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Sep 22

X-Corp #5 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, September 22, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

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

“Closing Costs”
by Tini Howard, Alberto Foche & Sunny Gho

This is the final issue of X-Corp. It’s possible it gets relaunched in some form after Inferno, but I suspect it’s going to wind up as another Fallen Angels. You can see what they were going for, but it just never quite worked.

COVER / PAGE 1. Angel symbolically falling, and the face of…. I don’t know, honestly. Himself as Archangel?

PAGES 2-3. The Madroxes guard the Noblesse soldiers.

These are the guys who were captured last issue trying to storm X-Corp’s HQ.

“Ces bêtes nous gardent prisonniers.” “These beasts keep us prisoners”, though the printed version is missing the circumflex.

“…cet endroit pue comme des mutants.” “This place stinks of mutants.”

“You’re complaining that we kept you in holding for the weekend?” Um. These guys were captured in the first half of last issue. Since then, Monet has had time to race round making all sorts of deals and buy out Kol’s company from under him. Madrox seems to confirm that they’ve been there for a couple of days at least. So if they’ve spent that whole time sitting on a bench at gunpoint instead of being in some sort of cell – which is certainly how this plays – then you can see why they might not be thrilled.

“Is Doc dead? Wouldn’t we be dead?” The prime Madrox was killed at the end of last issue, as the first shot in Kol’s attack. It’s not entirely obvious why they call him “Doc” when they all ought to share his knowledge, though I suppose it’s something to call him instead of “Madrox”.  Cable #9 already established that the Krakoan resurrection protocols allow Madrox to be resurrected even if his duplicates are still aound.

PAGE 4. Recap and credits. “Closing costs” is an American term for the costs of carrying out a transaction over and above the price (legal fees and such like).

PAGES 5-7. Archangel and Penance fight Fenris.

Fight scene, isn’t it? The recap page suggests that this is supposed to be the big fight that follows when Kol is “[n]o longer constrained by the polite politics of the boardroom”. But… that doesn’t work. He already sent a squadron of soldiers to attack in the previous issue. We just saw them.

“If you stick to the mutants…” Monet is allowed to kill the mutants because they can be resurrected. Humans are protected by Krakoan law.

“We tried to come to you first.” Sort of. Fenris did try to talk to X-Corp in issue #2, but they already had a meeting with Sara St John lined up.

PAGES 8-11. Trinary rescues Sara from the Noblesse soldiers.

The Noblesse soldiers are out of control thanks to their power-enhancing drugs, so Sara achieves essentially nothing in her attempted infiltration before needing rescues.

“She isn’t an AI.” Trinary seems to be clarifying here that her power to “speak” to machines should be understood pretty loosely. She’s not literally communing with some sort of hidden intelligence, unless there’s actually one there.

“Je dois tuer.” “I must kill”, though spread over two panels and with an English word in the middle for some reason.

PAGES 12-14. Archangel and Penance are still fighting Fenris.

“My brother and I have always known we were stronger together.” Andrea is alluding to Krakoa’s obsession with mutants using their powers in combination to achieve even greater effects, and suggesting that her brother and her are the prototype for that. This isn’t really true. One of them fires force beams, the other fires disintegrator beams; they don’t really work in combination, they just have a limitation on their powers.

“We just wanted to build an empire on the bones of human companies too, you know. Just like you and Xavier did.” Broadly fair. The whole premise of the Krakoan era is that the mutants’ pharmaceutical monopoly gives them economic dominance.

“When it suits me, I am Krakoan.” Andrea expects (reasonably enough) to be resurrected if she dies. The big plan is to copy the designs for the valuable bandwidth generator, get them off site, and then cover their tracks by blowing up everything. The mutants will be resurrected, but the memory gap will mean that bandwidth theft is unknown.

Quite why Kol, a pharmaceutical businessman, is associating himself with this plan is less than clear. Maybe he just wants revenge. Maybe he believes that Fenris are going to cut him in.

“If you ever set foot on Krakoa again you’ll beg the Five to leave you dead.” It’s almost impossible to get banished from Krakoa as a mutant. Archangel might be suggesting that Fenris’ willingness to kill their human allies is going to land them in the Hole with Sabretooth.

“Warren and I were some of the first to come back the new way.” Monet is referring to the fact that they were part of the suicide mission against Orchis in House of X #4, which led to the first on-camera resurrection. There had been resurrections before then, but only of people who had died long before. Monet and Warren were indeed among the first to die knowing that they might come back.

PAGES 15-17. Kol and Selene.

“People know about you, killer.” Kol is probably referring to Selene’s involvement in the “Power Elite” arc in Captain America, where she did indeed kill people and was handed over to Krakoan justice. Quite why she isn’t in the Hole has never been very clear, and it feels most likely to be a breakdown of communication.

“I am a walking pharmaceutical experiment.” Kol apparently has some sort of terminal illness which is neutralised by experimental drugs. In effect, he’s another type of technologically-enhanced human, and thus another of those posthumans everyone on Krakoa worried about so much.

PAGES 18-19. The Madroxes absorb Fenris’s energy.

Um. Madrox’s powers are supposed to be about absorbing kinetic energy, so it makes sense that he can absorb the force blasts. But the disintegrator…?

“That’s the patented Madrox workflow!” Callback to the one-man workflow explanation from issue #3.

PAGE 20. Data page expanding on what the Madroxes were just doing. Again, this is a callback to a similarly-designed data page from issue #3.

PAGE 21. Mastermind traps Kol.

Speaks for itself.

PAGES 22-23. Madrox is resurrected.

He’s reunited with Layla Miller and their son Davey. Issue #3 made some play of how he wasn’t spending time with them because he was busy at work. As Trinary points out, Madrox never wanted the board seat anyway.

For whatever reason, Warren is impressed enough to agree to Trinary joining the board despite his previous reservations about her criminal record… which haven’t really come up. Not sure there’s any particular reason for him to change his view on that.

PAGE 24. Data page. An X-Corp press release identifying Warren as Chairman and the directors as Monet, Selene, Mastermind and Trinary. I believe this is the first time we’ve been given a real name for Trinary.

PAGE 25. Trailers. Since this is the last issue, the Krakoan reads NEXT: INFERNO.




Bring on the comments

  1. Ceries says:

    It feels out of character for Selene to be disgusted by Nazis. She finds all human ideologies equally pathetic and mere tools she can use to accumulate power, surely?

    Anyway, this sure was…a series. Things appear to have happened in it. Characters appeared and were bizarrely out of character.

  2. Michael says:

    @Ceries- yeah, that is odd. She worked with Papa Strucker in Coates’ Captain America and although she was contemptuous of him, she didn’t seem to have this disgust for Nazism.

  3. Mark says:

    That fight scene was awful. Why did two of the deadliest mutants struggle against a pair of mutants who aren’t powerful unless they’re holding hands?

  4. Luis Dantas says:

    Was it made clear who exactly was given any hint that mutantkind has reasons to fear the ascension of enhanced humans?

    I may be mistaken, but I think that it may be only Xavier and Magneto. They are aware of Moira’s past lives, and presumably no one else currently alive is.

  5. Chris V says:

    I believe that they passed a resolution on Krakoa warning about the threat to mutants by AI and post-humans.

    Only Xavier and Magneto are aware of Moira’s past lives though.

  6. Chris V says:

    I don’t know where else to put this, but we were talking about this recently.
    Why here? Well, it’s X-Corp’s final issue, so speaking of endings…
    It appears my suspicions that Al Ewing is leaving Marvel may be correct.

    -SWORD is, of course, ending in December.
    -Guardians of the Galaxy was canceled with the latest issue.
    -It seems that Ewing is only listed as writer for the first two issues of Venom before Ram V takes over as sole writer.
    -Defenders is just a mini-series.

  7. Ben Johnston says:

    Certainly the best issue of the series, not that that’s saying much. I won’t miss this one.

    Even granted that Kol’s acting out of anger, his and Ferris’ plan seems badly misjudged. Even if the mutants on site hadn’t been enough to beat their forces, why wouldn’t they expect reinforcements to come pouring through the gates?

    Come to think of it, why didn’t reinforcements come pouring through the gates?

  8. MasterMahan says:

    I guess we’re just making up powers, then? Madrox has a psychic link with his dupes? Fenris can fly? Andreas Strucker can survive getting punched in the face by a woman with superstrength and diamond-hard skin?

    Whatever. It’s done.

  9. neutrino says:

    The resolution in Hellions was just about mutant-hunting A.I.

  10. Loz says:

    I’m being incredibly generous and saying the wonky storytelling and the shoddy art was because they suddenly got cancelled and had to wrap up earlier than they thought.

    Seriously, Angel and Monet should have not had any trouble with the underachieving twins. Seriously, they need to touch to use their powers so Andrea’s going to drop down from a great height on to the back of the mutant with diamond-hard, spiky skin? And… it works?!

    And I still don’t get how whatever Madrox did worked either, or why the Five need to resurrect him when all the dupes seem fine and the ‘Prime’ Madrox has died before without any ill effects? And how Selene is apparently an actual vampire now when I thought she was just an energy vampire? And Mastermind trapping Koh in a never-ending thing of falling when, again, I don’t think his powers work that way either…

    The only glimmer of intelligence is how Fenris think they can use resurrection to escape any consequences for their actions as though all the security on the flying ship is stored onsite and there would never be any off-site storage in case of an investigation into why the ship would go boom one day. Although, based on Tini Howard’s usual writing, I can see her doing a story where the ship blows up and she tries to insist that all data and security laws were kept on the ship for… reasons.

  11. Rachel says:

    If there’s any upside to Hickman leaving, hopefully it’s that he’s taking Tini with him.

  12. wwk5d says:


    We should be so lucky.

  13. Mathias X says:

    Very disappointed by this book.
    Monet has never had to worry about getting angry and turning in to Penance before, and while I like giving her this power set, without explanation it’s very, very dumb.

    Contrasting that with Archangel and having them work together sounded great, but they did so little with it.

    Madrox as a one-man corporation is a great use of his powers, and again, wasted by a lack of understanding of his character.

    I remain disappointed at everyone’s disinterest in using Layla Miller.

    I don’t dislike Tini Howard as much as everyone else does — I feel like she’s always on the cusp of hitting her stride on Excalibur, but never quite gets there. But this book has been a slog.

    The covers have been excellent. They would make nice posters.

  14. Rachel says:

    Here’s the thing, if you’ve ever listened to Tini on the Cerebro podcast, you know she’s good people. She’s smart, charming as hell, and she has great love for the X-Men franchise.

    But her comics are incoherent. She has interesting ideas, but the scripts are muddled.

  15. Chris V says:

    I’m sure she’s a great person and that she loves the characters.
    How many random people on Internet forums can you say that about?
    Doesn’t mean they can write professionally.

    Reading Loz’ description of the problem with this issue gave me chilling flashbacks to Howard Mackie comics.
    Random things happen, which make no logical sense, in the name of trying to move a plot along.
    Characters acting however Mackie wanted to write them in order to fit holes in his plot, instead of like actual human beings.
    Issues being a slog attempting to read through the comic.
    Mackie loved comic books too. There was no reason he should ever have been writing comics.

  16. Ben Johnston says:

    In fairness, Howard Mackie comics were much, much worse than even this, much less Excalibur. He wrote some truly dreadful Spider-Man comics that I could tell were crap even at 11 years old.

    I agree with Mathias X and Rachel. I can see how a lot of Tini Howard’s ideas work on paper, and there have definitely been moments when Excalibur has felt like it’s turning a corner (that Malice story and the Betsy/Kwannon stuff, for example). I also like what she was going for with the Maddox stuff here, though it doesn’t track with previous versions of the character and didn’t land for me.

    But pretty much every issue I’ve read from her feels like it needed a couple more rounds of revisions to really bring out the potential of the story and make the characters work.

    I would be interested in seeing what she’s like with a co-writer.

  17. Chris V says:

    I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have used the M-word. That should be saved for the lowest of the low.
    Just reading Loz’ description of this issue, it was reminding me of Mackie comics.
    I didn’t read this issue.
    I don’t think Howard is that bad, but I can’t say I am a fan.

    I had to quickly drop Excalibur because I found it neatly unreadable.
    X of Swords made me drop most of the X-line because I really couldn’t stand to read a X-Men Dungeons and Dragons mash-up. X of Swords was based around Howard’s ideas.
    I dropped X-Corp after the first issue because I could see it was going to be another Howard comic, even though I really wanted to give her another chance.

  18. Mathias X says:

    Yeah uh, if you ever want a fun afternoon, read Paul’s reviews of the last set of issues of Mutant X (featuring among other things Captain America and Havok fighting and accidentally blowing up the moon.)
    They were bad enough that Mackie had to change his name.

    I can’t deny that Excalibur has serious issues, but I’ve enjoyed it more than most issues of X-Force/Wolverine.

    In need of rounds of revision nails my problem with those books, and brings me back to my personal refrain: Where are the editors? Why aren’t they editing?

  19. Chris V says:

    His Mutant X reviews were hilarious, but I have to give the nod to the final issue of Brotherhood, after Mackie changed his name, with Uncle Sam randomly at a bar.
    That one really sticks in my mind and still makes me chuckle whenever I think about it.

    I didn’t even bother with Wolverine. I read reviews about it featuring mutants versus vampires, so I decided to stay away.

  20. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    So… a big part of Peter David’s run on Madrox, at least in X-Factor vol 3, was how he’d get hit by the memories and feelings of a dying dupe. Like when the ‘unpredictable’ dupe blows up the Tryp building, Madrox Prime becomes aware of what the Tryps told the dupe before his death.

    So this gut punch of Madrox missing out on his son’s first steps is
    1) unearned – that’s subjective, but it’s a cheap emotional shot when the character was barely on page before it happened
    2) counter to how Madrox’s powers work. This is a grey area, since Madrox’s powers have been rewritten multiple times, including by Peter David, but still.

    Since this was the only part of the miniseries I had any real interest in – I like Warren and M, but Warren’s dark side is well-trodden ground, while M’s dark side is… I don’t know, a continuity glitch by Hickman? Why can she turn into Penance now?

    Anyway, Madrox is the only part of the mini I connected with and it’s been blown. And the rest is random things happening for no reason.

    Just a mess of a series.

  21. Mathias X says:

    >> Since this was the only part of the miniseries I had any real interest in – I like Warren and M, but Warren’s dark side is well-trodden ground, while M’s dark side is… I don’t know, a continuity glitch by Hickman? Why can she turn into Penance now?

    I don’t think it was a glitch, I think it was an implication that the resurrection machine allowed people’s powers to enhance or improve.

    I think it’s likely that the Penance transformation was part of her powerset that she couldn’t access before, only because I don’t think it was every explained how Emplate “trapped” her in the form. But it certainly has never been depicted as some Hulk-like, “mustn’t make her angry” thing and that this has continued with out explanation boggles me.

  22. Karl_H says:

    I’ve heard Tini on podcasts, and agree that she seems like a great person who’d be fun to chat comic books with, and I sometimes feel like I’ve been too harsh or even mean in comments here and elsewhere. I wish I liked her writing more.

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