RSS Feed
Sep 20

X-Men #12 annotations

Posted on Sunday, September 20, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-MEN vol 5 #12
by Jonathan Hickman, Leinil Francis Yu & Sunny Gho

COVER / PAGE 1. Summoner with (presumably) some of the monsters that he’s summoned up. He seems to be crying black tears. Curiously, this issue doesn’t carry a “Path to X of Swords” logo.

PAGES 2-3. Recap and credits. The recap is describing the events of X-Men #2. The title, “Amenth”, isn’t a word, and doesn’t seem to refer to anything pre-established. We’ll see later that it’s the name of the wasteland dimension in which Arakko was banished.

PAGES 4-7. Apocalypse interrupts Summoner’s game with Rockslide, and asks to know more about Arakko’s history.

The game. Summoner Rockslide are playing the “trial” game from Arakko that Summoner introduced last issue. While Summoner’s description of the game seemed extremely ominous, it seems to have been more or less as he described – a contest in which the players learn about one another and explore their weaknesses. What exactly you’re meant to do in order to win is not at all clear, but doesn’t really matter.

Have Rockslide and Summoner been playing this game uninterrupted since the previous issue? If so, they appear to have played right through an alien invasion by the Cotati, which is rather troubling.

The art on this sequence is confusing – it looks at first as if Rockslide’s been turned into a tiny figure on the playing area (but we saw him making this figure in the previous issue), and then he seems to be entirely missing from the final panel on page 4. I can’t work out whether this is intentionally disorienting or just plain bad storytelling.

According to Rockslide, Summoner’s mutant power is invulnerability, except for his eyes. We’ve been told before that Summoners can call up monsters, but this evidently that’s a magical skill (as confirmed later on the data page). Rockslide’s vulnerability, apparently, is that he’s actually an energy being inside a rock body – the vulnerability being more the fact that someone who knows it could exploit it. Naturally, Summoner blithely assures Rockslide that they’re all on the same side, if you trust him on that.

Summoner’s lineage. Summoner is the son of the original Horseman War, who in turn was apparently the child of Apocalypse.

“I have built the External Gate…” Apocalypse creates the External Gate in this week’s Excalibur #12.

PAGE 8. Data page (ish) – more of a subtitle, really. There are three bits of small print. The first reads “The one, the land”. The second reads “x Okkara, x Arakko” – Okkara was the name of the combined Krakoa and Arakko before they were split in two in ancient history, as shown in Powers of X #4. And the third reads “Krakoa Weeps”, which doesn’t sound very encouraging.

PAGES 9-22. Summoner narrates the back story of Arakko.

The first part of this is an expansion of what we saw in Powers of X #4. Deep breath…

“Okkara, the one land of mutants.” In Powers of X #4, we were simply told that Okkara was what Krakoa and Arakko were called at the same time. It wasn’t specifically called a land of mutants at that point.

“It was ancient before that word existed, but not yet old in the way that they were old.” This repeats word-for-word Kraoka’s account of its origin in Powers of X #4. In the original, the word “they” is stressed, and has no obvious antecedent. In this one, it might refer to “mutants”.

The next two panels are a direct repeat of Powers of X #4, although the Twilight Sword wasn’t capitalised first time round (making it read like a poetic description rather than a name).

“Until, at great cost, the army of the enemy – along with Arakko itself – were pushed back through the chasm…” In Krakoa’s account in Powers of X #4, Apocalypse defended the world against the invaders, pushed Arakko itself through a “chasm” – presumably some sort of portal – sent his Horsemen to guard the place, and then sealed the chasm shut. Summoner’s account is much more ambiguous, since he’s treating these as historical events which aren’t clearly documented. The first version he tells has Apocalypse staying behind on Earth to prevent it from falling – and the art (in page 10 panel 2) is a repeat of the equivalent panel in Powers of X. But Summoner goes on to acknowledge an alternative possibility – that Apocalypse abandoned Arakko to save himself.

Summoner’s third account (accompanied by a repeat of a Powers of X shot of the Horsemen) suggests a third possibility, that events weren’t under Apocalypse’s control at all. By the way, the one with her head on fire is War, Summoner’s mother.

“You were Apocalypse, the warrior-god in blue – the great reseeder – the first mutant of the second generation of mutantdom on Earth.” In Powers of X, Krakoa also called Apocalypse the “warrior-god in blue”. But Krakoa just called him “the first mutant” – Summoner adds a huge asterisk to that by claiming that there was a whole generation before Apocalypse.

Genesis. Early on, the art repeatedly shows us, alongside the Horsemen, a woman with blue face markings and a sword in the unlikely shape of a lightning bolt. Later on, it’s made clear that this is Genesis, described as “the authority of Arakko”, “the mother of Horsemen” and “the wife of Apocalypse”. Her swords match his, and Summoner refers to separation of “husband from wife” alongside a panel of her image.

We saw Genesis before, unnamed, in Free Comic Book Day: X-Men, where she was on the Eight of Cups during the tarot reading sequence. The captions in that scene talked of “disillusionment” and “abandonment”, both words that appear in the (quite short) Wikipedia article on the Eight of Cups. However, it refers more specifically to “disillusionment and the abandonment of things that have not been emotionally fulfilling”.

According to Summoner, Genesis was killed in battle against the ruler of Amenth, Annihilation. Annihilation also appeared on the Eight of Cups card in FCBD: X-Men, which makes me rather doubt that Summoner has got this right. Interestingly, Annihilation also has a lightning-bolt sword.

The White Sword and his One Hundred Champions. New characters. The White Sword is named later on as Purity. They seem to be into nailing the bodies of defeated enemies to X-shaped crosses, which is a strange coincidence. Summoner specifically describes Purity as an External, and basically says that the guy eventually went mad and turned on Arakko.

“When the army of Amenth finally came…” X-Men #2 told us that Arakko has been besieged and under wars for thousands of years. Presumably it’s spent all that time fighting the invaders that Apocalypse (is said to have) successfully repelled from Earth.

“As a child, all I knew was the world inside our walls.” The art shows a council room with a giant plant face behind it – presumably the face of Arakko. This is obviously the equivalent of Krakoa’s Quiet Council chamber, although the Arakkans don’t sit in groups.

“I was sent ahead to find you…” In X-Men #2.

“Others sought out a different kind of salvation.” I’m not clear who these guys are, but Summoner is clearly telling us that there’s some other splinter group of Arakkans out there.

PAGE 23. Data page. This is very similar to the data page in issue #2, but not identical. The original one has text explaining the factual role of Summoners; this one is more grandiose and basically tells us to be wary of them, because ultimately they are most closely linked to an “alien power”. The word “daemon” has been respelled “deamon” throughout.

Strangest of all, considering the dire straits that Arakko is meant to be in, the number of Summoners has gone up since issue #2. There are now 350 Summoners Minor (up from 250), 22 Summoners Adept (up from 8) and 2 High Summoners (up from 1 – our Summoner). But the Summoners remain way below strength.

PAGES 24-25. Apocalypse sees Summoner off on his trip back via Otherworld to Arakko.

Apocalypse seems to be sending Arakko ahead as a messenger. Despite his vaguely sinister bearing, Summoner seems genuinely to believe that he’s found a great hero who’s going to save his people.

For some reason, Apocalypse’s choice of guards for this important role is decidedly B-list – longtime X-Man Banshee, and Unus the Untouchable, a minor Silver Age villain who’s done nothing of any great note in many, many years.

PAGES 26-27. Trailers. Once again, the Krakoan reads NEXT: X OF SWORDS.

Bring on the comments

  1. Brendan says:

    I’m not advocating for the Apocalypse the Scocerer direction. But you’d think more villains would turn to magic in the Marvel Universe. It’s a confirmed source of unimaginable power. Especially if you have millennia to master it.

  2. Joseph S. says:


    I didn’t mean to suggest that the comics would (or should) be dealing with current events. The pandemic caused months of delays, primarily due to Diamond but also due to inevitable production delays on the creative sides.

    The Empyre cross-over, for instance, was streamlined, with multiple side books and one-shots cancelled. X of Swords, on the other hand, was expanded.

    I simply meant to draw attention to this difference, though of course the events are of different scales to begin with. Since this is confined to the x-office, it does make some sense to streamline production around this event.

  3. Person of Con says:

    Between this and X of Swords, it’s reminding me how much the villains Hickman creates rather than builds on have a real 2000s era Claremont energy–they look cool, and maybe there’s an idea there, but it’s hard to imagine them existing outside of the context of the scenes they appear in.

    Some of his original series like East of West get around this through shear accumulation over time, but they never seem to fit into the Marvel universe very well (even the ones that made it into Avengers movies are pretty much just fodder.)

  4. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I remember there was a page with sketches of the Black Order members and some info on them in one of the Infinity issues. And the big guy was described as ‘a nihilist dreaming of death’ or some such and I thought ‘really? Is he? Where?’.

Leave a Reply