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Jun 30

Sabretooth #4 annotations

Posted on Thursday, June 30, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

“There and Back Again”
Writer: Victor LaValle
Penciller: Leonard Kirk
Inker: Craig Young
Colourist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: Cory Petit
Design: Tom Muller with Jay Bowen
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1. Sabretooth in Krakoan form. We’ve seen him manifest briefly in this way during the series.

PAGE 2. Data page, with our opening quote. Ida Wells (1862-1933) was a civil rights leader and one of the founders of the NAACP. She was also an investigative journalist, which is the obvious reference point for the quote here, butLaValle most likely also has in mind the question of whether prisons achieve their stated functions.

PAGE 3-4. Third Eye saves everyone in the Pit.

Everything Third Eye tells us about his own background here is new. Third Eye mentions that he considered not saving Melter; in the previous issue, he assumed that Melter was drawn to Sabretooth as a possible father figure. In fact, Melter was apparently trying to kill Sabretooth, though he also recognised that he would potentially kill everyone else too. It’s ambiguous whether Third Eye still thinks Melter was just drawn to Sabretooth and something went wrong, or whether he recognises what Melter was trying to do but doesn’t approve of him putting everyone’s lives in danger. Either way, Third Eye decides that Melter deserves another chance.

PAGE 5. Third Eye psychically visits the surface.

The scene that he interrupts is page 21 of X Lives of Wolverine #1, so the litany of moments from Krakoan history that have been littered throughout this series has come close to the present day.

PAGE 6. Recap and credits.

PAGE 7. Bling! and Shark Girl modify their boat.

Bling! was visited by Nekra and Oya last issue; the scene ended with her asking them “What do you need me to do?” Presumably the boat modifications in progress here have something to do with that request.

PAGE 8. Skin and the Blob talk.

Skin was indeed approached by Madison Jeffries last issue; it’s not clear whether Jeffries asked him to do anything in particular, or whether Skin is just sharing the news with the Blob. Either way, word of the Pit continues to spread throughout the Krakoan minor characters. The Blob has been an innocuous barman in the Krakoan era, but here he seems to be trying to size Skin up as a potential member of a future Brotherhood – if only to gather allies in the event of the government’s authority coming under challenge.

“I got crucified once…” In Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #423, part of the notorious Chuck Austen run. This is how Skin died, prior to being resurrected on Krakoa.

“I’ve seen two Logans running around this island. And one was all sparkly.” Presumably we’re now after X Lives of Wolverine and X Deaths of Wolverine (which only take a couple of days in story time), and Blob is referring to the Phalanx Wolverine from the future.

PAGES 9-11. Sabretooth in his mindscape, then manifesting on Krakoa.

The dead bird – accompanied by Third Eye’s “Needing someone isn’t the same as loving someone” – probably refers to Birdy, Sabretooth’s telepathic sidekick from the early 90s, who used to give him a psychic “glow” to which he became addicted. Birdy was murdered by Sabretooth (Edit: Graydon Creed) in Sabretooth vol 1 #4. I’m not sure she was ever conclusively established as a mutant.

PAGE 12. Mole speaks to Magma.

This cave was in the background of the previous page, so Sabretooth is the character that Mole senses outside.

“[T]he Quiet Council threw Sabretooth in jail for a crime that wasn’t even a crime yet.” True in the sense that the three laws were only decided on immediately before Sabretooth’s trial. As a generality, you could argue that it ought to have been blindingly obvious to Sabretooth that any legal system was going to include a prohibition on murder. But in fairness, as Mole points out, Sabretooth was working for the Krakoans at the time, and might well realistically have been led to expect some sort of immunity.

“Half the X-Men killed as many people as him.” This isn’t true, though it’s fair to say that Phoenix really drags up the average. “Half the Quiet Council” would probably be fair.

Magma is presumably of interest to Mole because of her power to control the earth, though Marauders #1 would have us believe that Krakoa is more of an island-like organism.

PAGES 13-14. Sabretooth takes his place at the Feral Council.

This is the core personality, taking his place on his mindscape’s Quiet Council parody.

Sabretooth was not expecting Mole and Magma to be working to help him, and this seems to have inspired some thought. (But LaValle is surely too good a writer to simply go for “all Sabretooth needed was a bit of support.)

PAGES 15-16. The other inmates gather at Sabretooth’s “house”.


PAGES 17-20. Sabretooth talks to the other Pit inmates about his plan.

 “We never had visitors. My father was too ashamed of me.” According to X-Men Origins: Sabretooth, Victor’s father confined him to a basement after he killed his brother, until he eventually escaped. So this is, if anything, something of an understatement. At any rate, Victor uses this story to demonstrate some (genuine) common ground with the others.

The symbol on Sabretooth’s door is the same one that showed up representing him in his fantasies in issue #1.

“When my powers manifested, I burned my family alive.” Shortly before her debut in Uncanny X-Men #528.

Nekra’s origin story. As covered in Daredevil #110-111. She (wisely) omits the bit about her being the counterpart to the very dodgy Mandrill.

Hoppin’ John is a peas and rice dish from the American south. Not a reference likely to mean much to international readers.

“I did the job that got me thrown in the Pit for free.” The job was to steal some data for Krakoa, in House of X #1. Strictly speaking, Creed wasn’t sentenced for doing the job itself, but for using excessive force while doing so. But, realistically, what on earth was Xavier expecting when he sent Sabretooth and told him he had an amnesty?

PAGE 21. Data page. Third Eye’s reading of what happened to Nekra, Oya and Melter is broadly in line with what was explained in the last issue.

Madison Jeffries’ explanation is new information. His attraction to Danger was established back in Uncanny X-Men #529. Danger, of course, is an artificial intelligence, which is a complete no-no on Krakoa. She’s currently appearing over in Wolverine, and her outright rejection by Krakoa – despite being a former X-Man – might be one more reason for her working with the CIA. (That said, Wolverine also stresses that Danger’s child is being used as leverage against her.)

Third Eye’s explanation relates to the pile-up of unwanted babies on Krakoa which was first established in Way of X #3. Nightcrawler wasn’t particularly thrilled about it either, so it would be interesting to know if he voted for Third Eye’s fate. I’m not sure the timeline really allows for Third Eye to have caused the birthrate to drop by a quarter, but maybe he means the conception rate.

At any rate, Third Eye’s basic point is that the laws are enforced inconsistently and are merely a pretext to punish people who are undesirable for some other reason. LaValle is obviously making that as a general point, but it’s especially valid on Krakoa given the sheer vagueness of the laws. That’s one of the reasons why classical jurisprudence hates vague laws that leave all the real content to enforcement decisions.

PAGES 22-23. Cypher meets with Sabretooth.

This is a reprise of the meeting they had in issue #1, complete with the same setting.

PAGE 24. Sabretooth rises from the Pit.

Apparently, Cypher and/or Krakoa are convinced that this just isn’t working.

A point to note here: if we’re past X Deaths of Wolverine then presumably we’re also past the end of Hellions, where Nanny and Orphan Maker were sent to the Pit. Yet neither of them has been seen. Perhaps Krakoa is holding them somewhere separate from the others, or perhaps it quietly bundled them off somewhere else (as it did with X-Men Green).

PAGE 25. Trailers.


Bring on the comments

  1. Jenny says:

    Blob talking about being turned into a baby refers to one of the earlier Defenders comics, when Alpha the Ultimate Mutant deaged Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

  2. Zoomy says:

    He didn’t have the moustache back then, of course. For the record, Mastermind was also one of the Brotherhood who got turned into babies, and he disappointingly didn’t keep his tache in baby form.

  3. SanityOrMadness says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t annotate Sabretooth parroting Jesus at the last supper (until Nekra cut him off).

    Paul> The dead bird – accompanied by Third Eye’s “Needing someone isn’t the same as loving someone” – probably refers to Birdy, Sabretooth’s telepathic sidekick from the early 90s, who used to give him a psychic “glow” to which he became addicted. Birdy was murdered by Sabretooth in Sabretooth vol 1 #4. I’m not sure she was ever conclusively established as a mutant.

    Sabretooth didn’t kill her, Graydon Creed did.

  4. Ceries says:

    Box literally getting thrown in jail for loving the wrong kind of person is a strikingly clear use of the metaphor.

    I’m a little disappointed that Third Eye’s “crime” was so mundane, I was kind of attached to my “he’s a practicing Hindu and thinks the Five are mass murderers” theory. But him advocating for family planning being what got him condemned is truly exceptional timing with recent events in America.

  5. Mike Loughlin says:

    Ceries: “[Box] advocating for family planning being what got him condemned is truly exceptional timing with recent events in America.”

    I wish they never introduced that “abandoned babies” plot in Way of X, but LaVelle did a great job using it to make a statement. Yeah, the timing given current events is unbelievable.

    I wonder if the events in this series will result in changes to Krakoan laws and pardons for the supporting cast. If LaVelle continues to write the book as a reflection of the American carceral state, probably not.

  6. Michael says:

    ” Nanny and Orphan Maker were sent to the Pit. Yet neither of them has been seen.”
    Also, what happened to Toad?
    I doubt Krakoa would release Orphan Maker since according to Nanny and Sinister. his power can kill every human and mutant on the planet and Krakoa needs mutants to feed off of.
    So Nekra and Oya were sentenced to the Pit for killing pirates attacking humans. That raises the question- does the “Kill No Man” law apply to humans attacking Krakoa or mutants? Some writers have treated it like it means you can’t kill anti-mutant humans when they’re unconscious or helpless but others have treated it like you can’t kill them at all. Mastermind killed a human who kidnapped his daughter under threats to his family and helped them when they were free, and it was implied that the only reason he got away with it was because the Quiet Council covered up what Sinister did. So presumably killing humans who attack Krakoans under duress is forbidden. But what about killing humans who attack Krakoans voluntarily?

  7. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    I love the abandoned baby plot, it highlights how vague and dumb their “laws” are.

  8. Evilgus says:

    There’s so much plot that can be mined from the 3 laws! I almost find it a shame when issues go off and do traditional superheroics.

    This is a good run. It’s deliberately uncomfortable and makes us question the council and the whole Krakoan setup. To me, that’s in keeping with Hickman’s original tone. And I like the fact that gradually minor characters and villains are waking up to this.

    I’m just going to assume Nanny and others are in a separate pit somewhere! The Krakoan continuity has been pretty great between books so far, so I’m willing to give a pass here and there.

  9. Drew says:

    It’s really been great how prominent Doug is in the Krakoa era. I’ll be sad whenever this status quo ends and writers (probably) go back to underutilizing him.

  10. Person of Con says:

    Weirdly, the characterization I’m digging the most is Skin. He hasn’t got a lot of page time, but his “I am done with is” look and attitude is really resonating. I’d really like to see a Gen X reunion, where he finds out he now can out-dour Chamber.

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