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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. The Other Michael says:

    And once again we delve into the rather odder bits and pieces of Hickman’s retcons/contributions to the overall mythos with this prehistoric mutant civilization. Will it somehow tie into other prehistoric Marvel stuff, like the Eternals and Deviants, or the “angels and demons” nonsense, or the Avengers 1000000 BC?

    You know who else had a Twilight Sword? Surtur, over in the Simonson run of Thor. I doubt they’re connected though.

    And also coincidental, most likely, is that the last time we saw a mutant named Genesis, it was Tyler Dayspring, Cable’s (or Srtyfe’s) son from the future, who was kidnapped and corrupted by Apocalypse. Though at this point, I’m not sure he could even exist, with Cable’s future in flux…

    Certainly at this point, Rockslide’s true nature can’t be that big of a surprise, since he’s been destroyed and reformed multiple times and is basically a rock/earth golem. Unless the assumption was that he was a psychic entity only, not energy.

  2. Chris V says:

    Yeah, this is sort of a very odd direction for mutants.
    The way I remember Marvel’s prehistory, the Celestials created three different races on Earth, the Eternals/the Deviants/Homo Sapien Sapiens.
    The idea was that Homo Sapiens had the potential to evolve in to mutants eventually.

    Eventually, the Celestials would return and test the planet.
    I got the impression that the test would involve the survival of mutants.
    If humanity had managed to persevere and advance, instead of resorting to violence and tribalism, with the intent that mutantkind would be allowed to flourish, then the Celestials would deem that Earthlings deserved to become a cosmic race.
    If humanity had given in to their baser desires and wiped out difference, so that mutants were never allowed to flourished, then the Earth would be judged and condemned.
    I thought Apocalypse misunderstood the Celestials’ message and felt it was about “survival of the fittest”. He felt that only if mutants rose up to rule and then only the best and the strongest of mutantkind were there to greet the Celestials, then the Celestials would allow Earth to live.

    The idea that mutants existed as their own species in prehistory sort of ruins everything with Marvel’s concept of mutants, and not just the Kirby-derived cosmicism.
    Once again, I wonder if these were story notes that Hickman had left when he initially wanted to relaunch the Eternals, before Marvel offered him X-Men instead.
    This concept works better with the Eternals instead of mutants.

  3. Chris V says:

    That should read Kirby-cosmism, not “cosmicism”.
    Apparently auto-correct only recognizes Lovecraftian ideas. Odd.

  4. Tim XP says:

    I’m curious to see whether will be any connection between the Summoner and Ex Nihilo from Hickman’s Avengers run beyond “Hickman likes monochromatic character designs with a big symbol on their chest.”

  5. Adam says:

    Chris V lays out the problem with the concept of an ancient mutant nation well. I’ll add that I thought of the Neo, though I’m sure nobody wants to hear their name again.

    Regardless, I found this particular issue confusing, too. Not only did I not understand how Rockslide briefly got so tiny—I didn’t remember the statue from last issue—but the mechanics of Arakko’s banishment still escape me. A ravine opened up, splitting the island in two? OK, but then how does half the island get “pushed back” into the rift?

    Also, I understand why Apocalypse’s people have Egyptian motifs, but why does Annihilation look like a pharoah? Isn’t he from the other planet? I suppose maybe there’s an answer coming.

    Despite this, I’m still kinda looking forward to X of Swords. It feels like we’re finally going to get a real story after waiting through so much setup.

  6. Ryan says:

    “And also coincidental, most likely, is that the last time we saw a mutant named Genesis, it was Tyler Dayspring, Cable’s (or Srtyfe’s) son from the future, who was kidnapped and corrupted by Apocalypse.”

    Actually, we’ve had another Genesis: the cloned Apocalypse that grew into a kid who lived at the mansion, originally from Uncanny X-Force (“Evan Sabahnur”)

  7. Chris V says:

    Also, is Moira still around or was HoX/PoX ret-conned too? We haven’t seen her all during Dawn, right?
    It seems like Hickman dropped the plot.
    It reads like Apocalypse’s story now.
    Maybe the storyline will move in other directions after X of Swords, but I can’t feel this is all one big diversion away from everything based around Moira/House/Powers.
    I don’t see how any of this prehistoric stuff figures at all with Moira’s timelines.
    Obviously, anything that happened before Moira was born is outside the scope of Hickman’s ret-con.

    It often makes me think that the Moira story-arc was simply to set up Krakoa and Hickman has no interest in following up on anything related to Moira.

    I mean, people can argue this is the “dawn”, or early chapters, but this has been going on for one year worth of comic issues now (not to mention wasting five issues of Giant Size besides), following on from twelve issues worth of House/Powers.
    So far, in all that time, basically all we have seen are mostly unlikeable mutants.

  8. Chris V says:

    I mean, it’s like picking up a novel about World War II, and the first chapter introduces all the main characters.
    Then chapter 2 spends 100 pages detailing the life of a Neanderthal in prehistoric times, featuring no thematic relevance to the main plot. Then, hopefully, the author will pick back up on the characters from chapter 1 again.
    The reader will still be left wondering why they just spent all those pages of a World War II novel reading a completely different story.

  9. Allan M says:

    Re: the first generation of mutantkind, Selene’s birth is pegged to roughly 15,000 BCE in X-Necrosha #1, and that’s the earliest mutant I’m aware of. Since Conan is back in continuity, that’s in the Hyborian Age.

    I don’t think we ever got a date, but from Austen’s The Draco (and yes, I feel dirty bringing it up), we had an ancient mutant civilization with demon-themed mutants lead by Azazel going to war with angel-themed mutants. And it was all supposed occur in Biblical times, which covers god knows how long in the Marvel timeline. Whether that’s back in the Hyborian Age with Selene or more recent is unclear, but it was explicitly thousands of years ago. Pre-DoX retcons with Apocalypse, it’s the earliest mutant civilization I can think of, and still might be the oldest. Or maybe Hickman’s seeding a Hyborian Age X-Men/Conan spinoff.

  10. Chris V says:

    Interesting. Probably stories I don’t even want to think about and have excised from my memory.

    I thought Apocalypse was supposed to be the oldest mutant…and no, I’m not talking about Hickman’s weird ret-con either.

    Then, Claremont had Selene as being from the period of the Roman Empire, I was pretty sure.

  11. Chris V says:

    Oh, was that Azazel crap the “demons and angels” stuff TheOtherMichael was talking about?
    I thought he meant Lucifer (not the alien) and the N’Garai stuff, which was pretty cool. So I wondered why he wrote it was nonsense. It becomes very clear.

    About the only thing I took away from Austen’s run is that all women are apparently insane….ugh.

  12. GN says:

    The cover: I think editorial just forgot to put the ‘Path to X of Swords’ logo on the final version of the cover. It definitely should have one, this issue is more relevant to the crossover than say Marauders 11 and 12 for example. I noticed they forgot to put the logo on Excalibur 11 too.

    The game: In X-Men 11, the Summoner says ‘Once the game begins, we do not stop until it ends’, so yeah, I assume they played throughout the invasion (and ignored the procedure to evacuate to the Atlantic island). It’s interesting that none of the Cotati interrupted their game, but maybe the daemons the live in the Arak Coral (black rhinos and giant worms from X-Men 2 and that giant lion-dog from Cable 1) ate any Cotati that crossed into the Coral.

    ‘in the way that they were old’: I think the ‘they’ refers to Externals.

    ‘the first mutant of the second generation of mutantdom’:
    I think what Hickman is proposing here is that when Apocalypse was born in Akkaba about five thousand years ago, he kick-started a new generation of mutants that eventually settled on the mutant island Okkara. This society was destroyed when Amenthi daemons attacked Okkara and Arakko, Genesis, the Horsemen and a large population of mutants were left trapped in Amenth. After this, Apocalypse went off to do all the other things he would eventually do (the Celestials, Clan Akkaba, Ozymandias, looking for new Horsemen). Meanwhile, Krakoa fell asleep in the Pacific Ocean and people forgot all about it. This was all around the time of Ancient Egypt, old but not prehistoric.

    There have been a few mutants born every century since then like Decimus Furius in Rome during the 3rd Century, Sanjar Javeed in Persia during the 4th Century, Exodus in France during the 12th Century, Gideon in Spain during the 15th Century and so on. However, mutants only started emerging in greater numbers starting from the early 1900s with the birth of mutants like Destiny, Mystique, Wolverine and Sabertooth. This was attributed to radiation or some other Marvel pseudoscience. In 1945, Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos witness nuclear bombs being dropped on the Krakoan landmass in the middle of the ocean, which woke the Krakoan collective consciousness from slumber. Krakoa, hungry for mutant energy, goes on to cause trouble.

    Eventually, mutants like Magneto, then Professor X, then Moira X are born. In the 1990s, Professor X begins his mutant school with the Original 5. Mutants emerge at exponential rates at this point, with new generations in quick succession: the New Mutants, the Hellions, Generation X, Academy X, …

    So, if the Apocalypse / Genesis generation during Ancient Egypt (3000 BCE) was the second generation, then the first generation of mutants must be the ones who were born long before that and this can only refer to the Externals. Not all the Externals, as some were born long after Apocalypse (an External himself). The ones which I think were older than him were Saul (born in ancient Mongolia), Crule (from ancient northern Africa), Nicodemus and Selene (oldest of all Externals, born 15000 BCE in the Hyborian Age).

    However, even Selene might not be the first mutant. Avengers Vol 8 39 is set to show the history of the Earth’s first Phoenix Host. From the solicit,

    “In the harsh, primordial world of One Million B.C.E., early humans who are different are left in the Burnt Place to die. But one young girl whose only crime was being born with red hair finds something else entirely in the place of bones and ash – something that will change human history forever.”

    If I’m correctly reading that ‘humans who are different’ = mutant, this girl is either the first or one of the first mutants on Earth. The one million years is not an exaggeration by the way, the story really does take place in 1000000 BCE. In Avengers Vol 8 4, Loki reveals that the Progenitor, a diseased and dying Alpha Celestial, crashed on the primordial Earth 4 billion years ago. The disease spread through the planet and kick-started evolution, and by the time of 1000000 BCE, there were already several human tribes across the planet (the Panther Tribe, K’un Lun, a Northern human tribe where the first Ghost Rider was born, …).

    So regardless if the First Phoenix Host or Selene is the first mutant, mutantkind (Homo superior) was born only after humankind (Homo sapiens) have already set up their early societies.

    To conclude what I’m trying to say here, Okkara as a (possibly failed) mutant society as presented by Hickman is definitely old, but I don’t think it is absolutely ancient, it is at most ten millennia old. And between 1000000 BCE (when the First Celestial Host arrived and Odin’s Avengers were around) and 3000 BCE, you can fit it all of the other prehistoric Marvel stuff (other Celestial Hosts, Eternal/Deviant wars, the Inhuman Cities, Conan stuff).

    The only thing that could contradict this so far is that Nimrod called Apocalypse ‘older than the world’ in Powers of X 3. However, Nimrod said ‘world’ not ‘planet’, and being made of machines, Nimrod could have a very different definition of the word ‘world’.

  13. Chris V says:

    No wonder so many new comics suck.
    Marvel should have made the decision that all these sorts of changes to any past Marvel continuity be frozen sometime in the 1970s.
    Instead of creating new, interesting diverse characters that people will care about, so many writers would rather muck up past quality Marvel stories.
    No wonder fans will accept very few characters created after 1980. Writers would rather screw up something like the very concept of “mutants” instead of put in the time to build up characters like (once upon a time) Lee/Ditko Peter Parker or (recently) Kamala Khan.
    More time should have been spent on that and less with ret-cons about Marvel prehistory and the like, me thinks.
    Geez, no wonder mainstream comics are only allowed to exist in order feed the movie franchises now.

  14. Chris V says:

    GN-I think that the solicit about a girl with “red hair” is about mutations as they exist in our world, rather than the way that Marvel presents mutants. I think it’s being kind of playful with language.

    Like, if everyone was born with brown hair before, and suddenly a girl is born with red hair that makes her a mutation.
    I don’t think they’re saying she was born with an X-gene leading to her developing powers at puberty and being the “next stage in human evolution”.

    Also, the nuclear power thing has had to be ret-conned. It made a lot of sense in 1963, but the majority of mutants have been born long after 1945 now.
    Even Professor X would only have been born around 1960 or so now.

  15. Si says:

    Selene was alive in Conan times. She was an enemy of Kulan Gath, as seen in X-Men. Actually all of this Apocalypse Harry Potter (Appoterlypse?) nonsense would probably have been better suited to her.

  16. The Other Michael says:

    Yeah, I was referring to the Azazel crap.
    A pox upon Chuck Austen for his contributions to the X-Canon.

    Y’know, I’m okay with the idea of mutants appearing throughout history, even if the original idea involved them pretty much being products of the modern (radioactive) era. It’s just when you have them appearing in mass quantities like a whole ‘nother race at the dawn of time that it becomes hard to reconcile…

  17. The Other Michael says:

    Someone give GN a No-Prize for actually making all of this sound coherent on a big picture level…

  18. Chris V says:

    Re:Amenth-I have no idea if this means anything or not.
    The name reminded me of Amentet, who is a goddess associated with death in Egyptian mythology. It seemed like there might be some association because of Apocalypse.
    She is associated with where the Sun sets, which was where the realm of the dead would be located.

    I decided to see if Amentet had ever been referenced in any Marvel comics before.
    There is a reference on the Marvelwiki page for Akkaba.
    Again, I have no idea if this is supposed to mean anything.
    It says that Akkaba was located on the “very edge of the Amentet”. I don’t know exactly what that means either.
    I have to assume they are saying it is located near the entrance to the land of the dead.
    Again, I don’t know if this means anything or is just coincidence.

  19. John Wyatt says:

    “It often makes me think that the Moira story-arc was simply to set up Krakoa and Hickman has no interest in following up on anything related to Moira.”

    I’ve gotten the impression from interviews and my gut that a lot of the HoXPoX big picture will be left simmering until an arbitrary time they feel like following up on it. I think I saw Hickman mention that the creative team for the Moira X comic has been picked, but won’t be produced until the right time, whatever that means.

    Re: X-Men # 12
    For a lot of exposition, I don’t know that I care about a lot of the newbies (who are very old, I guess). I don’t know enough to care about the armies in the other universe. Are we supposed to be rooting for Apocalypse’s buddies? Will it just devolve to other-dimensional armies threatening to invade earth, with the X-Men as our defense? Too early to say, I guess.

    These annotations have been a godsend. I read that issue of Excalibur and had no idea I was watching an alternate universe until I read it here.

  20. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    ‘mutants only started emerging in greater numbers starting from the early 1900s with the birth of mutants like Destiny, Mystique, Wolverine and Sabertooth. This was attributed to radiation or some other Marvel pseudoscience’

    Give it time and it, too, will be a result of the Sin-Cong conflict.

    At first glance I, too, think that solitary mutants throughout history are preferable to whole mutant tribes and even nations. But maybe something good will come of that.

    And if not, well, my mantra is ‘even when the main book sucks, there’s usually something worthwhile in the spinoffs’. And if there’s something DoX doesn’t lack it’s spinoffs.

  21. Adam says:

    Hickman has explicitly said that he’s kinda delayed the main story‘s continuation for a bit to play around in his new X-verse. I guess it’s a personal opinion as to whether that‘s “spinning wheels”.

  22. Adrian says:

    “Geez, no wonder mainstream comics are only allowed to exist in order feed the movie franchises now.”

    @ChrisV Comics are mainstream? I would argue manga is far more mainstream. Comics are more niche than they ever were. Most people do not buy the comics that are the source of their favourite superhero. I think part of it is the medium isn’t to a lot of people’s tastes but also a lot of superhero comics are not that well written and can be quite cheesy with the overly muscled men and excessively buxom women.

    As to this specific issue: is this even an X-Men comic? As someone pointed out, this (and the even more ridiculous Excalibur) feels like the Eternals. It was bad enough when they tried to make the X-men turn into the Inhumans. This is insult added to injury.

    I still think Hickman was a really terrible choice as an architect for the X-Men. He isn’t a character writer and the X-Men are most certainly a very character driven series. This mystical gobbledy gook is just awful and so out of place. The mutants are badly written, incredibly unlikeable and live in this bizarre, poorly managed, creepy, ultra nationalist hippie commune. Hickman should have just done his D grade, Michael Bay popcorn version of collective consciousness, transhumanism and individuality then reset the board a la Avengers. This being drawn out for another two years is just embarrassing.

    Even worse, not a single book in the line is above average in quality. As a matter of fact, most are mediocre with one exception: Marauders. But that might as well be The Kitty Pride Show and Duggan’s attempt at making political machinations interesting is Saturday morning cartoon levels of cringe. It is not going to get any better either because Hickman’s status quo for the X-Men is so narrow and stifling, not even a Morrison could make it work without trampling on Hickman’s precious secrets.

  23. Karl_H says:

    Don’t even get me started on Avengers One Million. Aside from the lameness of “the same character concepts exist in every era!” it wedges an impossibly large period of nothing-happening into things like Asgardian history (like, if Odin’s a million years old what was he doing all that time, how long is an Asgardian generation, did Bor and Buri predate multi-celled life on Earth, etc?) ugh

  24. Adrian says:

    @Karl_H: It would also seem that the Phoenix has always been here. She may even have taught human beings how to use fire! lol

    Plot twist: Jean may be descended from a long line of red headed mutant telepaths or an External herself.

  25. Chris V says:

    Adrian-Yeah, I was thinking about how many people know of characters like Spider Man, Hulk and etc., but that is mostly from the movies.
    I am comparing that to indy books like from Dark Horse or Image Comics.
    You can find a lot better written comics outside of the Big Two (barring the occasional book like Immortal Hulk), but they are probably going to be far less recognized in pop culture (although a few, like Walking Dead, are very mainstream too, but I’ve never been able to enjoy WD either).

  26. Chris V says:

    I also agree that there isn’t one really stand out comic in the line, like an Uncanny X-Force.
    I kept reading because for a time I was convinced that the twist was going to be that Moira really still saw mutants as a cancer and was trying to save humanity by killing all mutants.
    I’ve tried to give Hickman the benefit of the doubt due to really enjoying the majority of his work, but it does seem to me he wishes he could have gotten the Eternals book.
    However, the more this has gone on, the less it’s possible to hold on to that idea, and I don’t know how much longer I can handle things like emotionally lacking mutants and everything X of Swords (which is going to be so sprawling).

  27. ASV says:

    Once Marvel quit caring about the implications of big “Wouldn’t it be cool if X?” stories in the early Bendis/Millar era, all bets were off.

  28. Matt says:

    I am the most devoted Hickman apologist I know and even I’m mainly hanging in there on faith that at some point (in like, 6 years) this is all going to come together and be amazing.

  29. Scott B says:

    I couldn’t get through this issue, this is not what I read the X-Men for. I was considering dropping the X books because of X of Swords being so bloated and this made my mind up. I’ll be back when it reboots in a few years.

  30. Thom H. says:

    That has been my reaction to basically everything post-HoXPoX. I’m keeping track of the books through these annotations so I can pick them up again when Hickman decides to write the next chapter of the overarching story.

    In the meantime, I’ll stick with the fun little books that, granted, wouldn’t exist without the weird status quo, but also seem to care about characterization and continuity, like X-Factor and Hellions. I’m just hoping that X of Swords (ugh, we get it, X = 10) doesn’t derail either book too badly.

  31. CJ says:

    > I can’t work out whether this is intentionally disorienting or just plain bad storytelling.

    I struggle with this in general with Hickman’s writing.

    I think there was a line in HoX/PoX about Apocalypse getting his original Horsemen back being a big deal, so I’m interested in that. And I’m still interested in overall world laid out (teased?) in HoX/PoX.

    What I’m not interested in is a story about a long-lost mirror Krakoa that just sounds like a generic fantasy novel. If this were the plot over in, say, Excalibur, then I’d be more okay with it.

    If in fact Hickman is biding his time, then the pandemic-induced delays should hopefully encourage to answer “what the hell does any of this have to do with the X-Men?”

  32. Adrian says:

    @ChrisV Now that you mention it, a lot of tv series are based on indy comics these days. I am not sure if they have seen a jump in sales due to the tv series. Kirkman leaves me cold in general. WD is basically ppl fighting zombies and each other over and over for well over 100 issues. Pure fluff.

    I hadn’t realized the scope of X of Swords until I read the recent solicitations. Is it really 22 issues across all the titles? Or is there a main story arc?

    @ CJ Yes it feels like a fantasy fan fiction “What if mutant power was tied to magic”. It really isn’t about the X-Men. If you removed the Excalibur cast and placed any random characters in there, it would still work. The only necessary ingredient is Apocalypse The Shaman. This might have been a fun arc for an Excalibur comic but as a line wide crossover, it is a very strange choice.

  33. Joseph S. says:

    For some reason, the pandemic caused the X-Office to /expand/ X of Swords.

  34. Si says:

    This all reminds me of a thing I read somewhere, the first Avengers movie affected sales of shawarma more than it did sales of Avengers comics. I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s a great line.

  35. Matt says:

    Is Yu’s art in this issue intentionally vague and surreal, or is it a general failure of storytelling? BC as much as I’ve enjoyed his work in the past – Yu’s work on this run has really been detrimental to the story.

  36. Jim says:

    One thing to note about the Summoner data page. In X-Men #2 it presented information about the Summoners of Arakko, but the one in issue #12 describes the Summoners of Amenth.

    They aren’t increasing; the numbers are divided between the two realms.

  37. Ryan says:

    Would be interested to get an Annotation for Marvel Snapshot: Cyclops at some point

    It was very good and pretty continuity heavy

  38. KD says:

    Amenth comes from Amenthes, another name for Duat, the Egyptian Underworld.

    This story seems to referencing elements from

    1) The Asgard Saga (X-Men have adventures in a mythic realm)

    2) Inferno (demons [with connections to several mutants] invade our world)

    3) Fall of the New Mutants (Mutants banished to limbo have joined their jailers)

    4) The Draco storyline (ancient unknown civilization of mutants, on a island [in the Bermuda triangle], founded between 15,00-9,000 BCE [Uncanny #422] trapped in another dimension, who were trying to invaded our world)

    5) X-Men Unlimited #9 (an ancient Pre-Ur unknown civilization of mutants on a different island in the Bermuda Triangle)

    6) The Neo (an ancient group of mutants attack the X-Men [and Mr Sinister] for revenge)

    7) Romulus an ancient mutant leader of an unknown group of mutants pulling the strings on the current X-Men

    Mutant timeline goes

    [Somewhere in-between fall Gabriel Shepherd, Exodus, Damian Tryp, Clarity, Finality, Tobias Messenger, ect]

  39. Chris V says:

    See my post above. According to Marvelwiki, Akkaba was located on the very edge of Amentet.
    I could only assume that this was saying Akkaba was located near the edge to the entrance of the realm of the dead.
    I guess that is what is meant.
    Amentet is the name of the goddess and Amenthes or Amenti is accepted as one name for the realm of the dead.

    It seemed way too coincidental that there wouldn’t be a relation with Apocalypse.

  40. wwk5d says:

    “Even worse, not a single book in the line is above average in quality.”

    I’d say Marauders and X-Force are above average. New Mutants is still enjoyable overall. X-Factor and Hellions both show lots of potential and promise.

    Granted, Excaliber is underwhelming (I do like the cast and art), and so is this title, which should be the flagship and setting the tone and stories for the rest of the line but feels like more of an anthology series than anything else.

    Can’t say much about Cable or Wolverine, but then again team books tend to interest me more than solo titles.

    The only real dud we have had so far has been Fallen Angels.

  41. Chris V says:

    I’d say they are readable, but not great.
    Excalibur is nigh unreadable, I find.

    Are any of those books going to last?
    I seem to remember that Hickman’s original plan was to have the “wave one” of X-books last for twelve issues, then cancel most of them and start a new wave of launches.
    Because sales were higher on all the books (except Fallen Angels), Marvel asked Hickman to keep the stories going.
    Hence, we ended up with a 22 chapter behemoth now.

    I may be misremembering, but I thought that was what I read.

    Wouldn’t it be hilarious if Hickman was copying his Avengers?
    We’ll see the line split in two, with one side willing to do anything to stop the threats, while the other side breaks away and keeps faith in idealism that there must be a better way. Yet they fail to offer any true alternative solution.
    Then, we see the big battle between the two sides just as the Phalanx consumes the planet, killing Moira, and all of reality reboots….just like Secret Wars.

  42. Thom H. says:

    I think the quality on the spin-offs is a matter of taste. And they’re most likely not going to last for longer than a year or two at best. That’s been the case with X-books (and lots of other books) for a while now.

  43. Luis Dantas says:

    @Si: it is probably true, if there was a scene of someone eating Shawarma in that movie.

    Shawarma people can find easily and order on a whim without a second thought.

    Avengers comics can be difficult to find and intimidating to request. The first Avengers movie came to theathers in May 4th, 2012. In the same month, by my estimation, there were 22 different new comics delivered to specialty stores with “Avengers” somewhere in the cover.

    One of them was the Free Comic Book Day 2012 Avengers, titled “Age of Ultron”, which reprinted Avengers Vol 4 12.1 and had seven different characters on the cover, of which at most three would be recognizable from the movie (Cap, Iron Man and arguably Thor).

    The overall message is not altogether very inviting for random people who might want to sample the comics that inspired the movie. And they are not very likely to stumble upon a specialty comics store to begin with, anyway.

    (As an aside, what would the appeal of a “.1” issue be? Such numbering suggest that the story is of lesser significance and that following the storyline is a challenge for the initiated alone to accept.)

  44. Luis Dantas says:

    @Joseph S.: It seems to me that expanding X of Swords may make sense as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    It keeps the characters busy without committing much to any real-world circunstances that might come to change in the short term and turn out to be of relevance to maintaining suspension of disbelief.

    Odds are that the X-Books’ plots will just ignore the pandemic altogether (as I expect most comics to do), but one never knows.

  45. Chris V says:

    Where are our Krakoan drugs now, huh mutants?
    They’ve failed again. Moira was right.

  46. Si says:

    The one character who’s time has come in this COVID year is Dr Nemesis. Finally that surgical mask makes sense.

  47. David says:

    GN- just wanna say wow, and thank you!

  48. neutrino says:

    The swords they’re using are khopesh swords.

    This isn’t really a retcon, just revealing more of Apocalypse’s history. Hickman couldn’t do it with the Eternals because of the Eternal/Deviant dichotomy.

  49. Chris V says:

    Maybe. It just feels like it clutters up Apocalypse’s back-story, which is something really not needed.
    I will admit to enjoying finding the reference to “Amentet” in reference to Akkaba. That’s kind of a fun use of continuity, taking that one throwaway line from an obscure Marvel comic and giving it more meaning.

    However, if you remember Eternals history, there is the idea that there are generations of Eternals.
    There are the really ancient pre-fall of Titanos Eternals, which includes Uranos and Kronos, who later set up the colony on Titan.

    Yes, you can find some really poorly written corners of Marvel’s mutant mythos to try to work this around continuity, but I do think it sounds like an Eternals plot transplanted on to the X-Men.

  50. Chris V says:

    I can also see an online reviewer twenty years in the future reviewing a new issue of Uncanny X-Men and saying, “It seems that the writer is choosing to dredge up the short-lived Apocalypse the Sorcerer role from a 2019 Excalibur series. It seemed like a poorly planned idea at the time, and I don’t know why anyone would want to bring it up all these years later. The writer seems to be trying to make this unfortunate area of the character’s back-story work. Good luck with that!”.

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