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Nov 18

X-Force #14 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, November 18, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-FORCE vol 6 #14
“X of Swords, Chapter 17”
by Benjamin Percy, Gerry Duggan, Joshua Cassara & Guru-eFX

COVER / PAGE 1. Wolverine holding up his new Muramasa blade, with Professor X, Cyclops, Marvel Girl and the Beast shown in reflection – which has nothing much to do with any scene in the issue.

PAGES 2-3. Magik fights Pogg Ur-Pogg.

“Things are about to get busy.” As we’ll see in Cable #6, there are apparently 25 battles in total. We’ve already had six of them, and this issue takes us up all the way through to battle 22. So it’s something of a montage issue.

“Again? I have to fight him again?” Magik “fought” Pogg Ur-Pogg before in an arm wrestling match in Wolverine #7. Naturally, he won.

Pogg Ur-Pogg is apparently a goblin thing wearing a battlesuit. Quite why he does something as silly as eating Magik – thus bringing her inside the battlesuit – is difficult to fathom even in the context of “X of Swords”. Mind you, he did say in Wolverine #7 that he ate his victims. Maybe they’re normally meant to get consumed for fuel or something. We see him again later on, so he can apparently get back into it.

Note that since the stipulation for this contest was “unarmed combat”, Pogg was cheating by not removing his costume – this is one of the rare X of Swords contests that Magik easily wins. Presumably that was as intended, but Magik does suggest that she “learned something” about Pogg since the last contest, and she doesn’t tell us from who.

PAGES 4-5. Recap and credits.

PAGES 6-7. A montage of other contests, most of which Arakko wins.

Contest 8. Some of these are difficult to understand as contests from the panels alone, but fortunately there’s a data page in Cable #7 which spells them out. This is a “torture endurance” contest with War on the one hand, and Cable, Captain Avalon and Gorgon on the other. War apparently wins. It’s not clear whether Krakoans lost by one of them quitting, or whether War had to outlast all three. She’s still missing the hand that Wolverine severed in the previous chapter.

Contest 9. Rolling boulders uphill. This is another ridiculously one-sided one, with Death, Isca and Pogg all taking on Magik (though again, I suppose Magik might have a chance if they all need to beat her). Arakko wins again.

Contest 10. Some sort of undersea battle with Isca and the White Sword both facing Gorgon. Again, Arakko win.

Contest 11. “Contest of plates”, according to Cable #7. The data page later in this issue suggests that this is basically an eating competition. Curiously, this page and Cable #7 both say that Krakoa win, but this issue’s data page says that Redroot won. Not sure if that’s an error or a plot point.

Contest 12. A dance contest, with Bei and War versus Cypher and Wolverine. Arakko win, presumably thanks to Bei.

Contest 13. This Escher scene is described in Cable #7 as a “labyrinth escape” contest. The competitors are Redroot and Pogg Ur-Pogg versus Captain Avalon and Storm. Arakko win.

Contest 14. Gorgon and Magik do a jigsaw. According to Cable #7 they’re competing against Death and War. Krakoa actually win this one. The picture in the jigsaw is the double page spread of the Green Lagoon Tiki Bar’s opening night, from X-Force #9.

Contest 15. “Contest of couture”. Storm and Wolverine versus Redroot and War. Arakko win. It’s not clear if this is just a modelling contest or a fashion design thing, but either way, Wolverine looks thrilled to be there.

Contest 16. Hard to fathom in this panel, but according to Cable #7, this is a contest of “Blightspoke navigation”. Cable and Magik are facing Isca the Unbeaten (not shown), with predictable results.

PAGES 8-12. Captain Avalon and Redroot in the Crooked Market.

Saturnyne. Her exchange with Captain Avalon, encouraging him to take up the role of Captain Britain again, refers to ongoing storylines in Excalibur. As she says, Brian has wanted the role of Captain Britain back, but not in the form in which it was being offered to him, and certainly not at the cost of having Betsy seemingly killed off to clear the way for him. Brian also makes the abundantly obvious point that if she’s trying to win him over she’s going about it in a really odd way. Surely she has to realise that?

The Furies are Captain Britain villains from the 1980s who have one of the realms of Otherworld to themselves. Oddly, we don’t see any contests that take place there.

The Crooked Market. We see more of it here than we have before, and the wider city seems to be a somewhat Dickensian London-type of place.

“I won? But I’ve never won anything before.” Eh? Redroot’s been on the winning Arakko side in several battles so far. Maybe she means that she’s never won anything solo.

PAGES 13-14. Redroot is imprisoned for debt.

Redroot is imprisoned as a penalty for breaking what Jaspers describes as “a rare crystal idol of Bombu … crafted from the salt of an Oobagonian princess’s tears”. Saturnyne’s plan here is apparently to engineer a situation where Brian will similarly have to call in some favours from her in order to escape the Crooked Market. We do indeed see Brian later in the issue, still participating in the contests – so either she was bluffing, or Brian caved.

Bombu is an alien conqueror who invaded Earth unsuccessfully in Journey into Mystery #60. He had a witchdoctor gimmick, which I’m sure was handled with all the cultural sensitivity you’d expect from a comic published in 1960 (but the story’s not on Unlimited, so I can’t check). He showed up again in a comedy one-shot in 2005. And yes, his race have indeed been named as the Oobagonians, though I think that comes from a Marvel Monsters Handbook issue.

PAGE 15. Data page. Major Domo reports to Mojo on the events of the contest to date.

Note that at least one of these reports, on the eating competition, seems to be simply wrong in identifying the winner. There’s also an entry headed “Wolverine loses again” which goes on to describe Wolverine winning the fight in question.

Captain Britain’s defeat to Isca was in Excalibur #14. Magik’s fight with Pogg ur-Pogg, Wolverine’s fights with Summoner, and the drinking contest between Wolverine and Storm were all in Wolverine #7.

Still, this is the first suggestion we’ve had that Mojo has anything to do with this story, but the insanity of the X of Swords competition does seem very Mojo-like. According to the intro, their informant in Otherworld is Quaddeus Quo – the minotaur guy that we saw summoning a monster for Saturnyne in X of Swords: Creation, but who’s vanished into the background since then.

Headshot TV is part of the new, social-media based Mojoverse from recent issues of X-Factor.

PAGES 16-17. More contests.

Contest 18 is apparently a spelling contest, which Magik blows by spelling her own name wrong. According to Cable #7, the participants here are Magik and Cypher versus Bei, Death and Pogg (shown without his armour). though the art seems to have Gorgon there too. Given that the saintly Roma is officiating this one, this might actually be a contest that Krakoa were intended to win. But they don’t.

Contest 19. Wolverine and the White Sword face the people they’ve killed – described in Cable #7 as “rumination endurance” – and Wolverine blinks first.

Contest 20. A temptation-resistance contest, which Gorgon fails. According to Cable #7, the Arakkii team were Isca and War.

Contest 21. Kitten killing. War is naturally unfazed.

PAGE 18. Data page, explaining the dangers of the Blightspoke liquor that Wolverine and Storm were drinking in the previous chapter. Basically it dulls your powers for a while, though Wolverine got over it soon enough thanks to his healing factor. (Presumably, once it starts to wear off, the healing factor begins speeding the process.)

PAGES 19-25. Storm and Death fight.

“You asked me to dance once.” In Marauders #14.

As Saturnyne presumably knows, Storm can handle herself in a fight without using her powers. War’s powers appear to be rather similar to Gorgon’s, but Storm beats him relatively easily and then chucks him to the vampires of Sevalith.

PAGE 26. Data page, for some reason featuring a quote from Solem (who you’ll note has vanished from the competition after skipping out on his fight with War). Solem’s philosophy is that since all things will pass, you may as well do what you want, since any rewards for goodness will be fleeting anyway.

PAGE 27. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: A FOOL’S GAMBLE.

Bring on the comments

  1. Chris V says:

    That’s right, Magik! Listen to Anton LaVey, not Aleister Crowley. “Those who spell magic with a K are not.” heh

    I read a reprint of that Bombu story.
    Yeah, it was not one of Marvel’s finest hours. We’ll leave it at that.
    If I’m not mistaken, it was such an ignorant story that there was even a reference to lions at some point, even though it took place in the Amazon rainforest.
    Bombu’s defeat was quite hilarious too. Apparently, even he wasn’t the smartest of conquerors.

  2. Ryan T says:

    This story is gonna need a heck of a twist and prestige at the end by Hickman to have made it worthwhile.

    At this point it’s like a version of the AvX companion series of battles, but sillier and with random characters we don’t know instead of Avengers.

    This story is a rare one where being a 6 issue mini with tie ins might have been the way to go. At least then I’d know where the filler was. To be fair, this one wasn’t, from a plot function perspective – actually a huge amount of plot happens here… and yet?

  3. SanityOrMadness says:

    Paul> “Contest of plates”, according to Cable #7. The data page later in this issue suggests that this is basically an eating competition. Curiously, this page and Cable #7 both say that Arakko win, but this issue’s data page says that Redroot won. Not sure if that’s an error or a plot point.

    Umm…isn’t Redroot on the Arakko side?

  4. Adam says:

    And to think, prior to this story’s start a lot of readers were suggesting that a crossover featuring twelve sword fights was gonna feel repetitive.

    In retrospect I guess the point of the Wolverine/Storm drinking session was that Death paid a scarab to Jim so that he would give Storm a drink that would take away her powers, fixing this issue’s match in his favor?

  5. Si says:

    Yeah, when X-Force restarted years back I was in the camp of objecting to an ultraviolence Marvel comic. Now they’re doing spelling bees and eating contests. Which is a step up from that other comic a few weeks back that was devoted to a parliament session I suppose, but really. None of this makes any sense to me, from a story perspective, from a marketing perspective, or from a franchising perspective.

  6. Evilgus says:

    All that build up, with entire issues devoted to sword gathering, to have fights dismissed in a panel and the Swords themselves be irrelevant? That’s some terrible narrative architecture.

    It’s especially damning that for Pogg’s reveal, they couldn’t come up with a better rhyme than “yummy” with “yummy” and “crummy”, and breaking his own couplets. Not much effort going on there with dialogue.

    @Si: “None of this makes any sense to me, from a story perspective, from a marketing perspective, or from a franchising perspective.”

  7. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I’ll say this: after last week’s batch of issues and continuing this week, I have no idea where this crossover will go issue by issue and I am constantly surprised.

    Is it due to dream logic and wild mood swings not only from issue to issue, but also from one scene to other? Yes.

    Is it surprising and somewhat refreshing when compared to most other big crossovers and / or events? Yes.

    Is the result both pleasingly novel and irritatingly scattershot*? Also yes.

    Anyway, this issue is… a lot, actually. Honestly, if the story had to be stretched to 22 issues, I would have preferred some of the sword gathering to be compacted into a montage and some of these scenes built upon – some of the challenges are one-panel jokes, but some could have worked as longer sequences. (And, quite frankly, some of them could have worked better as longer sequences than some that actually are presented as such – like the foot race, which was severely lacking in any sort of energy or suspense).

    But Storm’s duel with Death was a nice scene, and thanks to the dance build-up several issues ago it’s maybe the first contest / fight that feels like proper payoff.

    *- I wanted to joke that I can’t believe Scattershot isn’t a 90s character, except I googled that to make sure and it turns out there is a Scattershot in the Marvel Universe, and he’s very 90s, except that he’s actually from 2012.

  8. Luis Dantas says:

    That is the second Scattershot. There is indeed a previous one, from Darkhawk #16-18 back in 1992.

    Let’s just say that it is not a very well remembered character, and probably wasn’t in 1992 either.

  9. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I just googled her. This is what I found:

    I have so many questions now.

  10. Luke says:

    I really enjoyed this issue, but the inconsistencies between what we see and the data pages in Cable, plus what look like typos “Krakko” threw me out of it. Whilst I really want to believe they’re plot points, I’m sceptical.

  11. Adam says:

    Krzysiek Ceran’s feelings about this crossover are pretty much my own.

    Here’s hoping for a strong finish. Certainly the art will be on point: We’ve got two issues with Mahmud Asrar and then Pepe Larraz closing things out.

  12. Evilgus says:

    Thinking of the closer: we haven’t really seen Monet since the opener. Give the foreshadowing and the fact she’s a favourite of Hickman, what’s the chances she pops up?

  13. Paul says:

    @SanityOrMadness: It’s meant to say “Krakoa win”. I’ve changed it now.

  14. Chris V says:

    I really hope that Krakoa and Arakko isn’t going to reunite and be called Krakko. I think that would be too much for me.
    “Why all the fighting? You should be one people. Living together in harmony on the island Krakko. You will hence forth be known not as Krakoans, but as Krakkonuts. One big, crazy mutant family.”

  15. Dave says:

    We’ve been told the single unified island is called Okkara(?).

    “To be fair, this one wasn’t, from a plot function perspective – actually a huge amount of plot happens here… and yet?”

    Eh, I guess it covers some beats, but it was still largely filler. Waste of good art.

    The way contests were done in one panel just made me think of how fights in modern comics are too often just a short series of ‘posed’ art that don’t really tell any story. Not that I wanted these contestants expanded on, though.

  16. John Wyatt says:

    “This is a “torture endurance” contest with War on the one hand”

    Hey, was that intentional?

  17. neutrino says:

    “Krakko” isn’t a typo, it was the contest between War and Solem where Solem had Wolverine substitute for him. Wolverine won, but since he was fighting for Solem, Arakko got the point.

  18. David says:

    You wrote “War’s powers appear to be rather similar to Gorgon’s.” It should be Death, not War.

    Also, technically, Magik didn’t misspell her name, she just spelled it, which was the problem.

    Krzysiek Ceran- i agree with everything you said. I’ve had a lot of fun reading this crossover, but I do agree it’s been chaotic and messy. Definitely agree that more contests should have been shown in full. No clue whatsoever how this is going to end.

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