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Aug 5

X-Men Red #5 annotations

Posted on Friday, August 5, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-MEN RED vol 2 #5
“The Hour of Uranos”
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Colourist: Federico Blee
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Design: Tom Muller with Jay Bowen
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1: Cable, still with a twinkle in his eye even in adverse circumstances.

PAGES 2-3. Destiny’s warning is relayed to the Great Ring.

The lead-in for this scene is on page 9 of A.X.E.: Judgment Day #1, where Magneto, Cable and Nightcrawler decided that they would relay Destiny’s warning about an imminent Eternal attack to the Great Ring, while Storm joined the Quiet Council meeting on Krakoa. Abigail Brand wasn’t seen in that issue, so presumably Magneto and co went out of their way to alert her – partly because of the seriousness of the problem, and partly because this whole affair is completely unrelated to any of her schemes.

For some reason, Brand doesn’t identify Destiny as the source of this warning, just calling her “our source” – but since Destiny is on the Quiet Council, presumably the Arakkii are well aware of who she is.

Idyll is, apparently, an omega-level precognitive who can see the “true future” but cannot alter it, which begs the question of what use that is. Continuity purists will question how a world of branching timelines can actually have a “true” future (though we’re not told that she sees everything, so maybe Ora just means that once things become settled, Idyll is 100% reliable about them). Logicians might wonder how anyone can actually know that Idyll is a completely reliable seer if she never gives any indication in advance (but maybe she writes things down to prove it).

Ora may be suggesting here that Idyll has one of those rules-lawyer powers like Isca: her predictions are so accurate that by the very act of viewing the future, she locks it into place – or simply that she is compelled not to act in a way that could falsify her own visions.

Anyway, none of this will matter by the end of page 4.

Isca not unreasonably questions where Ororo, the supposed regent of Arakko, is at this time of crisis. But since Ororo has been disavowing any sort of regal trappings throughout this series, calling her “Princess Ororo” is sarcasm.

Cable‘s briefing of the Quiet Council, and its interruption by Uranos’s attack, also appears on page 21 of Judgment Day #1. His only dialogue in that issue is “Okay this is – What in the?” Here, we get some of the lead-in, in which he’s just telling us that their only hope “is to be prepared beforehand”, which of course they aren’t.

“Greetings, meine Mitmutanden.” “Greetings, my fellow mutants.” (I assume.)

PAGES 4-6. Isca switches sides and Uranos attacks.

Nightcrawler’s line about getting too safety also appears in Judgment Day #1, but otherwise all this is new.

Isca‘s defection is a callback to her backstory when she swapped sides to join Annihilation’s forces. The basic idea is that Isca’s power is “not to lose”; this is involuntary, so she can’t be on the losing side even by choice. If it’s simply not possible for her to win, then her power compels her to “not lose” by changing sides before it’s too late. Like Idyll, she’s on rails somewhat. Nightcrawler correctly figures that although Isca can’t be beaten, she can at least be sidelined. This also helps her not get killed in the course of the issue.

Uranos, the Darkseid-adjacent genocidal Eternal, was released by Druig to attack Mars for precisely one hour in Judgment Day #1. Correcting “excess deviation” is one of the compulsions of the Eternals, as covered in detail in their own book; the interpretation of mutants as falling within that rule is a matter of political convenience for Druig. For Uranos, it’s merely an aspect of his view that the best way of protecting the Earth is to wipe out its inhabitants.

PAGE 7. Recap and credits. A footnote tells us that events in this issue are “referenced” (whatever that means) in A.X.E. Judgment Day #1 and, curiously, Legion of X #6, which won’t be out until October. Hmm.

PAGE 8. Data page. A map of Uranos’s attack to date. He’s killed 11,553 Arakkii in thirty seconds.

PAGE 9. The Armories of Uranos begin their attack.

The Art Community of the Morrowlands was previously seen in issue #2.

PAGE 10. More attacks.

Nightcrawler and Isca are nice and far from the fight.

The Valley of the Fallen, first seen in Planet-Size X-Men #1, is the bit with the giant commemorative statues of Apocalypse and his wife Genesis.

Olympus Mons is a well-known Martian volcano. Argyre Planitia is a plain.

S.W.O.R.D.‘s space station, the Keep, is coming under attack in the third panel. Abigail tells us in two pages time that she’s lost contact with it, but we don’t actually see what happens to it. On page 18 panel 2, the narrator tells us that “A breach was opened to a dimension of pure destructive force”, the sealing of which “comes too late for all hands on the Keep”. So apparently everyone dies.

PAGE 11. Ora Serrata fights Uranos.

Which goes about as well as you’d expect. It’s not entirely clear why Uranos is unaffected by her power to erase things from existence, but the suggestion seems to be that you have to recognise her authority (or the authority of the legal system that she represents), and Uranos simply doesn’t.

PAGES 12-13. Legion fights Uranos.

This takes place almost entirely off panel, and apparently lasts less than 30 seconds. Presumably we’ll get to see more of this in Legion of X #6.

“Mutant circuits are rare on Arakko.” The Krakoans have been very keen on mutants using thier powers in synergy. The suggestion is that the degree of (fairly basic) co-operation seen here is highly exceptional for the Arakkii.

PAGE 14. Another attack montage.

The first panel shows us Sunspot and Wrongslide, who only joined the cast last issue.

Panel 2 shows Nova; we’ve been reminded in previous issues of storylines where he’s fought on alone as the last remaining Nova, and things of that nature.

Isca’s defeat of Nightcrawler took place off panel and again, we may come back to it in Legion of X #6.

PAGES 15-16. Uranos fights Magneto.

Note that Magneto loses his helmet on page 15 panel 3 – we saw it lying on the ground at the end of Judgment Day.

PAGE 17. Cable fights Uranos.

Naturally, Cable’s last resort is a really, really big gun. The sort of thing that even early 90s Cable would have regarded as a bit much.

PAGE 18. More chaos.

I think this is the first time we’ve seen what Xilo actually does, though I’m not sure the art bears much resemblanec to the swarming effect that the narration seems to be describing.

The Kymellians that Nova fails to save are members of the horse-like alien race from Power Pack.

PAGE 19. And more chaos.

Xilo served as the historian on the Quiet Council, so in saying that a “millennia of eye-witnessed history” has been “lost forever”, the narrator is very strongly implying that Xilo has died. But as we’ll see later on, Xilo does in fact survive, with serious memory damage.

Abigail Brand, we’re told, “tries to avoid the resurrection protocols”. That might just be a poetic (or more accurate way) of putting it, but there might be genuine reasons why Abigail doesn’t want to be resurrected. After all, would you want one of Krakoa’s top telepaths downloading your memories into your body, when they include your dealing with Orchis?

The Fisher King seems to have managed to avoid all of the chaos entirely, though he did prefer living away from everyone else. At any rate, he sees this as more of a turning point in Arakkii history.

PAGES 20-22. Uranos leaves and the surviving Great Ring members regroup.

Curiously, Lodus says that Ora was “gouged in the eye” but her “body [was] untouched”, which begs the question of which part of her body isn’t the eye.

Magneto inherited the “seat of loss” from Tarn, and is invoking the cultural idea that it takes the lead in times of defeat. He seems to have some sort of energy hole in his chest. The narrator bills this as the start of “the hour of Magneto”, in contrast to the hour of Uranos that we’ve just witnessed.

PAGE 23. Trailers.

 

Bring on the comments

  1. Brian M. Caffrey says:

    PAGE 14. Another attack montage:
    Khora is also fighting alongside the Brotherhood, so it looks like she took Storm up on her offer between issues.

    PAGE 17. Cable fights Magneto:
    A small typo to fix – this should be Uranos (that or Cable really held a grudge from early X-Force)

  2. Douglas says:

    Uranos punches through Magneto’s chest on page 16, and possibly pulls his heart out (hence the “heartrending” line). I gather that on the last page Magneto is using his powers to keep his blood circulating anyway (and presumably to transmit electrical impulses along the missing parts of his spine).

    The Fisher King sure looks like he’s part of the Table of Night (“night has fallen”).

    This one reminded me a lot of Uncanny X-Men #467 (“24 Seconds,” the one where the Shi’ar Death Commandos kill the Grey family), structurally speaking.

  3. Asteele says:

    LOL “Darkseid adjacent”

  4. Karl_H says:

    Injury-to-the-eye motif writ large.

  5. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I don’t like comics wiping out whole groups of people just to show how bad a new bad guy is.

    And yet I’ve loves this issue. It’s not simple annihilation of background extras, rather we see them fighting in the face of impossible odds. And failing, but fighting nonetheless. And that’s heroic.

    Anyway.

    As for Ora the Eyeball, she’s drawn – though maybe it’s more clear in Legion of X – with a tiny body sitting atop the eye.

  6. JohanL says:

    When you come at the king, you best not miss.

  7. CitizenBane says:

    That Ora loophole would effectively render her useless against anyone who rejects her authority, wouldn’t it?

    Alternatively, though there’s no justification for this in the text of this comic, perhaps Ora’s power doesn’t work on Eternals because no Eternal can be destroyed permanently without destroying the Earth itself.

  8. CitizenBane says:

    Anyway, this whole fight sequence was very similar to the X-Men vs Kuurth fight that Gillen wrote in the tie-ins to Fear Itself, so much so that I thought Ewing and Gillen had swapped writing duties between Immortal and Red.

  9. JohanL says:

    Unless Druig has a number of plans stacked up – like the Hex – it seems like his Deviant Pearl Harbor failed pretty badly. When the Omega level mutants get in play, it’s hard to see how this ends well for the Eternals.

  10. Ceries says:

    Given that Brand has previously referred to this version of Storm as “Queen of the Morlocks,” this is a pretty grim parallel-she is once again initially absent when tragedy strikes, due to her obligations to the mutants she actually cares about rather than those she’s claimed leadership over through conquest.

  11. Asteele says:

    D’s plan was objectively terrible it was to create a huge distraction so that a guy that can’t win a fight with wolverine could sneak in and get stopped by any one of the 4 (of the 5) that had actual powers. I will give him a pass for not just sending Darksied to kill the X-Men because it would be too destructive to earth for the machine to sign off on it.

  12. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Hey Druid can’t be blamed for bad strategy, he was built this way.

    If he actually ever won it would break the Machine.

    He’s biological robot Starscream.

  13. Si says:

    I haven’t read this, I can’t imagine even Ewing could make an interesting story where a new character effortlessly murders existing powerhouses en masse.

  14. SanityOrMadness says:

    Paul> Uranos, the Darkseid-adjacent genocidal Eternal…

    Well, there are certain visual/etc similarities to Darkseid, Darkseid isn’t a nihilist. He wants to *control* everything, not *kill* everything.

    Paul> Isca‘s defection is a callback to her backstory when she swapped sides to join Annihilation’s forces. The basic idea is that Isca’s power is “not to lose”; this is involuntary, so she can’t be on the losing side even by choice. If it’s simply not possible for her to win, then her power compels her to “not lose” by changing sides before it’s too late.

    Yeah, but… if Nightcrawler *hadn’t* teleported her out, she would presumably have died regardless, since Uranos would have killed her even if she tried to sell out the Arakki.

    (Also, typo in “Nightcrawler’s line about getting too [sic] safety”)

    UXB> Hey Druid can’t be blamed for bad strategy, he was built this way.

    If he actually ever won it would break the Machine.

    Druig absolutely won in Gillen’s Eternals #12. This is what happens when he DOES win!

    UXB> He’s biological robot Starscream.

    I thought that was Isca.

  15. Moonstar Dynasty says:

    @Douglas: Interestingly, we don’t see how Uranos gains ground on Magneto after he disperses Magneto’s metal trap assault. We just go straight from a panel of him blowing all the metal away to him with his fist through Magneto’s chest. Might they show flashback panels in the next issue with Magneto preparing for the advance by (*gulp*) magnetically shifting his organs out of the way to avoid lethal impact?

    Re: Ora Serrata’s interpretation of Idyll’s vision:

    “An empty heart beats hardest. An empty hand deals the impossible blow. And the stalemate ends with victory’s loss.”

    Empty heart = Magneto?
    Empty hand dealing blow? = Uranos
    Stalemate = Great Ring gridlock with Table of Victory? I.e., now that Isca’s off the table (“victory’s loss”), the Seat of Loss takes the lead? Or Magneto goes on Arrako Revenge Tour?

    No matter how you interpret it, the wordplay with Serrata’s final prediction is great.

  16. Moonstar Dynasty says:

    @Krzysiek: I am also super weary about the implications here. Sans Storm, the X-line has been almost completely bereft of A-listers–or at least prominent characters–of color for an unspeakably long time. While I love the X-Men, it’s really just been basically the trials and tribulations of beautiful white or white-passing people, while people without that privilege and/or are actual minorities are sidelined or get massacred.

    Then you fire up this Krakoan status quo, and what happens? An unelected governing body of white people + Storm decide to take the reins of a nation of 200,000+ incredibly diverse people with homogenous representation.

    Lastly, you introduce this whole other world and culture of mutants who scan/read like/are analogous to indigenous people, don’t do anything with them for almost 2 years until X-Men: Red, and then you make them victims of genocide.

    Even though I have found parts of the Krakoan era highly enjoyable, these observations are a difficult pill to swallow as a person a color. I will give Ewing the benefit of the doubt here, however.

  17. Jenny says:

    Nah, Thanos is the Darkseid rip off. Uranos is Yuga Khan, Darkseid’s dad who has never been interesting in his entire history as a character

  18. Jim Harbor says:

    I disliked Uranos tanking Ora’s Omega power because he didn’t believe in her. Reeks of how the Penance Stare almost never works
    I would have liked it better if Ora wiped him out but he just regenerated back on Earth and teleported back to punch her eye

  19. CitizenBane says:

    “An empty hand deals the impossible blow” must be a reference to Fisher King. He has no mutant “weapon” like his fellow Arrakii – i.e. his hand is “empty”.

  20. Allan M says:

    At this point, it must be intentional that the Arrakans’ powers are fundamentally useless, Tarn aside. Isca cannot be beaten, because she’ll just switch sides if things aren’t going her way, which is what I did when I was losing at tag as a five year old. Idyll knows the future but can’t reveal it. Ora can destroy anything with a glance, except the one time it tries to do so. Xilo can remember anything, unless you hit him a few times in which case he forgets. Is the idea here that if mutants exclusively breed with each other for long enough, all the useful genetic traits eventually go away?

    It’s a failed society. They’ve directed their entire culture towards endless war and survival of the fittest. Well, it’s game time, and they lost and they died.

    All of which undermines the setup of Uranos as this unstoppable badass in this issue, because the Arrakans have proven to be a pack of losers over and over again. It’s like having a new Spider-Man villain prove their bona fides by easily defeating the Enforcers. It’s just not very impressive.

  21. SanityOrMadness says:

    @Jim Harbor

    Uranos has planet-destroying bombs rigged to blow if he dies; it’s one of the reasons why the other Eternals have kept him locked up for a few hundred thousand years.

    [Also, Eternals used to be nigh-impossible to kill until they introduced resurrection. Now they just drop like flies, Uranos is an exception here, if anything…]

  22. SanityOrMadness says:

    [Also, this is why one-hit KO and/or save-or-die powers are storytelling poison – they can only ever work on mooks, not when it matters.]

  23. Chris V says:

    Darkseid’s Anti-Life Equation is the embodiment of nihilism. Its definition is that life is futile so nothing matters and free will is undesirable and most likely an illusion. Darkseid wants to spread nihilism so that everyone will accept his rule and embrace slavery. There is no higher purpose to anything except Darkseid. While Darkseid doesn’t want to kill everyone, the end point is basically the same. Darkseid’s vision will be a living death of everything. There will be no more change and total stagnation. They just go about bringing this end and their definition of such a final state being different.
    I’m not trying to argue that Uranos is an interesting character, by the way.

  24. Asteele says:

    Uranos’ plan does seem to be to hope the avengers forget they have Thor on their team. (They won’t remember til the last issue.)

  25. ASV says:

    I can’t imagine even Ewing could make an interesting story where a new character effortlessly murders existing powerhouses en masse.

    After reading it, I found myself thinking Ewing had done a great job making a fundamentally dumb story enjoyable to read. Arrako is full of “mutant gene for murder”-style stuff that is extremely shallow if you think about it for a second, a villain who is barely scratched by the world’s most powerful weapon is a narrative black hole, but there’s some good character work and story flow.

  26. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Allan M- that’s actually a super interesting reveal they could do with the Arakki.

    Their society obviously doesn’t work and they do seem to be chumps.

    A great message for Krakoa – you can’t isolate and prosper in a wider world.

  27. The Other Michael says:

    So conservatively, tens of thousands of Araokki mutants are dead, including some of the Great Council, and because of their beliefs, none of them can come back unless it’s against their will… and even their omega-level mutants were, if not killed outright, hammered pretty hard.

    Also, the Peak and whoever was aboard are presumably out of commission.

    And, of course, this attack also took out, however briefly, Cable and Brand, and Magneto’s not looking too good.

    But even so, it’s hard to feel like this is anything more than a temporary setback for the mutants, while reinforcing the idea of the Eternals having truly obscenely powerful people to call upon.

    Now here’s a mutant circuit to contemplate:

    Rogue duplicates the powers of the Five, plus Madrox, and becomes 100 Rogues all capable of resurrecting mutants. Synch copies her and does the same thing. Maybe they get a power-up from Fabian Cortez or Khora of the Burning Heart or Chance and well… backlog taken care of in a flash!

  28. YLu says:

    The anti-life equation is about the willing subjugation of one’s free will for the “comfort” of mindlessly obeying an authority figure. There are shades of nihilism in there but it’s first and foremost about authoritarianism, I’d say.

    While Uranos, as Magneto all but points out this issue, is racial animus personified. He’s not nihilistic, he has a great sense of purpose. That purpose just has no use for anyone who’s not an Eternal. Him being the personification of that is what gives Uranos vs. Magneto its storytelling weight.

  29. K says:

    I hate to say it, but the art has to take some credit for why we are not sold on the Arrakii.

    What this story does is basically the same as what Rememder and Opena did a decade ago on Uncanny X-Force – showcase a bunch of unestablished outlandish beings with unestablished outlandish powers in an epic, high-stakes fight.

    With UXF we could believe that the fight was a tragic metal gothic opera because it was Opena on art, no matter how illogical and poorly defined their powers were. With this book… even Cable’s ultimate gun from the future just looks like another big gun.

  30. Si says:

    Cable’s ultimate gun literally looked like a pistol scaled up to the size of a car. Such a wasted opportunity to go crazy with pointless 1991esque accessories.

  31. Bengt says:

    I liked this issue, the montages were generally entertaining.

    But Isca and her vague power bugs me to no end. She can’t join Uranus, so the most obvious reaction would be to flee. Are we to believe that her powers reasoned out in the background that if she attacked someone on the Circle she would be teleported away?

    It seems she was created solely because Hickman and/or Howard thought resolving the X of Swords conflict with her gimicky powers were incredibly clever. Why anyone continues to use her is beyond me.

  32. MasterMahan says:

    Maybe running away counts as losing, so Isca can’t do that?

    As for using Isca: if you want to tell stories with the Great Circle, you’re kind of stuck with her.

    Annotation note, Nova thinking “it’s all up to me” refers back to Ewing’s Guardians run, where it’s a recurring phrase of Nova’s that shows he tends to resume way too much responsibility.

  33. YLu says:

    “Are we to believe that her powers reasoned out in the background that if she attacked someone on the Circle she would be teleported away?”

    I mean, sure? I don’t see how that’s weirder than anything else about her powers or dozens of other mutants’ powers. If Domino’s luck powers make it so that there happens to be a pool out the window she leaps through, then Isca can do something that’ll get her teleported safely away.

  34. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    That reminds me of the Darwin / Hulk fight in the World War Hulk: X-Men mini. His body came to the conclusion the only way to survive against the Hulk is to not be near the Hulk and teleported him away.

    Back to the larger picture – Druig uses the fact that mutant resurrection was made public in his address to the humans. I’m thinking there’s a plot point coming in Judgment Day where the secret of Eternal resurrection is made public as well.

    And mutant resurrecion doesn’t require human sacrifice.

  35. Bengt says:

    “As for using Isca: if you want to tell stories with the Great Circle, you’re kind of stuck with her.”

    Nah, you just invent a reason for Isca to not want to be on Mars, and off she goes. Maybe she was besties with Genesis all along and wants to go visit Anthrax or whatever she lives now.

    “I mean, sure? I don’t see how that’s weirder than anything else about her powers or dozens of other mutants’ powers.”

    I can’t say I’m very fond of any power that require the power to think for itself (unless the “power” is explicitly a separate character, like the Venom symbiot). In Isca’s case the power is extremely vague as well. “Losing” is a social construct that can mean a wide variety of things depending on context.

  36. Mike Loughlin says:

    I wonder if the “Hour of Magneto” refers to both a retaliatory hour of destruction he unleashes on the Eternals and how long he can survive in his present state.

    I enjoyed this issue despite the fact that it contained mass murder and wasted character potential, a strange kind of kudos to Ewing, Caselli, and the rest of the creative team.

    As for Darkseid’s philosophy, it’s clearly totalitarianism. He wants to make the population of the entire universe his slaves. He wants ultimate control. Nihilism is most definitely not about controlling people or events.

  37. YLu says:

    ‘“Losing” is a social construct that can mean a wide variety of things depending on context.’

    I suspect that’s -why- Ewing has kept the character around, or at least a big part. He’s always seemed interested in exploring the boundaries and nature of superpowers. I feel he does some of the best fight scenes in modern cape comics because there’s almost this sort of… conceptual choreography to them.

  38. Aro says:

    I’m not sure how many stories you can really get out of a character like Isca, since her powers are so conceptual, but I do like that Ewing treats the power to never lose as more of a curse than a blessing.

    I also like the misdirect with her powers in this issue. At first it seems like she has switched sides once again, but Uranos clearly doesn’t need any help, and there’s no option for her to join the winning side. Her murder of Idyll is not an offensive attack, but a mechanism of retreat – the quickest way to get the X-Men to remove her from the battle so she won’t be there to lose.

    It will be interesting if we get to see her battle with Nightcrawler in Legion of X.

  39. Sam says:

    Maybe I am just too cynical, but the Arrakans always seemed like the Neo 2.0 to me. Granted, I haven’t read most of the books in which they appeared, what I know about them comes from Paul’s annotations and the comments here.

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