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May 21

X-Force #28 annotations

Posted on Saturday, May 21, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-FORCE vol 6 #28
“Cerebrax”
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Robert Gill
Colourist: Guru-eFX
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Editor: Mark Basso

COVER / PAGE 1: X-Force, with Kid Omega in his Juggernaut form (which we’ll come to in the story). It’s marked “after Rob”; I assume the intended homage is to Rob Liefeld’s cover for X-Force vol 1 #3.

PAGES 2-4. Cerebrax decides to eat some more mutants.

This is very much X-Force in grindhouse mode, which means it doesn’t call for a huge amount of annotation. Which is very welcome news in a week with five X-books.

What we seem to be establishing here is that Cerebrax (as it calls itself later) is instinctively consuming mutants as a version of its remit to catalogue them, and having absorbed Forge, it picks up his building instincts too. Presumably that means that Cerebrax’s personality will continue to develop as it eats more people.

“Cerebro comes to life and tries to collect all the mutants” has been done before, but that was back in the late 90s (in the “Hunt for Xavier” arc), so the statute of limitations on this idea has long since expired. It’s also worth flagging that over in the sister book Wolverine, also written by Percy, Wolverine is fighting Danger, the robot created when the Danger Room came to life. There’s no immediate plot connection between these two stories (yet, anyway) but it surely can’t be coincidence that Percy is doing two variations on this theme back to back.

The horde of mutants in the splash page are all major names, but for completeness:

  • Top tier, let to right: Bishop, Magneto, Jean Grey, Kate Pryde, Storm, Cyclops, Professor X, Rogue, Mystique, Gambit and Mr Sinister.
  • Middle tier: Nightcrawler, Black Tom, Wolverine, Sage and the Beast.
  • Bottom tier: Emma Frost, Jubilee, Colossus, Kid Omega, Domino and Magik.

PAGE 5. Recap and credits.

PAGES 6-7. Hank, Sage and Cecilia explain the premise.

Meanwhile, Cerebrax’s two targets weren’t on his shopping list from page 4. They’re Havok and Polaris, two mutants not normally seen together these days – but I doubt that’s a deliberate plot point being started here.

PAGES 8-9. “Juggernaut” Kid Omega spars with Silver Samurai.

We’ll find out in the next scene what Kid Omega is up to here.

The Crucible. This is the arena for depowered mutants to die in ritual combat, clearing the way for resurrection. The Silver Samurai has been officiating there since Apocalypse left. The current status of this concept is a bit unclear. In Trial of Magneto #5, we were told that mutants could now simply enter the resurrection queue via the Waiting Room “as an alternative to the Crucible”. That begs the question of why anyone would choose the painful death in the arena, but Forge said last issue that he had just been through the Crucible. Of course, if anyone can just opt for the Waiting Room then it undermines the original point of the Crucible, which was to provide a way for depowered mutants to get their powers back, without burying the Five under a flood of suicides. Maybe you still need to use the Crucible in order to skip the queue, or maybe there’s a cultural stigma about taking the easy option.

PAGES 10-11. Wolverine fetches Kid Omega.

Kid Omega‘s latest idea is to get the Five to build vacant bodies for him, and then send them into battle on his behalf. Wolverine is deeply unimpressed by this idea, and we’ll see on the next page that the Five aren’t keen on it either. Kid Omega doesn’t directly explain his reasons for this, but he does point to Phoebe dumping him (in issue #25) and the abduction of mutant baby Max (in issues #25-26), and comment about Krakoa no longer feeling like such a safe place. While he doesn’t point it out directly, previous issues have made some play of the idea that Kid Omega dies an awful lot on X-Force missions, so you can see why he might be quite keen on participating in them remotely. Given his track record, he has a reasonable point when he queries whether it’s really a good idea to send mutants as powerful as him against Cerebrax – but then again, if he was that powerful, he really shouldn’t have too much difficulty against a malfunctioning helmet.

We see later in the issue that Kid Omega refuses to come along on the mission, and instead races off to warn Phoebe about what’s happening.

PAGE 12. Data page: the Five protest about Kid Omega’s requests, which they consider to be using X-Force’s special privileges for private purposes that were not intended. Note that they send their memo to both Beast and Sage; Sage has been emerging in Krakoan politics as the X-Force officer with an actual conscience, and the Five have probably twigged that writing just to Beast would be futile.

PAGES 13-14. Sage asks Omega Red to help.

Self-explanatory, really. I suppose the idea is that Sage is trying to bond with Omega Red over the subject of self-destructive addiction, and that her pitch to reform Omega Red in the previous issue was driven in part by a desire to overcome such urges by proxy.

Sage beat up Gorgeous George in issue #9.

PAGES 15-16. Domino and Wolverine find the Cradle.

I think the various decapitated mutants (other than Havok and Polaris) are generics.

PAGE 17. Data page. This is really just reminding us that the Chronicler arc is still in progress, and that Colossus is still under control – but apparently aware on some level of what’s going on. (Why this isn’t apparent to any of the telepaths on the Quiet Council remains unclear.)

PAGES 18-19. Kid Omega tries to warn Phoebe.

He specifically asks to speak to Phoebe, not the others. It makes sense that Kid Omega is preoccupied with protecting the things he feels most strongly about on Krakoa; it’s less obvious why he has to show up in person to warn her, but perhaps she isn’t taking his calls telepathically.

The Cuckoos are really pushing the “one person in five bodies” angle here, moving in unison throughout, though note that one of them turns to look over her shoulder at him on page 19 when they’re walking away.

PAGES 20-24. Wolverine and Domino fight Cerebrax.

Presumably Cerebrax has absorbed Polaris’s magnetism powers, though don’t ask me how that lets it bend Wolverine’s adamantium claws.

PAGE 25. Trailers.

 

Bring on the comments

  1. Michael says:

    Am I the only one who thinks that now is REALLY the wrong time to try to reform Omega Red? A Russian soldier turned rapist and murderer who help massacre an Inuit village in Siberia?

  2. Mike Loughlin says:

    This issue was a whole lot of nothing.

    I agree that Omega Red is irredeemable. I get that he has a cool character design (from my 13 yr old 1992 perspective), but he should stay an outright villain.

  3. Jon R says:

    tldr; I agree with the Paul’s “maybe” about when you might still need to use the Crucible.

    I’m not reading X-Force ATM, so not sure exactly what was said about Waiting Room vs Crucible. But the setup about the waiting room (as far as I can recall, someone tell me if I’m misremembering) seemed to be that it used some magic time shenanigans to effectively make it so that no matter how far back in the queue you are, you’d subjectively have your resurrection happen quickly. The tradeoff was that time outside the waiting room would pass normally, so you’d come out having missed however long it took for the Five to actually get to you.

    So it’s effectively the same process as suicide, but without the messy parts. You still effectively close your eyes and suddenly wake up in a fresh body and some catching up to do with your friends and family.

    (How long is the backlog? IIRC someone mentioned Leah Williams said the normal queue was caught up through at the time of Trial of Magneto, but I don’t think that’s ever been said in the actual books. Even if it were canon, adding all of the people pre-Cerebro and all of the depowered mutants who hadn’t gone through the Crucible to the queue probably extended it again. So just at a ballpark, let’s assume it’s at least a couple of months to get a resurrection unless you’re Special.)

    Annnnyway, the point is that there are probably three ways to be repowered by resurrection now, depending on the person’s taste.

    1> The Crucible. You get to go to the front of the queue, but you have the mess of the Crucible.
    2> The Waiting Room, which is probably the new default. No fuss or muss, but you’ll wake up having missed a few months (or whatever) of news.
    3> Just wait until there’s an open spot in the queue. You don’t miss any time or have to go through bloodsports, but you’ve got to live powerless.

    Forge definitely wouldn’t want to miss out on however long it takes in the queue, is pretty defined by his powers, and is a fighter. So the Crucible fits. Now, why he couldn’t just get a pass to the front of the queue for his work with X-Force, I dunno. Maybe he’s just stubborn?

  4. SanityOrMadness says:

    Well, I remember Paul saying on a recent podcast that a data page claimed Krakoa had a current population of 200k-ish, “about the population of Aberdeen”.

    House of X #5’s data page introducing the logistics said:

    > Initially, the resurrection capabilities on Krakoa topped out at around 1,000 mutants a week, or around 200 a day. The current estimated mutant population on Earth is around 100,000 [and growing], the depowered population on Earth is just under 1 million and the deceased population of mutants on Earth is over 16 million [primarily from Genosha].
    >
    > At that rate of resurrection, it would take around 300 years to bring back everyone who died [let alone how to address the depowered mutants and any that might die in the interim time period]. However, as the resurrection machine has become more unified [and better at being what they are and doing what they do], it’s estimated that capabilites could possibly reach around 30,000 a week and full Genoshian resurrection be achieved in ten years [the complication is that Xavier would have to download/resurrect 6,000 minds a day, which he is not capable of — by that time there will need to be a work-around or a team of telepaths trained to properly use Cerebro].

    So:
    1) They may possibly have got to around 100k resurrectees by now; and
    2) The *best case* scenario was that it would take ten years for The Five and misc. telepaths to get 16 million resurrected. And you’d expect that would be them working absolutely full time, no (e.g.) taking time out to join the Quiet Council and shoot people in the head.

    So any idea they’re done with the queue is ludicrous, unless the queue being spoken of is just recent (post-HoXPoX) deaths, rather than longstanding Genoshian/etc deaths.

  5. Luis Dantas says:

    Given what we saw in Way of X, I fully expect and hope that Si Spurrier will voice some form of discussion of the relative merits and drawbacks of the Crucible and of the Waiting Room in Legion of X, probably through Doctor Nemesis.

    From a sociological standpoint, the Crucible will not be discarded in short order simply because there is the Waiting Room as a less violent alternative now. For that to happen, it will take first changing the perception that “winners” have no reason avoid the Crucible. Peer expectations and peer pressure are powerful motivators, and they do not significantly change overnight.

    There are some interesting parallels there with the specific nature, motivators and justifications behind the existence of not only X-Force as a concept, but also real world military and bully gangs. Even some creeds that claim religious nature.

    In any case, as well pointed out by @SanityOrMadness above, there will very much be a queue for a long time still regardless of any forward placement tools. There are only so many ressurrections that the Five can make in any given day.

    Even more significant is that Krakoa can’t just absorb thousands of new residents day after day until it achieves a population of 16 million. For one thing, such a rapid influx of new people is more than likely to result in some form of significant political change. For another, I don’t think Krakoa is nearly big enough for so many people anyway.

    What is the current canon about Genoshans? I seem to recall that in the early 1990s it was established that most of its population are mutates as opposed to mutants. Do we have any word on how deceased Genoshans fit in the ressurrection queue, if at all?

  6. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    The entire resurrection system is insane, even more now that they have the waiting room.

    “Hello there, we’re the X-Men. You’ve never heard of us because you’re an infant that died in 1764 of smallpox long before your powers may have possibly activated. Anyway, we actually have a surplus of babies because we made a law about hetero boning, so off to the orphanage with you!”

  7. heartstone says:

    “resumably Cerebrax has absorbed Polaris’s magnetism powers, though don’t ask me how that lets it bend Wolverine’s adamantium claws.”

    If Magneto was able to remove Wolverine’s Adamantium completely with his magnetism power, why wouldn’t she be able to bend the claws?
    Of course, we shouldn’t think too much about this, because it means anyone with some magnetism-based power or tools could send Wolverine in orbit at any time. Or crush him. Or… well, you get the gist 😉

  8. Taibak says:

    heartstone: It’s because Wolverine’s claws are metal-coated bones. And bones don’t bend.

  9. Joseph S. says:

    Sure bones break, but if they’re coated in metal and the metal bends, yet is unbreakable, then what should we expect to happen? The bone shards break through the unbreakable metal? Of all the absurd things in this book, bent admantantium claws doesn’t make the top ten.

  10. Devin says:

    Somehow the thought of broken bones inside the adamantium coating is giving me more of a visceral reaction than all the head-chomping. Ouch.

  11. Jon Auerbach says:

    Anyone notice that one of the books coming soon on the (wildly out-of-date) schedule at the back is New Mutants Annual 2? Is that a placeholder that never got removed or some sort of inside joke?

  12. Devin says:

    I wonder if the annuals were supposed to be those issues that are coming out later this year, with Escapade and the Jimmy/Akihiro adventures. Perhaps they got rescheduled with the paper shortages?

  13. MasterMahan says:

    Didn’t Apocalypse make Wolverine’s bones immune to magnetism when he restored his adamantium, or am I misremembering? Not that it really matters, since Logan’s been through resurrection and Proteus has a track record of forgetting details about metal bones.

  14. Jon Auerbach says:

    That makes sense. It’s also a different writer/artist team.

  15. Simon says:

    What if Proteus accidentally lined Wolverine’s bones with chrome-plated iron. One day a bird will fly past unexpectedly and Proteus will absentmindedly fill Wolverine with mercury.

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