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Nov 11

The X-Axis – w/c 6 November 2023

Posted on Saturday, November 11, 2023 by Paul in x-axis

It’s another more or less reasonable week for new releases. Brace yourself for next week, though, which has Alpha FlightAstonishing IcemanChildren of the VaultDark X-MenJean GreyUncanny Avengers and X-Men Unlimited. This time, though, we have just one Unlimited book and three Fall of X titles.

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #112. By Steve Foxe, Steve Orlando, Guillermo Sanna, Java Tartaglia & Travis Lanham. This is the first part of a Firestar arc tying in to “Fall of X”. Like the Sunfire arc, it’s written by Orlando and Foxe, who are both working on regular “Fall of X” titles, and so it seems as if Unlimited is going to be tying in a little more closely than it generally has in the past. In this case, it’s being used to do some material about the internal politics of Orchis and, I suspect, to tie up a Steve Orlando plotline that never quite made it into the normal titles but has seen a bit of play in the Infinity books.

We kick off with a bit of set-up for Firestar’s current status quo, even though it could probably have been skipped in an Infinity Comic (after all, if you’ve got access to this story, by definition you’ve got access to Hellfire Gala 2023). Still, it’s also used to set up Orchis’ attitude to her. Killian Devo isn’t at all convinced by the idea of parading Firestar around as a friendly mutant – doesn’t it undermine the message? Dr Stasis seems to regard her as a bit of a burden as well, but seems driven to honour the deal that he believes he made with her. But Firestar isn’t the only mutant in Orchis, and the higher ups are also starting to wonder why on Earth they let Judas Traveller in. So the supposedly loyal Firestar is seconded to Judas Traveller to try and figure out why he’s there and what he’s up to.

That’s an interesting wheels-within-wheels angle. I’m not quite so convinced about Traveller, in turn, promptly packing her off to deal with her ex fiancé Vance Astro, another mutant who’s rarely shown his head in the X-books. But sure, why not. There’s some promise in this set-up.

X-FORCE #46. (Annotations here.) You can tell that the end of Benjamin Percy’s multi-year run is on the horizon because we’re actually tying up the Mikhail / Chronicler plotline. And this is a largely successful resolution. Sure, Mikhail is defeated more by Chronicler than by Colossus himself, but that’s fine – Chronicler was clearly positioned as a victim all along, and I’m okay with him getting his revenge. Having Colossus overcome his control by force of will, or by Chronicler trying to make him do something too far out of character, might have worked too, but having him simply fail to break Chronicler’s hold works for me – it’s a starting point for his next arc now that he’s a functioning character again, and he does get his moment of retaliation.

If anything, parts of this issue feel a little rushed – most of X-Force have nothing to do in this arc, Deadpool is shoehorned into the plot in a way that doesn’t add anything, and the woman from Orchis would have been a lot more interesting if she’d stuck around to do something. I’m not quite sure I follow how Chronicler can just decide that he’s going to live a normal life in Paris in the middle of Fall of X, at the same time as telling us that he’s not going to planning to use his powers. We’ve literally got people fleeing the planet in other books in this event – surely it can’t be as simple as moving to the 3rd arrondissement?

But I like the idea of Chronicler, all the more because this high concept, meta idea is such a strange inclusion in Percy’s stories, yet someone seems to fit. Overall, it’s a satisfying pay off for a long-running story.

X-MEN RED #17. (Annotations here.) Apocalypse returns to Mars and helps to magically raise a new living island to take on Genesis. There’s something a bit wonky about the character choices for each of the elements – Vulcan is fire, and Sunfire is… earth? But Al Ewing makes that work with the idea that Apocalypse is just doing the best he can with what he’s got available. The threat of calling up Uranos and his weapons is disposed of rather quickly, and I’m still not entirely sold on Jon Ironfire as a character – he’s not especially relatable, I think – but the sequence with Apocalypse’s ritual has some lovely collage visuals, and the finale with Storm and her new island giant looks fantastic. And even though he isn’t a regular cast member, Apocalypse works in the spotlight here, because he really does seem fully developed in his way. I’m not sure Genesis can really handle the weight of being his counterpart, but that’s a problem for another issue.

UNCANNY SPIDER-MAN #3. (Annotations here.) So we’ve got Nightcrawler as an apparently popular Spider-Man hero, and Silver Sable trying to capture him by day while having an affair with him at night. Or going through the motions of trying to capture him by day, at least, but she seems to insist that she’s trying for real. While this story is obviously advancing the Hounds arc – which still feels like a weird use of Vulture – and setting up a revisit of Nightcrawler’s origin, it’s Kurt and Silver Sable who are at the heart of this issue, with some beautiful art on a five-page rooftop conversation. (Javier Pina also does a lovely, chunky Nimrod.) The “Fall of X” books work better when they lighten the mood, simply because they get terribly one-note when they don’t. Even though there’s an undercurrent in this book of Kurt being in denial about his problems, or at least putting off the day he has to actually solve them, he’s still one of the characters who ought to have an element of optimism to him. He’s literally got a magic hope sword, after all. It’s a subtler book where the depressing thing is the absence of any clear way forward for the character, but that remains partly below the surface.

Bring on the comments

  1. Michael says:

    The writers seem to have realized that several members of Orchis hadn’t been appearing since the Hellfire Gala and are taking steps to correct that. Nimrod appeared in last week’s X-Men and this week’s Uncanny Spdier-Man, Devo appeared in X-Men Unlimited 111 and 112, and Judas Traveler is appearing in this week’s Unlimited. The only one who hasn’t appeared is Alia Gregor, who’s been forgotten about since Inferno.
    I like the idea that Traveler’s claim to be helping Orchis because he doesn’t think mutants should be deities might be a lie- after all, the man’s power is illusion. Of course, if he is sincere, he probably wouldn’t approve of Stasis’s plan to become a Dominion.

  2. Joseph S says:

    Sunfire is an odd choice for earth, he and Vulcan could surely have been switched, except that earth is actually represented here by Sunfire+Redroot, which makes a bit more sense and gives a bit more payoff to the Unlimited story. Also pilot Storm’s kaiju is reminiscent of Emma Frost’s space battle in Storm/Brotherhood, also by Ewing, so perhaps there’s some thematic link there.

  3. Diana says:

    @Michael: The weird bit is, we already know Stasis can’t become a Dominion – posthumanity tried that in Moira’s sixth life, it didn’t work. The machine faction within ORCHIS have a shot, but Stasis doesn’t (or shouldn’t) know that.

  4. Chris V says:

    No. Post-humanity wanted to achieve Ascension (virtual immortality), meaning they would be assimilated by the Phalanx and downloaded as information into a Dominion (machine god). This plan would have succeeded had Logan not killed Moira to reset the timeline.
    That was Hickman’s version of the Dominion, based around artificial intelligence.

    Since Hickman left, other writers have concocted that there are other ways to become a Dominion. Sinister neatly became a Dominion by connecting the minds of everyone in the galaxy infected with the Sinister gene.
    There would be some way for post-humanity to create their own Dominion, outside the confines of becoming subservient to machine intelligence. The post-humanity from Moira’s Life Six just wasn’t aware of any alternatives.

  5. Michael says:

    BTW, isn’t Deadpool: Seven Slaughters also coming out next week? It features Domino and Maddie, so it probably should count as an X-Book.

  6. Rob says:

    I don’t understand how Redroot was supposed to function as Arakko’s translator when for all we’ve seen of her, she’s basically mute.

  7. Si says:

    I just realised, they missed a trick with Arakko, by not showing what Ares thought about them renaming his planet.

  8. GN says:

    @Rob: Redroot isn’t mute, we’ve seen her speak to both Summoner and Arakko in X of Swords: Stasis.

    She is an Omega-level botanopath, which allows her to speak to and control plant-life, which is presumably how she translates Arakko’s words into something the Great Ring understands.

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