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Jun 1

Knights of X #2 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, June 1, 2022 by Paul in Annotations, x-axis

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

“Never Split the Party”
Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Bob Quinn
Colourist: Erick Arciniega
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Design: Tom Muller
Editor: Sarah Brunstad

COVER / PAGE 1. The Knights of X fight Merlyn’s forces in the Crooked Market. It’s got some lovely covers, this series.

PAGES 2-3. Merlyn yells at the province leaders.

This time, the provinces not associated with Merlyn are represented – Roma, Jim Jaspers, and two of the hooded things that represent Mercator. Merlyn kicks us off by recapping the plot of issue #1 in the first couple of panels.

Mister M. It’s been implied before that Mr M is the mysterious ruler of Mercator, but this is the first time it’s been directly confirmed on panel. Absalom Mercator is a fairly obscure character whose most significant appearances were in the mid-2000s Bishop series District X and the later miniseries X-Men: The 198. However, he’s been consistently listed throughout the Krakoan era as a missing omega mutant, and Planet-Size X-Men #1 strongly implied that he was the one now running the renamed province of Mercator. Mercator is a massively powerful matter transmutator. He was seemingly murdered in The 198 #5, but apparently rose from the dead transformed in some way, and was never seen again.

Jim Jaspers. In Excalibur #24, Jaspers expressed great confidence that Merlyn’s anti-mutant crackdown wouldn’t affect him because he was rich. Obviously he was wrong. Mind you, if it was predictable that Merlyn would act like this, you have to wonder why Roma showed up for this meeting.

PAGES 4-5. Betsy contacts the Quiet Council.

“A sacred crystal portal given to us by Roma…” The Siege Perilous was given to the X-Men by Roma in Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #229 (1988).

“When I led the X-Men, it was the last resort that saved our lives when we needed escape…” This refers to Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #251 (1989), though it’s really talking up Psylocke’s time as leader of the X-Men. The run-up to issue #251 sees the team losing members left right and centre; after Storm apparently dies in issue #248, with Wolverine away on a leave of absence, it’s just Psylocke, Colossus, Havok and Dazzler left. It’s in that context that Psylocke becomes “leader” of the X-Men for a grand total of two issues before she shoves the remaining team members through the Siege Perilous to choose reincarnation over a suicidal battle with the Reavers. That then leads into a lengthy storyline with the reincarnated X-Men scattered around the world and living alternate lives.

Mr Sinister and Jubilee are both recapping plot points from last issue.

Betsy’s communication circle comprises herself, Rachel (the only non-Captain Britain), the “queen” version of Betsy from Excalibur #17, the Violet Swan, and presumably Elspeth Braddock from last issue (her costume is slightly different, but she was set up as the Corps’ top seer).

Betsy seems now to be talking as if the main aim is simply to evacuate mutants to Krakoa, rather than to liberate Otherworld.

PAGE 6. Recap and credits.

“Never split the party” is an RPG trope, of course.

The Siege Perilous is described in the recap as “a mystical gem that has saved mutantkind many times before” which, um, what? It saved some of the individual X-Men in a handful of stories in the late 1980s but that’s about it, surely.

PAGE 7. Data page on the Siege Perilous, basically acknowledging that the Marvel version doesn’t bear much resemblance to the legendary version. The bits about transformation and amnesia refer to the “Shattered Star” storyline that runs for 20 issues or so after Uncanny #251. In Psylocke’s case, her reincarnation is what led to her being blended with Kwannon and becoming a ninja, though strictly speaking that was mostly the work of the Hand who found her after she’d gone through the Siege Perilous, rather than a direct effect of the Siege itself. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it was pure coincidence for the Siege to put her there.

PAGES 8-9. Kylun and Mordred fight.

Kylun seems to think that Mordred is doing something to his mind, but everyone else appears clear that this isn’t what’s happening. Presumably a subplot.

This is where Betsy decides to split the party, presumably not remembering that she’s meant to be playing along with the quest tropes. (Although the fairy tale narrator from last issue seems to have vanished.)

PAGES 10-12. Gambit, Meggan, Rachel, Kylun and Bei arrive in the Crooked Market.

We saw Gambit making friends with the Crooked Market locals in Excalibur #23; obviously, as the team rogue, he feels more or less at home with these people.

Meggan is being really over familiar with Gambit here. I pointed out in issue #1 that there was arguably some subtle hinting that the two of them arrived to meet Betsy together (and Meggan was the only core character where we weren’t directly told what she had been doing before).

Blightswill is the drink from Storm and Wolverine’s drinking competition in “X of Swords” (specifically, X-Force #14 and Wolverine #7). It did indeed seem to affect Wolverine’s healing factor temporarily.

PAGES 12-13. Betsy and Roma talk.

Roma seems to be saying that leaving Shogo behind, rather than taking advantage of his power, is “clever” because it recognises that the nature of Otherworld literally rewards heroic conduct.

“Ser Vescora.” “Ser” is a variant of Sir used in some fantasy novels, sometimes as a gender-neutral alternative. For what it’s worth, in issue #1 Arthur’s forces referred to their Vescora colleague as “Sir Viscora”. Mordred also consistently uses “Ser” in preference to “Sir” in this issue.

PAGES 14-19. Betsy’s team rescue Sheriff Whitechapel.

The Vescora have been stripmining Blightspoke, the dimension of failed realities, for useful stuff ever since the end of “X of Swords”.

Sheriff Whitechapel, despite being billed as a lawman of some sort, is apparently the closest thing Blightspoke has (or had?) to a ruler. She’s certainly the only authority figure we’ve ever seen associated with the place. Presumably, the Vescora are now serving as its representative on Merlyn’s council.

“It’s time to confront Death.” Betsy is referring to Death, the Horseman of Apocalypse, who has been in Sevalith ever since “X of Swords”. Everyone else misses that and assumes she’s talking about death, the natural phenomenon.

PAGES 19-22. Gambit’s team fight Furies in the Crooked Market.

The second mid-page scene transition of the issue, which helps to emphasise the “split the party” theme.

The Captain Britain Corps. Rachel wishes the Captain Britain Corps were there to help, and suggests that they’re being kept busy “waiting on Saturnyne”. This doesn’t really make sense, because issue #1 made clear that they were spending a lot of their time on rescue missions for stray mutants, and Saturnyne was not at all happy about that. A better reason for them not to be here is that the Knights are meant to be on a traditional quest, and they can’t just call in an army to help them for the same reason that Betsy wasn’t allowed to open a permanent portal to Krakoa last issue – it’s just not how the genre works.

“Anomaly – sole individual.” This seems to be referring to the idea from 1980s Excalibur stories that Rachel was unique in the multiverse, having no counterparts in any of the dimensions that Excalibur visited during the Cross-Time Caper storyline. Presumably by “additional Otherworld selves” the Fury means counterparts on those worlds – i.e., the worlds of the various members of the Captain Britain Corps.

Strictly speaking it’s not true that Rachel has no counterparts in the Marvel multiverse – she appears in various issues of What If? and in the alternate version of Days of Futures Past which was the home timeline of Hyperstorm. But those are all timelines that diverged from versions of the Marvel Universe, as opposed to the more fundamentally different worlds of the Captain Britain Corps.

“Askani.” This refers to Rachel being stranded in the far future in Excalibur #75, where she eventually becomes Mother Askani and leads the Askani religion that plays a part in raising young Cable. This elderly version of Rachel was eventually downgraded into being a divergent version; the Rachel we’re currently reading about also diverged shortly after Excalibur #75, made it back to the present day, and is generally taken to be the “real” one even though there’s no obvious reason to treat as her as any more or less real than Mother Askani.

Gambit’s tarot cards. The Four of Swords depicts a tomb, though apparently it’s more associated with withdrawal and focus. Justice is self-explanatory. Both of the designs here come from the Rider-Waite tarot deck (which is in the public domain in both Britain and America).

PAGE 23. Data page. Cypher responds to last issue’s memo from Rictor, where Rictor asked him to translate Apocalypse’s grimoire.

Okkara was the name of Krakoa and Arakko before they became separated. From the sound of it, Apocalypse has been writing some sort of poem about his estranged wife Genesis, in ancient language.

I’m not quite sure why Apocalypse’s will would be an issue. Even leaving aside the fact that Krakoa does not have well developed executry laws, the guy’s not dead.

Cypher makes sure to flag his concern that Bei really wants to be on this Otherworld quest for some reason, despite her apparently random inclusion in the cast.

PAGE 24. Betsy’s group arrive in Sevalith.

This is the vampire province, of course.

PAGE 25. Trailers.

Bring on the comments

  1. The Other Michael says:

    This issue was one long experience of me rubbing my temples as if to cope with an incoming headache. Nowhere near as bad as it could be–a long ways from Chuck Austin, for example–but still something of a narrative pain.

    One problem with the Marvel multiverse at the moment is that it simply doesn’t differentiate, either logically or consistently, between the alternate worlds which are basically 616-spinoffs, and the ones which are either unique or more drastically defined.

    (i.e. we have tons which are, as you said, essentially What If… generated and thus closely related to the 616 for all intents and purposes. But then we have ones like the former Ultimate Universe, the various Squadron Supreme variants, the Captain Britain Corps versions, and every single one of these shares the same, often random, numbering system.)

    If it were up to me, I’d have done more of a nested system so you’d have 616, 616-1, 616-332… and then 1610, 1610-1, 1610-2… and so on, to show that some worlds are, well, “core” and more likely to spin off derivatives.

    This digression brought to you by “nice D&D session we’re seeing outlined…”

  2. Col_Fury says:

    In my head, the reason Excalibur didn’t run into other versions of Rachel is because they were traveling to different realities at the same point in time the main universe was at. Meaning, Rachel wouldn’t have been born yet. She’s from a world that’s 30 years in the future (or maybe 25 years by the time Excalibur was being published). Why would Rachel jump to the conclusion that she’s unique in the multiverse? Well, she basically grew up in a concentration camp and likely had little or no formal education. Meaning, she’s probably not that bright during the Cross-Time Caper. And no one challenged her assumption so as not to embarrass her.

    In my head, anyway.

  3. Mark Coale says:

    If they wanted an XMen book doing a pseudo D&D gimmick, there’s a guy right there in the x office who could go a good one or at least a better one.

  4. Joseph S. says:

    Howard consistently has interesting ideas and character beats, if only one squints, and not follow up with any additional thought at all.

    If anyone is looking for a good take on an RPG in comics, of course Kieron Gillen’s DIE was fantastic.

  5. Rareblight says:

    Speaking of mutants in Otherworld, where are the Summoners? They should have been in Blightspoke, taming the place for mining operations.

    And it would have been cool to see Gambit’s Horseman of Death persona to return when he used the Death tarot card.

  6. Rareblight says:

    Also, if Rachel dies in the Otherworld, since she does not have alternate versions, does that mean she would get a proper resurrection?

  7. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    …I completely forgot about their existence. I wouldn’t be surprised if so did the x-office. The Summoner was barely a character, the whole magic order of them was wallpaper at best.

  8. Eric says:

    Didn’t Rogue go through the Siege Perilous in 1988 too?

  9. The Other Michael says:

    Rogue went through the Siege Perilous while fighting Nimrod/Mastermold. It yoinked the Ms. Marvel persona from her head and they wound up in the Savage Land where they fought each other because there wasn’t enough body to go around, and Magneto showed up. Yay comics!

  10. MasterMahan says:

    Right, I completely forgot the Summoners exist, much less that they were left on Blightspoke. I guess they could explain it that Merlyn already got to them, but yeah, they were probably just forgotten about.

  11. The Other Michael says:

    I’m reminded that when the Siege popped up again in Wolverine and the X-Men, several of the Hellfire kids–Kade and Wilhemina–went through it at the end.

    And unlike most people who use it, they don’t seem to have been transformed/affected by it at all as per their recent appearances. I wonder why, or if there were lingering, unseen, changes.

    (And it can’t just be “because they were human” because it was able to affect artificial life and the original Reavers just fine.)

  12. Rareblight says:

    Siege had a guardian named Philistine, and he was under service of Wilhemina. These two escaped from exploding Hellfire Academy via Siege, and Siege was sinking into ocean.

    Then Dog Logan grabbed drowning Kade, and went into Siege as well.

    P.S. Kade, Wilhelmina and rest of the kids had a fallout, and kinda broken their union already. Then they turned out kissed-and-made-out unexplained in Marauders. No mention of other Academy members or Siege.

  13. Mathias X says:

    >>Col_Fury says:

    In my head, the reason Excalibur didn’t run into other versions of Rachel is because they were traveling to different realities at the same point in time the main universe was at. … And no one challenged her assumption so as >> not to embarrass her.

    It came up during House of M as well when she and Betsy were outside of reality. Betsy was able to see all versions of herself in the multiverse, whereas Rachel could only see various points of her own personal history.

  14. Evilgus says:

    I always liked how Rachel was unique in the multiverse. It serves to emphasise the loneliness of her character.

    I’m not picking up Knights of X, despite it having several of my favourites (Kylun is back!). It continues to sound very incoherent. And the supporting cast don’t get any B-plots for themselves.

  15. Daibhid C says:

    @Evilgus, Yeah, the problem with Rachel being unique in the multiverse isn’t that it’s a bad idea, it’s that she just isn’t, unless you use a definition of the multiverse that only seems to apply to saying Rachel’s unique in it.

  16. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Fantomex is the only real Multiversal anomaly!

  17. MasterMahan says:

    It’s odd to have one paragraph reference A) the idea that Rachel is unique in the multiverse, and B) the alternate version of Rachel that demonstrates that she isn’t. If this was another writer, I’d wonder if they’re setting up a revelation that she really will become Mother Askani.

    With Howard, though, it’s probably a background reference that will never matter.

  18. Bob B says:

    You guys are funny as

  19. The Other Michael says:

    The very nature of the multiverse means that it’s almost impossible to be unique within it, unless one exists as a multi-dimensional being. The mere existence of alternate timelines spinning off of the current timeline
    (i.e. if there was a “What if… Wolverine had not fought Rachel when she tried to kill Selene?” where she never fell into Spiral’s hands, and then joined Excalibur… as a random example)

    Wikipedia claims that “it was established that the Rachel appearing in Earth-616 (originally from Earth-811) has no true alternate counterparts within the Marvel multiverse. Rather, all other incarnations of “Rachel Summers” that exist in parallel timelines (see below) are linked only by having the same name, or attributes”

    Which feels like absolute nonsense given then it then lists half a dozen alternate versions.

    This is why Marvel should sit down and think through the difference between divergent timelines that share a parent timeline (i.e. all of those which spin off of 616) and alternate universes which follow their own internal consistency (i.e. Ultimate Universe, New Universe, Squadron Supreme universe, most of the Captain Britain Corps worlds)

    (see my much earlier rant about how the CB Corps is weird because it doesn’t have all the Brian Braddocks who exist in alternate What If… worlds…)

    Marvel hire a science fiction writer who can make sense of this.

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