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Sep 1

X-Force #31 annotations

Posted on Thursday, September 1, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-FORCE vol 6 #31
“The Hunt for X, part 2: Anatomy of a Killer”
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Robert Gill
Colourist: Guru-eFX
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Design: Tom Muller with Jay Bowen
Editor: Mark Basso

COVER / PAGE 1: Kraven, wearing Beast’s fur and with Deadpool’s head on a spear.

PAGES 2-4. Kraven confronts the Progenitor.

As I covered last time, this Kraven is a clone of the original who debuted in 2019. Since he has the original’s personality, and his obsession with nature red in tooth and claw and so forth, he dislikes not having a proper birth; presumably it serves as a symbol of his own artificiality. He seems to hope that a confrontation with teh Celestial will give him some sort of symbolic rebirth.

The first chapter of this arc was billed as an A.X.E. crossover despite having no actual crossover content, but the arc as a whole clearly is a tie-in.

PAGE 5. Recap and credits. This time we’re told that the story takes place after A.X.E.: Judgment Day #3 (which is publication order) and concurrently with Wolverine #24 (which is due out next week). Wolverine isn’t actually in this issue, but maybe the significance of the timing will become apparent.

PAGES 6-8. Omega Red arrives back on Krakoa with the mutants he rescued from traffickers.

Apparently Omega Red has sailed all the way from the Russian arctic straits to Krakoa without being noticed, so let’s assume he used a gate somewhere.

This is the mission that Omega Red and Deadpool were sent on last issue. In that issue it was Sage who seemed more concerned with the PR advantages of the mission, while Beast seemed to see it more as a show of strength; but I suppose that wouldn’t work unless there was PR involved. As we see in this issue, Beast seems to have decided that Krakoa should no longer be welcoming low-end, undesirable mutants – though that might be influenced in part by the fact that these particular mutants are Russian, and Russia is The Enemy in X-Force. Still, Beast can hardly have thought it would go unnoticed by the Quiet Council if X-Force rescued a boatload of mutants and didn’t bring them to Krakoa, but instead publicly dumped them on a human nation. Perhaps he’s looking for a vehicle to have the argument, and figured that Russian mutants were as unsympathetic as it was going to get.

Sage has been using Omega Red as a proxy for her own rehabilitation in recent issues and persists in putting the most positive spin on everything he’s done. Technically she’s right to describe what Omega Red has done as a heroic act, but Beast’s cynicism about Omega Red’s motives seems well earned.

PAGE 9. Data page, with Beast explaining the plot. Having started off scheming with X-Force behind the rest of Krakoa’s back, Beast is apparently now coming to the view that he doesn’t even need X-Force.

PAGES 10-11. Kraven is ignored by the Progenitor.

Evidently Kraven is beneath the Progenitor’s notice – he may be planning to judge all of humanity individually, but he doesn’t have time to actually speak to them all. Or maybe clones don’t count in his book. Either way, this all fits very nicely with Kraven’s vision of God as non-existent, at least as any sort of loving presence. Apparently reassured by God’s complete indifference to him (and presumably unworried about the prospect of the imminent end of the world), Kraven turns his attention back to the unnatural, immortal mutants.

PAGES 12-13. Drunk Sage shows Omega Red the Shadow Room.

This is apparently between attacks. Omega Red is supposed to be on X-Force as a way of vicariously rehabbing Sage, but if anything it seems to be going the other way round. Sage is offering to indulge Omega Red’s murderous impulses as long as he stays on their side, while it’s Omega Red arguing that surely there are more urgent things to worry about. She seems to be coming to terms with her worst impulses rather than controlling them.

PAGES 14-19. Deadpool reassembles himself.

Kraven picked up Deadpool’s severed body parts last issue; it was Omega Red who was responsible for his dismemberment. Apparently Deadpool can currently survive for really extended periods in this form; stories tend to vary wildly about that sort of thing.

PAGES 20-21. Beast and Sage in the Green Lagoon.

We’ve covered most of this already. Of course, the idea that Beast is unrecognisable from his earlier personality is a frequent observation.

PAGE 22. Data page. Colossus warns Beast not to be racist to the Russians.

PAGES 23-24. Kraven interrogates Deadpool.

Is poor Deadpool going to do anything in Percy’s stories other than get beaten up and dismembered? Anyway, Kraven figures out that he can use Deadpool to get to Krakoa and fulfil his dream of hunting the Beast.

PAGE 25. Trailers.

Bring on the comments

  1. Mike Loughlin says:

    I’m tired of reading about evil, scheming Beast. I want the Colossus plot resolved.* I’m over Omega Red. Deadpool’s never been a favorite. I don’t think Josh Cassara’s coming back anytime soon.**

    And yet, I keep buying X-Force. Damn you, sunk cost fallacy!

    * I know the book’s main plotlines aren’t going to get resolved during a crossover, I just want them to be done.

    **At least Robert Gill’s art has improved A lot since his earlier work on this series.

  2. Jeff says:

    @Mike – The good news for you is that Cassara is hopping over to X-Men so you don’t have to subject yourself to this for his artwork.

    I guess there’s an audience for Percy’s X-work, but it’s definitely not me. I think he’s really responsible for the “X-Men have gotten sloppy and die horrific deaths all the time” and “the characters are all species-ist jerks.” Which was maybe sprinkled in Hickman’s work but is pretty constant here and with characters who were not that way before. I never bought any of his books but flipping through them at the store and reading the summaries here is depressing.

  3. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    I don’t think you can blame Percy for the stuff Hickman absolutely started.

    He just ran with the ball, and doesn’t do the artsy bullshit to distract you into thinking it’s smart.

    Also he’s just, you know, a bad writer.

  4. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I wonder if Marvel told Percy to keep the Russian plot on the back burner after Russia invaded Ukraine, hoping the war will be short and they could get back on track a few months later without seeming to be political. And now they’re stuck.

    The reason I wonder this is – X-Force feels like it’s going from one bullshit filler arc to another. When was the last time something actually got meaningfully developed here?

    But if that was the case – why not go back to the abandoned Xeno plot? Unless the Peacock was actually colonel Vazhin or a resurrected Yeltsin…

  5. Eric G says:

    Wolverine #24 is on the AXE crossover checklist before this issue, listed as an August book. So the timing is apparently already somewhat messed up.

  6. The Other Michael says:

    It’s honestly amazing how they keep finding ways to make Beast even more awful as a person. His attitudes in this run and this issue are just… yikes.

    I mean, it’s almost impossible to recognize the in-some-ways-classic bouncy, happy-go-lucky Beast of the Avengers and Defenders with this current depiction.

  7. Jenny says:

    Honestly I could see a later writer doing an ass-pull and say that this was Dark Beast all along.

  8. Omar Karindu says:

    I keep coming back around to how we got here with “evil, scheming Beast.” It seems like a few things had to happen for that, to wit:

    * Dark Beast from AoA being one of the things from that era that “stuck”

    * Morrison liking the “Beast of the Apocalypse” symbolism enough to have Hank as the character corrupted into a Sublime host in an alternate future, becoming the final form of the main villain of their run

    * Bendis seemingly just…not liking the Beast, first killing him off in the Ultimate Universe, then having Hank cross lots of lines in reaction to Cyclops after AvX

    * A general tendency in which the smart science-guy heroes of the Silver Age all seem to be written as very screwed up, morally flawed people in general by a wide range of writers

    That last bit is the part that confuses mel; a lot of the work to take down, say, Xavier or Reed Richards r Tony Stark as paragons of morality is rooted in the very messed-up ways they were portrayed in the older comics, congruent with messed-up social attitudes.

    Taking down the Silver Age patriarchal figures has mostly been a matter of simply rereading their old appearances — full of imperiousness, creepiness and condescension to other characters, and so forth — in modern contexts. (The clumsy insertion of terrible secrets in their pasts has always been the less-convincing, hackier way of doing this work.)

    But Beast? I mean, he was a smart teenager, then he was a guy who accidentally mutated himself into someone who couldn’t pass for human anymore and had to come to terms with it, then he was the Avenger with the inferiority complex, and finally he found a place in the X-books as the resident friendly science guy, but hardly a guy who tried to run everything his way.

    It’s hard to understand why so many writers seem to want Beast to play the part of an toxically amoral or self-righteous character.

    It’s especially odd when the current Krakoan setup has the likes of Sinister and a slew of other villains right freakin’ there to play these kinds of roles.

  9. Devin says:

    The Man with the Peacock Tattoo is currently appearing in the Ms. Marvel crossover mini — he’s in the Moon Knight one.

  10. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I know, I meant that Percy seems to have abandoned his own storyline.

  11. Michael says:

    But the Russian stuff HAS been mentioned in Immortal X-Men and New Mutants. Maybe the writers have been arguing about who gets to resolve that plotline?

  12. Thom H. says:

    I think Beast is stuck in a character rut like most of the O5 X-Men: He’s making choices of dubious morality [again], Bobby’s finally finding his true potential [again], Warren has to resist his evil side [again], Jean better not get too powerful or she’ll become Phoenix [again].

    Not all of those are happening currently, but they’ve all happened about 100 times apiece. The question that (almost) no writer seems to ask is: and *then* what? After a while, it makes everyone look kind of stupid for not noticing the pattern or doing something about it. Like, none of Beast’s friends are concerned that he’s casually dabbling in genocide these days? Okay…

  13. Loz says:

    If this current Beast storyline at least gives Cyclops a chance to laugh and say “See Hank! Do I need to go and bugger the timeline and bring the Original 5 back again so you can see how it feels?” then I’ll be happy.

    I have no problem with Dark regular Beast and if the Council are so busy giving the evil eye to the obvious villains on it that they fail to spot Beast go a bit purity of the species behind their back that might be interesting, it’ll probably end with Beast going “what have I done?” and Logan cutting his head off to teach him a lesson and then he can be dead for a bit as no-one clearly has any other ideas for what to do with him and hasn’t for the last decade.

  14. YLu says:

    @Omar Karindu

    I think it’s partly that writers just like making the science guys morally compromised because they can drive plot easily in ways other characters can’t. Their science skills allow them to Do Stuff. Dark Colossus can just punch a bunch of people. (They had to contrive a whole situation to make him an unlikely Quiet Council member to give his corruption weight.) A dark scientist can design surveillance devices, make doomsday machines, etc.

  15. Omar Karindu says:

    YLu said: I think it’s partly that writers just like making the science guys morally compromised because they can drive plot easily in ways other characters can’t. Their science skills allow them to Do Stuff. Dark Colossus can just punch a bunch of people. (They had to contrive a whole situation to make him an unlikely Quiet Council member to give his corruption weight.) A dark scientist can design surveillance devices, make doomsday machines, etc.

    That makes quite a bit of sense, and resembles the ways writers also tend to do a lot of stories where heroic telepaths and mystics go bad.

    It’s a bit grating when it seems to happen, inevitably, to every science hero, particularly when there are plenty of actual scientist villains sitting around, or even deliberately shady, arrogant X-team characters like Dr. Nemesis.

    The net effect is that science-genius characters have just become morally ambivalent or suspect as an entire character type.

    This leaves no room for a character like the Beast used to be, someone dealing with their insecurities by embracing joie-de-vivre and intellectual curiosity.

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