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Oct 15

New Mutants #13 annotations

Posted on Thursday, October 15, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

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

NEW MUTANTS vol 4 #13
“X of Swords, Chapter 7”
by Ed Brisson & Rod Reis

COVER / PAGE 1: Magik and Cypher sparring.

PAGES 2-4. Magik calls Cyclops to call him home.

Cyclops and Cable are still on the SWORD orbital base, where we left them in X of Swords: Creation. The timeline of their subplot is deeply confused, since essentially no time seems to have passed for them while Chapters 2 to 6 have passed for everyone else, but I’ll come back to that in the Cable #5 annotations. At any rate, Magik is bringing them up to speed on the premise of the crossover. They don’t return immediately, and Magik will give them another call in Cable #5 to chase them up.

“That sword you got from Shinjuku.” Shinjuku is a district of Tokyo, but that’s not where Cable got the Light of Galador sword, so presumably Magik’s just being sarcastic about its design. The sword is a major plot point in Cable but doesn’t really need to concern us here.

PAGES 5-6. Recap and credits.

PAGES 7-10. Warlock reassures Cypher; Magik spars with him.

The general theme of Cypher as a non-combatant who’s out of his depth in battle goes back to his role in New Mutants, where Warlock would form a suit of protective armour. Poor Cypher has a power that would be massively useful in the real world, but not so much in the superhero genre.

“Which I suppose we’re not keeping a secret any more” Cypher has been pretending to have a techno-organic arm ever since arriving on Krakoa. Giant-Size X-Men: Nightcrawler revealed that it was actually Warlock. Judging from Cypher’s comment here, he hasn’t actually told anyone about Warlock yet, but it’s going to become pretty obvious when he shows up with his sword without doing any questing. (Magik was in GSX: Nightcrawler, and learned about Warlock there.)

Krakoa. Krakoa’s line of dialogue is obviously meant to say something like “mind the trees”. The actual text is placeholder – if you compare with the cipher used in X of Swords: Creation, where he had some long decipherable speeches, it simply reads GIBBERISH.

PAGE 11. Data page on the Soul Sword. This is a very well established piece of X-Men history, and there’s nothing new here; all of this dates from Illyana’s earliest appearances as Magik in the early 80s.

PAGES 12-13. Krakoa tries to persuade Cypher to drop out.

Krakoa doesn’t want to lose his translator; Cypher feels honour bound to sign up. Note though that, as we’re reminded later, Krakoa can also speak through Mondo, if he really has to.

Krakoa’s dialogue is just placeholder text again. (The first line is GIBBERISH again. The second is LOREM IPSUM DOLOR SIT AMET. The third seems to be LIAM NONUMMY.) But the thrust is obvious from Cypher’s dialogue.

The Hellions: Their side mission was set up in the preceding chapter, Hellions #5. Professor X voted against it there, but I guess that if once it’s happening, he’s going to root for it to work.

PAGE 14: Data page about another Otherworld realm that was mentioned in X of Swords: Creation but hasn’t been seen yet. All of the information here is new.

PAGES 15-20. Magik and Cypher spar; Exodus tries to persuade Cypher to die.

Magik reiterates the point that Cypher is going to be completely out of his depth here. She obviously expects him to get killed quickly and offers to at least try and look out for him. (Of course, this sort of arc usually ends with Cypher turning out to be unpredictably essential to victory…)

Exodus understandably expects Sinister to fail – even Sinister thinks it’s a suicide mission, after all. He wants Cypher replaced by somebody else as a champion of Krakoa. His big idea is to kill Cypher, knowing that he’ll be revived in due course (once resurrections are up and running again), and that in the meantime somebody better can take is place. Cypher is surely right when he says later on that Saturnyne isn’t likely to stand for this. Mind you, magical stories are often very hyper-literal in their rules, and often reward people for finding silly loopholes. At any rate, Exodus backs off rather than proceed in the face of Cypher’s opposition.

PAGE 21. A brief data page about Warlock, telling us nothing we didn’t already know.

PAGES 22-23. Krakoa tries again to persuade Cypher to drop out.

Cypher used Mondo as a vehicle for Krakoa in early issues of the series. Krakoa made it very clear that he didn’t like it, so he must feel very strongly about talking Cypher out of this.

PAGES 24-26. More sparring, and Cypher takes his place at the hub.

The idea that Cypher can read body language has come up before, and was pushed for a while a few years back, but seems to have faded out of fashion again. In any event, being able to read Magik’s movements is only going to take him so far if he doesn’t have the skill to do anything about them in response.

PAGE 27. Trailers. The Krakoan is presumably meant to say NEXT: VESCORA (the alien villains in the next chapter), but it actually says NEXT: VESCDRA.

Bring on the comments

  1. Daibhid C says:

    if you compare with the cipher used in X of Swords: Creation, where he had some long decipherable speeches, it simply reads GIBBERISH.

    I’m reminded of an issue of, I think Superboy in which aliens were talking in Interlac (from Legion) and Venusian (from SHAZAM!), but if you dug out the keys, it turned out they were saying something like “Random alien words”. And I remember wondering at the time what the point was of deciding not to have proper text in a cypher-language, but going to the trouble of actually cyphering a statement to that effect.

  2. David Goldfarb says:

    Well, with computer lettering you can just put in some placeholder text like “random alien words” or “lorem ipsum dolor” and then change the font.

  3. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Didn’t the demons in Zeb Well’s New Mutants have some lines that, decoded, were just weird swears and comments in the vein of ‘that guy has a weird nutsack’?

  4. Chris V says:

    Yes, but there’s an actual cypher key for this language.
    So, if you take the time to actually put in the cypher to spell out “Lorem ipsum dolor” in the text, why not put in the effort to translate the language in to something somewhat meaningful, instead of simply placeholder?

    You can use meaningless placeholder text for fictional languages that you never bothered to consider important enough to decipher within the story.
    Krakoan is supposed to be a new mutant language.
    It would help to treat it a bit more importantly when it’s used within a story.
    It looks like everyone on Krakoa speaks English. Then, when the Krakoan is being used in the story, it’s treated with the same importance as any other random fictional language.

    Has anyone other than Hickman bothered to translate coherent sentences in to Krakoan?
    It seems like Hickman uses the Krakoan cipher key, while every other writer doesn’t bother with meaningful translations. Maybe I’m forgetting a time or two.

  5. Si says:

    This raises something I’ve been wondering about. I almost never bother to read the data pages or try to decipher the funny fonts. It’s just too much like thankless work. Am I actually missing out on anything? I don’t seem to be.

    The recipe for laksa was pretty funny though.

  6. Ben says:

    This was pretty good.

    Kind of odd to out the Warlock secret in this way though.

    Pretty anticlimactic.

    As I never read the old New Mutants, seeing the Magick/Cypher relationship was interesting.

  7. Si says:

    By the way, I imagine if they had a proper neural interface and weren’t just Warlock living on Cypher’s arm, the combination of reading tactics and body language combined with the strength, speed, sensors and skill that Warlock possesses, they’d actually be quite formidable. They’d be even more formidable if Warlock turned himself into a gun, but never mind.

  8. MasterMahan says:

    When your sword is in fact a powerful shapeshifter, you’d be well-off having him, you know, shapeshift. Warlock staying an immobile lump is one of the least useful things he could do.

  9. Chris V says:

    What was the purpose of acting like Warlock being with Doug was a secret?
    In House of X, it seemed as if Doug secretly infected Krakoa with the transmode virus.
    In an issue of X-Men, Cyclops thought he saw Warlock with Doug, and acted disturbed by what he saw.
    Meanwhile, Hickman writes Doug as acting creepy.
    Finally, in Giant Size X-Men: Nightcrawler, Magik discovers that Doug’s arm really is Warlock, but Doug wants it to be kept secret.
    It all seems quite important and (perhaps) disturbing.

    Now, because of this magic threat, it is revealed that Doug will wield Warlock as a sword to fight for Krakoa.
    So, what was the purpose of anything that we saw before?

    That’s the problem in that it seems like Hickman is writing his own story separate from the other “Dawn of X” writers.

  10. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Honestly, at this point I wonder if the scene with Cyclops noticing Warlock was meant to be funny instead of disturbing? Hickman has a weird sense of humor (‘weird’ as in, well, ‘not funny’, at least going by his New Mutants) and I think Yu has butchered a lot of intended meaning in that series. Maybe Cyclops was supposed to look comically confused and befuddled, but came out as disturbed because of Yu.

    As for what was the purpose of the Warlock mystery – I’m not sure there was a purpose. I think HOXPOX was stuffed with tons of potential plot hooks, but that doesn’t mean that they all serve some master plan to pay off in three years time. I think Hickman threw them in to be used by other writers if and when they came up with ideas to do so, but nobody had come up with a plan for Warlock, so Hickman decided to nip this ‘mystery’ in the bud. Or he never even intended it as a plot hook, it might have been just ‘a weird thing Doug does now’ – a character tic in place of a character arc.

    As for ‘it seems like Hickman is writing his own story separate from the other “Dawn of X” writers’ – well, no, Hickman is the head honcho of the line. If the Warlock mystery was meant to serve some purpose, he’d make sure it stayed a mystery. He has the power to do so.

    On the other hand, an X of Swords handbook came out this week that includes Cypher’s bio and in it the writers underline that Warlock is a secret and there’s a secret reason for why he’s a secret and that this secret will be maybe revealed in the future, so who the heck knows.

  11. Col_Fury says:

    re: Krzysiek Ceran
    Did anyone else get the X of Swords handbook? What did they think of it? Will Paul review it?

    Asking for a friend. 🙂

  12. Dave says:

    It does say on the Warlock data page that the reason for the secrecy is still unrevealed, so it should still have some significnce, and could still be to do with that scene where it looked like Krakoa had transmode.

    “Has anyone other than Hickman bothered to translate coherent sentences in to Krakoan?”
    Definitely in X-Factor (but along with the text in English), and I think in other places too, but I wouldn’t swear to it.

  13. Adam says:

    This issue felt like just a retread to me. Doug is essentially wringing his hands about the same problem he had back in the 1980s.

  14. Paul says:

    No, I won’t be reviewing the Handbook. It’s a Official Handbook issue, albeit with more of an emphasis on the bits of history that are immediately relevant (which is fine, that’s how the original Handbook worked). On a quick skim, the only thing of real note is an unambiguous statement that the Krakoa/Arakko split comes AFTER Apocalypse’s established childhood in Egypt – though given all the “dawn of time” stuff, I really doubt whether that was Hickman’s intention.

  15. Drew says:

    I realize the reason they’re ignoring it is because it would wreck Doug’s emotional arc; but everyone seems to be forgetting that Warlock keeps a copy of Doug’s personality stored inside him. He used it back in Necrosha to overwrite Selene-infected Doug with Doug Classic.

    So surely, of every character, Cypher is in the LEAST danger of dying permanently. Even with the Otherworld weirdness, they can just grow a new Doug body and have Warlock load Doug’s personality into it. Really, it’s WARLOCK they should be worrying about losing, not Cypher. (I suppose they can get around it by saying Otherworld messes up Warlock’s copy, or something. Seems a little cheap, though.)

    Anyway, good issue, even if it feels like well-trodden ground for Doug. Might’ve been nice for he and Illyana to talk a bit about how they’ve both already been dead for long periods of time.

  16. CJ says:

    I don’t think I’ve enjoyed an issue of this version of NM until now. Even though it’s Cypher having a Cypher-kind of problem from the 1980s, it’s been a while since I’ve seen it.

    I’m a little weary of his power boost boiling down to treating everything as an analogue to learning languages. This is really much more of a general pattern recognition / “AI” power, which you’d think Hickman would pick up on, especially in conjunction with Warlock. He ought to be super-powerful with this power set.

    In any case, I really enjoyed it.

  17. maxwell's hammer says:

    I’ve only been following the X-books via these annotations, but from what we’ve seen with Warlock and Doug and the technovirus stuff, I kind of assumed that Krakoa is infected with the technovirus, and hence, all the new clones are also infected in some way, which is why everyone who has been resurrected has been acting all creepy and vaguely hive-mindish, which is somehow all part of Moira’s grand plan…

  18. Chris V says:

    It could be melding mutants and machines along the way towards Krakoa becoming a world-mind for the planet and then contacting the Phalanx, to defeat the Phalanx.

    The two problems with that are:
    Doug seemed to infect Krakoa secretly, without Xavier being aware.
    Xavier is the only one who knows of Moira’s plan. So, the only way Doug could be following Moira’s plan is if Xavier told him.
    So, why act like he is hiding his action from Xavier?

    Secondly, I believe that the mutants are moving towards a collective consciousness along the way towards Krakoa becoming a world-mind.
    The problem there is that the characters are written erratically.
    Sometimes the characters act creepy, but at other times, they act normally.
    So, it’s hard to be convinced that anyone is purposely being written in a way to hint towards something larger.

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