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Apr 28

Sabretooth #3 annotations

Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

“Whisper Campaign”
Writer: Victor LaValle
Artist: Leonard Kirk
Colourist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: Cory Petit
Editor: Jordan White

COVER / PAGE 1: Sabretooth stands watch, whiel his fellow Pit inmates are entangled in Krakoan vines. Nekra seems to be miscoloured.

PAGE 2. A quote from Thomas Paine (1737-1809). It’s from The Rights of Man (1791); in the original context, it was one of Paine’s arguments against the House of Lords, but obviously the point is broader than that. In the context of Krakoa, the obvious target would be the Quiet Council.

PAGES 3-5. Melter’s flashback.

Melter kills his parents. This is a scene from Dark Reign: Young Avengers #4; the panel shown here is a direct copy of a panel from the original flashback. In the full version, young Chris’s powers manifest while he’s enthusiastically telling his loving parents about his school day, and it’s very clear that he kills them by accident. They seem like a conventional middle class family.

Melter kills an old woman. This is a scene from Dark Reign: Young Avengers #1; again, it’s re-drawn directly from one of the original panels. In the full version, he uses his powers on her instinctively when she mistakes him for a mugger and maces him. He seems genuinely horrified by what he’s just done.

“Xavier invited us all. Even mutants who’s done so much worse than me.” House of X #1. This flashback seems to be an original panel of Professor X addressing the new arrivals in the early days of Krakoa, with a decidedly preacher-ish tendency. As Melter rightly says, the Krakoan amnesty extended to many mutants who had done far worse things than him (and who were far less repentent about it).

Melter’s crime. In the previous issue, Melter claimed to have been sent to the Pit as punishment for damaging a boulder, which was framed as a breach of the law “Respect this sacred land.” It was strongly implied that this wasn’t the full story. This flashback clarifies that he damaged Krakoa in a way that caused it to absorb the life forces of various mutants around him, presumably to repair the damage he did. More to the point, he was trying to listen in to the Quiet Council, and he was only sentenced to the Pit on a second offence. That makes more sense of his punishment, though note that framing this as a breach of the “sacred land” law is extremely tendentious – which is no doubt deliberate.

PAGE 6. Recap and credits.

PAGES 7-8. In Sabretooth’s mindscape, the prisoners escape Alcatraz.

The raft seems to be made from the corpses of the Quiet Council, though we can only see it clearly in one panel.

The story about the Alcatraz escape from 1962 is true.

Sabretooth’s recap of his outer space dreams and his projection to the surface comes from issue #1.

PAGES 9-10. Nekra and Oya are sent to find Scrambler.

All of the inmates have been assigned by Sabretooth to contact some of his former Marauders teammates; none of them do, and none of those Marauders actually appear in the issue. Aside from anything else, it’s not at all obvious that any of the Marauders are there to be contacted. Early issues of Hellions rather suggested that they weren’t exactly being rushed to the front of the resurrection queue (no doubt in part because it served the plot of that book to keep Greycrow isolated from them). But Creed was sent to the Pit very early in the history of Krakoa and he probably doesn’t know that. Besides, as we find out later on, he doesn’t necessarily expect anyone to actually find these guys.

Nekra and Oya indicated last issue that they had been working together before their sentencing; this scene indicates that they were working with Bling! as some sort of patrol group, and apparently killed people in that context. It’s probably worth noting that all three characters are black women, though in Bling! and Nekra’s case that’s not obvious just from their appearance.

Nekra. Nekra’s comments about there being “a special pain when your own nation marks you as its enemy” should probably be seen in the light of the fact that she once tried to overthrow the US government.

Thomas Paine. Since Nekra is one with a background as a political radical, it makes sense for her to be the one who admires Paine. As she says, the Americans did reward him with a home in New York (meaning an estate) and an income, though that wasn’t until 1781. Nekra’s comment that Paine “then turned around and asked how they could demand freedom from the king but keep their own slaves” is more doubtful; Paine was an abolitionist but the main abolitionist writings that have been attributed to him didn’t appear under his own name.

The Hellfire Gala. This seems to confirm that issue #1 starts after House of X, issue #2 precedes “X of Swords”, and issue #3 takes place shortly before the Hellfire Gala.

Bling is under the impression that Nekra and Oya died at sea, and is trying to find their bodies in order to prove that they can be resurrected. It’s not clear whether she’s unaware of the Pit, or simply unaware that Nekra and Oya went there. In other X-books, characters have seemed to be aware of the Pit, but then they were also characters higher up the pecking order. A big part of this story involves the Krakoan underclass who are out of the loop in all these things.

PAGES 11-12. Third Eye visits Mole.

Vertigo. Third Eye’s notional target is (again) one of the Marauders. Vertigo isn’t even a mutant – she’s one of the Savage Land Mutates – so there really is no good reason for Sabretooth to expect to find her on Krakoa.

Mole. Third Eye visited Mole last issue. Since then, Mole has been spreading the word about the fate of the prisoners in the Pit and has gone unnoticed largely by sticking to the characters nobody cares about.

“All mutants are equal, but some mutants are more equal than others.” A paraphrase from George Orwell’s Animal Farm (1945), where the target was the failure of Communism to deliver true equality. In the context of Krakoa, for all the island’s pretensions to utopian communal living, the reality is that a tiny minority of characters (the ones we follow) have all the power.

PAGES 13-14.  Madison Jeffries visits Skin.

Supposedly Jeffries is looking for Prism, another minor Marauder. He has no real background with Skin, a member of the original Generation X team who hasn’t done a great deal since that book ended. He was resurrected at the outset of the Krakoan era supposedly to serve as a companion for Synch, but has barely appeared with him since.

PAGES 15-17. Melter appears in the Quiet Council chamber.

For some reason, Melter doesn’t manifest with any specific mission, and apparently Sabretooth deliberately diverts him into this scene, where he masquerades as Professor X. (Melter sees through it because Sabretooth’s hand still appears in its normal form.)

While all the other prisoners are clearly cynics about Krakoa – with the possible exception of Madison – Melter still claims to believe in Professor X. In a sense, he’s the most innocent and well meaning of the group, but it’s also very doubtful that LaValle sees this as a wise allegiance for Melter. Melter believes in the system and wants to be part of it, and hasn’t come to terms with his outcast status. This does not feel like a story where the pay-off will be Melter getting rewarded for his faith in the unaccountable ruler.

PAGES 18-20. The “Feral Council” meet.

We’ve seen this parody of the Quiet Council, made up of Sabretooth personas, in previous issues. The suggestion seems to be that some aspects of Sabretooth’s personality genuinely were trying to make contact with former teammates on the surface, but the “captain” persona anticipated what would actually happen and saw it as serving his interests too. Basically, he wanted his fellow inmates to think they had come up with the idea for themselves. He seems to represent the aspect of Sabretooth that can actually be bothered to scheme; Sabretooth is not stupid, but he’s rarely very interested in reasoning his way to a solution.

Sabretooth’s agenda seems to be to bring down Krakoa as a whole; the truth about the Pit will cause a crisis of faith in the Quiet Council. Well, we’ll see. LaValle is obviously inviting comparisons between the Pit and the US prison system, and the US government is still there.

Most of the mutants seen sharing stories of the Pit on the surface are generics, but we can easily recognise the Blob (behind the bar of the Green Lagoon as usual), Shark Girl and Marrow.

PAGE 21. Data page; the captain expands on his reasoning. Essentially, moderates are going to be more effective at turning people away from the opposing worldview (Krakoa) than he would be himself. He compares the activities of the Congress of Cultural Freedoms, which was indeed at least funded by the CIA. Although the artists involved were unaware that they were receiving CIA funding, the CCF was explicitly an anti-communist campaign group.

PAGES 22-24. Melter reaches out.

Note that Third Eye completely misreads what Melter is doing – he correctly thinks that Melter is desperate for a leader figure, but wrongly assumes that he’s drawn to Sabretooth as the nearest alpha male. In fact, Melter seems still to be aligned with Professor X as his alpha male figure.

PAGE 25. Trailers.



Bring on the comments

  1. Ceries says:

    The implication that Nekra and Oya were part of some kind of Krakoan People’s Naval Defense Initiative is interesting. We haven’t really seen a lot with that-X-Force has provided Krakoa with an algae-based sensor net, and that ships that enter the mobile exclusion zone stand a strong chance of having their crew brutally slaughtered by out of control Krakoan fauna who have been massively empowered by the mutant settlement, but maybe this was something else? Given Krakoa’s positioning, my mind naturally goes to “boat people,” South-East Asian refugees, but LaValle is probably not implying that Nekra and Oya were doing border-control to keep out the genetrash.

  2. Mark coale says:

    Was this delayed? Seems like it’s been a while since the last issue.

  3. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    This continues to be very sharp if a little slow.

    As I’ve said (an annoying amount I’m sure) Krakoa is so much more interesting when it’s not presented as a flawless unified paradise.

    Give this man an ongoing ASAP.

  4. The Other Michael says:

    The scariest implication from this issue is that it reframes several Laws of Krakoa in a new, even more sinister light.

    “Respect this land…” because if you damage it, Krakoa will just eat you and anyone else nearby at random to repair the damage. I somehow doubt that this is the sort of thing that the Quiet Council has or would make public to the general population of the island. But just the idea that Krakoa, if damaged, will actually drain whoever’s convenient…

    “Make more mutants” Yeah, Krakoa’s hungry and needs more sustenance. Add to the buffet already.

  5. Zoomy says:

    @Mark Coale

    It’s been seven weeks since the last issue, I think. The list of comics at the end of each issue suggest that Sabretooth #3 and Knights of X #1 were meant to come out the same week as X-Men #10. The schedules seem to be slipping…

  6. Voord 99 says:

    As I’ve said (an annoying amount I’m sure) Krakoa is so much more interesting when it’s not presented as a flawless unified paradise.

    Yes, the review and comments here have pushed me to check this one out on Unlimited when it’s there. I dropped off almost all of the Krakoa-era books early on, because I got bored with the lack of interest in exploring the questions raised by the premise. Usually, superhero comics can get away with a lot of “just go with it” for me, but the SF trappings here push a button in me that wants to hold this to an SF standard, “How would this actually play out for a real society under these circumstances?”

    But this comic sounds like it’s asking at least some of the right questions. And I would basically never have read it under normal circumstances, because of it being called Sabertooth, Sabertooth being a character who exhausted his usefulness for me a long time ago.

    (Yes, before someone mentions it, I will get around to reading Spurrier’s Way of X at some point.)

  7. Miyamoris says:

    Way of X is… I dunno, I give it credits for Trying and it’s still worth a look but it didn’t fully click with me. It’s not anywhere as graceful as Sabretooth and I wasn’t too fond of Cortez’ arc. Bit of an odd book.

  8. JD says:

    Marvel’s shipping schedule has gone completely awry for months now ; supposedly this is due to paper shortages, but the net effect is that it’s very time-intensive to keep track of it all.
    (I had to rebuild my whole spreadsheet from scratch a couple of weeks ago, and it was already pretty clear that the July solicits were highly unrealistic – three issues of Amazing Spider-Man supposedly on the same week ! – and I’ll have to do this all over again fairly soon.)

    Just for this miniseries : issue #4 has been pushed back to two months from now, on June 29th. Issue #5 is tentatively set for the very next week, on July 6th. I have a hard time believing that…

  9. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Yeah I’d actually say Marauders and Sword have more similarities to Sabertooth than Way of X.

    I enjoyed Way of X and it does highlight some natural consequences of Krakoa.

    But then it either passed the buck to Onslaught or just shrugs at them and moves on.

    It actually made me think Nightcrawler is kind of an oblivious self important prick.

  10. Mike Loughlin says:

    I was very happy to hear that Victor LaVelle will be doing (at least) 2 more mini-series after this one. Leonard Kirk’s art continues to impress. He’s incredibly good at the subtleties of facial expressions.

    Way of X stumbled in two significant ways. 1) that issue with the abandoned Krakoan babies and Stacy X. As Uncanny X-Men said, Night crawler (my favorite X-character) came off as a prick. In the rest of the series, he was his usual heroic, thoughtful, upbeat, playful self. Courtiers a good writer, but he made some bad calls in that issue. 2) Onslaught being blamed for everything. I think subsequent series ignored this (e.g. In New Mutants, the Quiet Council doesn’t get an excuse for how they messed up with the younger mutants). The plot just didn’t work.
    Way of X contained a lot of good stuff, I just wish it had been better.

  11. Voord 99 says:

    Yes, I decided to read Way of X yesterday, and it was disappointing. I have a feeling that Spurrier meant Onslaught and the need for old-person Nightcrawler to accept that, no, the kids are right about death as a metaphor.

    But this got muddled with stuff that felt like, no, you’re saying something about the intradiegetic problems, too.

    The second part still worked. (I have a pet peeve about how absolutely everyone accepts that Krakoan resurrection is real resurrection, but I can set that aside).

    But the Onslaught element, which is the main plot of the series, is a real failure, for me. If you pose the question “How does this utopian society deal with the problem of people thinking ‘me over we’?”, I personally feel that your answer will probably be more compelling if you don’t ascribe any of the problem to Magneto and Xavier’s evil psychic baby.

  12. Si says:

    As it stands currently, Krakoan resurrection is real enough. Proteus reality-warps a new body just like the old one, and a psychic puts the person’s ghost into that body, direct from Scarlet Witch’s “waiting room”. Lots of superheroes have gotten resurrected in a similar way. Xavier was on his third body before this all started. There’s no reason to call them a copy or a clone, it’s the original soul in there.

    Originally the way it was depicted was very different, and that was a mess of contradictions. A couple of awkward bits hang on, like what do the gold eggs actually contribute? But on the whole, I think they’ve rehabilitated the concept.

  13. Voord 99 says:

    Probably good that they got around to fixing that, although it does exclude the interesting stories that you could do with the original concept.

  14. YLu says:

    The Waiting Room minds are still copies, though. The process was described as the Scarlet Witch giving Cerebro access to time and space to scan everyone. So they’re still just backed-up Cerebro scans of people’s minds. The only change is the storage medium.

    I don’t see how it makes resurrections any less ambiguous. The underlying issue is the same as it was then — is it really you if it’s a copy?

    To which my own take is, sure, why not. Every time a robo character like Danger uploads her mind somewhere, she is literally just copying it and deleting it from the original location. That’s what an upload is. If nobody has a problem accepting Danger is still Danger (both in-universe and among readers) when she jumps to a new body, why wouldn’t they accept Cyclops is still Cyclops?

  15. Voord 99 says:

    The question is, would absolutely everyone see it that way?

    Put it this way. Your spouse dies, and someone comes to you and says, I can clone a body from his, or her, or their cells, and I have a recording of their brain on this information storage system. Would you like me to clone your husband or wife and download them to this new body and you can go on in a relationship with this person?

    Some people are going to say yes, but other people are going to be creeped out at the thought.

    There’s also, for instance, that it’s going to occur to people that you could do this before someone dies, and have two of them. (Doesn’t matter whether you actually are doing it* — people are going to think about the implications of the fact that it’s possible.)

    In which case, is is OK to kill one of the two, because you have a spare? If not, aren’t you saying that the two have independent moral value?

    This is basically the same as the Star Trek transporter problem, and introductory philosophy classes all over the world suggest that people do find that they have different moral intuitions about this and that not everyone thinks about it the same way.

    Add in the fact that you have a society built up of people drawn from all over the world, some of whom will be coming at it from the perspectives of different religious traditions — the odds that absolutely everyone accepts this without question seem very small to me.

    (Krakoa in general seems to do a lot of handwaving that mutants didn’t come to it as blank slates with no convictions about morals, politics, etc. E.g. Sooraya in Way of X. She plays a significant role in the plot, but it also appeared that the fact that she is an observant Muslim had been reduced to visual character design.)

    *Although systems are imperfect, and sooner or later you are going to screw up and do this by accident — no standard of proof of death is perfect. So you’d better have your policy on how you deal with the consequences settled in advance. For instance, if the person is married — does one have to divorce if the spouse doesn’t want the relationship to be polyamorous? There is a lot of good angsty story material here.

  16. Daibhid C says:

    “no standard of proof of death is perfect”

    And that goes double in the Marvel Universe. What happens when a character is killed for absolute definite, gets resurrected, and then their body gets accidentally doused with strange chemicals that react with the mutant cells, or whatever?

  17. Si says:

    Is that how the waiting room works? I thought it was a kind of afterlife where ghosts could elect to go if they wanted to come back, but you’re saying it is just a different type of databank? I really don’t want to re-read that comic to find out.

  18. YLu says:

    The writers have kept it really unclear (deliberately?) how the Waiting Room works, so far.

    In that recent X-Men Monday interview, Gillen was asked, if Jesus was a mutant, could he be brought back via Waiting Room. His response was that the Waiting Room doesn’t work like that, however we’re supposed to take that.

    @Voord 99

    I’d say Dust’s scoffing reaction to Nightcrawler’s idea of creating a “mutant religion” was informed by her background. At least that’s how I read it.

    In general, the conformity of mutant thought is definitely one of the biggest things you have to suspend disbelief about to buy the Krakoa premise. We see the occasional Krakoa disbeliever like Maverick, but there realistically would be a lot more granularity in opinions. There’d be people who love Krakoa but who think the Quiet Council is a terrible form of rule. There’d be people who are all for two of the laws but protest one of them. Etc. Instead of it all being reduced to the binary we currently see.

    If I had to guess why the writers aren’t introducing more skepticism about the resurrections, it’s that…

    1) they think “what happens when a society conquers death” is a more interesting premise, from a sociological speculative fiction standpoint, than “what happens when there’s a process that might be the end of death, but only arguably, so maybe not.”

    2) Hickman said his goal was to take death off for future storylines — to force everyone to no longer use it a crutch for stories — and that’s muddied if you introduce the idea that maybe it’s not off the table after all.

  19. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    X-Factor was supposed to be about making sure the person was actually dead before being brought back.

    Clones were originally not allowed to be resurrected.

    Both brought up interesting questions about the entire thing, but they seem to be ignoring those questions now.

    Way of X flat out has Nightcrawler ask the question about souls, say that he doesn’t think Chuck and Eric care at all, and then ignore it.

  20. Si says:

    It was a good idea in theory, but we could all see from the start that what Mr Hickman was actually doing wasn’t taking death off the market, he was making it cheaper than ever.

    I was going to say he didn’t account for human nature and consider how other writers might run with the idea, but he’s as guilty as anyone for running up the pointless death count.

  21. Devin says:

    Back on the Sabretooth 2 annotations, Cerise said that perhaps Third-Eye is from a religion that believes in reincarnation rather than an afterlife. I would love to see a writer who’s either from that religion or at least is familiar with it, because there could be a really interesting story there.

  22. Omar Karindu says:

    Echoing what Si said, if Hickman wanted death “off the table” rather than simply cheapened, then if was counterproductive to include the plot point of the repeated Orchis raids ending with total party kills.

    It seems like Hickman’s actual idea was to explore how the resurrection mechanic was changing the X-Men and to do little speculative fiction lots about some of its potential complications, like the bit where Orchis is learning from the repeated attacks while the X-Men aren’t.

    Similarly, we saw Synch retaining meaningful experiences while Laura lost them due to the resurrection “backups” problem. (Hopefully that wasn’t just a terrible pun by having a character named “Synch” end up desynced with his love interest.)

    More generally, when we look at Moira, Destiny, and Omega Sentinel alongside these other plot points, the Hickman stuff seems to be less about removing death as a plot point and more about playing with the idea of different information streams enabled by both resurrection and modes of psychic time travel.

    This would also play into the idea of some characters coming back at different life stages than their “death” points, most notably Jean’s Marvel Girl-esque return.

    Now, what Hickman ultimately wanted to do with that stuff, I don’t know. Maybe it was a further riff on the aspects of simulationism — a distinctly “post-human” theme — that come with repeating timelines and alternate futures talking back to the past, or maybe the idea is just that posthuman concepts of memory, experience, and even causal sequence are radically different. So it’s not so much death that’s off the table as it is linearity. (Even in terms of format and presentation, Hickman arguably likes spatial representation better than temporal representation, hence all his lovingly crafted data pages.)

    But he did seem to keep returning to the idea that the posthuman world is also one that radically disrupts standard ideas of continuity of identity, and that individual timelines or streams of memory are relative to one another rather than being part of one “primary” timeline or stable set of shared reference points.

  23. YLu says:

    By taking it off the table, I assume he means the “this issue, an X-Man dies!” type of storytelling, where there’s an obligatory death to give an event weight, and it’s likely followed by a special funeral issues full of tears. So yes, he’s cheapening it, but deliberately so; imbuing it with no more weight than every time Wolverine or Deadpool gets cut in half is the point.

    And at the same time opening up a bunch of storytelling opportunities of the type Omar’s describing.

  24. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    The problem is they actually… haven’t done those stories and don’t seem in any rush to do so.

    Now they just have people die en masse and making jokes about Quentin Quire dying a lot and requesting a bigger dick.

    It’s more Deadpool than ever.

  25. YLu says:

    Here’s the quote:

    ‘It doesn’t mean anything when we kill characters in our books anymore because everybody knows that the IP is coming back. It doesn’t have the impact and I’ve said this in the writers’ room: You need to stop telling those stories, about killing characters. I understand that sometimes narratively you want to do something dramatic but let me tell you, as a storytelling mechanism, walking in the room and kicking all the toys over is not a good look anymore. It’s not the kind of stories that people are wanting to read. It’s not actually helpful in terms of you doing your job 5 years down the road. It makes all of our jobs incredibly difficult. One of the reasons why I did the resurrection stuff was not only because I wanted everybody to be able to have all the mutants back without us doing like literally 30 issues of bringing characters back in various ways. We brought everybody back, and we made it so that if you told a story where they died, it’s a plot device and not an emotional hammering of the reader. You can’t play it as, “Oh my god, this is awful and terrible.” You have to more creative than that. I’ve challenged all of the X-writers. If you have a story where the character has to die it’s fine, but what’s the other story? What’s the more interesting story, right? Instead of us holding hand and weeping about how sad it is that we don’t have Gambit anymore. That funeral would have less people at it than Maggott’s funeral, one could argue.’

  26. Si says:

    See that just highlights the problem. He only got rid of the funerals. The funerals were a small part of the problem. The real problem is everyone’s using character deaths as cheap impact more than ever.

    And anyway, they just did a story about Cyclops slithering from his egg and having to deal with being publicly dead via dressing as an axolotyl. That’s just a Very Special funeral story with different scenery.

    Maybe it resonates differently for people who were reading in the early 90s when B-list characters were murdered every other issue with no followup, often to reappear with no explanation a year or so later.

  27. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    I totally forgot I was going to name an axolotl in Minecraft “Captain Krakoa.”

  28. YLu says:

    “The real problem is everyone’s using character deaths as cheap impact more than ever.”

    It’s used as a plot beat. The way Wolverine getting hurt terribly is. As long as it’s not trying to carry a greater weight and significance than it can bear, that’s fine.

    It’s like, if the first five pages of your comic are the Red Skull showing up and handily getting defeated before the real A-plot kicks in, you’ve cheapened the character. But it’s perfectly fine to do that with the Wrecking Crew because they’re not meant to be anything more than mooks.

    And if you, say, permanently move the Red Skull into the latter category, you could argue, well, that’s a huge shame. How unfortunate that readers can no longer take him seriously.

    Except here I’d say nothing’s lost that wasn’t already lost, because readers already stopped taking death seriously. The damage was already done. This is just accepting it and finding a way to work with that. The MODOK approach — lean into the absurdity instead of asking folks to ignore it.

    It strikes me that the Krakoan era and Immortal Hulk are doing very similar things: Turning an obvious and inherent weakness of the sub-genre into a strength by leaning all the way into it.

  29. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Immortal Hulk is all about the how and why of the Green Door, and how all this death and resurrection effects the gamma gang and let’s put buried aspects of their personalities.

    Krakoa has mostly been “Isn’t this great! We won’t be taking any questions. Here’s a Nightcrawler corpse hung up in a moon lobby.”

  30. YLu says:

    Don’t get me wrong. End of the day, I think they’re overdoing the deaths too. Well, I say ‘they’ but I realize I mainly mean Ben Percy.

    But at the same time, I don’t have any real problem with it being used as a mere plot beat instead of Serious Business when (a) the writing’s not even trying to pretend it’s Serious Business in the first place and (b) the practices of the publisher have made it it impossible for me to treat it as Serious Business anyway.

  31. Omar Karindu says:

    YLu said: It’s used as a plot beat. The way Wolverine getting hurt terribly is. As long as it’s not trying to carry a greater weight and significance than it can bear, that’s fine.

    Uncanny X-Ben said: Immortal Hulk is all about the how and why of the Green Door, and how all this death and resurrection effects the gamma gang and let’s put buried aspects of their personalities.

    Krakoa has mostly been “Isn’t this great! We won’t be taking any questions. Here’s a Nightcrawler corpse hung up in a moon lobby.”

    It seems especially odd now that Krakoa will be sticking around longer than Hickman had planned; that seems like the resurrection protocols were meant to have some thematic resonances and complications, but now they really are just a video-game-esque respawn bit.

    The comparison to Wolverine being hurt is a good one, in this instance, Eventually, that stopped working even as a plot beat, rather like his “beserker rages,” and writers wound up pushing the healing factor bit further and further into the absurd and rolling it back and then exaggerating it again, until it’s become not merely absurd but exhausted.

    That’s perhaps the long-term problem with “leaning into the absurdity;” eventually, something becomes, well, MODOK, a character who is simply not possible to use for any kind of serious storytelling at all anymore.

    When this happens to the occasional character, especially when it’s a longtime recurring villain, it isn’t that consequential. But when it happens to a marquee character or franchise, it’s a problem for the line.

    I think a number of Marvel’s characters have this problem by now: Spider-Man, the Avengers, and Wolverine stand out as particularly exhausted characters and concepts, with their books and appearances going further and further into over-the-top situations and gimmicks followed by aggressive “back-to-basics” plots that again spiral into absurdity, until they just…don’t really have much capacity to tell interesting stories with those characters any more. But it’s also a context in which new characters really struggle to gain purchase.

    YLu said: It’s like, if the first five pages of your comic are the Red Skull showing up and handily getting defeated before the real A-plot kicks in, you’ve cheapened the character. But it’s perfectly fine to do that with the Wrecking Crew because they’re not meant to be anything more than mooks.

    The Wrecking Crew are a great example of the problem. When they first showed up, Len Wein worked to give each of them a distinct personality, and they were a threat that took three issues of Defenders to deal with.

    They stayed as relatively high-level threats and developed some consistent team dynamics: Thunderball’s ambition leading him to try to usurp the Wrecker’s powers and leadership and sometimes striking out on his own, and the Wrecker viewing the team as a surrogate family when the rest of them didn’t see it that way.

    It arguably took until the late 1990s for them to become the four colorful guys who show up so that the opening of your issue can have a punch-up before the real plot starts. And now that’s all they ever get to do.

  32. YLu says:

    Those are really great points. Though I’d say MODOK is more popular and viable as a character now than he’s ever been, in large part because he’s found a niche where he flourishes. There’s something to be said for knowing when it’s better not to fight the tide.

    That’s how I feel about all this resurrection stuff. As long as death is meaningless in the Marvel universe, which it clearly is in my view, you might as well find a way to make that work instead of pretending it’s not.

    Resurrections have removed the fake drama of “So-and-so is gone forever” stories, while providing a driver for lots of new plots.

  33. Jerry Ray says:

    The resurrection stuff (among other things) makes it really hard to care about and relate to the characters. Under Claremont in the 80s, the X-Men were like real people with personalities and inner lives. You cared what happened to them. Now they’re just Doom Guy, necessary avatars where dying and respawning is business as usual. I’m no more invested in what happens to the current X-Men than I am in what happens to Mario. (Heck, even Pac-Man only gets 3 lives, 4 if he makes the right decisions.)

  34. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Under Claremont in the 80s the X-Men dramatically sacrifice their lives to stop the demonic invasion of Dallas, only to be resurrected a page later.

    I agree about personalities and inner lives – the X-Men have had a problem in that department for years now, and severing all remaining connections to non-powered, regular people they had, as well as removing them even from the neighbourhood of real-world places, makes them unmoored and unrealistic, a line of toys for the writers to crash against other toys.

    But it’s not the resurrections that’s the problem. The main x-books have had that problem for years.

    (And, as has been true for years as well, there’s usually at least one if not several b-tier books that are much better about the character stuff than the main line).

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