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Aug 19

Way of X #5 annotations

Posted on Thursday, August 19, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

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

“The Fall”
by Si Spurrier, Bob Quinn & Java Tartaglia

COVER / PAGE 1: Onslaught marches forward, dragging Nightcrawler behind him. This is pencilled by Giuseppe Camuncoli, but it really reminds me of Adam Kubert.

PAGE 2. Professor X is resurrected.

Legion and the Xorn brothers annihilated Professor X and a whole bunch of surrounding customers in the Green Lagoon last issue, when Onslaught started to manifest there. The first panel is Onslaught, in the “Patchwork Man” guise where he’s appeared as a bogeyman figure on Krakoa.

Resurrection requires a telepath to restore the memories from backup. Normally Professor X does this, but it’s all hands on deck here, so Emma Frost, Jean Grey and even Exodus are all visible joining in. Oddly, they’re all drawn with their own Cerebro helmets, and I’m pretty sure there’s meant to be only a limited number of those in separate locations.

The four kids also resurrected on this page are Pixie, Blink, DJ and Loa. Evidently they’ve had the idea of the Cruciball party implanted in them by Onslaught during the resurrection process.

PAGES 3-4. Professor X confronts Legion.

Legion retreated to Mars at the end of last issue, claiming that he was going to create a temple where mutants would be free of Onslaught’s influence. For some reason, although Mars is meant to be entirely terraformed, Professor X is wearing some sort of space suit here. David doesn’t seem to need any such support. Needless to say, Professor X’s communication skills with his son remain utterly hopeless, despite the generally fatherly role he’s played to many younger mutants over the years.

The Xorn Brothers said last issue that they were hanging around with Legion in order to kill him if he got out of control. However, they seem to be serving as more general bodyguards here.

PAGES 5-6. Nightcrawler with Lost and Cortez.

Nightcrawler is evidently trying to mediate between these two. In issues #3-4, Lost indicated (in quite vague terms) that Cortez had been responsible for doing something terrible to her, and that she wanted revenge on him, but was being blocked by the Krakoan amnesty. Just like the kids in issue #1, Lost and Cortez both believe that the availability of resurrection has made death meaningless (though you’d think people would at least be pain averse). Kurt clearly struggles to see how life can have meaning without death.

Cortez is suffering the nauseating effects of Lost’s gravity manipulation powers.

PAGE 7. Recap and credits. The recap helpfully points out that we’re meant to have been doing the three laws of Krakoa, one at a time; this issue brings us to “Respect this Sacred Land.”

PAGE 8. Data page. Another excerpt from Kurt’s religious work. I think this is the first time it’s been named as the Book of the Spark (perhaps in reference to the vaguely spark-like X-logo at the top).

Note that Kurt says he reached this stage in his pondering “Before the end, before the revelation was stolen from me by devilry and death.” This is explained on page 19: Kurt has his revelation, but then dies saving Mars, knowing that he won’t remember it when he’s resurrected. On page 19, he specifically asks Fabian Cortez to tell him about his realisation. Apparently, Cortez honours this wish.

Kurt’s basic point here is that, of the three Krakoan laws, the one about respecting the sacred land has the most promise as an organising principle for Krakoan society – which might seem blindingly obvious, but Kurt’s point is that the sheer vagueness of the rule makes it wonderfully open to interpretation and therefore a framework within which cultural ideas can grow. (He’s also right in a more prosaic sense that laws have to strike a balance between clarity and flexibility.)

PAGE 9. Xavier continues talking to Legion.

Xavier is completely wasting his time here, since Legion isn’t listening. He does have a point that someone who killed 63 people on the spot in order to contain Onslaught might be a little bit dangerous to have running around on Krakoa, particularly as Legion presumably hasn’t clearly explained what he was doing. Xavier frames his priorities as defending Krakoa in terms of a fairly literal interpretation of the law, which feels like a bit of a strain to connect this scene with the theme of the issue.

While this series is clearly much more sympathetic to Legion than it is to Xavier, Legion himself acknowledges that he’s no good with people either, and he might well agree that the lack of a meaningful relationship between the two of them is not solely down to Xavier.

Mercury and Loa.  Legion was interfering in their relationship, as a vehicle to get as Onslaught, in issue #3. As he says, he showed no particular regard for the wedge he drove between them.

PAGES 10-13. Nightcrawler threatens Cortez and Lost with death.

His plan, from the look of it, is to confront them with death in a way so drastic as to force them to take it seriously. This actually seems to be working until Onslaught intervenes to stop Lost from revealing her back story. That might be because it relates directly to Onslaught, but it seems more likely that he just doesn’t want people communicating instead of fighting.

Traditional continuity would have it that this stunt would be fatal for Kurt too, by the way – when he teleports, he’s supposed to reappear with the same speed he had before. So if he’s falling from an airplane then he only has a short window in which to teleport and still land safely.

“There are millions awaiting the gift of life you think so meaningless.” The mutants slaughtered on Genosha. As Nightcrawler says, every mutant who gets resurrected pushes someone else a bit further down the queue.

“We are the sacred land.” Nightcrawler is claiming here that the “land” is figurative and refers to Krakoan society in general.

PAGE 14. Data page. A report on the Phobos incident with annotations from an irritable Abigail Brand. She mentions here that she’s relocating her command to the Keep (the S.W.O.R.D. station around Mars, introduced in Planet-Size X-Men #1). Presumably we’ll see more of that in S.W.O.R.D..

PAGE 15. Abigail addresses the people of Krakoa.

Panel 2 shows Dust, presumably still dealing with the sandstorm from last issue.

The alien ambassadors in panel 3 appear to be randoms, aside from the Skrull on the right, who might be Paibok.

The defiant lunatics in panel 4 are the Arakkii. The one on the right appears to be Sobunar, either miscoloured or standing in a lot of red light.

PAGE 16. Storm, Professor X and Legion react.

Storm is the regent of Arakko, as established in S.W.O.R.D. #6. The narration confirms that we’re still only “mere days” after the Hellfire Gala.

Legion figures out that Onslaught’s emergence on Krakoa is to do with resurrection. Apparently he’s being empowered by the bits of people that are lost when they’re resurrected, due to their memories being reset to the last back-up. Let’s not ask too closely about how that works; this is psionics as magic, and it’s the coherence of the symbolism that matters. It’s an explanation that fits with Onslaught’s appearance as a “patchwork man” in earlier issues, but also aligns nicely with Onslaught’s own origin as a creature arising from the merger of elements drawn from Professor X and Magneto.

Over the page, Legion continues to voice his theory that Onslaught fills the gaps left by these lost memories. If this is right – and if Onslaught isn’t dealt with – then it goes to the heart of resurrection as a project.

PAGES 17-20. Nightcrawler dies putting the moon back.

“Cheese toasties.” Call back to issue #1, where Nightcrawler tried to pick up a conversation with Pixie after her resurrection, and she didn’t remember.

Cortez, in this interpretation, is driven to crave acceptance by his own self-loathing. He apparently does embrace Kurt’s argument here, which is potentially interesting. As already noted, Kurt’s data page earlier in the issue strongly implies that Cortez will at some point honour Kurt’s request to be reminded of his revelation.

The flashback panels in page 19 tier 3 are mostly repeats of specific panels from earlier in the series.

  • Nightcrawler reluctantly holding a gun. This is page 17 panel 6 from issue #2, and he’s about to reluctantly kill the disembodied Legion so that he can be resurrected.
  • Pixie trying to calm Lost. This is page 21 panel 2 from issue #3, and Pixie is stopping a fight between Cortez and Lost, dispelling a manifestation of Onslaught in the process.
  • Dazzler, Pixie and a rattled Dr Nemesis in the Green Lagoon. This is page 24 panel 3 from issue #3, and Nemesis is asking Dazzler to dance.
  • Nightcrawler clowning in ice cream. This is page 20 panel 3 of issue #4, and he’s calming a situation with Gorgon and a mob.
  • Legion with a distortion effect. This is page 22 panel 5 of issue #4, and he’s creating a temple on Mars where mutants can be free of Onslaught’s influence.
  • Nightcrawler teleports himself, Lost and Cortez into the sky over Mars. This is page 10 panel 1 from this issue.

PAGES 21-22. Nightcrawler is resurrected.

Presumably the mutant population of Mars could mostly have been resurrected, but it would have taken some time. The alien ambassadors certainly couldn’t. Still, Lost’s claim that he “saved millions” implies that she’s attaching a significance to reversible death, in a way that she wasn’t earlier in the issue.

Cortez is, unfortunately, comatose and unable to pass on the message to Kurt. It’s not clear why the healers can’t cure him, and perhaps Onslaught is deliberately interfering. The Healer’s proposal is just to kill the guy and reboot him, but Xavier makes the reasonable point that this means pushing other people down the queue. More tellingly, Xavier argues against “prioritising disruptive elements.” He accused Legion of a “disruptive attitude” back on page 4, so this all ties in with the idea of Xavier – perhaps under Onslaught’s influence – wanting to delay Legion’s resurrection if he gets the chance. Mind you, he wanted to delay Legion’s resurrection in issue #2, and Legion just spontaneously manifested himself anyway.

“[Cortez] was fired from his post.” In S.W.O.R.D. #5.

Some of the crowd in the final panel are randoms; most of the others are characters we’ve seen elsewhere in the issue. The guy on the right in the red and black costume is Hellion (Julian Keller).

PAGE 23. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: ONSLAUGHT REVELATION.

Bring on the comments

  1. Chris V says:

    I can’t help but read this week’s issues in light of the revelation about Hickman leaving the X-titles.
    I feel like we are seeing the books begin to move in their own direction, while taking advantage of deck-clearing exercises before the end of “Inferno”.

    It feels like there is a very momentous revelation involved in what seemed to be a random series with this issue of Way of X.
    One of the mysteries of Krakoa seems to be addressed in this story involving the resurrection process and Onslaught.
    I somehow don’t think this would be so casually explained had Hickman not decided to leave.

  2. Si says:

    It’s unlikely that this story would be influenced by the Hickman news, the comic would have been months in the making.

  3. Chris V says:

    That would depend on how long Hickman knew he was leaving.
    “Inferno” starts next month, and it seems like Hickman realized he was going to finish with that series.

  4. SanityOrMadness says:

    Paul> For some reason, although Mars is meant to be entirely terraformed, Professor X is wearing some sort of space suit here. David doesn’t seem to need any such support.

    They’re on the summit of – it’s 22km (13½ miles) tall*! Legion doesn’t need a spacesuit because he’s got every power known to mutantkind, Xavier has no such benefit.

    *Which raises a question – Magneto supposedly shoved enough iron into Mars to double the effective gravity, but OM can only exist on IRL Mars because the gravity is so low….

  5. Si says:

    Interesting point. I imagine if a planet did suddenly double its gravity, the whole surface would be immediately riven by earthquakes and subsidence. Add to that the weight of new oceans and thicker atmosphere, and you’re looking at a planetwide cataclysm. Lets assume their reality warper fixed everything.

  6. Col_Fury says:

    I love how the moral of this issue is that conflict resolution / mediation / cooling the room is a good thing, and is vastly better than outright conflict. And yet, there are some who resist such an idea to benefit themselves.

    Also, I’ve always had a theory about Nightcrawler falling. OK, he falls out of a plane and is getting faster and faster as he falls. Why can’t he teleport facing the other direction? That way, he’s falling away from the ground at an increasingly slower speed, and when he starts to fall in the correct direction, teleport again to land safely.

  7. Ben Johnston says:

    Based on the EW article, it sounds like the original plan was for Hickman to do three HoX/PoX-style events as a three-act story, with a year or so in between each. Act II would have come out around the time X of Swords did (pandemic aside).

    So my guess would be that X of Swords and everything since has been done with the new plan in mind. Certainly there’s a lot of internal evidence in this series (the structure of working through the mutant laws, the Pixie “cheese toasties” bit from #1) to suggest that this was always the intended plan.

    That said, I don’t expect resurrection is going to be off the table completely until after Inferno. As Paul noted, Spurrier is using the details of resurrection as a symbolic framework here, so Kurt can beat Onslaught by changing the symbolism that the Krakoans attach to death and resurrection.

    Love this book. It sounds like everything is being cancelled around December/January for the weekly book coming out of Inferno, so I hope that some version of Way of X will be returning afterward.

  8. Chris V says:

    I’m not sure that they are going to get rid of resurrection since the other writers want to keep the Krakoa status quo.
    There have been hints that something is off about the resurrection process and also hints given about how mutants have been behaving (more aggressive off of Krakoa, more complacent while on Krakoa) which seem to be being explained away by Onslaught in this book.
    It seems that Onslaught will be defeated and the part of the creepier aspects to Krakoa will be done away as the fault of Onslaught.

    Although, perhaps this was always the intent with Way of X. It just doesn’t seem that was Hickman’s original intent (and is disappointing if that was Hickman’s plan).

  9. Chris V says:

    and *THIS part of the creepier aspects to Krakoa will be done away…

    Small error, but it changed the meaning of what I wrote.

  10. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    I’m not sure Kurt making unstable victimized Lost confront murdering shitbag Fabian Cortez is exactly “restorative justice.” What’s Lost supposed to do, forgive the guy who hurt her who’s never faced any punishment for doing so?

    That’s the kind of ham fisted topical stuff I expect from a lesser writer.

    It’ll be interesting to see what the keep and what the ditch from the Krakoan status quo after all this. It seems like a lot of the writers (and fans) don’t have any issue with all the messed up aspects of Krakoa.

    I hope some version of this book survives Inferno.

  11. Taibak says:

    Col_Fury: It wouldn’t work. It’s long been established that Nightcrawler retains his momentum when he teleports. Even if he changes the direction he faces, he still can’t redirect his momentum vector.

  12. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    He’s falling downwards at terminal velocity.

    He teleports so he’s upside down and falling upwards.

    Gravity beats momentum and he starts falling down again.

    He teleports rapidly down to safety, never speeding back up to an unsurvivable velocity.

    It works just fine.

  13. Jon R says:

    Uncanny X-Ben:

    Yeah, that’s always seemed like an easy workaround.

    No-prizing it, as an acrobat he’s so in tune with his position and momentum that rotating himself against gravity with a teleport is something he can’t get his head around. He’s fine with turning around in a ‘port, but if he visualizes flipping over in a port, his instincts rebel and tell him that no, he needs to actually perform a flip normally.

    Of course, he’s had plenty of times when he’s been hanging upside down and then does ‘port to the floor right side up, so that doesn’t work. Mumble mumble it’s different when he’s in motion, except I think we’ve seen him actually drop from his perch first and then teleport in those cases too.

  14. Karl_H says:

    Leaving out the question of how Phobos’s momentum was cancelled out when he ported it back into place….

  15. MasterMahan says:

    Phobos’s momentum is easier, actually. Orbiting objects are basically always falling. They just keep missing whatever they’re falling toward.

    Sure, it would have been hard for Kurt to aim Phobos back into a stable orbit, but as long as it’s not going to hit Arrako, Exodus or some can probably stop it from escaping.

  16. Col_Fury says:

    re: Jon R
    Fine-tuning your No-Prize, that means it’s difficult for Kurt to do, actively ignoring his acrobatic instincts. That makes attempting it still dangerous.

    MAYBE that’s why he constantly does those little direction-reversal ‘ports from trees and perches; it’s practice for terminal velocity situations and far less dangerous. So he messes up and lands wrong. Oh well, it was just a few feet, right?

  17. Col_Fury says:

    Also, thanks Uncanny X-Ben. You explained it much better than I. 🙂

  18. CitizenBane says:

    I will be very annoyed if these characters and this story don’t continue in some form after Inferno.

  19. JD says:

    For all intents and purposes this appears to be the last issue of WAY OF X ; there’s an ONSLAUGHT one-shot next month by the same creative team, and then no further issues in either October nor November.

  20. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Col_Fury- that may be the only time I’m ever right on here.

    JD- I think we’re all just hoping Spurrier continues on an X-book, maybe with Nightcrawler and possibly Legion involved.

  21. Chris V says:

    Spurrier has stated that he was going to be writing another X-book.
    I’m not sure if any of those plans have changed since Hickman announced he is leaving.

  22. Allan M says:

    Immediately after Inferno, we’re apparently getting a weekly X-book leading into a refocused roster of books. Weeklies tend to be done by teams of writers, usually 4ish. I’m betting that Spurrier’s part of the writing team, and the weekly will set up his new series.

    X-Men just got relaunched so it seems unlikely that they’ll cull the entire line post-Inferno. I’m guessing that X-Men, Wolverine, X-Force and Marauders survive (even if with new #1s/relaunches), unsure about SWORD given its close connection to Ewing’s GOTG, but the rest get cancelled/conclude, and then the weekly writer roster is some combination of Spurrier, Williams, Wells, Howard, and whatever new writers they bring in. Howard is a protege of Hickman’s, already helping with his Substack comics, so her following him to his new Marvel project seems likely.

  23. Dave says:

    The entire existence of the Arakko mutants (and planet) is what’s puzzling me the most in the wake of the Hickman news. If it/they aren’t around to be part of the big cosmic part of HoXPoX, then what are they around for? I’d have thought maybe as elements of SWORD stories, but comments here think that might be going, too.

  24. Chris V says:

    I expected that they were actually going to wipe them out in this issue with the Phobos crisis. It made me laugh, until it didn’t happen.

    I expect they’ll end up like the Neo.
    At some point, a writer will want to create a new massive cosmic menace and show just how serious a threat it is by having it wipe out all life on Mars.

  25. Col_Fury says:

    I should say I really liked this issue (and series, but especially this one). A very effective scene for me is when Nightcrawler actually starts to break through with Cortez and Lost, they start talking and making progress, you turn the page and there’s Onslaught saying *NO*. BAM! Everything goes to hell. Good stuff.

    Also, now I really want to see Nightcrawler get his hands on one of Nick Fury’s old “flying squirrel” wing suits, jump out of a plane, reach terminal velocity and then teleport SIDEWAYS to glide away and make an awesome entrance at someone’s birthday party. Or something.

  26. Luis Dantas says:

    Sounds like this issue was rushed, at least in contrast with previous ones of this series.

    I don’t think this was a good issue. It seems to be more meaningful as a companion to the current S.W.O.R.D. series – which becomes more involved in the big plots of the Marvel Univese each time I look at it – than as a part of this series proper. And I don’t really like Kurt as a proponent of ham fisted arrogant maneuvers. That is the Punisher’s way, not Kurt’s. Krakoa’s setup is not kind to Kurt’s characterization in the first place, but this use of him was subpar even taking those constraints into account.

  27. Mike Loughlin says:

    I’m glad Si Spurrier understood that among Nightcrawler’s best assets are his people skills. He’s a nice guy and a gifted performer who is capable of understanding others on a deeper level. He’s also willing to tell people what they need to hear, no matter how difficult. Kurt dealing with Fabian Cortez in this issue reminded me of his confrontation with Captain Britain in Excalibur: The Sword is Drawn. With the glaring exception of the previous issue, Spurrier has done an excellent job of showing Nightcrawler solving problems through his creativity and sense of decency.

    I know the physics of… well, everything in super-hero comics are completely unrealistic, but Kurt teleporting a moon back into orbit was freakin’ awesome.

    I wish we had a better sense of what Onslaught is doing on Krakoa. One oversized issue doesn’t seem like it will give the story enough room. We haven’t seen the effects of Onslaught in other X-books (that we know of, although it wouldn’t surprise me if he was possessing Beast these days), which diminishes the threat a bit. I just hope the Way of X team sticks the landing.

  28. Chris V says:

    It seems that this issue hinted at how Onslaught has been effecting mutants when they are resurrected.
    An earlier issue said something about Onslaught making mutants more aggressive.
    This issue revealed that a portion of Onslaught was possessing each individual as they were resurrected.
    The hint seems to be that different ways certain characters have been written uncharacteristically during the Krakoa-era is being caused by the influence of Onslaught.

  29. Mike Loughlin says:

    Onslaught’s influence could explain inconsistent character behavior and the papering over of the Krakoa set-up’s flaws, but I hope there’s more to it than that. “Mind control” feels like a cop-out. I’m worried that defeating the bad guy will be the end of the story. If Onslaught is the cause, I want to see the fallout across the X-books.

  30. Chris V says:

    Onslaught isn’t the main cause, but only a partial cause.
    I think this is just a way to explain away some of the plots that Hickman had planned but will never be properly solved now that Hickman is leaving. I’m sure Hickman had a different agenda than Onslaught.
    The other creators, I’m sure, want to put a lot of the disturbing elements and constant questions about Krakoa in the past and move ahead with a “mutant utopia”.
    “Inferno” is going to be a bigger deal than Onslaught.

    There are still other areas of Krakoa to reveal the truth outside of just the resurrections.
    Moira’s real agenda.
    Xavier and Magneto having a dictatorship.

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