour he was going to wear anyway is, um, less than satisfying.

To be fair, Geoff Shaw and Cory Smith do a decent job on the art. And part of the idea does seem to be that Sabretooth is a force of nature who simply refuses to bend to what would normally be the force of plot logic. So Cypher has a whole plan to shock Sabretooth into empathy which is build up over months and… does absolutely nothing, because he’s Sabretooth, for god’s sake. And the Graydon Creed plot is perhaps meant to work along similar lines. But I think I like that in theory more than I do in practice.

There are a couple of short backup stories . A 90s Wolverine/Jubilee story by Larry Hama and Daniel Picciotto is straightforward but perfectly decent and catches the vibe of Hama’s run quite nicely. And Percy’s “Endless” is not a story so much as a reminiscence by Wolverine as he looks back on his whole life, with Krakoa now just one more chapter among many; it’s a surprisingly effective idea, closing the book on Krakoa by reminding us that it will form a major chapter in X-Men history, but that another one will be along in a minute. Except…

HELLVERINE #1. By Benjamin Percy, Julius Ohta, Frank D’Armata & Travis Lanham. This is a Benjamin Percy Wolverine story, and reading it immediately after his farewell issue from the same week is, um, a bit weird. Like this week’s other X-book, it’s a post-Krakoa comic that exists in a curious sort of status quo limbo – no island, no Orchis, but no clearly defined arrangement to replace it either.

Despite that, this turns out to be effectively Wolverine #51. It’s a direct sequel to the “Weapons of Vengeance” crossover from Wolverine #36, in which Wolverine briefly gets turned into an evil Ghost Rider. This time, a Ghost Rider Wolverine is back doing traditional vigilante things, albeit rather violently. Not unreasonably, the authorities decide that it’s Wolverine and arrest him. The authorities here are Project Hellfire, Percy’s wacky military outfit trying to weaponise Hell – now based in a hidden sub-basement of the Pentagon called the Pentangle. Cute. Naturally, Project Hellfire have also just come up with another bunch of Satanic cybors gone wrong, because their stuff never works. Anyway, when Hellverine keeps attacking people, even Project Hellfire figure out that they’ve got the wrong person, and it turns out that this Ghost Rider is apparently a reanimated Daken. (Except… shouldn’t his claws be different? Oh well, maybe it’ll make sense.)

It’s all quite silly, but it’s clearly meant to be, and Ohta’s art leans into it with some relish. Pretty decent, in fact, if weirdly scheduled.

X-MEN: THE WEDDING SPECIAL #1. This is an anthology under the Marvel Voices branding, but it’s effectively another coda to the Krakoan era. The main story, with Mystique and Destiny renewing their wedding vows, is by Kieron Gillen and Rachael Stott; it’s a framing sequence for the rest, but it’s 15 pages or so in its own right, and a fun little story which sidesteps being too sentimental and takes the opportunity to gesture at where those two characters go next.

The other stories are shorts about the presents that various characters got for the event – which turns out to be a better linking theme than you might expect. Marvel’s anthology stories have a tendency to be fragmented vignettes rather than real stories, so there’s something to be said for leaning into that and literally making them parts of a whole, if you’ve got a hook to hang it on.

There’s a Captain Britain story by Tini Howard and Philip Sevy, which if nothing else is a nice opportunity for Howard to do a farewell gesture, given that she was aroudn for most of the Krakoan era. And it’s quite well done up until a bafflingly undermotivated use of Saturnyne, which doesn’t work at all. Tate Brombal and Emilio Pilliu have Wolverine and some of the kids debating present ideas – weirdly, the art seems to show them hanging out in a mansion library, but maybe it’s meant to be Avengers Mansion, where the event is being held. It’s just a parade of teens offering their thoughts on wedding presents but it’s a fun throwback to Wolverine’s teacher phase.

Yoon Ha Lee and Stephen Byrne do a weird story about Emma Frost offering couples counselling as a wedding present, which I don’t think really works at ten pages – a brief conversation and one insight doesn’t really deliver on the premise. Decent closing twist, though, and it looks nice. And Wyatt Kennedy and Jenn St-Onge do five pages of Rogue helping Destiny get ready and Gambit trying to stay out of trouble for the day, which is perfectly good for five pages.

All that gets us up to page 57, which makes the somewhat intimidating £8 price tag feel a bit more reasonable. But the issue is rounded out with a feature on Mystique and Destiny’s history, a Chris Claremont interview, a reprint of an Iceman story from Marvel’s Voices Infinity Comic, and the Mystique/Destiny back-up strip from X-Factor Annual #6. All told, it’s a better package than I’d expected.

Bring on the comments

  1. Chris V says:

    What did Dominions have to do with Krakoa? Krakoa was the mutant’s Dominion (which make Krakoa living on in the White Hot Room as a mutant Heaven more symbolic). Moira and Xavier’s idea for Krakoa in Life Ten were based on the revelations from Life Six about Machine intelligence. Remember, Nimrod the Lesser’s revealing to post-humanity that “they don’t want you”. Cerebro became the mutant’s version of the Phalanx, uploading the essence of the being while leaving the physical behind. Then, Cerebro downloads the “soul” into the clone body on Krakoa through Resurrection which is tantamount to immortality. The same as the Phalanx would download the information into the Dominion where it would live on for virtual immortality.
    It was more comparison and contrast between the different sides Hickman set up.

    At a higher level, it was also about mutants now having something to hate and fear. Krakoa was based in mutant supremacy, so in many ways it was pointed out that the mutants now acted as if they hate humanity, the same way that humanity used to hate mutants. Humanity also used to fear mutants. Krakoa had no reason to fear humans, so mutants needed something to give them fear as a motivation. That was from what Moira told them in Life Six, that the future didn’t naturally belong to mutants, as was so long believed, but the future belonged to the Machines. Just as humanity acted out of fear of “the Other”, we saw mutants acting out of fear of the Machines.
    The surprise reveal in Rise, of course, is that mutants were making the same mistakes as humanity, as the Dominions were not something to fear, after all.
    One could argue that humanity gave mutants cause to hate them through the persecution and multiple attempted genocides seen in Moira’s past lives. So too it could be seen that mutants gave the Machines reason to hate them by acting out of fear in Life 10A and deciding to destroy the Dominions, leaving Omega Sentinel alone and isolated. This hubris, that mutants are the future, led Omega Sentinel to go back in time to found Orchis which brought about the fall of Krakoa.

    Which is where the fault of the Quiet Council comes about as they ruled through secrecy and hubris.

    As for Enigma, well, superhero comics need something big and dumb to hit, and Sinister (along with Nimrod) were the “big bad” of the Krakoa-era. So, why not?

  2. Michael says:

    “Tate Brombal and Emilio Pilliu do a weird story about Emma Frost offering couples counselling”
    That should ba “Yoon Ha Lee and Stephen Byrne do”
    The premise of the Wedding Special was just stupid. Why would all the superheroes attend the wedding of Mystique and Destiny? Mystique killed Carol Danvers’s boyfriend with her bare hands. I could see Rogue, Remy and Kurt showing up but not anyone else.
    Plus, Destiny helped come up with the plan that led to Xavier killing innocent people and going to jail. And through an amazing coincidence, while most of the other people involved in the plain lost something (Xavier his freedom, Hope her life, Exodus Hope), the plan resulted in Destiny and Sinister losing nothing. You’d think there’d be some resentment. It’s especially ridiculous that the preview for next week’s X-Men 35 seems to indicate that Logan still harbors some resentment toward Xavier but in this issue he’s getting gifts for Destiny.
    And only Anole points out how stupid an idea this wedding is.
    Considering the ending, a lot of people were saying “Anole was right”.
    And then it turns out that the whole wedding was a ploy to steal some magical artifacts with Sinister’s help.So basically the point of the issue is to have Mystique and Destiny outwit the heroes because the heroes all suddenly become gullible idiots.
    Agreed the whole thing with Saturnyne just didn’t work. She’s surprised that she didn’t get a wedding invitation after everything she pulled in Realm of X? And for some reason assumes it’s Betsy’s fault?
    The twist that it was really Loki and not Emma messing with Mystique and Destiny didn’t work. Why would Loki take time out to mess with Mystique and Destiny in the middle of a prophecy about Thor dying?. Loki has had meaningful interactions with X-Characters like Storm, Iceman and Apocalypse but not Mystique and Destiny. It seemed like the writer just wanted to use Loki regardless of whether it made sense.
    Basically, Marvel seems to be trying to turn Mystique and Destiny into their Harvey and Ivy. But it just doesn’t work, since the Krakoan Era never stopped trying to remind us how toxic they are.

  3. Chris V says:

    The idea that Xavier wants to be punished because he feels guilty over abandoning his dream and taking up Moira and Magneto’s ideology to found Krakoa makes a lot more sense, with his actions at the end of the era as just icing on the cake. Logan, who was usually portrayed as one of the few skeptical citizens of Krakoa, resenting Xavier for trading in his dream (one that Logan wanted to believe in so badly) based on Moira’s manipulations also would work, but I doubt this is the direction they will be going.

  4. The Other Michael says:

    Perhaps cynically, of course, is that we got the Big Gay X-Men Wedding Anthology Issue right at the start of Pride Month, so of course at least several stories took the time to remind us all that Betsy and Rachel are now Very Gay Thank You Very Much, and that there are a whole bunch of queer X-students (but only the big name ones who didn’t get shuffled off to Krakoa–No Cam or Brutha Nature or any of the other backgrounders Vita Ayala so dutifully tried to introduce in New Mutants and Age of X.)

    But it doesn’t work if you have Anole, for example, actively and loudly protesting the wedding and lampshading the part where all of a sudden Mystique and Destiny of all people are the Great Queer Mutant Icons… because I’m sorry, for all their eternal love, they’re still pretty awful -people-. This isn’t even a case of sanding off the edges like DC has done with Harley and Ivy–no, Mystique and Destiny are still the same as always and this very story goes out of its way to remind us of that.

    And yes, the cover does scream “A very special issue of Marvel Voices: Pride” so in that regard, this does just that. Unfortunately, I feel as though instead of celebrating the increasing diversity of queer mutants, this showcases a pair of terrorists who are inexplicably popular (and again, which actively questions their popularity and the entire reason for this storyline…)

    Honestly? I didn’t even know/remember that Pixie or Indra were queer. Heck, I forgot Indra existed. And if you want to have a Pride issue… where are Northstar and his husband? Iceman and Romeo? Rictor and Shatterstar? Xuan and um… the one with the wings? Escapade? There are so many LGBTQ characters who could have been used to tell more interesting stories than this. (Again, pour one out for everyone who got abandoned in the Great White Hot Offstage…)

    Come to think of it, I think Tate Brombal’s story is the best simply because it speaks truth and calls the logic of this into question!

  5. K says:

    Way, way, way back, I knew Yoon Ha Lee from a community that also included Dave Cockrum’s son.

    It is still mindblowing which of them ended up breaking into Marvel first.

  6. Jenny says:

    If I’m being honest the best story in the whole thing is the reprinted Peter David one which still makes me tear up all these years later.

  7. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    This anthology works as much or as little as all tho other Very Special Issues by Marvel.

    I’d say it works better than most of them, because it’s actually about these characters and their relationships (just ignore that they’re a bit more manic and forgiving than they probably should be) and don’t include a character speaking to the reader about the importance of visible represantation And That Is Why Asgard Has Pride Celebration.

    I mean, visible represantation IS important. A character telling me that for five pages straight (sorry) does not a good story make.

    So, yeah, I’m grading on a curve, but I’ve read those other Pride issues Marvel put out over the years and they were teeth-grindingly bad at times. This one was fun, if a little bit silly. Or a lot silly, I didn’t mind.

  8. Sam says:

    Is that Arnim Zola marrying Mystique and Destiny for the first time in the flashback? That’s certainly a choice.

  9. Thom H. says:

    Zola got his minister’s license online. He led a surprisingly sweet ceremony.

  10. Paul says:

    I’ve fixed the credits for the Wedding Special – thanks.

  11. ASV says:

    If Betsy and Rachel can’t use gates to travel, when is this wedding story taking place?

  12. Alastair says:

    I’m glad that destiny and mystique are still irredeemable they were queer coded for 40 years as Villains they should remain that way now that is textual. Same if Cain and Tom were made cannon.

  13. Michael says:

    @ASV- it takes place either during the one week gap in Rise of the Powers of X 5 or after Xavier is hauled off to jail.

  14. Mike Loughlin says:

    The Wedding Special was fun, if inessential. It’s not a problem for me if Mystique and Destiny fluctuate from outright villains to untrustworthy allies who do their version of the right thing occasionally. I don’t hold most fictional characters to real-world standards, especially in super-hero comics. I can let go of some things (e.g. Bishop’s actions trying to kill Hope) if they break a character or universe. There are some character turns that don’t work for me (e.g. inverted Sabretooth, early ‘90s Magneto) but they usually get undone or papered over eventually.

  15. Chris says:

    Why are the Dominicans refusing to help Enigma?

  16. Luis Dantas says:

    The Domínions don’t see Enigma as one of their own, apparently because he is too attached to a continuam that they have truly transcended

  17. Leo says:

    “Why would all the superheroes attend the wedding of Mystique and Destiny?”
    The short answer is that they attended as a feeble attempt at solidarity to the Fall of Krakoa, considering that Mystique and Destiny were in the quiet council. If anything, it is the only time this works, before the two go on to become villains again but right after the major disaster that should have brought everyone together.

  18. Loz says:

    The real Dominions comprise of millions of millions of merged consciousnesses, each of the Sinister dominions, including Enigma, were just one person. They probably looked down on him as he would on an ant.

    The backmatter in this just show how no-one had any clear ideas of what to do with Mystique post-Claremont and how she devolved into just another bad guy, going from real-life Sherlock Holmes to ‘scraping MGH out of Dazzler for cash’ in the Bendis era. Something which is not her going crazy under her different identities but her juggling them to keep various plots running smoothly would be fun.

  19. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Well, the new number 1 craze hits Infinity comics this week – X-Men Infinity Unlimited or whatever it’s actually called seems to be over and a smoothly-titled “X-Men: From the Ashes Infinity Comics #1” is releasing on Wednesday.

    Just rolls off the tongue.

    X-Men From the Ashes Infinity Comics #1.

    Unbelievable they didn’t stick an “Uncanny” there at the beginning.

  20. Thom H. says:

    Uncanny X-Men From the Astounding Ashes Amazing Infinity Comics #-1

  21. Dave says:

    “scraping MGH out of Dazzler for cash’ in the Bendis era.” .

    Oh god. ‘What do I do with villains like Sabretooth and Mystique when I’m writing X-Men? Write them as gangsters, like all the villains I write’. Just dismal.

  22. Rinoa says:

    This was the first time I ever read that particular story from PAD. (Or maybe I just don’t remember it from when I read his X-Factor run a long time ago?) It was stunning, and I hate to say it but even though the other stories were cute I felt it blew those out of the water.

    I do want to add an appreciation for the Howard story. Agreed that Saturnyne was weirdly used, but the CBs were used well and it was quite charming. I would have liked Howard’s krakoa era books to have been more of this and with fewer X-Men crammed in (saying this as an X-Men rather than a CB fan).

    I really like your blog. To be honest I wasn’t going to pick up the books from the new relaunch but I actually might just because I really look forward to your and Blerd (youtube)’s breakdowns every week haha.

  23. CalvinPitt says:

    Thom, can we get an “Xtreme” in that title somewhere?

    The Uncannily Xtreme X-Men, etc., ?

  24. Mike Loughlin says:

    @Rinoa: the PAD story was from an X-Factor Annual released a few months before his run on X-Factor got started. I know PAD has fallen out of fashion, and for good reason (a racist rant a few years ago being the primary cause), but it’s weird to me that almost every time I hear or see his old work mentioned it’s negative. In the early ’90s, he was one of the only writers at Marvel putting out good work.

    If you like Blerd Without Fear, I recommend Dave Busing’s Comic Book Herald channel. Both of them are among the few reasonable YouTubers who talk about comics. They team up sometimes, and it’s always a good discussion.

  25. K says:

    This was also my first time reading the story from the Annual, and…

    It’s an 80s romantic comedy movie compressed into a few pages. Complete with taglineable concept (“she’s never laughed in a whole century”) and gratuitous featuring of popular music…

  26. Michael says:

    I’m having trouble posting.Is anyone else?

  27. Chris says:

    The Krakoa era sounds like it tied up the same way as LOST

  28. Michael says:

    One thing to note- Lorna will be appearing in X-Factor. And Declan Shalvey and Alex Paknadel will be doing series for Marvel- presumably their “Mystique” and “Sentinels” series we were promised.

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