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Sep 11

X-Force #12 annotations

Posted on Friday, September 11, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-FORCE vol 6 #12
“The Cerebro Sword”
by Benjamin Percy & Bazaldua

COVER / PAGE 1: X-Force face off against Russian forces led by the “Russian doll” supersoldiers from previous issues. This is symbolic – nothing like it happens in the issue.

PAGES 2-3. Mikhail Rasputin talks to the dying Kid Omega.

As we’ll see later, Mikhail is going to hand Omega’s body over to XENO to exploit in the same way as Domino’s. He seems aware that Kid Omega can be resurrected, but presumably thinks there’s something useful to be done with the body – even though Domino’s resurrection seemed to cut off XENO’s clones from using her powers.

“Why would you choose your country over your people?” In true Krakoan style, it doesn’t seem to occur to Kid Omega that Mikhail might regard his people as, well, Russia. But for whatever reason, Mikhail goes rather further than that, insisting that he is some sort of embodiment of Russia – what he means by that is less than clear.

PAGES 4-5. Recap and credits.

PAGES 6-7. Beast sets Sage to work on tracking down the attackers.

Sage was attacked by the “Russian doll” soldiers in the previous issue, during the raid where they stole the Cerebro Sword.

The Healer isn’t a bio-tech kind of guy, so presumably this bio-pack is something that Forge had already knocked up for use by Krakoa’s medics. Beast is obviously not being very sympathetic in pressing the injured Sage into service, but in fairness to him, he has reason to believe that time is short if they’re going to track the attackers.

Quite what Sage is seeing on the video screen is unclear – it seems to be a brick wall tagged with Mikhail’s name, but why?

PAGES 8-9. Mikhail brings Kid Omega’s body to XENO.

This clarifies a scene from issue #8. The man with the Peacock Tattoo is indeed in charge of XENO. The guy who interrupted the meeting in that scene was evidently Mikhail Rasputin, who is not the power behind the throne, but an uneasy ally, throwing his weight around thanks to a combination of raw power and financial muscle. Obviously, XENO’s anti-mutant agenda sits very awkwardly with Mikhail, and their relationship is barely functional at best.

The big guy who gets a new arm is Finnegan, the tattooed man’s bodyguard from earlier issues. As in previous issues (and echoing themes from Power of X), XENO are all about human ingenuity providing technological solutions which will outclass the evolutionary edge of mutants. Obviously, where Mikhail is concerned, it’s not going well.

PAGES 10-11. Beast imprisons Omega Red.

We’ve seen examples of weird Krakoan wildlife in this series before. Omega Red was granted amnesty on arriving on the island in Wolverine #1. So far as we know, he isn’t working for Mikhail (though he is working for Dracula). As we’ll see later, the Beast has decided on a policy of internment for mutants from Russia until he figures out what’s going on – though the only ones we see him arrest are the high-profile characters, not the various refugees who were rescued at the start of the series.

Beast’s policy is not remotely heroic behaviour. In itself, that might not be an issue on Krakoa – but it also runs entirely counter to the “all mutants welcome”, utopian vibe that Krakoa is going for. Does Beast really think the Quiet Council are going to go for this? (Is his hope that it’ll be so wonderfully successful that he’ll prove his point before they get a chance to shut it down?) The Beast is essentially a villain in this story, and it seems increasingly as if the remit of X-Force has simply encouraged him to approach matters as if the rules don’t apply to him. In a sense this is what characters like Wolverine have often done – but the Beast does it in ways that readers are less likely to root for.

PAGES 12-14. Mikhail kills Finnegan.

Mikhail expressly disavows Krakoa as a representative of mutantkind – he regards it as just a state like any other, and not a particularly good one. From his point of view, he seems to be allying with anti-mutant forces in order to find people who’ll work with him against Krakoa.

PAGES 15-18. X-Force come to fetch Colossus for questioning.

So far as Wolverine and Domino know, the Beast just wants to ask Colossus about his brother – which is reasonable enough in itself.

Kayla, with her water-control powers, is a new character from the previous issue, who seems to be forming some sort of relationship with Colossus in the Savage Land. Domino was obviously not happy about her.

“It wasn’t long ago we were fighting broken mirrors of myself.” Domino’s referring to issues #7 and #8.

PAGE 19. Beast parades Colossus in front of the people of Krakoa.

Those recognisable in the crowd:

  • Three of the Stepford Cuckoos, up in the back left.
  • There’s a guy with a baseball cap who’s probably meant to be Adam X, but that’s probably an error given this week’s X-Factor, where he’s in the Mojoverse.
  • Below him is Pyro (with a smudged version of his skull tattoo).
  • From left to right among the main group: Trinary, making her usual massive contribution to the proceedings.
  • Random, with the bandana. We saw him arrive on Krakoa in House of X #5, and this is his first appearance since then.
  • Gorgeous George, who seems to be showing up remarkably often in these crowd scenes for such an obscure villain.
  • Psylocke
  • Lady Mastermind, with the impractical top.
  • I’m not entirely sure who the girl with the pinkish hair is, but from the general pattern of her costume and the bandage effect on her boots, I think it’s a miscoloured Hope Summers.
  • Above her, in the black, is Joanna Cargill (Frenzy).
  • Next to Hope is Fish, one of the mutants that the Marauders rescued from Brazil.
  • Above him is Gentle.
  • Over Gentle’s shoulder, in the white, Christian Frost from Marauders.
  • The Toad, crouching on a rock.
  • The guy with the X shaved into the side of his head is Bedlam, who’s shown up in Krakoa crowd scenes before.
  • Next to him, with the headband, is Karma from New Mutants.
  • Behind her is Rockslide.
  • An unusually tall Cable.
  • Jubilee.
  • The guy behind her with the red costume is Tag, an obscure member of the 2000s-era Hellions.
  • Kylun from Excalibur.
  • In the cowboy hat, Outlaw, a supporting character from Gail Simone’s Deadpool and Domino stories.
  • The Banshee, obviously.
  • Cannonball, in the back row. There are several generics to his right – or at least people I don’t recognise.
  • Storm, in the foreground.
  • Nightcrawler, crouching in the bottom right.
  • The Angel, behind him.
  • And Slipstream from X-Treme X-Men, over his shoulder. Two cameo appearances in as many issues! Keep this up, and maybe he’ll get a line of dialogue one day.

PAGE 20. Data page. The Beast explains his plan to intimidate the Krakoan public into staying in line.

PAGE 21. Wolverine breaks up the gathering.

Unsurprisingly, Wolverine wants nothing to do with this sort of heavy-handed manipulation. But as we’ll see later, he was perfectly fine with privately interrogating Russian mutants.

PAGES 22-23. Mikhail hands Kid Omega’s body over to XENO.

The Cerebro Sword is made from the remnants of the Cerebro that was destroyed in issue #1, hence still containing data within it.

PAGE 24. Wolverine asks Marvel Girl to read Colossus and Omega Red.

PAGE 25. Data page from the scribe. This one is an account of the scene where X-Force collect Colossus for questioning – but in this version it’s only Beast, and there are two paragraphs in strikethrough at the end where Colossus kills Beast. The significance of these pages remains obscure.

PAGES 26-27. Trailers. Again, the Krakoan text reads NEXT: X OF SWORDS.

Bring on the comments

  1. Diana says:

    The significance of these pages remains obscure.

    Dawn of X in seven words, ladies and gentlemen.

  2. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I disliked this series in the beginning because of the overuse of graphic violence for shock purposes (mostly the flaying of Domino). In short order I changes my mind and was very positive on the later issues.

    Now I’m changing my mind again because as much as Beast has been doing stupid stuff in the last decade, it was mostly ‘oblivious to the consequences, good-intentions-behind-poor-choices’ stupid. But this Realpolitik-evil version is… I don’t know, I feel like it’s the author making a point about… Um… The US internment camps for Japanese-Americans? The post-9/11 US government? And there are many valid points to make about those, but what does poor Beast have to do with any of that?

  3. Matt says:

    Genuinely fascinated by Beast’s thought process in this ordeal.

    He invites Storm and Nightcrawler to the horror show–arguably the only neutral/friendly faces he has left in the Quiet Council–ensuring it can’t even be presented as fait accompli after the fact. How could he possibly think he’s getting away with this?

    And after he set out to continue his policy of interning all Russian mutants, was he going to start a civil war with the Marauders over the refugees? Did he forget that Illyana was Mikhail’s sister too, or was he planning to order his team to go on a suicide charge against the New Mutants, as his next stop?

    Even after his confrontation with Jean, he still has no understanding that there could be consequences for his actions, handed down from any of the extremely powerful people around him who are not named Charles Xavier and don’t find him as amusing.

  4. Chris V says:

    I would have to assume it’s a commentary on the internment of illegal immigrants in the US currently (or just the refugee crisis, in general, in so much of the world).
    Since these are refugees from another country, and it’s a much more timely topic.
    Not that I’m saying this is particularly good social commentary.

  5. Rob says:

    Is that Mercury and Prism next to Cannonball?

  6. Ben says:

    I hope they just say “this ape/orc version of Beast doesn’t have human morality, we’re rebooting him back into a bear/cat that’s not a sociopath.”

  7. The Other Michael says:

    “I hope they just say “this ape/orc version of Beast doesn’t have human morality, we’re rebooting him back into a bear/cat that’s not a sociopath.””

    It’s amazing that Hank McCoy’s character arc has been to steadily make him worse and worse as a person. I mean, sure, it’s been going on in a sense since the ’70s when he experimented upon himself and became a more literal Beast, and there was the time in the ’90s when he got dumber and stronger until he was fixed… You could even say that the seeds for unethical experimentation and poor decision making were there all along.

    But to have him just continually be the Fucking Worst in such a gloriously awful manner, from fucking with time travel to going full-on black ops monster…

    How do you fix a character like that at this point? I mean, it’s bad enough that Dark Beast exists/existed/might exist again (does Krakoa feel any obligation to resurrect him, or do they draw the line at stray versions from dead alternate timelines?)but how do you repair Beast after all of this?

  8. Scott B says:

    Cable must have had an amazing growth spurt at some point if he went from this normal sized teenager to a hulking 6’8″ adult.

  9. Chris V says:

    You fix Beast the same way Marvel fixes everything. They just ignore it in the future and move on.

    Iron Man just got done being directly involved in genocide, and he went right back to being a hero.

    I guess this is Percy’s commentary on how the CIA operates. You don’t start an organization that you explicitly compare to your own version of the CIA and then act morally upright.

    I wonder if maybe this will turn out to be Dark Beast. They accidentally resurrected Dark Beast rather than the real Beast, at some point. Maybe something to do with Sinister.

  10. YLu says:

    “Quite what Sage is seeing on the video screen is unclear – it seems to be a brick wall tagged with Mikhail’s name, but why?”

    Quentin wrote it telekinetically while dying. You can see him using his powers in an earlier page.

  11. Ryan says:

    Is your use of ‘The Beast’ and ‘The Banshee’ and ‘The Angel’ new? I haven’t noticed it before and curious, esp if it’s new, what the thought process is for going with the more ‘proper’variants

  12. CJ says:

    At this rate, any day now, Beast will start trying some Hypercortizone-D lying around…

  13. Allan M says:

    Re: the text pages, the simplest version is that they’re from Colossus himself. Signed in Russian, he mentions great Russian writers, and the text in issues 10 and 12 are about X-Force business. And hence he is fantasizing about killing Beast in this issue, and I can’t blame him.

    I’m wondering if it’s a swerve and this is essentially Kayla’s fan fiction, based off what Piotr’s told her. She sees him as a great man who is getting swallowed by the moral corruption of X-Force and fantasizes about him being recognized as an artistic great (#11), and is brutally critical about X-Force (#10 and #12). There’s a line in #11 about being reached out to by someone’s huge hand, which makes no sense for Piotr himself since he’s enormous, but makes total sense for Kayla.

  14. Peter Singer says:

    I don’t think it’s likely, but could this be Dark Beast? Hank McCoy from Age of Apocalypse?

    He was killed in Rosenberg’s X-Men, but then so was everyone else.

    They’re probably not bringing him in, but this story seems the convoluted kind of thing that MIGHT use him.

  15. Josie says:

    “I would have to assume it’s a commentary on the internment of illegal immigrants in the US currently”

    Minor correction, the people being interned are asylum seekers. Their entry is legal since they declared that they are seeking asylum. Their internment is what’s illegal.

  16. Moose says:

    Kudos, perfectly said!

    @Chris V
    “You fix Beast the same way Marvel fixes everything. They just ignore it in the future and move on.”

    Another line that made me chuckle. Don’t forget about the ever-popular deal-with-the-devil and/or technomagical-spell options! Though those seem mostly reserved for characters known for appearing in down-to-earth stories!

    Anyone else as torn on these hard-resets as I am? On one hand, it often seems like something has to be done to rescue characters who’ve been mutilated by the narrative. On the other hand, it sure would be nice if Marvel editorial would start saying “Nope, this is where the character is currently, you play the ball from where it lies.”

    It would be even better, of course, if editors asked writers “Right, that sounds like a good story, but where does it leave the character for the next writer?”

    On a side note, my five-year-old son loves to learn about super-heroes, and one way of doing so is from 90’s trading cards…it’s a running joke going through what some characters have been through: died, came back, die again, turned evil, died, cloned, etc…

  17. Beast has been on a downward spiral for a while, remember the original 5? Around the same time, he was in the Illuminati when he took over from Xavier and was part until the end.

  18. Si says:

    Is there a genius scientist in Marvel that *hasn’t* committed atrocities at this point? Or at least be shown to in fact be an utter incompetent who only had one or two good ideas? There’s the new crop, Moon Girl, Shuri, Wasp and Riri I suppose, maybe just because they haven’t been around long enough yet. I fear it all ties back to the current of anti-intellectualism that is so rife these days, conscious or otherwise.

  19. Chris V says:

    I think it’s just an easy story to tell with scientist characters, the mad scientist trope.
    It makes sense if you think of it in the context of a lot of the older Marvel generation being associated with the atomic age.
    We don’t look back at the creation of the nuclear bomb with awe anymore. We look back at horror at what humankind did with all the amazing innovations of science. Instead of making a better world, so much technology was simply used for making bigger and better weapons.
    Peter Parker is a genius who hasn’t been portrayed in that way yet, and he was a teenager during that same period, so maybe it really is that he isn’t implicated in that era.

    I remember at one time, Marvel kept writing stories about how these super-geniuses were going to fix everything.
    The problem is that the Marvel Universe needs to look like ours, so they can’t turn the world in to an utopian sci-fi world.
    Instead, it looks like these scientists keep failing.
    So, it may be a commentary on our own world and the generation gap.
    The promises of the past never materialized. Our world is still dealing with the same problems.
    So, now it’s time for a new generation to step up and hopefully not make the same mistakes.
    So, probably in twenty years, Moon Girl will be blowing up inhabited planets.

    To be honest, I think that part of it is about tearing down the older generation to try to clear room for that new generation of characters.
    Marvel hasn’t really learned that fans don’t like or appreciate seeing characters they have cared about for years torn down in order to try to shove newer characters down fans throat.
    “Look at this! This character you used to love is a genocidal maniac! Here’s a cool, young character who isn’t completely immoral! Don’t you want to read their book instead?”
    Instead, Marvel just ends up losing fans.

  20. Chris V says:

    That’s another problem with the Krakoa era.
    There are supposed to be drugs that cure almost every disease and extend human lives.
    Yet, there has been nothing done with that plot in any other Marvel comic.
    Are Tony Stark and Reed Richards (et al)taking these drugs?

  21. Si says:

    Spider-Man falls into the “inept” category, with Scott Lang and another guy I can’t think of right now. He *can* do complex chemistry and engineer inventions on the fly, but you’ll see him doing pratfalls about three times as often as calculus.

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