RSS Feed
Jun 16

Planet-Size X-Men #1 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, June 16, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

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

by Gerry Duggan, Pepe Larraz & Marte Gracia

Planet-Size X-Men. This one-shot is the first issue to bear the name. It’s a play on Giant-Size X-Men, of course.\

COVER / PAGE 1: Marvel Girl, Iceman, Storm and Magneto hovering on a rock in the shape of the X-Men logo, in front of a (presumably Martian) red background.

PAGES 2-6. The omega mutants begin terraforming Mars.

What’s actually happening in this scene is fairly self-explanatory – really, the plot of this issue boils down to “the mutants terraform Mars and teleport Arakko there, and do it all live for the attendees at the Hellfire Gala to watch”. It’s an exercise in showing it at length to emphasise the scale of the endeavour.

Attentive readers may be asking “Hold on, doesn’t Krakoa have a presence on Mars already?” Indeed it does, and the fact that it’s not mentioned in this issue rather suggests that it’s regarded as an unwelcome complication. We saw a flower being planted on Mars in House of X #1, and the resulting Red Farm in Marauders #8. But the script for House of X #1 clarifies that the Martian presence is in the Garden, a very small area of Mars which was already terraformed by Ex Nihilo during Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers run. This is the first time that the mutants themselves have tried to terraform the place.

That aside, the Marvel Universe Mars is indeed largely depicted as a real-life dead world. As you might expect, there are a few horror/sci-fi stories knocking about with Martian invaders, but most of them can be easily dismissed as using “Martian” as a generic term for aliens. Besides, there seems to be only one example that post-dates the debut of the Fantastic Four: Tales of Suspense #29, where the invading alien does indeed claim to come from Mars. Mind you, it’s also a story where the locals identify him as a Martian by recognising the Martian insignia on his flying saucer. So you could make a pretty good case for it being non-canon anyway.

“You were promised fireworks…” The terraforming of Mars is the “fireworks” that were listed on the Hellfire Gala running order.

PAGE 7. Recap and credits.

PAGE 8. Quote from Emma Frost. This comes from X-Men #21 (the immediately preceding chapter of the crossover). The original context is that she was inviting people to join her telepathically in viewing the “fireworks”, acknowledging their right to decline, and strongly advising against it.

PAGE 9. Flashback: Magneto speaks to Isca.

The Arakkans are causing trouble by behaving towards the humans in a way that’s undiplomatic even by Magneto’s standards. We saw something similar in Cable #10.

Isca continues to serve as the spokesman for Arakko, presumably because she’s the only member of the Great Ring (their version of the Quiet Council) that we’ve actually met so far. She’s standing under a tree that seems to have all sorts of decorative tags hanging from it; the significance is not obvious. Isca expressed similar bemusement about the Krakoans’ tolerance for normal humans in X-Men #16.

“Rii the Destroyer” is a new name and, presumably, just some random Arakkii. Chichibu is a city in Japan which does indeed have a distillery – the “master whiskey distiller” is Ichiro Akuto, who was also mentioned in Marauders #16.

PAGE 10. Flashback: Magneto speaks to Hellfire Trading.

Emma’s statement about medicines being requested in higher concentrations is difficult to follow – haven’t we been told that the Krakoans specified the dosage rate?

“We’ve lost our farms in the Savage Land.” In X-Corp #1.

The Mercury is the mysterious shape-changing vehicle used mainly by Christian Frost in Marauders. Presumably Magneto is using it for transport into space, though it’s not entirely clear why, since the X-Men already have a gate to Mars.

PAGE 11. Flashback: Cyclops and Captain America.

The old X-Men Mansion, serving as a symbol of the traditional X-Men set-up, and (as in House of X) overgrown with Krakoan plantlife.

PAGE 12. Flashback: The Quiet Council sign off on Magneto’s plan.

More or less straightforward. Magneto has two basic arguments here: first, they need to get the Arakkii away from the rest of humanity; second, this is an opportunity for the mutants to set themselves up as the spokesmen for the solar system in interstellar matters. (What everyone seems to be overlooking is that they’re not setting themselves up in that role. They’re setting the Arakkii up in that role, and the Arakkii are not on the same page with them at all. In Magneto and Professor X’s case, though, this may all be part of the grand plan.)

Everyone votes in favour, including both heroes and villains.

PAGE 13. The Omega mutants set off for Mars.

Presumably that’s the Mercury, and we really are just quietly ignoring the fact that the mutants already had gates to Mars. The S.W.O.R.D. space station can be seen in the background.

The collection of omega mutants here include three members of the Five, very rarely seen away from Krakoa due to their importance for resurrection – which illustrates how important this is. Magneto, typically, is talking about embarrassment as a “human emotion” as if there were any evidence to suggest that it doesn’t apply to mutants.

Two other high-power mutants are suggested as possible participants: Legion (currently appearing in Way of X), whom Magneto understandably views as far too unpredictable; and Franklin Richards, under his rarely used codename “Powerhouse”. Franklin was retconned into being a non-mutant over in Fantastic Four, hence Magneto dismissing him as a “pretender” (and thus analogous to the Scarlet Witch).

PAGE 14. Magneto in Otherworld.

Mercator. The first panel shows Magneto trying to enlist the aid of “Mercator”, an Otherworld kingdom which had a very peripheral role in “X of Swords”. According to the Otherworld cosmology established there, Mercator used to be populated by a race called the Telmenetes, but a mysterious force took over the land, renamed it Mercator, installed an anonymous king, and declines to explain further.

The fact that Magneto approaches the place in response to a question about further omega mutants may suggest that Mercator is in fact connected with Absalom Mercator, the reality-warper from District X (also known as “Mister M”). Way, way back in House of X #1, we were given a list of omega level mutants. Literally every other mutant on that list is either on this mission, or expressly dismissed by Magneto. And nobody is on the mission who is not on the list (aside from a couple of new arrivals from Arakko). So the implied connection between Mister M and Otherworld Mercator is… pretty strong.

Monarch. Jamie’s attempt to trade for Magneto’s cape is a callback to Hellions #5, when he tried the same thing with Mister Sinister. That thing he’s wearing in the final panel is actually called a mantle, but it’s a type of robe, I guess.

PAGE 15. Magneto meets the Great Ring.

It’s the first time we’ve seen any of Lactuca, Sobunar or Xilo. The first two were named in a data page in X-Men #16. They were part of the “Day” group on the Great Ring; perhaps Xilo is the third, redacted name.

Isca is very clearly presented here as the de facto leader of the Great Ring – at the very least, a “first among equals”. It’s notionally a round table for discussion just like the Quiet Council, but only Isca actually sits at it.

PAGE 16. Sobunar contributes the water to kickstart the Martian ecosystem.

“It’s no wonder Dryador fell.” In X of Swords: Creation, when the Arakkii forces invaded it.

Arabia Terra is a large area in the north of Mars.

PAGE 17. Storm terraforms.

Feilong Industries. Feilong is a mythical Chinese dragon. There’s no shortage of real-world Chinese companies already using the Feilong name. As far as I know, it’s the first mention of the Marvel Universe company.

PAGES 18-19. Elixir and Xilo terraform.

I’m not sure when Elixir’s powers got upgraded to figuratively healing ecosystems, but sure, whatever.

PAGE 20. The Arakkii are brought to Mars.

The idea here seems to be that the hyper-competitive Arakkii need to be presented with a challenge in order to feel comfortable that they’ve earned their island.

The External Gate was the gate to Otherworld created by Apocalypse in the run-up to “X of Swords”. Quite how it can be converted into a transport to Mars… look, don’t think about it too closely.

“The one island is now two forevermore.” “X of Swords” and the run-up thereto hammered repeatedly the fact that Krakoa and Arakko were parts of a single island that had been separated long ago. X-Men #16 established that they didn’t really want to reunite.

PAGE 21. Hope and Kid Omega enjoy the new beach.

Nil Fossae is a plains region on Mars.

“If the Arakkii hadn’t fallen and fought, there wouldn’t be a Krakoa – or Earth.” Hope is referring here to the Arakkii’s sacrifice when the islands were split into two, and they spent centuries in Amenth continuing the war against invading monsters.

PAGE 22. Arakko arrives on Mars.

The caption tries to claim that it’s a week after Arakko arrives on Earth in X-Men #16. That only really works if there’s a surprisingly long gap between X of Swords and X-Men #16, since there’s no possible way that everything from “X of Swords” onwards has taken place in two weeks. That would include five issues of each title, plus the entire King in Black crossover, and enough time to set up the entirety of the new S.W.O.R.D. operation.

PAGE 23-24. The Arakkii settle in.

Sobunar’s speech doesn’t entirely inspire confidence. The X-Men seem to be handing over a planet to a bunch of obsessive warmongers. But, to be fair to them, the Arakkii culture did become war-dominated when they were defending themselves against endless attacking armies. Yes, they attacked Otherworld in X of Swords, but that was under the influence of Annihilation. Maybe they’ll mellow out with no one to fight… or maybe they’ll turn on each other.

PAGES 25-26. Introducing the Lake Hellas Diplomatic Ring.

This is part of Magneto’s plan to set up Mars as an interstellar diplomatic post (and thus claim the initiative for mutantkind). Again, the problem is that he’s giving that initiative principally to the Arakkii. Then again, maybe the hope is that this will draw enough trouble to keep the Arakkii occupied and happy.

PAGE 27. Xilo creates statues.

These are statues of Apocalypse and Genesis, who remained behind in Amenth to rule there, in X of Swords: Destruction.

PAGES 28-31. Monarch creates S.W.O.R.D. Station Two.

He’s a reality warper, so he just conjures up a duplicate of the one from Earth. His rather literal interpretation of “giving birth to an idea” seems to be just his own eccentricity.

PAGE 32. Monarch creates Port Prometheus.

It’s a spaceport. Prometheus was responsible for creating humanity from clay, and stealing fire from the gods; I suppose the analogy is that the mutants are similarly challenging their station with this whole enterprise.

PAGES 33-34. Arakko is unveiled.

Magneto expects this to go down badly with the normal humans. Emma Frost, who makes it the centrepiece of her diplomatic party, presumably thinks otherwise.

PAGE 35. Data page: Arakko announces itself to the interstellar community, declares itself the capital of the solar system, and claims that someone-or-other is “the regent of Sol”. All going smoothly, then.

PAGE 36. Data page: a map of Arakko, with a mixture of Martian locations and as-yet-unexplained Arakkan locations. The “Hellfire Farms” are presumably the new Martian flower farms.

PAGE 37. Data page: a memo from Delores Ramirez, the CIA monitor from Marauders. She’s reporting back, fairly straightforwardly, from the Hellfire Gala. Consistent with her depiction in that book, she’s relatively trusting of the mutants, and expects that to be vindicated when her mind is scanned for interference.

PAGE 38. Data page: NASA give us some pseudoscience about how this all works, and throw in the information that even some sympathetic humans are a bit annoyed by the hubris of claiming the whole planet. DiRocco is a new character.

PAGE 39. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: BACK TO EARTH.

Bring on the comments

  1. Thom H. says:

    @Luis: That’s such a good explanation of the mess that DC is making of its own continuity.

    There seems to be an idea circulating among DC editorial that the universe needs updating to make it understandable, relevant, and appealing. They’re constantly trying to replace characters with younger versions of themselves in one way or another.

    At the same time, fans and creators are clearly saying that they want consistency of characters over time. They want to read, write, and draw the “real” Superman and the “real” Batman. Otherwise, it’s no fun and doesn’t feel authentic.

    So what we get is a push and pull, contraction then expansion of the universe. The DC universe has only been around for 5 years and everyone is 20 years old again. Just kidding! That’s just one of a multitude of universes — now we’re back in the “real” one. Oops! Now we’re jumping ahead to the next generation of heroes who are all young and cool.

    And because crossovers sell — and DC has a long history of in-story explanations for continuity changes — we get another Final Infinite Metal-point Day for each new direction. They’ve taken navel-gazing to a whole new level.

    At the end of the day, if you can’t make Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Green Lantern interesting without constantly hitting the “reset” button, then you’re doing something wrong. There are clear examples of referencing continuity without becoming a slave to it — All-Star Superman was a financial and critical success, for instance. But editorial refuses to take that hint.


  2. Moo says:

    “DC aimed high with Crisis and it did not turn very well for them.”

    Oh, It turned out VERY well for them, at least in the short term.

    Crisis was huge. It was a big deal. The death of Supergirl got widespread news coverage. I remember customers in my local comic store talking about DC with excitement, which was unusual at the time since Marvel had been so dominant up until then.

    They just didn’t have a solid post-Crisis plan, and that became apparent very quickly in the interviews conducted around that time in fanzines like Amazing Heroes and Comics Buyer’s Guide. The editors and writers didn’t seem at all on the same page as to what the post-Crisis changes entailed. They were just winging it, and it was all very confusing. Hawkman, in particular became a mess. Byrne started out insisting that there never was a Superboy and that the Legion’s formation was inspired by *legends* of a Superboy. But then I guess someone came along and said that there had to be a Superboy for the Legion continuity’s sake, and that led to the Time Trapper’s “pocket universe” explanation. “History of the DC Universe” tried to make sense of things, but that mini was, as I recall, already being contradicted and invalidated like, a year later.

    So, yeah, although Crisis did open up a huge can of worms that DC’s never been able to put the lid back on, and we’ve seen numerous continuity overhauls since, Crisis still has to been as a success. It did reinvigorate interest in DC and got a lot of Marvelites like me into their books.

  3. Karl_H says:

    “Byrne started out insisting that there never was a Superboy and that the Legion’s formation was inspired by *legends* of a Superboy. But then I guess someone came along and said that there had to be a Superboy for the Legion continuity’s sake, and that led to the Time Trapper’s “pocket universe” explanation.”

    I loved the pocket universe story, the same way I loved the first cicadas I saw this summer. Now the yard is just a mess.

  4. Dave says:

    “Byrne started out insisting that there never was a Superboy”.

    And this was in the mid-80s – when was the Superboy TV show on?

  5. Karl_H says:

    My first reaction to this issue is that, well, usually in comics you’ll see the unveiling of the new HQ as a fait accompli with no sense of how the engineering and logistics worked. Poof! The Avengers have a base inside a dead Celestial. Poof! The Justice League has yet another amazingly complicated space station. All with about as much thought put in as Monarch popping a fully realized Sword station out of his manwomb.

    I appreciate that Hickman put a lot of thought into the major steps in this process, but it gets blurry a lot in the details. And like others have stated, this really pushes things over the line into “can’t last, when’s the reboot” territory.

    Anyone have any ideas about what Jamie was talking about re: Mercator? He’s responding to Magneto’s request for assistance, so… did Magneto basically say, I was going to ask Mr. M to help with this, but he “passed’ so I’m asking you?

  6. Moo says:


    Superboy TV show started in 1988. From Wikipedia:

    “Ironically, the series came about a year after DC Comics had “erased” the character of Superboy from their continuity in the Man of Steel reboot by John Byrne.”

  7. I'm Over Krakoa X-Men says:

    I thought this would’ve been cooler as “the X-Men got a planet,” instead of “they gave it to Arakko because of repramations.”

  8. I'm Over Krakoa X-Men says:


    I get that a lot of people want to ascribe meaning to a lot of this stuff (I was an English major in college, after all), but to think they think about these things in advance is pretty amusing. Marvel’s long running series these days is 24 issues at best, for the X-Office. I’m impressed the rest of the Marvel Universe has lasted 30+ issues these days, the exception being Amazing Spider-Man, which will be relaunched any number of months now.

  9. Chris V says:

    That’s Hickman’s style. He writes an elaborate plot with a beginning and an ending, then he fills the rest in as he writes the series.
    Marvel hired him to a three-year contract. He knows the beats he is planning along the way. He has the go-ahead from Marvel to do what he is planning with the characters.
    It’s how he wrote his run on Avengers also.
    It’s how certain comic writers work.

    Morrison’s run on X-Men was the same. He requested a certain number of issues from Marvel. He had a beginning, middle, and ending planned before he started. He knew there were certain plots from X-Men history he wanted to revisit in stories along the way.
    Some things changed along the way for Morrison, but he got from his starting point to his ending point as in his original pitch.

  10. Diana says:

    @Thom H: That’s a somewhat inaccurate read on DC fans – there may have been some friction during changeovers, but the fact is there’s a generation of readers who grew up with Wally West and Kyle Rayner as “their” Flash and Green Lantern, rather than Barry Allen and Hal Stewart. Superhero identities as legacies to be passed down actually *was* a thing for DC until the Geoff Johns era.

  11. Chris V says:

    William Messner Loebs writing the (Wally West) Flash was my favourite period on the Flash comic.

    Thom-You list All-Star Superman as your example. Definitely what I consider the best Superman story ever written.

    However, didn’t it benefit from the best of both worlds, and feature a situation that few creators would be allowed by DC?
    It was a non-continuity, self-contained story; where Morrison was allowed to creatively use any continuity he wanted.

    I think this is most likely the perfect formula for writing the most compelling superhero stories.
    Yet, how do you translate Morrison’s twelve issues to an ongoing monthly comic book series?

  12. Thom H. says:

    @Diana: I agree, but I think we’re referencing two different things. Passing the mantle to Kyle and Wally happened in continuity, so they were “really” Green Lantern and Flash. I know there were disagreements among fans about whether they were as good as their predecessors, but they at least represented an unbroken lineage and storyline from Hal and Barry.

    As opposed to the change from post-Crisis Superman to New 52 Superman, who was suddenly younger and had never dated or married Lois (among other changes). I suppose that was “in continuity” in the sense that it was a consequence of Flashpoint, but it was obviously a reset that broke from the character’s past. He had only been Superman for 5 years, so he couldn’t have participated in all of the stories we remembered. He was the official Superman, but not the “real” Superman.

    @Chris V: I say give creators the freedom to choose which parts of a character’s past they want to play with. If it’s silly Silver Age stuff like the Fortress of Solitude and time-traveling Hercules, then great. All-Star Superman was the condensed version of that idea, but Morrison did the same thing with their longer Batman run, which included Bat-Mite and The Club of Heroes. The basic premise was “it all happened,” so it was all accessible for Morrison to play with.

    And honestly, all of those call-backs were window dressing to good stories. As long as a creator has something to say about Superman (or Batman or whoever), then why shouldn’t he fly across the galaxy every once in a while to pick flowers for Lois? Or sometimes get hit with Red Kryptonite and grow an extra set of arms? To my mind, that just enriches the fictional world.

  13. Chris V says:

    Thom-I agree with you, to an extent.
    I love 1970s Marvel Comic because of all the craziness and zaniness that took place in a story. You never knew where the story was going.
    I’m not sure that has as much to do with continuity as it has to do with imagination though.

    I found All-Star Superman totally accessible. It was just purely fun. I didn’t need to know about any of the callbacks to Superman’s history to understand anything in Morrison’s story.

    However, I found Morrison’s initial Batman very different. I didn’t greatly enjoy it and found it to be a slog. It was so heavily steeped in deep continuity that a lot of it was hard to understand if you didn’t know about a random one-off Silver Age Batman story.
    I thought Morrison’s run greatly improved after Bruce Wayne was dead and Morrison began to add a lot more of their own crazy concepts to the mythos.
    The first Batman Inc. series also was, again, the type of crazy ideas thrown at the page similar to All-Star Superman, and was just fun.

    I don’t think the problem is DC Comics, per se, but rather so many comic writers today want to be taken seriously.
    I can’t see Brian Bendis writing a fun story like an issue of Morrison’s Batman Inc.
    Morrison is able to tell a fun story about Imagination in something like All-Star Superman and still be taken seriously…but Morrison is also one of the two greatest writers to ever work in comic books.
    It’s sort of like saying, “Why aren’t other writers writing novels like Thomas Pynchon? What’s wrong with the publishing industry that most writers aren’t able to produce novels of the same quality as Pynchon?.

    The reliance on continuity also becomes a shackle, trying to explain to the reader about DC’s continuity.
    Again, it can be like Morrison’s Batman, where a reader is left to flounder trying to figure out exactly what the writer is talking about because they have no idea about some story from the 1950s.
    To avoid that, the writer is forced to info-dump back-story about just how this character fits in to continuity, and that just takes away from the story.

  14. Chris V says:

    Let me add, my problem with the comic industry, is that certain characters must have a comic published, regardless.
    I think about the Hulk at Marvel. Peter David’s run was great. After it was over, I felt that the Hulk comic was being published solely for the sake of being published.
    It didn’t seem like any writers truly had a vision for the Hulk. There were some good stories published…I really liked a lot of the Paul Jenkins’ issues.
    However, it felt like Al Ewing’s Immortal Hulk was the first time a writer took over the character who actually had something to say about the Hulk since David.
    Ewing’s run will be ending soon…and then what do you do with the Hulk?
    It’ll probably be back to “Hulk smash!” with a writer writing the Hulk solely because there must be a Hulk comic.
    I’d rather see comic publishers put their characters on the shelf for long periods of time, until a creative team comes along and says, “OK, I’ve got a great idea of what to do with the Hulk. Let me write the character for around this many issues.”

    I’m sure some people hate the idea though.
    I’m sure some people thought some of the greatest Hulk comics ever written took place between Peter David and Al Ewing. That’s fine. I don’t have to buy the Hulk comic either. I can just stop reading until I hear about something like Al Ewing’s direction for the character.
    I just think it’s impossible to tell truly special stories month after month with characters who have had continual stories being told about them for sixty or more years.

  15. Douglas says:

    “There’s no possible way that everything from ‘X of Swords’ onwards has taken place in two weeks” – I sat down and worked out the timeline, and indeed everything from the relocation of Arakko in X-Men #16 to the Gala fits remarkably neatly in a 14-day span. (King in Black starts at dusk on day 6 and ends at dawn on day 8, which is Christmas Day; that means the Hellfire Gala takes place not on the Summer Solstice but on New Year’s Eve!)

    Notable things about this timeline: King in Black takes place during the period when the Hellions are Arcade and Mastermind’s captives, and also during Doug and Bei’s honeymoon (presumably off-planet). The Five start up resurrections again on day 4. Crucible happens on the evenings of day 4 (so Callisto is re-powered when we see her in King in Black) and day 12.

  16. Thom H. says:

    @Chris V: I totally see what you’re saying. I guess my point is that a writer can harness the power of continuity to enhance the imagination of their story.

    Ewing’s Hulk is a great example. He’s pulled together disparate elements of the character’s past — rising from the dead at night, abusive relationship with his father, multiple personalities — to tell a super-compelling Hulk story. Does it help to know who Joe Fix-it is? Sure. Do you need that information in advance to enjoy the story? Not really.

    And much of Morrison’s Batman is the same way. You don’t have to know that the Club of Heroes debuted in 1957 to immediately understand and enjoy the concept in 2007. If other stuff didn’t make sense, that’s maybe because Morrison was laying it on a bit thick (Zur-En-Arrh Batman comes to mind).

    But I don’t think you need to be a Morrison-level (or Ewing-level) writer to create work that relies on old continuity. Stories don’t have to be that structured and intricate. In fact, you can layer in references to old, wacky ideas whenever you want without too much trouble. And without taking the characters out of the shared universe.

    I think the main problem is that editorial keeps trying to ignore big chunks of continuity, and that’s when they’re not trying to downright erase them from history. Every time they do that, writers immediately start reviving their favorite old concepts in one way or another. There never was a Superboy? Well, now we have three.

    I have a feeling there would be a lot more imaginative storytelling in both the DC and Marvel universes (but particularly DC) if editorial stopped trying to limit continuity and instead leaned into it. The prevailing attitude could be “It all happened, so now what?” instead of “That’s silly. Ignore it!”

  17. Loz says:


Leave a Reply