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Sep 23

X-Men #3 annotations

Posted on Thursday, September 23, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-MEN vol 6 #3
“Fearless, Chapter 3: Problematic Fan”
by Gerry Duggan, Pepe Larraz & Marte Gracia

COVER / PAGE 1. The X-Men fight the Evolutionary Guard while the High Evolutionary looks on.

PAGE 2. Data page. An opening quote from Mr Sinister.

Herbert is the High Evolutionary, Herbert Wyndham. As Sinister points out, it’s surprising how little interest the High Evolutionary has taken in the X-Men over the years, given the premise of the team. Of course, in reality, the reason is that he’s a character generally associated with other books.

“Anything remotely interesting about him comes from me.” X-Men vol 2 #99 established that the Evolutionary did indeed know Mr Sinister (as “Dr Essex”) when he was a young scientist, that he “learned more from the theoretical heresies of Essex than conventional textbooks could ever have occurred”, and that the Evolutionary regarded Essex as a mentor and “old friend”. So for once, Sinister’s self-aggrandising claim has a basis in history.

PAGE 3. The Evolutionary’s ships arrive in Vietnam.

The bridge with the giant hands holding it up is real. It’s called the Golden Bridge.

Rogue‘s dislike of the High Evolutionary stems from her encounter with him as a member of the Avengers Unity Division in Uncanny Avengers vol 2 #1-5, another Duggan storyline. It’s the arc which retconned Pietro and Wanda’s history to make them non-mutants. Rogue spends most of it held prisoner, and has Wonder Man’s mind separated from her body, much to her distress.

The Evolutionary in that story is an amoral monster, casually wiping out millions of animal-people on Counter-Earth each time he decides he wants to wipe the slate clean and start his experiments afresh. So it’s hardly surprising that she formed a bad impression of him.

PAGE 4. The Evolutionary gets out.

The woman with him is Luminous, who was created by the Evolutionary using the DNA of Wanda and Pietro. She’s another character from that same Uncanny Avengers arc. She is his “daughter” only in the sense of being his creation.

PAGE 5-7. The Evolutionary explains the plot, and the fighting starts.

“Its birth has caused dominoes to fall…” As he makes explicit later, the Evolutionary is referring to the attacks on Earth from Gameworld in issues #1-2, which he says were prompted by the colonisation of Mars in Planet-Size X-Men #1.

Nihility spheres appear to be an actual thing. I can’t find a clear explanation of what they are, but I can tell you that on interrogation by a plane-wave, their back-scattering efficiency is identically zero. So now you know.

The Evolutionary is basically telling us that humanity is doomed through its treatment of the Earth, except for a few people who might become posthuman – another mention of a repeating theme in the Krakoan era. But… can you really do “mutants brought Mars to life in an hour” and “humanity is doomed to ecological collapse” on the same page? I don’t think you can… At any rate, the Evolutionary is offering humanity a peaceful extinction over generations, which he considers to be kinder than the alternative.

The Evolutionary Guard are new, though as we’ll see, it’s basically another bunch of evolved-animal henchmen, which is standard for the Evolutionary. The name is obviously a pun on “Revolutionary Guard”. Duggan likes that joke – the Uncanny Avengers arc was called “Counter-Evolutionary”.

PAGE 8. Recap and credits.

PAGES 9-17. The fighting continues until Synch offers a blood sample.

The Guard are new characters. Teslelephant is apparently an evolved elephant named in honour of Nikolai Tesla, which is wacky. Counter-Earth is their home planet, created by the High Evolutionary, and a feature of his mythology going back to the 70s.

Luminous’s “I’ve heard of you and you’re turning out to be a tremendous disappointment” schtick is basically how she acted in Uncanny Avengers.

War Captains haven’t been mentioned in a while, but Jean is basically suggesting that they call in the (very informal) Krakoan army.

Note that Synch and Wolverine are presented more like a couple here, playing off their long, long relationship in the previous volume while they were locked in the Vault. He remembers that, she doesn’t, and as far as we know he’s yet to tell her.

PAGES 18-19. The Evolutionary tells the X-Men about Cordyceps Jones, then leaves.

Jean picked up this image of Jones from the invaders in the previous issue. Apparently, during this scene Jean and the Evolutionary have the conversation shown on page 20.

The depiction of the locals feels more than a little patronising (though the “please stay and eat with us” is a parallel to the ending of the previous issue). The locals aren’t peasant farmers, they’re theme park staff.

PAGE 20. Data page, expanding on the telepathic conversation between Jean and the Evolutionary. A few points here:

First, the Evolutionary says that mutants are operating on a bigger and bigger scale, but they’re “not preparing for the small scale of the next conflict.” Back in Uncanny Avengers, he did mention a coming Evolutionary War. Or perhaps he’s making a more general point that in his view the real battleground is genetics and the body itself.

Second, the Evolutionary dislikes Gameworld for its lack of scientific principle. That’s pretty much in character for him. The Evolutionary positions himself here very much as an old-school “drive evolution forward” take on Apocalypse, though with more of an air of neutrality. He’s not always been written that way, but he’s one of those characters who really doesn’t have any consistency to speak of.

Third, the Evolutionary describes Gameworld as “the natural progression of Mojoworld”. There’s an obvious parallel between the two in the general “smash things up for entertainment” sense. But is he suggesting there’s a literal connection between the two?

PAGE 21. Scott and Jean discuss the plot.

It’s not clear why they’re splitting the team, but presumably some of them are going to guard the Earth while the others head to Gameworld?

PAGE 22. Gyrich tries to recruit Feilong to Orchis.

Feilong thinks the attempt to get him to go to Mars is a suicide mission, and has plans of his own. But he’s going to join Orchis anyway, apparently. That should work out well.

PAGES 23-24. Dr Stasis gives Ben Urich information about mutant resurrection.

We saw in issue #1 that Urich was asking awkward questions about resurrection, and issues #1-2 have both covered Stasis investigating the phenomenon. The photo of Cyclops’s broken visor that he shows Urich is the same one that Stasis was looking at last issue. Recall, by the way, that Stasis was also keen on evolved animal men.

“Back when the U.S. government loaned the services of a Super-Soldier to the Kingpin…” In Daredevil vol 1 #232-233. The “super-soldier” is Nuke.

PAGE 25. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: INFERNO.

Bring on the comments

  1. Chris V says:

    I don’t understand why everyone is so convinced about mutant resurrection occurring.
    Spider Man just had a story-line where all of his dead supporting cast and villains returned from the grave as clones.
    Why doesn’t everyone think that Krakoa has some sort of cloning procedure occurring?

    I wonder why the High Evolutionary hasn’t become more associated with the X-Men franchise.
    He was introduced in Thor, but was just one of those high-concept Kirby creations which could appear in any comic.
    He had a purpose as an antagonist/supporting character of Warlock, but Warlock rarely features in his own series since the 1970s.
    So, he’s really not a character associated with any other line of characters.

  2. Richard Howe says:

    I could be wrong, but I believe that the _Uncanny Avengers_ storyline you refer to was actually written by Rick Remender.

    Anyway, thanks again for doing these. I look forward to them every week.

  3. JD says:

    @Richard Howe : that was my recollection too (a weird coda to the Remender run just before he left Marvel), but it turns out that Duggan did co-write issues #3-4.

    My guess is that there was heavy editorial intervention, and Duggan was the good trooper who made the desired changes (presumably related to the Maximoff retcon, which is indeed detailed in those issues).

  4. Adam Farrar says:

    Almost all the Marvel geneticists or eugenicists knew or studied each other or used someone else’s equipment.

    Like you mention, Nathaniel Essex’s pre-Mr. Sinister work inspired Herbert Edgar Wyndham who became the High Evolutionary. But additionally, Wyndham was instructed and supplied by the Inhuman Phaeder. Wyndham’s his partners and assistants over the retconned years included Horace Grayson (father of the ‘50s Marvel Boy), the Moloids, Jonathan Drew (father of Jessica “Spider-Woman” Drew), and Miles Warren (Spider-Man villain the Jackal). We all know the High Evolutionary and his New Men are very involved in the lives of Magneto, Wanda, Pietro and anyone else who stumbled across Wundagore Mountain.

    Phaeder and/or his Inhuman/Deviant hybrid son Maelstrom also provided information to Warren, Wladyslav Shinski (of the Enclave, creator of Adam Warlock), Arnim Zola, and Herman Frayne (Namor villain Dr. Hydro). Shinski was Zola’s mentor and warned him that Wyndham was dangerous. Magneto also used Maelstrom and Phaeder’s equipment to create Alpha, the Ultimate Mutant.

    The Moloids, Tyrannoids and Gortokians were created by the Deviants who with the Eternals were created by the Celestials. The most famous Gortokian is, of course, Gor-Tok better known as Grotesk or the Sub-Human who fought the X-Men a few times. And the Celestial equipment as we all know was used by Apocalypse to transform himself and turn Essex into Mr. Sinister.

  5. Si says:

    Isn’t the whole premise of the mutant resurrections that Hickman said that characters are dying and coming back increasingly often, so let’s just take the threat of death off the table entirely?

    Academically, yes, if it was revealed that, say, Fiji had conquered death but only Fijians are eligible for the treatment, there would be an international uproar. And that would make for a great story. But in a setting where every major character has been dead at least once, it does stretch one’s suspension of disbelief too far.

    It’s actually funny reading older series on Unlimited, when everyone talks about, for example, Captain America being dead, and you realise it is the time before last.

  6. Chris V says:

    That, and it might have been a leftover plot point from his original pitch to Marvel for writing the Eternals relaunch.

  7. YLu says:

    Wait, has it been stated that Hickman’s pitch was originally an Eternals pitch or is that just speculation?

  8. Mark Coale says:

    All the Marvel genetisists being connected is like how, ar one point, all the DC plant-based characters (Holland, Isley, Woodrue,…) studied together.

  9. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    If you’re reading Gillen’s Eternals, it’s bizarrely similar to Krakoa in ways.

    I feel like there has to be a behind the scenes story there.

    Even if the Krakoans are just mass cloning people, it’s still a story Urich would be interested in.

    And it course, Way of X this week brings up that this whole resurrection situation is pretty much horseshit anyway.

  10. Chris V says:

    YLu-Hickman said that his initial pitch to Marvel was to relaunch the Eternals, but Marvel said that it wasn’t time to bring back the Eternals yet.
    Hickman said the only other characters he was interested in writing for Marvel would be the X-Men and Marvel wanted him for that relaunch.

  11. Luis Dantas says:

    I don’t _know_ that Hickman’s setup was originally an Eternals pitch, but I can definitely believe it; quite a few key beats of the environment just work far better if we take as a starting point that the protagonists have been living apart from humanity for at least a few decades and have no particular reason to want to change that.

    Underscoring that oddity is the even stranger lack of in-story comments about it. By rights it should have been a major plot point, an unifying theme even, front and center from day one.

    It would not surprise me either if it turned out that other writers came to enjoy the novel story opportunities arising from this radical departure from the status quo while Hickman wanted instead to ignore most of them and go ahead with the next phase of his planned storyline.

    For all I know that may be why he is leaving the x-books now; he may have found himself outvoted, editorial may have decided that sales justify straying away from Hickman’s preferences, and eventually it was agreed that it is better to part ways now than to keep a work relationship that can no longer function as needed.

    Then again, he may instead have convinced Marvel that he deserves a shot at some other, new project with even less constraints from the shared universe.

    I for one would be ok with either scenario. Around X-Men #8 or so I concluded that Hickman is not interested in exploring what I consider the most intriguing aspects of his setup. Let him (and everyone else) play on the sandbox that suits him best.

    Reminds me of that time shortly before Civil War when Misty and Coleen were suddenly given a Daughters of the Dragon series and I kept asking myself when their personalities were rewritten so completely. To this day I believe that that series was originally a pitch for something else, perhaps a Body Doubles series for DC.

  12. Aro says:

    It’s interesting to think about how Hickman launching an Eternals series would have gone over… The idea of resurrection protocols and a secret island paradise does seem like a more natural fit for that property.

    But there’s certainly less of a built-in fanbase for Eternals, and it wouldn’t have supported nearly as many series as the Krakoa setup has. I mean, despite having Gillen write the current Eternals series, I’ve hardly heard anyone talking about it…

  13. Brent says:

    I’m sure we’d all like to know what the real story is behind Hickman’s departure… or even how permanent his departure is. Sounds like he’s left the door open to come back and wrap things up. But who knows.

    Looking back now on HoxPox, I know the thing that seemed to really have everyone excited then (whether you were on board for all the changes to the status quo or not) was just that the X-Men had a clear direction for the first time in at least a decade. Not that there hadn’t been big directional changes that were at least somewhat well recieved in that time period, but nothing that seemed like it was going to stick. Nothing seemed to matter because give it a year and we’ll get a new Uncanny #1 and a “bold new direction” for the books.

    But this was supposed to be different. Say whatever you want about how Hickman tells a story, but the one thing the guy always seems to have is a plan. And this ain’t that. I’m not Hickman’s biggest fan, but I want to see how this was going to play out. But whether the loose threads get tied up or not, I think this still feels like a let down.

    Maybe that’s because most of the books haven’t been as consistent as I’d have liked, and taking Hickman out of the equation feels like we’re headed back to an era of uncertainty. But alas, such is the life of a comicbook reader.

  14. Joseph S. says:

    Brining Feilong into Orchis makes good sense, trying him into the broader coalition across the line. Their leadership structure has been partially revealed, so good to see those redacted spaces slowly being filled in. Onslaught this week also further established the link to Orchis. I wonder if they’ll play any role in Inferno, though I wouldn’t be surprised if that will be left for further down the line.

  15. Chris V says:

    Nimrod was shown as attacking Krakoa in issue #3 of “Inferno”.
    Nimrod is, of course, the major Orchis project and threat.

    I expect that Orchis will remain as a more typical anti-mutant arch-supervillain type organization as the main antagonists for the mutants moving forward after Hickman.

  16. Drew says:

    I like Nimrod as a villain as much as the next guy, but didn’t the X-Men fight off literally hundreds of them in Second Coming, before Cypher shut them all down and saved the day? Makes it a little harder to take one of them seriously as a threat.

    Of course, that was a whole island’s worth of mutants, whereas nowada-… oh. Right. 😉

  17. YLu says:


    Do you have a source on the Eternals thing? A Google search turns up nothing.

  18. Chris V says:

    Hmm…I can only find speculation as to the original Marvel image for Hickman coming aboard X-Men.
    Web-sites were speculating that the image could either apply to X-Men or Eternals.
    I remember reading an interview with Hickman when he was writing House/Powers where he talked about originally wanting to write the Eternals, but being told they were unavailable. Maybe it is my mind playing tricks on me.
    Unless anyone else on this site remembers reading that interview with Hickman.


    Drew-It seems Hickman wants us to forget any post-Claremont appearances by Nimrod.

    The original intent wasn’t that Nimrod was the major threat to mutants, in and of itself, but that the creation of a Nimrod AI accelerates technological change hastening the rise of post-humanity.

    I think Hickman has dropped those ideas and now it’s simply that Nimrod is the major threat posed by Orchis.

  19. Piercey says:

    I’d like to think that Moira X gained meta awareness and realised the only way to stay alive is to engineer Hickmans departure.

    Seriously though I wonder if Moiras actual plan is to other throw the patriarchy and move on from the Xavier-Magneto, Wolverine-Cyclops dichotomy era. I always felt House of X #1 cover felt very dated with vast majority white male characters and wondered if that was on purpose. Seems like Inferno hints that Moira, Mystique and Destiny might be aligned and I wonder if Emma, Betsy, Brand and Storm have developed or been moved into very powerful positions. Is Jean set to lead X-Men? (I thought X-Men Red showed promise). Anyway it’s been in back of my mind for while.

    Enjoying Duggans run so far, Larraz’s art is amazing right? Thought also the Way of X storyline shows really interesting opportunities for Krakoa era so I’m OK with this era continuing.

    And We still haven’t had a Blob Betsy Age of X-Man reunion story yet…


  20. Chris V says:

    I was thinking that Moira and Destiny may be aligned, but it was solely Moira’s edict that demanded that Destiny not be resurrected, so that wouldn’t make sense.

    I am wondering if there is going to be some reveal about Destiny and Moira being merged in some manner.
    Destiny tells Moira that the two of them are connected for eternity after life three.
    It was never explained exactly what Destiny meant, although it was a way to explain Destiny knowing to be aware of Moira in each of her lives.
    It may have a deeper significance.

    Also, the page with “our leaders can’t be trusted” shows Emma with Xavier and Magneto.
    I think Emma has her own schemes to take power from Xavier and Magneto.
    So, I don’t think Moira being shown with Mystique and Destiny is particularly important.

    I definitely do think that the “woman they’ve been playing a dangerous game with” refers to Moira rather than Mystique.
    I think Xavier and Magneto betrayed Emma’s plan, and Emma is going to be the one threatening to “burn Krakoa”.

  21. Mathias X says:

    >> The original intent wasn’t that Nimrod was the major threat to mutants, in and of itself, but that the creation of a Nimrod AI accelerates technological change hastening the rise of post-humanity. I think Hickman has dropped those ideas and now it’s simply that Nimrod is the major threat posed by Orchis.

    A little of both, I think — Nimrod himself was, at a certain point in the other timelines, leading the machine army, and was shown as able to solo Apocalypse. So Nimrod is the beginning of the end and also a major threat in his own right.

    I do think of the Second Coming Nimrods as weaker than the solitary Nimrod; I tend to think of them as “Nimrod-type” Sentinels, whereas Bastion was the “prime” Nimrod. We saw that the Claremont Nimrod was an individual, and not merely part of a swarm like they were, so I expect its AI and capabilities outpace theirs entirely.

    I also think speculation about Emma taking charge is likely accurate. Hellions and X-Force both showed her suddenly “swooping in” to course-correct things she was displeased with, and I imagine she’s going to usurp Xavier and Magneto soon.

  22. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    This has been what I expected they wanted Duggan to do- crank out more linear and broadly commercial Hickman-lite material.

    It still feels very zoomed out and impersonal, bit it’s serialized and has humour.

    There are still some Hickman “big ideas”, but on a much smaller scale.

    My issue with it is some of the characterization feels off and generic.

    No way does Cyclops say “Eh. Hanging in” or “The X-Men love elephants.”

    But that art is fantastic.

  23. Piercey says:

    @Chris V

    >>> I was thinking that Moira and Destiny may be aligned, but it was solely Moira’s edict that demanded that Destiny not be resurrected, so that wouldn’t make sense.
    Well as Moira has been shown to have Destiny’s diaries, there might be more of an alignment in thinking, for example it was Destiny who put Moira on the path to helping her mutantdom after life 3 so her and Mystique are hugely influential to her motivations.

    >>> I am wondering if there is going to be some reveal about Destiny and Moira being merged in some manner.
    Destiny tells Moira that the two of them are connected for eternity after life three.

    It could certainly retroactively explain why Destiny took over Moiras resurrected body in that Chaos War X-Men series.

    >>> Also, the page with “our leaders can’t be trusted” shows Emma with Xavier and Magneto.
    I think Emma has her own schemes to take power from Xavier and Magneto.
    I think Xavier and Magneto betrayed Emma’s plan, and Emma is going to be the one threatening to “burn Krakoa”

    Yes theres definitely something there. Was it ever made clear whose plan the Mars terraforming idea was. It certainly felt the whole framing of it within the Hellfire gala was Emma’s idea along with her now apparent machinations like @Mathias X mentioned in Hellions and X-Force.

    @Uncanny X-Ben: re Duggans characterisations, I definitely feel Polaris is a bit off from what Leah Williams is doing in XFacor and Trial of Magneto, and I’m still waiting to see what the Synch and Wolverine Laura take is, it certainly is a massive development that Synch is now carrying decades worth of experience now so should feel more equal to the leaders.

  24. Chris V says:

    I’d guess that the terraforming project was Moira’s idea.
    Magneto was recruiting the Omega-level mutants to help him with his terraforming project on Mars.

    It goes with Moira’s past lives. Krakoa had Sinister’s breeding pits set up on Mars during life nine.

    I think that they just gave Emma a large role with the unveiling, aligning it with her Hellfire Gala and letting her handle the public relations aspect.

  25. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Piercey- yeah Polaris reads more like Boom Boom in this.

    It seemed like Laura and Synch are a couple again already, without actually showing any of it or dealing with the massive bizarreness of their situation.

    Very Hickman.

  26. Jerry Ray says:

    Without looking back at it, I read the Laura/Synch scene as her just doing what needed to be done but in a way that had extra symbolism or meaning for him. Like, the girl you have a crush on touches your hand when she borrows a pencil kind of vibes.

  27. Rybread says:

    @Jerry Ray Yeah, that was my take on it as well. I didn’t get the read that they’re a couple at all. I read it as this being a very meaningful / awkward moment for Synch in a way that it wasn’t for Laura, who was just doing the job.

  28. Karl_H says:

    Okay, Teslelephant *absolutely* needs an Edison-themed nemesis at some point, based on being the descendant of Topsy, the elephant erroneously believed to have been electrocuted by Edison as a demonstration of electricity.

  29. Chris says:

    Sentinels operate under the Rule of Ninjas and Nimrod especially operates under that rule.

    Nimrod-type sentinels could probably be defeated almost easily and hurt no one of consequence.

    Nimrod as a boss fight or a sole actual character will tear through Juggernaut, Apocalypse and three factions of mutants all teamed up.

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