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Jul 8

Sabretooth #5 annotations

Posted on Friday, July 8, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

“The Magnificent Eight”
Writer: Victor LaValle
Penciller: Leonard Kirk
Colourist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: Cory Petit
Design: Tom Muller with Jay Bowen
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1: Sabretooth looms over Krakoa. Symbolically. There are no Pym particles in this story.

PAGE 2. Data page. The quote from Paradise Lost continues “…these piercing fires as soft as now severe, our temper changed into their temper…” But the part quoted gets the point across.

PAGES 3-4. Sabretooth escapes, while everyone lies unconscious after the explosion.

“Kaiju. Genetically modified super-soldiers. Techno-Logan. This island has been through a lot.” The kaiju come most obviously from X-Men: Trial of Magneto. The genetically modified super-soldiers are the Russian Dolls from X-Force and Wolverine. “Techno-Logan” is the Phalanx-infested time-travelling future Wolverine from X Deaths of Wolverine.

“Krakoa reached out to every mutant near the eruption…” We’ve previously established that Krakoa drains small amounts of energy from the mutants on the island to survive, in amounts which are trivial from the perspective of individual mutants. The idea here is that when Krakoa takes significant damage, it needs to suddenly absorb a ton more energy, which knocks out all the mutants in the area. That feels like a vulnerability waiting for an outside attacker to exploit.

“I love it when a plan comes together.” That’s a catchphrase from The A-Team, in case you’re not old enough to remember it. Basically, Sabretooth has taken advantage of the uprising that his fellow prisoners were promoting, and used it to escape while leaving all of them behind. As Cypher explains on page 9, Sabretooth used their hard work to leverage a deal with Cypher for himself only.

PAGE 5. Recap and credits.

PAGES 6-8. Destiny and Mystique confront Sabretooth.

“Nanny’s cove.” Sabretooth explains that the cove was not named after Nanny from Hellions, as readers might have assumed, but after Nanny of the Maroons, who led a community of Jamaican ex-slaves in the eighteenth century and fought in the First Maroon War. She’s regarded as a national hero in Jamaica, where her image is on the $500 note. She was also known as “Queen Nanny”, though as far as I’m aware she wasn’t literally a queen.

Mystique. Sabretooth and Mystique are ex-lovers who had a child together, Graydon Creed. He was big in the 90s.

Destiny favours letting Sabretooth go, presumably expecting him to do exactly what he does later in this issue – leave the island and form his own competing force. Mystique claims that they are “choos[ing] chaos”, but Destiny rarely has that as an end in itself. From what we see later on, she apparently wants Sabretooth to liberate the mutants held prisoner by Orchis.

PAGES 9-14. Cypher speaks with the remaining prisoners.

Cypher starts off by repeating the prison station setting that he used in discussions with Sabretooth in earlier issues. He seems to regard Sabretooth’s presence in the Pit as having poisoned Krakoa, creating a throne that someone else might potentially be able to use in future. LaValle most likely sees this is a symbolic example of prison backfiring.

Nanny and the Orphan-Maker were sentenced to the Pit in Hellions #18, which precedes Inferno (given the Quiet Council line-up), so they can’t just have arrived. The same goes for Toad, who has been down here since Trial of Magneto #5. Presumably these three have in fact been kept separate from Sabretooth’s influence and have indeed been gently slumbering as advertised in the absence, and Cypher’s intervention in Hell has caused them to wake up, since he’s trying to shut down the Pit altogether (to prevent anyone exploiting the throne). It does feel like they’ve been tacked on to a story that wasn’t originally designed for them, though.

PAGE 15. Magma and Mole talk.

Magma. Magma grew up as the daughter of a senator in the pseudo-Roman hidden city of Nova Roma. That said, I’m not sure it quite works to suggest that any mutant has an “entitled” attitude to the legal system due to their upbringing (even if Mole is joking), since the whole premise of the books pre-Krakoa is that they were a persecuted minority. In Magma’s case, it’s more about faith in Professor X – though her very willingness to participate in this scheme shows that faith is at best qualified.

“Angel, Iceman, I can’t remember the difference between one pretty boy and the next.” This is covering for (or at least nodding to) a continuity error in issue #2, when Mole claimed that Angel rather than Iceman had been his romantic rival in X-Factor vol 1 #53.

PAGE 16. The damage to Professor X’s reputation.

The faces in the background are a mix of generics and characters who have been seen spreading word of the Pit over the course of the series. Aside from Magma and Mole, we can also recognise Bling!, Shark-Girl, Skin and Blob.

The premise of this story assumes that the general population of Krakoa either weren’t aware of the Pit or at least weren’t aware of its true nature or the arbitrary way that people wound up there. Other books have generally taken it as read that the Pit was common knowledge, but then again the characters who have speaking parts tend to be those who are fairly closely connected to the ruling classes.

PAGES 17-18. The prisoners arrive on the surface.

Cypher is still wearing his suit even in the real world. It might be part of Warlock, who does have the ability to change colour.

PAGES 19-20. Sabretooth is picked up by Station Six.

Sabretooth is still hallucinating about the other personas that he talked to within the Pit.

Needless to say, if LaValle isn’t keen on prisons generally, he’s certainly not going to be keen on profit-making privatised prisons.

Sabretooth is subdued by a power-suppression collar that flies right up to his neck before he can react. Seems like something useful they ought to be rolling out in other books.

PAGE 21. Data page – the private prisons of the Orchis Corporation, all focussed on mutants in nations that don’t rescue Krakoa, and all involving the expropriation of “resources” from the captive mutants.

The list of countries that don’t recognise Krakoan territory has come up before, but for newcomers:

  • Azania comes from 1980s Black Panther. It’s a barely-veiled stand-in for apartheid-era South Africa.
  • Brazil has shown up repeatedly in the Krakoan era as a hostile state.
  • Canaan is another African micro-nation, ruled for a time by Moses Magnum.
  • I don’t think we’ve ever been told why Honduras or Venezuela are on this list.
  • Iran presumably has religious reasons for not dealing with Krakoa.
  • Latveria is, of course, Dr Doom’s nation; for its relations with Krakoa, see the X-Men / Fantastic Four mini.
  • Madripoor is run by the anti-mutant Homines Verendi faction, as seen in various issues of Marauders vol 1.
  • North Korea is North Korea.
  • Russia has been repeatedly shown as hostile in X-Force and Wolverine in particular.
  • Santo Marco is the country that Magneto briefly conquered in X-Men vol 1 #4; it also had a radically anti-mutant government in various issues of Weapon X in in 2017/8.
  • Terra Verde has appeared in various issues of X-Force. They’re supposed to have a deal with Krakoa after being freed from Beast’s mind control at the Hellfire Gala, so their continued inclusion on this list is odd.
  • The United Kingdom withdrew recognition of Krakoa, as seen in Excalibur, in what seems to be some kind of Brexit allegory.

The first Orchis prison, the Dungeon, was destroyed by Juggernaut and Deadpool in X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #15-17. I’m pretty sure that associating it with Orchis is a retcon.

PAGES 22-23. Mystique and Destiny send the prisoners after Sabretooth.

Their main agenda is to help Sabretooth free the mutants in the Orchis prison, but this also helps get the freed mutants off Krakoa and leaves the Pit as a rumour.

Birdy was Sabretooth’s telepathic sidekick in the early 90s. She was killed by Graydon Creed, not by Victor. Evidently, she is indeed resurrected shortly after this story, as she appears briefly in this week’s Legion of X #3.

PAGE 24. Destiny’s vision.

Apparently, Sabretooth is going to become leader of the freed prisoners – whom he calls the Exiles, in a callback to the various Quantum Leap style dimension-hopping books of that name.

“To me, my Exiles” echoes the “To me, my X-Men” line normally associated with Professor X.

PAGE 25. Trailers. This seems to be promising a sequel miniseries.

Bring on the comments

  1. Michael says:

    One thing bothers me- if Doug has access to the prisoners’ minds, shouldn’t he have known Toad was innocent? I mean, I get that he was using the promise of release to get Toad to accompany the others because Destiny said Toad was needed but he seemed to be just leaving Toad in the Pit before Destiny had her vision. Leaving an innocent man in the Pit is out of character for Doug.
    Isn’t anyone worried about letting Orphan-Maker go? His power could destroy the planet if he’s not careful and he’s shown he lacks self-control. Maybe that will be dealt with in the sequel.

  2. Jon R says:

    Somehow I doubt Doom is actually going to send any prisoners to Orchis for someone else to exploit instead of him. But sure, I can see him signing on just to keep tabs on.

    Yeah, Doug leaving Toad in seems out of character, but Toad did go willingly so there’s some wriggle room. I really would like to see Doug’s POV for all of this, but I can see why that isn’t what the series is concerned with. He’s the warden even if he’s not happy about it, and sympathizing with the warden isn’t what this series is for.

    Now that I think of it, I really want Immortal #13 to be Doug-centric.

  3. Jenny says:

    I feel like Doom has been a bit misused in the Krakoa era; Doom doesn’t think Mutants are any worse or better than normal humans, but rather exactly equal in being below him

  4. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    On the one hand I was sort of disappointed this issue didn’t offer much in way of, you know, conclusions. On the other I’m very happy LaValle’s staying on for another mini, as this was very interesting. And good. And fun.

    And having been turned into a Nanny fan by Hellions, I’m very glad she’s back. 🙂

  5. Chris V says:

    Jenny-At certain points during this era, Doom has been treated properly. There were a few stories where Doom discussed his problem with Krakoa. It is that mutants feel they are superior simply due to nature. Doom is arguing that the future should belong to those who rise up and make themselves strong because of their intellect (Doom), not because they were born with the X-gene.

  6. YLu says:

    I think the Orchis “astral plane mining” Station is meant to be a reference to Way of X.

    One thing that I don’t think gets enough appreciation is how good the coordination has been between the titles in this era. Stuff like Birdy being put up for resurrection in this issue and then her popping up as a counselor in another book. The threads weave in and out of the various titles in a way that really makes it feel like one big world. It can’t be easy to coordinate, especially with the supply chain delays messing up schedules.


    Doug can enter a prisoner’s metaphor-strewn mental landscape, but that’s not quite the same as full-blown mind-reading where he can just learn someone’s secrets. I guess.

  7. Jenny says:

    My idea of what Doom is like has always come back to the bit from Ellis’ final issue of Doom 2099:

    “He is Doom, and he will make the world anew. They will hate him for it, he knows. For they have never understood why Doom does what he does. And so, there at the Point, he turns and whispers his explanation to the new morning. “I love you. Don’t you know, after all these years?””

    A man who is genuinely convinced that what he does is for the betterment of all of Earth’s creatures, no matter how cruel it may seem.

  8. Miyamoris says:

    Awesome miniseries; I hope Lavalle is writing the sequel but this was already awesome on its own.

  9. neutrino says:

    Looking at the descriptions of this series, I’m reminded of this Richard Pryor bit:

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