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Jul 14

Immortal X-Men #4 annotations

Posted on Thursday, July 14, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

IMMORTAL X-MEN #4
“Part Four: Diamonds Are Forever”
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Michele Bandini
Colourist: David Curiel
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1. Emma in silk sheets, with one arm in the process of turning to diamond.

PAGE 2. Neal Adams obituary.

PAGES 3-5. Emma Frost at night.

Immortal X-Men is structured with a focus on a different Quiet Council member in each issue, and this is Emma’s issue.

Emma’s planned excuse for sleeping in her diamond form is that she is less vulnerable to psychic intrusion in that form. Originally, Emma’s diamond form was presented as removing (or at least reducing) her emotions and empathy and cutting off her access to her telepathic powers, but it’s been shown over the years as protecting her from telepathic attack as well. Her actual reasoning is that she doesn’t age in diamond form. This is setting up the motif that Emma won’t drop her persona in public but will admit her actual feelings to herself, and that there’s a degree of self-aware doublethink going on in her self-image.

“I made a girl think she’d cooked her own horse so she’d come to me for sympathy.” In Firestar vol 1 #2, as part of Emma’s schemes to manipulate the novice Firestar, she kills Firestar’s beloved horse and tricks Firestar into thinking her powers had something to do with it. The horse actually just drops dead after she rescues it from a burning stable, but Firestar assumes that her microwave powers must have had something to do with it. And yes, the horse really was called Butter Rum.

Scott. Note that Emma refers to her relationship with Scott in the present tense (“I don’t know what he sees in me. I also know exactly what he sees in me.”)

“I funded Utopia and then was ruined by it.” Utopia was the X-Men’s island base off San Francisco in the late 2000s. The Utopia era ends, so far as Emma’s concerned, with her being carted off to prison by the Avengers, and winding up as a fugitive after Scott breaks her out.

“Last year’s revelation of bringing life to a dead world.” Planet-Size X-Men #1.

PAGE 6. Data page (kind of). This is the Bugle front page from X-Men #12, with some comments by Emma over the top. We see Emma actually reading the page for the first time in X-Men: Hellfire Gala #1.

PAGE 7. Flash forward: Emma returns from the Gala covered in blood.

We’ll find out why later. Obviously, given her preoccupation with image, Emma doesn’t take this sort of thing well.

PAGE 8. Recap and credits.

PAGES 9-11. Emma talks to the Chinese ambassador as she leaves the Gala.

Ambassador Mingyu. This is Ma Mingyu, the Chinese ambassador who was given a tour of Krakoan facilities in House of X #1.

16 million dead. Emma is referring to the slaughter of mutants on Genosha by Sentinels in New X-Men #115. Despite Emma’s righteous speech, she’s instinctively willing to discuss buying off the human elite with special treatment.

Wolverine’s presence here might be a continuity error, since he leaves the Gala before the end to hunt down Moira alongside Spider-Man (as shown in X-Men: Hellfire Gala #1 and the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man #9). Also, he ought to be in his security tuxedo outfit.

“Dearest, dearest Scott brought be a present…” He told her about Dr Stasis, as depicted in X-Men: Hellfire Gala #1. As in that issue, Emma seems conspicuously affectionate to Scott even in her internal monologue, even though he’s largely been shown with Jean in recent months.

PAGES 12-13. The Quiet Council discuss the resurrection crisis.

Mutant Growth Hormone is a drug which, among other things, gives humans temporary superhuman powers.

Incidentally, I’m sure there’s a story somewhere which establishes that Nightcrawler prefers to crouch like that rather than sitting in a chair because it’s more comfortable for his mutant physique. He’s not just being quirky for the sake of it.

PAGES 14-15. Emma tells the Council about Dr Stasis.

This is a fairly straight account of what Cyclops learned about Dr Stasis in X-Men #11-12. The shot of Stasis turning to face the camera is more or less re-drawn from the cliffhanger of X-Men #11, and Stasis does indeed claim to be the “real” Mr Sinister.

PAGES 16-18. Sinister flees the Quiet Council.

Sinister is giving himself temporary powers in the same way that he did in issue #2. Specifically, he seems to be copying Madrox’s powers in order to cause confusion (which raises the possibility that there might be Sinister duplicates left on Krakoa after all this ends – do they vanish when his temporary powers wear off?).

PAGES 19-21. Sinister takes stock.

Since he’s now alone, we can probably take at face value his apparent confusion about who on earth this Dr Stasis guy is. He also helpfully points out to us that the existence of a Diamond and Club version of him tends to suggest that Spade and Heart are also out there somewhere.

Judgment Day is the upcoming crossover of the same name.

Destiny doesn’t directly reveal to Sinister that she knows about his ability to reset the timeline, but does successfully prompt him not to use it. Once again, Sinister comes close to resetting the timeline the moment things go wrong, but thinks better of it.

“Little James.” Wolverine (James Howlett).

PAGES 22-23. Sinister returns to the Quiet Council.

“This really isn’t what the Spark is about.” Nightcrawler is referring to his creativity-based philosophy from Legion of X.

“There’s always the Pit.” A curious proposal by Destiny, since she appears in Sabretooth #5 to be well aware of what’s going on in connection with the Pit.

Sinister’s kidnappers are the Eternals, as seen in A.X.E.: Eve of Judgment Day #1.

PAGE 24. Emma goes back to sleep.

Emma seems to be suggesting that the very fact that she worries about getting old shows that she doesn’t really believe Krakoa is going to last.

PAGE 25. Data page – a quote from Through the Looking Glass. Originally, the Hellfire Club officers were obviously named after chess pieces, but the addition of red offices does invoke Lewis Carroll.

PAGE 26. Trailers.

 

Bring on the comments

  1. Ceries says:

    A rich white pharma CEO who runs a company she favorably compared to the East India Company back in House of X talking to a Chinese ambassador about why her government won’t be sharing lifesaving medical technology with his, while implicitly claiming the role of his victim, is…historically fraught, to say the least, but that seems to be increasingly standard with the X-men and China in this era.

    I found the Council’s endless chauvinism interesting to look at in light of that. Here’s eleven white people (and Storm) talking about how they want to treat people they to varying degrees view as inherently lesser. It’s fascinating the way that Krakoa falls so readily into the messaging of white supremacy and colonialism-the debate seems to be between “civilizing the savages” via various imperial and covert methods or simply ignoring them.

  2. GN says:

    I thought this was interesting. It’s obvious now that the main storyline of Immortal X-Men is going to be a cold war between Mr Sinister vs Destiny for the future of Krakoa. This is the consistent thorough-line between all four issues.

    Issue 1: the origin of the Sinister-Destiny rivalry, Sinister makes a move to put Hope on the QC, the source of Sinister’s prescience is revealed
    Issue 2: Destiny fixes Sinister’s mistake regarding Selene, Sinister’s gene-closet is revealed
    Issue 3: an in-depth study of Destiny and her precognitive powers, Destiny figures out the Moira clones
    Issue 4: Destiny makes a psychological move against Sinister, Sinister is kidnapped

    But I do appreciate that while telling this story, we stop by each QC member so we can get their perspective on the whole thing.

    I thought the Emma perspective was a little weaker than usual (issue 1 and 3 were the strongest for me) – it was more a summary of things we already know rather than new revelations, but I still liked the issue.

    I have high hopes for the Exodus focus issue coming up next. He’s a bit of a blank slate, so Gillen has a lot of space to establish stuff.

  3. GN says:

    Paul > Sinister’s kidnappers are the Eternals, as seen in A.X.E.: Eve of Judgment Day #1.

    SPOILERS FOR EVE OF JUDGMENT 1.

    Specifically, they are Ajak and Makkari of the Celestian Priests, the religious arm of the Eternals. Sinister is being held in the city of Celestia in the Andes Mountains. They appear to want Sinister’s assistance in creating a Frankenstein Celestial out of dead body parts, something Makkari has expressed interest in before (Eternals: Celestia 1). I think Tiamut from the Utopia-era X-books will be referenced here.

  4. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    @GN: I think I read an interview with Gillen from around the release of Immortal X-Men #1 where he said something similar regarding Exodus being a bit of a blank state. I think he specifically said he wants to do with Exodus what he did with Sinister back in his Uncanny.

    I will never for the life of me remember what my source on this is. Some interview somewhere. Maybe.

  5. Mike Loughlin says:

    Krzysiek Ceran: “ I will never for the life of me remember what my source on this is. Some interview somewhere. Maybe.”

    Hey, that’s where I get all my information, too!

    Another good issue. I love the psychological sparring between Destiny & Sinister. I think AXE will deliver the goods- most issues written by Gillen and it crosses into X-Men Red, the other best X-title- but I didn’t realize it won’t finish until November! That’s a lot of pages for one story, even if most of the one-shots & crossovers end up being skipped. I hope it at least comes close to the quality of this title and Gillen’ & Ribic’s Eternals.

  6. Michale says:

    Emma’s argument that humans were responsible for the Genosha genocide becomes ridiculous when you remember that the person that was actually responsible for the Genosha genocide, Cassandra Nova. was granted sanctuary on Krakoa.
    The problem with Emma’s argument against resurrecting humans is that Emma seems to be forgetting she killed humans herself in her days as a villain for trivial reasons- Firestar’s bodyguard, 3 goons that failed to capture the X-Men, etc. Has Emma even considered asking Wanda if it’s possible to bring any of the people she killed back?

  7. The Other Michael says:

    One thing I find fascinating about this issue is the confirmation/revelation that Sinister’s current personality is as much a construct as the rest of him. A mixture of Deadpool, Drag Race, and Oscar Wilde, overlaid over a core personality whereupon he’s supremely egocentric to the point where literally no one else matters.

    This of course goes a long way towards reconciling classic ’80s Sinister with modern Sinister, while adding in the genuine possibility of there being multiple Sinisters who don’t know about one another… and somewhere down the road an Ur-Sinister who could have any personality or motivation you care to assign to him.

    Also, him worrying that his current state was corrupted, hence the clean install.

  8. Taibak says:

    Re: Nightcrawler.

    Presumably he crouches so that he doesn’t sit on his tail.

    Although, yes, he is quirky enough to do that and claim it helps strengthen his leg muscles or something.

  9. Mike Loughlin says:

    Per OHOTMU Deluxe Edition, Nightcrawler’s spine is more flexible than an ordinary human’s, enabling to spend a long time in A crouched position without doing damage to himself.

  10. MasterMahan says:

    This is one of those cases where I’m curious what the public knows. I imagine the X-Men didn’t advertise the fact that the Genoshan genocide was caused by Xavier’s evil twin who is now legally a mutant – but in that case, what do people think happened? A mystery party launched a genocide? That the Sentinels attacked of their own volition?

  11. K says:

    The average person probably thinks Magneto did it, because the X-Men are always fighting Magneto and always fighting Sentinels.

    It wouldn’t even be among the top 100 most counterintuitive beliefs by real world standards.

  12. Chris V says:

    Michale-It’s not Emma’s argument, it’s part of the propagandistic ideology of Krakoa promoted by Xavier in House of X. Emma has probably been brainwashed by Xavier.
    Maybe the intent was that since humans created Sentinels and Xavier knew that “the Sentinels will always come to kill the mutants” from Moira’s past lives, Xavier was blaming the Genoshan genocide on humanity’s creating mutant-killing robots in the first place.
    More likely, it was Hickman’s intent to show that Krakoa was founded upon lies.

  13. Eric G says:

    I took the cover to be a reference to the Marilyn Monroe picture from the first issue of Playboy. It’s not a direct copy, even allowing for the lack of nudity, but there’s certainly enough similarity to suggest it’s deliberate.

  14. Diana says:

    To be fair, Cassandra didn’t build the Wild Sentinels, she just activated them – they were presumably built by humans from the start. But yes, using Genosha as a rallying cry feels extremely outdated now

  15. Jenny says:

    @Ceries: To be fair, Kitty Pryde (and formerly Magneto) are Jewish, but overall I agree with your point.

  16. CitizenBane says:

    The familiar grievance narrative got very strange after the chart in HoX #4 that revealed anti-mutant human organizations were responsible for, collectively, less than a thousand mutant deaths, while millions of mutants were killed by Xavier’s sister and Magneto’s daughter.

    It gets especially stupid after the scene in X-Men #4 where Apocalypse brags about causing the Bronze Age Collapse; he alone is probably responsible for millions of dead humans. Every X-book wants to do this “where were u when genosha was kill??” thing even while mutant leaders make no secret of their disdain for human lives. Then why complain when the humans reciprocate?

  17. Jon R says:

    The first time the Sentinels appeared was on live television with Bolivar Trask saying “Hey look at my giant mutant-hunting robots that I, a human that hates mutants, made to giantly hunt mutants”. I’d think there’s an immediate assumption by anyone who pays any attention to the news (high bar unfortunately) that the Sentinels are definitely not working with Magneto.

    I don’t think that anyone took public credit for the Mark II and IIIs, and definitely didn’t do for the Shaw/Project Wideawake Sentinels. I wasn’t reading when the O*N*E Sentinels were around, but it seems like them being government created/owned would be public knowledge? Then there’s the ones that Kilgore made that were for sale, but the public probably didn’t know about.

    So offhand, I think there’s some long discussions in the in-universe reddit channels about whether the classic-style Sentinels are replicating themselves like Ultron, or being made by other companies. Then when the US government were seen using the O*N*E Sentinels, there were probably tons of conspiracy theories about how the US government had been making Sentinels in secret all this time and did Genosha. (Well, they’re half-right.)

    Uh.. tldr, Emma blaming Genosha’s destruction on humans is reaching, but the public likely buys it, and a Chinese ambassador might know where enough bodies are buried to wonder if it was an off the books governmental strike.

  18. Chris V says:

    The problem is that in the Marvel Universe the majority of humans are presented as fearing and hating mutants, barring a few open-minded Homo Sapiens who care about mutant rights. Morrison’s run was an outlier that has been mostly forgotten about, where coexistence seemed possible and likely. So, the assumption would be that the majority of humans would have cheered for the decimation of Genosha.

  19. Evilgus says:

    Another strong issue. Not quite as much as the first few but I think this is because Emma as a character has had a rich amount of spot light. We already know her well.

    I quite like the dissonance between what the X-Men preach and the reality (in effect, they are supremacists). Hickman leaned into that far more and made the mutants quite unsettling. More current writers have to portray the cast as heroes, so it doesn’t quite fit. Let the X-Men be the bad guys and not realise it!

  20. Person of Con says:

    @Jenny: ” To be fair, Kitty Pryde (and formerly Magneto) are Jewish, but overall I agree with your point.” Have they retconned Magneto’s origins? If so, that’s a shame; I was just re-reading X-Men Magneto: Testament, and it’s a really strong story.

    @Jon R:to be fair, the next thing that happens in the Sentinel debut is that they immediately go AWOL against their creators. (Which is one of my favorite moments of Silver Age X-Men storytelling. Within one page of their debut, Sentinels prove to be completely unreliable, but people keep makin’ em.) So maybe the public response to Sentinels is “more evil robots, but these are bigger.” (If this was Twitter, I’d end with a screencap of the Sentinel from the X-Men cartoon somehow hiding behind a building.)

  21. Thom H. says:

    Super good point about the mutant death chart in HoX. I just take for granted that humans are a huge threat to mutants, so I completely missed those implications.

    It may be that humans’ capabilities haven’t quite matched their level of hatred. Mutants have seen a future (DoFP) in which human-sponsored Sentinels are very effective, for example. And they know that the next stage of human-sponsored Sentinel (Nimrod) is much more deadly. So I can see why mutants still consider humans enemies even if they haven’t killed that many mutants yet. They certainly plan to.

    Blaming Genosha on humans still doesn’t makes much sense, but I don’t know what to do about that.

    As an aside: the wild Sentinels responsible for the Genoshan genocide (also created by humans) — whatever happened to them? Cassandra took control of them, razed Genosha, and then they just…stopped? Was that a dropped plot point or was that dealt with somewhere? Third choice: Am I just forgetting details of the original story?

  22. Jenny says:

    “@Jenny: ” To be fair, Kitty Pryde (and formerly Magneto) are Jewish, but overall I agree with your point.” Have they retconned Magneto’s origins? If so, that’s a shame; I was just re-reading X-Men Magneto: Testament, and it’s a really strong story.”

    Oh no I simply just meant that up until recently he was on the Quiet Council.

  23. Jon R says:

    @PersonofCon: Oh yeah. If you’re going to make giant mutant-hunting robots anyway, maybe.. rebrand them? Change the name and visuals. Okay, the Mark II and III models make sense. Larry Trask did it for his Dad and Stephen Lang wasn’t exactly stable. But you’d think after that there’d be a rebrand. If nothing else, did no one at Shaw Industries point out that they didn’t own the IP?

    Headcanon: During a Project Wideawake meeting, Mystique in her role as Raven Darkholme kept saying that this was a *great* idea and internal polling said that the Sentinel name and visual design was incredibly popular amongst the kids. Gyrich, who has never understood the concept of sarcasm, went full speed ahead

  24. Person of Con says:

    @Jenny: Oh, that makes more sense. I think I was still wrapped in that Magneto origin series. (Which is great!)

    @Jon R. And the mutant side of this can be just as bad. X-Men Red literally used a sentinel for their main transport. Like, I get trying to re-appropriate the symbol, but maybe showing up to rescue mutants in a literal Sentinel is a bit of a mixed message.

  25. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I’m certain – I know – there’s a story where the Sentinel that Destroyed Genosha comes back – and it’s sentient now and sorry for what it was made to do… But I don’t rember where it was and I can’t find it now. But I didn’t make it up.

    …I think.

  26. Jenny says:

    Given that Wolverine slashed Cassandra Nova’s vocal chords right as they went off, I kind of imagine that they only followed her last order-kill everyone on Genosha-and once that was accomplished, they went on stand-by.

  27. ASV says:

    I continue to marvel that for two and half years, nobody including Hickman took any of the contrivances of the Krakoa setup at serious face value, and in just a few months Gillen and Ewing have made something legitimately interesting with them.

  28. Mr. K says:

    I do think that Hickman definitely had an eye to the implications and contradictions of the Krakoan project (as INFERNO laid bare). After all, his Avengers run played a similarly complicated game of setting up a new way of doing things that also disguised some ethically shady ends.

    I do also agree that Gillen is picking up on those threads in intriguing ways as well in IMMORTAL.

  29. neutrino says:

    @Thom H Sentinel Squad ONE took care of them.

    Claremont also had anti-mutant haters as a minority.

  30. Why is “Butter Rum” an outlandish name for a horse? Seems well within bounds.

  31. Taibak says:

    Whatever happened to Juston Seyfert’s sentinel?

  32. Paul says:

    It was destroyed in Avengers Arena, I believe.

  33. Omar Karindu says:

    Jion R. said: @PersonofCon: Oh yeah. If you’re going to make giant mutant-hunting robots anyway, maybe.. rebrand them?

    Well, that is Fantomex’s origin, since he was originally meant to be some kind of “Super-Sentinel” sold to the public as a cool superhero alongside the other products of The World.

    Beyond that, how aware is the public of the later Sentinel models going rogue? Larry Trask’s Sentinels only attacked mutants in public, and their plot to wipe out humanity seems to have been thwarted by the X-Men before the public would’ve known about it.

    Even their fight with the Avengers ended up happening mostly in a remote section of Australia, and it’s not clear whether they or the governments involved publicized all of this widely. Those old Avengers issues also seem to imply that Judger Chalmers used his clout to try to protect Larry Trask’s reputation in the aftermath.

    Beyond that, the Lang and Shaw Sentinels were mostly, well, “obedient” in terms of sticking to their anti-mutant mission.

    More generally, would the public see Sentinels going bad from time to time as any worse than, say, all those times one of the Avengers gets mind-controlled into evil, or gets replaced by an anti-hero type, or by Norman Osborn’s crew of supervillains?

    More generally, real-life bigots have been willing to ignore a lot of political corruption and abuses of power as long as the people they hate are getting it worse, after all. I think we have to see the Sentinels coming back again and again as a sort of broad allegory for those sorts of blinders.

  34. Michael says:

    @Omar- The incidents where Onslaught and Kang took control of the Sentinels were VERY public, though.

  35. neutrino says:

    Before Genosha, Sentinels killed a lot more sapiens than mutants.

  36. I think the Genosha sentinels deactivated themselves after the attack. I’m pretty sure we saw scenes in the aftermath with them sitting in the background, shut down.

    (Maybe in the sequence in which Emma is rescued from the rubble?)

    What happened to them after that, I don’t know.

  37. Omar Karindu says:

    Michael said: The incidents where Onslaught and Kang took control of the Sentinels were VERY public, though.

    I think Onslaught is complicated by the way the aftermath was written, with mutants being blamed for the deaths of the heroes. So to the public, it may well have been, “mutants took down all our protectors, starting with the Sentinels.”

    I suppose I’d forgotten the Kang story from Busiek’s Avengers mostly because…well, most other books ignored it completely. But that should have been the nail int he coffin for the things, yes.

    I suppose O*N*E* could be read as an attempt to rehabilitate Sentinels: “Now they have human operators, so they aren’t autonomous robots that can go crazy.”

    thekelvingreen said: I think the Genosha sentinels deactivated themselves after the attack. I’m pretty sure we saw scenes in the aftermath with them sitting in the background, shut down.

    Yeah, there was at the very least a line of dialogue to that effect. And didn’t Danger reactivate one of them in a failed attempt to stop the Breakworld “magic bullet” attack at the end of Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men?

    I suppose I keep thinking of other characters and concepts that weren’t permanently discredited by failures.

    I mean, over the years, we’v seen Iron Man framed for murder (Iron Man v.1 #124), going rogue against the government (Armor Wars I), mind-controlled into murder by Kang (Avengers: The Crossing), blamed for the Skrull invasion (Dark Reign), and morally inverted into forcibly addicting people to Extremis and the charging them for “upgrades” (Superior Iron Man), among many other things.

    Yes, there were ways Iron Man cleared his name, or weaseled out of the consequences (int he Armor Wars), and so forth. But that;’s just it: all that’s required is manufacturing an explanation credible enough to satisfy the people that kind of want there to be something like the Sentinels, because they hate and fear mutants just that much.

    In the Krakoan era, we’ve also gotten Orchis, in which a bunch of people from organizations that hate each other have banded together because they hate and fear mutants even more.

    Can’t you imagine a sleazy politician saying something like, “Yes, there have been failures in the Sentinel programs over the years, but they’re still our best line fo defense against the mutant menace. And this time, we’ve learned from the past, new innovations have…”

  38. Thom H. says:

    Thanks, everyone. I remember the big Sentinel(s) sitting quietly on Genosha. I was sort of wondering where all the little ones went. I suppose they served their story purpose and just fell over.

    Also, I can completely hear the “thoughts and prayers” speeches from politicians after rogue Sentinel attacks. Blech.

  39. Jon R says:

    Through this I keep wanting a comprehensive list of every Sentinel appearance and a few days with absolutely nothing else to do so that I can read them all and come up with what I think the public reaction would be during each ‘era’ of the Sentinel appearances.

    @Omar: Oh yeah, unfortunately I can see that type of politician well. They wouldn’t want to actually rename/rebrand the giant robots to something new because that admits there was a problem and loses the cachet the Sentinels already have with extremists.

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