RSS Feed
Oct 1

X-Men #15 annotations

Posted on Saturday, October 1, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-MEN vol 6 #15
“Collapse Theory”
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Joshua Cassara
Colourist: Guru-eFX
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Design: Tom Muller with Jay Bowen
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1. The Children of the Vault with the defeated X-Men. Don’t worry, it’s only a dream.

PAGE 2. Data page. An opening quote from Forge. Note that he’s treating Krakoa as a government like any other. When Forge was first introduced, he was a weapon designer for the US government, and he designed the neutraliser device that led Storm to lose her powers for a while.

PAGE 3. Forge and Cyclops make their way through the jungle.

This is apparently part of the simulation which Forge creates for the Children of the Vault (as explained later), but it’s repeated on page 16 in the real world.

“You wanted to know what I was doing for the Council so much that you put me on the X-Men.” Cyclops did indeed nominate Forge onto the X-Men without asking him in X-Men: Hellfire Gala, leading Forge to assure Professor X that it wouldn’t interfere with “Project Blackbox.” We’ll find out in this issue what Project Blackbox actually is.

PAGES 4-5. Forge explains his big gun.

This is part of the simulation, as we’ll establish on page 16.

The Vault is the home of the posthuman Children of the Vault; at least in Jonathan Hickman’s run, posthumanity (i.e., technologically advanced humans) were presented as one of the main threats to mutants. The Vault has a time dilation effect allowing the Children to develop for centuries before making each excursion into the outside world. The giant ruined Sentinel is the one that Cassandra Nova used in New X-Men #114 (2001); the Children relocated there in X-Men #193 (2007)

In the previous volume of X-Men, Synch, Darwin and Wolverine (Laura) entered the Vault in issue #5 (2020) and got stuck there for centuries in subjective time before Synch and Wolverine escaped in issues #18-19 (2021). Synch remembers this, Wolverine doesn’t, and Darwin was left behind.

“If Cable sees it, he’s gonna want it.” Just in case anyone reading this is really new, the idea that Cable is obsessed with big guns is a running gag stemming from the art style of his creator Rob Liefeld back in the early 1990s.

“And please don’t go blabbing about this to Ben Urich.” Cyclops told Ben Urich about resurrection in issue #12.

“Humans already knew about resurrection.” Cyclops is correct, in the sense that Orchis had already figured it out and were planning to expose it to the wider population anyway.

PAGES 6-7. The Children of the Vault emerge.

The Children of the Vault have different iterations each time they emerge, due to the development they’ve undergone in the meantime. From left to right in page 6 panel 2, these characters are:

  • Aguja, the blonde in the green costume.
  • Martillo, the balding guy.
  • Fuego, the guy whose head is on fire.
  • Serafina, in the monochrome stripey design.
  • Cadena, with the bubble helmet.
  • Perro, the strong guy.
  • Sangre, the guy with the circles.

PAGE 8. Recap and credits.

PAGE 9. The Children conquer Krakoa.

This is part of the illusion. I wouldn’t have done this story straight after Judgment Day, personally – it’s too similar to the extended assault on Krakoa that we’ve just read.

The appearance of Kid Omega is anomalous since he’s currently missing in X-Force. But that said, this story follows Judgment Day (since the previous issue was a tie-in) and it’s entirely possible he’s back by this point.

PAGE 10. The Children defeat the Avengers.

What we actually see is Fuego defeating Ghost Rider, who isn’t currently a member of the Avengers (having disappeared off into the timestream in Avengers #50).

PAGE 11. The Children defeat the Fantastic Four.


PAGE 12. The Children defeat Dr Doom.

The unnamed woman fighting alongside him is Clea, currently the Sorcerer Supreme over in Strange.

PAGE 13. The Children conquer Asgard.

In narration, Forge is basically making the case that the Children’s behaviour within his simulation justifies (or at least vindicates) his decision to create it in the first place.

PAGES 14-15. Flashback: Professor X and Forge discuss Professor X’s plan.

It’s not clear when this takes place – Forge’s mention of the cradles as a recent “success” might suggest that it’s very early in Krakoan history, since they’re part of the resurrection process. On the other hand, since Xavier is seen unmasked, it has to be after his assassination and resurrection in X-Force #1-2 (before that, he was in a different body). At any rate, this is apparently so secret a project that Professor X is meeting Forge off the island, and removing his helmet (which he almost never does).

Professor X’s telekinesis. Professor X is not normally shown with telekinetic powers, obviously, but this is a less-than-prominent subplot of the Hickman era. In Powers of X #1, he does apparently grab a small data stick from Mystique telekinetically. You could explain that scene as Magneto moving the device, but that’s not really the suggestion given by the body language. More to the point, on page 11 of Inferno #4, he really does seem to be using psychic powers to tear Nimrod apart.

PAGES 16-17. Cyclops and Forge arrive at the dome for real.

“Some of our brightest minds believe we’re living in a simulated universe…” This is the simulation hypothesis, as popularised by Nick Bostrom. Bostrom doesn’t actually go as far as to argue that we do live in a simulated universe, merely that we have no way of knowing whether we do or not. The argument is essentially that if future generations have the capacity to create such a thing – which Bostrom says is unknowable – then presumably such simulated universes will vastly outnumber the (one) real universe, in which case we would be much more likely to be in one of the simulations than in the real universe.

Wouldn’t a bright red dome this size be visible from space?

PAGES 18-19. The X-Men prepare to go in.

Magik is now wearing her new costume from New Mutants.

Forge’s plan to contain the Children is apparently premised entirely on Krakoa surviving forever. Um.

PAGES 20-21. The X-Men fight the Children.

PAGES 22-24. Forge enters the Vault.

Forge has apparently decapitated Caliban and incorporated him into this suit without consent – hence Jean’s disapproval. Caliban is presumably being used here because of his power to sense the presence of other mutants – with Darwin as the only mutant to sense, that should be enough for the job.

The liquid metal character watching Forge at the end is not immediately recognisable.

PAGE 25. Trailers.

Bring on the comments

  1. Michael says:

    “The appearance of Kid Omega is anomalous since he’s currently missing in X-Force. ”
    Of course, this is an illusion so he might still be missing.
    Is there a reason why Forge felt the need to keep Project BlackBox a secret from Scott? Even if he didn’t want to reveal the details, he could have just said, “Sorry I can’t be on your new X-Men team, Scott. Charles has me trying to find a way to rescue Darwin.”
    So New Mutants 25-28 take place between last issue and this issue? It’s odd that Scott and Alex don’t comment on Illyana’s decision to hand Limbo over to Maddie. I know this will be addressed in Dark Web but it’s still odd they don’t mention it. If you weren’t reading New Mutants, you’d just think Illyana got a new costume, not that she handed over Limbo to someone else.
    So does Illyana’s Soulsword hurt non-magical creatures or not? This has been portrayed inconsistently over the years and it seems to be hurting non-magic users here.

  2. GN says:

    Firestar has started wearing her new costume as well.

    Going by solicits, it looks like we are in for another Vault trilogy as issue 16 and 17 seem to be continuing this plotline.

    Issue 18 looks like a Synch issue (he did not come along for this Vault mission).

  3. GN says:

    Michael> So New Mutants 25-28 take place between last issue and this issue?

    That’s certainly my assumption. I believe the timeline looks something like this:

    X-MEN 12
    X-MEN: HELLFIRE GALA 1 (Hellfire Gala 2022)
    A.X.E. JUDGMENT DAY 1-6 + X-MEN 13-14 (Judgment Day)
    NEW MUTANTS 25-28 (The Labors of Magik)
    X-MEN 15-17 (COTV Trilogy 2)
    DARK WEB: X-MEN 1-3 (Dark Web)
    X-MEN 18

    So Magik gets elected to the X-Men during the Gala and then protects Krakoa against the Eternals immediately after. Once Judgment Day is over, she passes Limbo over to Maddie since she’s busy being an X-Man and a Captain. She gets a new costume during this process. Then, the X-Men return to the Vault.

    I’m sure Scott, Jean and Alex have had a conversation with Illyana regarding Limbo and Madelyne, it’s just not in this issue because that’s not what this issue is about. Similarly, they don’t talk about the ending of Judgment Day even though we are past that event in this issue. Duggan is writing a three-issue Dark Web tie-in, he’ll presumably expand on it there.

  4. GN says:

    Michael> Is there a reason why Forge felt the need to keep Project BlackBox a secret from Scott?

    Future issues might expand more on this but I THINK that the idea here is that it was kept a secret between Forge and the QC because the leaders of the X-Men (Jean and Scott) or even perhaps the Krakoan general public might disapprove of it.

    I mean if you look at this issue, Scott wasn’t happy about Forge potentially committing genocide on the Vault (does this break the ‘Kill No Man’ law or are post-humans exempt from it since they can resurrect themselves?).

    And Jean wasn’t happy about Forge using Caliban’s (and other mutants’) repurposed bodies in this manner, which technically breaks the ‘Respect This Sacred Land’ law (according to Nightcrawler’s interpretation that mutants were the sacred land).

    If Forge had simply told them he was getting Darwin out without going into details, they might have wanted to come along anyway since they’re the X-Men.

  5. Ceries says:

    The Children of the Vault are a really odd concept for the X-men.

    Like, sure, transhumanity is the natural opponent of the glorious natural superior race, blah blah blah. But then you get to the fact that they’re specifically Latinos (specifically, Chileans) and it gets more than a little uncomfortable.

    It’s like, okay, so these menacing superhumans with their scary Spanish names can’t be bargained with and desire nothing more than to replace mutants, the natural superior race, with their unnatural superiority. They’re like White Replacement Theory the supervillain team.

    I don’t know. I don’t think that Duggan deliberately set out to write a caricature of a racist conspiracy theory, or that their creator Mike Carey did (Hickman…maybe. He leaned into the supremacist aspects of X-men a lot during his run). But the result looks like a racist conspiracy theory.

  6. Michael says:

    “Issue 18 looks like a Synch issue (he did not come along for this Vault mission).”
    My guess is that in issue 17, we find out that the Laura inside the Vault never died and in issue 18, we have Synch’s reaction to that. (Although two Lauras raises obvious questions about the nature of the resurrections.)

  7. Chris V says:

    GN-The “kill no man” never applied to post-humanity, since Xavier and Magneto recognized the threat of post-humanity and were working to stop the rise of post-humanity. Post-humanity isn’t recognized as “human”. This was shown during House/Powers in the future Life Six when Nimrod refers to both mutants and humans as being the same but talks about post-humanity as a separate species from the two.

  8. GN says:

    Paul> The appearance of Kid Omega is anomalous since he’s currently missing in X-Force.

    I’m not sure what’s going on with Kid Omega. He should be gone right now (as reiterated in the latest X-Force issues) but somehow he still appears in Judgment Day and X-Men, in both illusion and real scenes.

    It’s possible that Percy came up with the ‘Quire gets deleted’ plot thread quite late and it was too late to change the artwork. I know Schiti started drawing JD last December and Cassara must have started drawing X-Men in February (since the Firestar reader vote was in January).

    Paul> What we actually see is Fuego defeating Ghost Rider, who isn’t currently a member of the Avengers (having disappeared off into the timestream in Avengers #50).

    Based on the costume, I think this is the Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider, who currently appears in the new Ben Percy ongoing. I don’t think he’s ever been an Avenger, which makes the ‘Avengers went down swinging’ caption on him really odd.

    The Avengers Ghost Rider, Robbie Reyes, did indeed disappear into the Multiverse, where he’s currently recruiting ‘Omni-Avengers’ to fight Mephisto in Aarons’ Avengers Forever. He’s not even a Ghost Rider anymore, but rather the All-Rider, the ‘Multiversal Spirit of Vengeance’.

  9. GN says:

    @Chris V – Yeah, you’re right. I just went back to have a look at Hickman’s X-Men 18 and there was a note from the Council that the ‘Murder No Man’ rule is being suspended temporarily for the Recon team (Synch, Wolverine, Darwin) for the duration of their Vault mission due to the nature of their mission and targets.

    It’s very likely that the Council issued a similar exemption to Forge for his mission given that they hired him in the first place.

    That said, Cyclops doesn’t necessarily have to agree with the Council’s decision.

  10. GN says:

    Michael> My guess is that in issue 17, we find out that the Laura inside the Vault never died and in issue 18, we have Synch’s reaction to that.

    That’s certainly very possible (X-Men 19 didn’t explicitly show Wolverine being killed, though it heavily implied it) and this could add a new dimension to Synch and Wolverine’s relationship.

    That said this story might be redundant given that the ‘two copies’ story is currently being done with Darwin.

    There’s currently a Darwin being experimented on within the Vault and a Darwin living somewhat peacefully on Krakoa (he was resurrected along with Synch and Laura in X-Men 19). Forge is trying to get Vault!Darwin out. What will happen if he succeeds? Will the two Darwins be merged? Will one of the Darwins have to be killed? How do you kill a mutant whose power is to be unkillable?

    (I’m assuming here that Duggan hasn’t forgotten or quietly retconned the fact that Darwin was indeed resurrected in Hickman’s run).

    Going back to the upcoming X-Men 18, I was thinking it could be a ‘What was Synch doing while the rest of the team was in the Vault?’ spotlight issue.

    There’s also the Synch reveal from the Hellfire Gala (that his body ages rapidly when he overuses his powers) that I’m sure we’ll explore in that issue.

  11. GN says:

    Getting Joshua Cassara over from X-Force to do the Vault issues was a really good idea. His body horror art style doesn’t work for every story but it really works here to sell the alien nature of the Children and Forge’s dome.

    Paul> The liquid metal character watching Forge at the end is not immediately recognisable.

    It sort of looks like Serafina to me. The latest iteration of her has metallic chrome skin. Doesn’t she also have invisibility/cloaking powers? This character seems to partially turning invisible in the last panel.

  12. Michael says:

    @GN- OK, I see the problem. In X-Men 19, Darwin’s fate is described as “final atomization”. And when Laura is resurrected, we see another person being resurrected but can’t clearly see their face. A lot of people assumed that Darwin was killed and the other person being resurrected was Darwin. But Darwin’s only appearance since then was a one-panel cameo at the Green Lagoon in a Women of Marvel Comics story- its not clear if the story takes place before or after the Children of the Vault story, and the person at the Green Lagoon isn’t referred to as Darwin, so it could be a shape shifting mutant. Duggan seems to be assuming that the Women of Marvel Comics story takes place before the Children of the Vault story and Darwin wasn’t killed and wasn’t resurrected but was still stuck in the Vault.

  13. David says:

    The thing is, Darwin was shown to be resurrected, implying that they believed he was killed. He was crawling out of an egg right behind Laura. So I think the most interesting story to tell would be that Forge enters the Vault for some other reason, happens to find Darwin, and then there’s a problem because they already made another Darwin. I guess we’re choosing to ignore that Darwin was resurrected and pretend he was always thought to have been lost.

    Still a really good issue tho.

  14. Michael says:

    But that’s my point- we saw SOMEONE resurrected alongside Darwin but we didn’t see their face clearly. And the one story in which Darwin has appeared in since was ambiguous as to when it took place.

  15. GN says:

    @Michael – Sorry for the late reply. I was busy with something.

    Regarding the resurrection, I think it’s fairly obvious what Hickman’s intentions were with that scene. There were three mutants being resurrected in the Arbor Magna: Synch, Wolverine, and a third one who was a bald, male mutant with chalk-white skin.

    That said, I do agree with you that there is an opportunity for a soft-retcon here if that is indeed what Duggan is going for (we have to read more issues to find out). I am open to the head-canon that Greymalkin coincidentally slipped and broke his neck at the same time that Synch emerged from the Vault.

    I also agree with you that there is a good chance Darwin didn’t die in the Vault. He was being atomized when the mutants found him but he had also been atomized and reconfigured 10728 times before that. I’m not even sure Darwin can die given the nature of his powers.

    However, the thing about this mission that makes it different from normal X-Men missions is that the Council enacted FORCE protocols for it (as per the date page in X-Men 18). This means that aside from the ‘Kill No Man’ rule being suspended, the ‘proof of death’ requirement to begin resurrection is also suspended. We can see this in Hickman’s Inferno 1, where X-Force was resurrected multiple times to attack ORCHIS without proof of death for the previous iteration.

    The entire purpose of this mission was to get recon data which the team accomplished by reading the Child Diamante’s mind. Xavier was simply waiting for any one mutant to exit the Vault before all three were resurrected. The one who actually left the Vault (in this case, Synch) was resurrected with his Vault memories intact so Krakoa could obtain the recon data. The other two were resurrected with their pre-Vault memories so that they can go on with their lives. This was done without X-Factor having to gather proof of their deaths due to the FORCE protocols.

    This has created a situation where either Laura or Darwin or both of them could still be alive in the Vault. Similarly, there is a possibility that there is a copy (or multiple copies) of X-Force still alive in the ORCHIS Forge. (As far as the Krakoans know anyway, we the readers know that Nimrod killed them all.)

    So, I can see Duggan’s story going two ways:

    1. Darwin was indeed resurrected, but the other Darwin might still be experimented on and used to upgrade the Children so the Council asked Forge to go in and get him out. The question then becomes – how do we reconcile the two Darwins?

    2. Darwin was never resurrected (a soft-retcon) so Council asked Forge to go in and get him out or get proof of his death so he can be resurrected.

    I prefer Scenario 1 but I can see Scenario 2 being the actual story. In both these cases though, there is the possibility of Laura having survived in the Vault.

  16. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    ‘a third one who was a bald, male mutant with chalk-white skin.’

    Which would be an error, wouldn’t it? Wasn’t the idea that Darwin turned chalk-white not because that’s he’s default post-x-gene activation, but because his body recognised that dark-skinned people are less safe in the US?
    At least he’s not chalk-white in his back-up origin, even after the mutation kicks in. Though to be fair, overall the coloring is… weird.

    But hey, Proteus doesn’t care which Wolverine should have adamantium, so what’s skin tone to him?

  17. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    *his default, obviously; coffee hasn’t kicked in yet

Leave a Reply