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Nov 26

X-Men #5 annotations

Posted on Friday, November 26, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-MEN vol 6 #5
“Fearless, Chapter Five: Don’t Piss Off Polaris”
by Gerry Duggan, Javier Pina, Zé Carlos & Erick Arciniega

COVER / PAGE 1. A close-up of Dr Stasis (presumably), holding a scalpel, while his faceplate shows a reflection of a monster fighting Cyclops and Wolverine. It doesn’t help that this is the first time we’ve even had a clear view of Dr Stasis’s faceplate, but some of the red trim was visible in issue #3, and we also see it at the end of the issue.

The original solicitation for this issue read “The X-Men’s new nemesis finally makes himself known to them, bringing his creations to bear. Mutants may have conquered death, but their foes are all too living…” This is not really what happens in the issue – which has a scene where the X-Men fight some of Stasis’ creations, but not where he makes his own involvement known – so you have to wonder if the cover is a hangover from an earlier story concept.

PAGES 2-4. The X-Men fight the Reavers in Mexico.

The opening narration is a straight recap of the premise of the new Reavers, as established over in Duggan’s Marauders. Although they’re mostly made up of former mercenaries, their main motivation is supposed to be revenge on mutants for their injuries – from the look of it, they’re also taking on unrelated mercenary work now, but they also suggest that they were deliberately trying to provoke a fight with the X-Men.

Basically, the set up here is for Polaris to be the last X-Man standing and to beat a team of cyborgs on her own. They are part metal, after all.

PAGE 5. Recap and credits.

PAGES 6-7. Flashback: Jean makes Polaris put herself forward for the new X-Men team.

This is a flashback to the election sequence in X-Men vol 5 #21. Dr Strange’s dialogue is a very loose paraphrase of what he said in the original issue. All of the telepathic conversation is new.

Later in the issue, it’s clarifies that Jean isn’t altering Polaris’s mind here, but changing what everyone else heard her say – which Jean insists reflects what Polaris actually wanted. In X-Factor #10, Lorna apologised to Northstar for not telling him earlier that she was thinking of putting herself forward, but she doesn’t directly contradict this scene – she said she’d “been thinking about this move”, which is precisely Jean’s justification for forcing her to do it.

PAGES 8-10. Flashback: Polaris and Rogue deal with a reactor meltdown.

The fact that Lorna had finally completed her doctorate (something also hammered in the next scene) was established in passing in X-Men: The Trial of Magneto #2.

Other than that, this is a straightforward power demonstration with Polaris getting to do some straight superheroing, but still not feeling comfortable about it all.

PAGES 11-12. Flashback: The X-Men fight some of Dr Stasis’ creations in Central Park.

This is the bit that, very tenuously, justifies the cover. Obviously, Polaris pairs off against the “monster” that doesn’t really want to be there either.

The High Evolutionary. The conversation with the High Evolutionary that Synch mentions took place in issue #3.

“Dr Polaris”. Dr Stasis calls Lorna “Dr Polaris” in reference to her degree, but it’s also the name of a DC supervillain.

PAGES 13-17. Polaris defeats the Reavers.

Back to the opening scene. This is Polaris getting to outthink and outpower the bad guys who underestimate her. You know the deal. They were prepared for the X-Men but they hadn’t fully thought through everything that Polaris can do, because she doesn’t normally show her full potential.

Legacy House is a black market superhero memorabilia and information auction house, from various issues of Benjamin Percy’s Wolverine. It seems pretty likely that they’d bid highly for the X-Men, alive or dead.

CHUDs. Apparently Laura is thinking of the 1984 horror film (it stood for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers).

Laura and Everett need to talk about the Hickman-X-Men “Vault” arc, where they spent hundreds of years trapped together in time dilation; both were resurrected in younger bodies at the end, and only Everett remembers it. Everett is in love with Laura; Laura has figured that out, but they haven’t spoken about it yet.

PAGES 18-19. Polaris speaks to Jean.

It’s one of those dodgy scenes where blatantly overriding someone’s free will is apparently fine as long as you’re right. The basic take on Polaris is fairly standard, though – she’s an underachiever who needs to be pushed to reach her potential.

The two lines of Spanish dialogue are “Hello, people!” and “Come and join us, friends.”

PAGE 20. Data page. A note from Lorna to her former X-Factor teammate Northstar. She encourages him to stand for the team next week. She also says that Northstar supported her in the election, which we didn’t actually see, but then we didn’t see very much of the discussion among the mutants. He was perfectly supportive afterwards in X-Factor #10, so it makes perfect sense that he backed her.

PAGE 21. Data page. The X-Men invite the general public to drop by their New York headquarters at the  Treehouse. It’s the sort of outreach project we saw them doing in issue #1.

Apparently the Hellfire Trading Corporation’s lawyers are being wheeled out to offer free legal advice to New Yorkers, which sounds… inadvisable, since it’s unlikely many of them would know the first thing about New York housing law. Still, it is Manhattan. Maybe somebody will drop by with a query about the Hague-Visby Rules.

PAGES 22-24. Ben Urich talks to Cyclops.

Ben has been showing an interest in resurrection throughout this series. He asked about Jumbo Carnation’s return in issue #1. The space mission he mentions is the attack on Orchis from House of X; Ben learned about it from Dr Stasis in issue #3. Ben saw Cable’s empty grave last issue.

I’m not quite sure what “solved for death” is supposed to mean. “Solved death”, surely?

PAGE 25. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: CAPTAIN KRAKOA.

 

Bring on the comments

  1. Asteele says:

    Don’t know the scene but in the “left” here in the US CHUD has also become slang for right wing people.

  2. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Decent showing for Polaris, but. Laura should be somewhat upset – being used as a Weapon against her will is a big thing for her, historically speaking. The context here would excuse it but it’s still weird she’s this okay with it.

    And I have no clue what Lorna’s doing with her, considering Laura does not have a metal skeleton. She must be using the Iron in her blood or some such. Or Duggan forgot she’s not literally ‘female Wolverine’.

  3. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    You know I am enjoying an X-Men book actually having them be heroic, but is still the usual weird patchy Duggan book.

    The whole thing with Jean is pretty crazy, as is the Polaris using X-23 as a death puppet.

    I’ve been using Chud as a favored insult since I was a teen, as a general replacement for like loser or bum.

    Solver for death is a weirder way to say it, but I have seen that kind of phrasing before outside of a math context.

    KC- I had no idea X-23 only had metal claws, not the full skeleton. Since they seemingly have an infinite supply of adamantium and a quick process to insert it into Wolverine now, maybe she just went in for a tune up.

  4. MasterMahan says:

    Yeah, I’m not familiar with CHUD having specific political connotations, as opposed to just being a term for an aggressive lout. Think chav with less of a classism angle.

    Laura does have those noticeable metal spikes sticking out of her for her entire time as an unconscious murder puppet. Perhaps the idea is that Lorna is moving those?

  5. Raoul says:

    As for “solved for death,” that may be an algebra reference — you can solve an equation in terms of any variable in the equation. “Solve for X” is a frequent direction in algebra problems, and I’m shocked it hasn’t been used for an issue title.

  6. Ryan T says:

    Presumably they don’t have extra adamantium for Wolverine, it’s just that Proteus can create almost any body in concert with the rest of the Five, and thus, creating Wolverine, with an adamantium skeleton is nbd.

    That said, given the amount of dead Wolverines at this point, I guess every time means there’s more potential adamantium in Krakoa or wherever the corpse ends up (to be fair, often the corpse has been presumably ‘lost in space’

  7. Hale says:

    I’m not entirely sure what purpose this book serves right now.

    It’s not as solid as his Uncanny Avengers so far.

  8. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Ryan T- we’ve already seen baddies with a boatload of Wolverine skeletons, and I do believe early on we saw Forge with a tub of adamantium to be injected into Logan.

  9. Loz says:

    Apparently the Hellfire Trading Corporation’s lawyers are being wheeled out to offer free legal advice to New Yorkers, which sounds… inadvisable, since it’s unlikely many of them would know the first thing about New York housing law. Still, it is Manhattan. Maybe somebody will drop by with a query about the Hague-Visby Rules.

    Maybe Cypher has a big family like Cannonball and all his mutant siblings also have non-physical powers? And one of them is just to have perfect knowledge and understanding of all rules in any jurisdiction they visit?

  10. wwk5d says:

    Chud appears also in Stephen King’s It, as The Ritual of Chud, though it’s written as Chüd.

  11. Rareblight says:

    Regarding Polaris & Jean Grey interaction: I do not expect people who do not suffer from insecurities or being too self-aware to understand the context of it. You literally wait for someone to discover your potential instead of proving yourself by yourself. So, you would welcome a slight nudge here and there, and by doing good, you develop your confidence on that path. So, no, Jean Grey did not manipulate anyone, she just helped and supported a self-doubting friend.
    About, Polaris & Wolverine interaction: It was just a different kind of Fastball Special, that’s all. It was a desperate situation that needed desperate measures. If Polaris did not acted in anyway, they would be brainwashed mercs in the hands of Legacy House, just like Maverick, doing a lot of horrible things to the world. So, stop being so judging and politically-correct all time.

  12. Rareblight says:

    And also: Captain Krakoa is Thunderbird aka Proudstar. Mark my words 😉

  13. wwk5d says:

    “Maybe Cypher has a big family like Cannonball and all his mutant siblings”

    I believe they revealed back in the original New Mutants series that Cypher was an only child, no?

  14. Evilgus says:

    @Loz
    The idea of a mutant with perfect understanding of legislation makes me chuckle 🙂

    I liked the focus on Polaris. Maybe there is a consistent thread finally developing with this character? That said, I’m less keen on the sunglasses-and-coffee valley girl trope that’s developing. It feels a bit Jubilee or Boom Boom lite. But I guess, that’s a front?

  15. Mathias X says:

    >> About, Polaris & Wolverine interaction: It was just a different kind of Fastball Special, that’s all.

    Certainly not. You should take another look at the dialogue — the questions of agency and memory are raised by Duggan in the text.

    The first things Laura said when she came back to were: “I want to know what I did when I was unconscious” followed by “Synch, I know we need to talk.” Laura may not be necessarily angry at Polaris, but it’s clear in the text of the story that she feels similarly about her body being made into a weapon while she’s unconscious as she does whatever happened to her in the Vault.

    It’s not particularly “politically correct” to read a story and ask the same questions the dialogue is asking.

  16. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    I remember all those times Colossus threw a passed out Wolverine at people like a hairy snowball.

  17. Rareblight says:

    @Mathias X

    I guess I do not see a point asking the same questions the dialogue is asking.

    Obviously, she would like to know what has been done with her body when she is unconscious. It would be awkward if she did not. Obviously, she would not enjoyed being used as a tool. But has that action saved them from being sold and used as brainwashed soldiers? Yes. So, what I am saying is that it is not always black and white out there.

  18. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    For context, Laura has been made in a lab to be used as a living weapon (with a special trigger developed to activate her in a way that strips her of all conscious thought) and has fought against that for most of her history, with a (so far) final victory achieved only at the end of Tom Taylor’s All-New Wolverine (so about 15 years after her comics debut).

    That is why I said Laura shouldn’t be this accepting of what Polaris has done. Of course the situation demanded it, of course Laura understands that, but there should be at least some resentment.

  19. Rareblight says:

    @Krzysiek Ceran

    I completely agree with you. I feel like there is already some antagonism between Laura and Lorna (e.g. first issue, Laura’s reaction to Lorna’s introduction to Treehouse), and of course this last action does not help the situation at all. As a reader, I would like to see a confrontation between Laura vs Lorna, just like Scott vs Logan back in the day.

  20. MasterMahan says:

    Suppose you were offered a job, and you decide to decline it. Later, you discover you’re expected to start on Monday, because someone else sneaked into your email account, blocked the email you decided to send, and instead sent the acceptance letter you left in your drafts.

    Of course it was manipulation. It doesn’t matter if Jean did it for Lorna’s own good, she still ignored the conscious choice Lorna made.

    Unrelated, I want Legislation Lad to be canon.

  21. Rareblight says:

    @MasterMahan

    Except Lorna wanted the job, but decided to decline because of her insecurities. Jean just helped her to overcome her Dunning-Krueger.

  22. neutrino says:

    Isn’t insecurity the opposite of Dunning-Kreuger?

  23. Claus says:

    Dunning-Krueger has two sides:
    -) underqualified people overestimating their abilities;
    -) qualified people underestimating theirs.

    Lorna falls in the second slot.

  24. Claus says:

    On a different note, I can now imagine her in an argument with her father:

    “You may be the Master of magnetism, but I’m the Doctor!”

  25. Luis Dantas says:

    @neutrino, @claus: isn’t Imposter Syndrome the opposite of Dunning-Krueger?

  26. Claus says:

    @Luis Dantas:

    Wikipedia (for what it’s worth) defines D-K as:

    “that people with low ability at a task overestimate their own ability, and that people with high ability at a task underestimate their own ability.”

    I would consider the Impostor syndrome as an extreme case of the second aspect.

    (The correct spelling, by the way, seems to be “Kruger”.)

  27. Thom H. says:

    By Marvel comic standards, what Jean did to Lorna is pretty much their version of therapy. See also: the other 1000 times Jean telepathically forced people to confront issues they were avoiding.

    In real life, Jean’s actions would be considered quite icky and break the first rule of telepathy in Marvel comics, which practically all telepaths in Marvel comics break on a regular basis. It also makes me wonder if Marvel comic writers know what therapy is actually like.

  28. Chris V says:

    Professor X decided to unethically violate the minds of every human on Earth to send his message in House/Powers.
    Something which probably radicalized a number of moderates on the “mutant issue”, and which the reader is still left questioning if it actually damaged the brains of some humans, leading to them worshipping mutants.

    Granted, this was Hickman and his intentions for Krakoa seem much different than where a write like Duggan wants to steer the books.
    However, based on the above, Jean’s actions probably can be read as therapeutic by current X-Men status.

  29. Salomé Honório says:

    Sorry, but no. Plot mechanics don’t justify treating consent as this inconvenience you can just write your way through, if adjacent motivations seem to justify the decision. Jean Grey effectively overwrote what Polaris chose to communicate, and rationalized it a posteriori. Polaris used Laura’s body as an instrument in the most literal of ways, so as to beat the Reavers.

    The fact both scenes occur within the same issue suggests one of two things: 1) Duggan is playing up an underlining tension, that might have consequences at a later point in time or 2) Duggan isn’t even attuned to how ethically troubled both of these decisions are.

    Given his tactical use of sexual violence in Marauders, to jumpstart a character’s storyline, we should definitely be asking what’s going on in his representation of, in terms of consent and self-determination.

    That’s not “politically correct”. It’s plainly political, because it addresses power relations and their representation.

    I genuinely can’t stand the benign “push” reading. I completely agree that’s the mood of the scene, but I don’t get how that works when an Omega level telepath course corrects the words and thoughts of a character who isn’t similarly powered.

    And

  30. Salomé Honório says:

    * of women, I meant to say. The “And” is just debris.

    I’m half-enjoying this comic, but it does feel unmotivated. It’s neither especially character driven, nor examining the X-Men’s roles as public figures. If anything, it feels like a cleaner take on super heroics, as mentioned above. But I’m never that convinced that’s the best use of the X-Men…

  31. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    So far this feels like the main purpose of the series is to present X-Men as superheroes in ‘wide-screen’ action scenes. Which I’m sure there’s a market for, but I’d like something more than that. I’m not holding my breath, though.

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