RSS Feed
Nov 29

Realm of X #4 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 by Paul in Annotations

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

“The Promised Day”
Writer: Torunn Grønbekk
Artists: Diógenes Neves & Rafael Pimentel
Colour artists: Rain Beredo & Dono Sánchez-Almara
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Lauren Amaro

COVER / PAGE 1: Saturnyne watches as the cast are trapped in an hourglass. This doesn’t really have much to do with the story.

PAGE 2. Sif learns what’s happening in Vanaheim.

Sif took over as guardian of the Bifrost in King Thor #4 (2019) following the death of her brother Heimdall, and now has the same all-seeing powers that he used to. The Bifrost itself has actually been destroyed for most of her tenure, but it was recently restored in Immortal Thor #1. Although we don’t see the Bifrost in this issue, it’s mentioned twice as something that exists, so evidently we’re after that issue. That also means that Thor is wrongly drawn in the costume from his previous series throughout this issue, though that’s a minor error; he’s allowed to have more than one set of clothes.

Saturnyne has been magically preventing communication between Asgard and Vanaheim throughout this series, which we’ve seen mainly in the form of the prayers and messages from Vanaheim failing to generate a response from Thor. Curse used her powers to shut down that effect at the end of issue #3; Saturnyne’s “What did you do?” line is repeated from that issue.

Magik. Last issue also ended with Magik falling to her death, and remembering Belasco teaching her how to harness the misery of the world. As we see later on, she’s able to use this to harness some magical power from the world around her, temporarily replacing her normal magic, which has been blocked by Saturnyne throughout the series.

PAGE 3. Recap and credits.

PAGES 4-5. Saturnyne yells at Curse.

The woman hanging in the background in panel 2 is Joanna, the prophetess who has spent the last two issues taunting Saturnyne about her doomed efforts to escape the prophecies. Joanna’s point was mainly that Saturnyne had failed to grasp the fact that she needed to sacrifice something in order to change her fate; Saturnyne continues here to insist that somebody else needs to be doing the sacrificing.

It’s never made entirely clear what Saturnyne is trying to achieve here, but Tsanna’s diary entry later in the issue suggests that Saturnyne may genuinely believe that she’s acting for some long-term greater good, or at least that she has a rationalisation for her actions. She certainly seems to think that Curse is potentialy persuadable.

Dust. The content of the bottle is a part of Dust which was captured by Saturnyne in the previous issue.

PAGE 6. Magik harnesses her powers.

I think the art is meant to show Magik halting her fall just before she hits the ground.

PAGE 7. Saturnyne tells Tsanna that they will drain power from Vanaheim itself.

Okay, so. It’s been clear since issue #2 that Saturnyne’s immediate goal was to get Curse to use her power to enable access to an “ancient power source” which was at the centre of the citadel. The glowing energy thing seen in that issue (and later in this one) is not the source itself, but a portal, through which the source can be seen but not accessed. Saturnyne told Curse in issue #2 that the source had limitless power if they could bring it back, and that they needed it in order to “stand a chance in the coming war”. The narrator described this as a half-truth. In issue #3, Saturnyne tells Magik that she is “creating something new. A new realm. A new home. A new centre of operations.”

Draining the power of Vanaheim itself is presumably the “other alternative” that Saturnyne mentioned to Tsanna in issue #3 – which Tsanna didn’t seem very happy about. The “Fate of Vanaheim” prophecy in issue #3 also mentions Saturnyne’s army “drain[ing] the realm of life”. The narrator in that issue also confirms that Saturnyne believes that Vanaheim will be destroyed unless Curse can be persuaded to provide access to the source, although that could be read as Saturnyne refusing to countenance the possibility of just giving up on her plans.

PAGE 8. Data page. Tsanna’s diary entry. Tsanna seems to be a true believer in Saturnyne’s overall good intentions, and genuinely thinks that her plans are leading to the greater good in the long run. She claims that Saturnyne plans to turn Vanaheim into “the centre of the joined universes”, which apparently means some kind of interdimensional nexus under her control. Quite why that’s desirable, or what it’s intended to achieve, is not made clear. It may simply be a case of Saturnyne trying to restore a version of her control of Otherworld, perhaps in a genuine belief that somebody needs to do and that she’s the best qualified.

PAGE 9. Vonos and Mary.

These two have been flirting throughout the series. Although it’s not mentioned explicitly, the important point here seems to be that over in X-Men and Invincible Iron Man, the Kingpin appears to be genuinely concerned about rescuing his beloved wife or at least avenging her – it’s his whole motivation for allying with the surviving mutants. In contrast, in Realm of X, Mary seems to have entirely forgotten about him.

PAGE 10. Saturnyne’s forces attack.


PAGE 11. Magik rescues Curse.

Magik advises Curse not to try and recover the power source, on the grounds that whoever locked it away presumably knew what they were doing.

PAGES 12-15. The battle continues, and Saturnyne makes one last pitch to Curse.

Vonos is apparently killed in page 15 panel 1. That’ll teach him to be inconvenient to the wider plot. His death is confirmed on page 20 panel 2, where he’s specifically flagged as an example of something that Magik can’t revive.

PAGE 16. Thor and Freyja come to the rescue.

Marvel’s version of Freyja is currently the God of the Hunt, as of Thor #16 (2021), though she hasn’t done much of note in that role. The mythological Freyja is one of the Vanir, and thus a native of Vanaheim.

PAGES 17-18. Saturnyne tries to kill Curse.

Ignoring Magik’s warning from page 11, Curse uses her powers to access the power source, but gives it to Magik. Curse then keels over because the rule that she suffers pain when using her powers for good.

PAGES 19-21. Magik uses the source to restore life to Vanaheim.

Apparently, freeing the source wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

The “Fate of Vanaheim” prophecy in issue #3 referred to the world being “remade”, which is obviously what happens here. The idea seems to be that the death of most of Vanaheim, and its replacement with new life, somehow creates an interruption in the ability of Vanaheim’s seers to see the future.

“A memory of an acorn flickers through her mind. Magik once tried to make a tree grow.” This refers back to a scene in the Magik origin miniseries where she tries to create an acorn but is unable to do so because of her demonic corruption. Apparently, this time round everything is going just fine. (I mean, I suppose it’s possible we’re laying the ground work for a sequel, but don’t hold your breath.)

PAGES 22-23. Epilogue.

Freyja updates the mutants on the plot of “Fall of X”, and naturally they want to go back and help (including Typhoid, to be fair).

PAGE 24. Data page: another set of annotations by Frider Frostborn, now the librarian of a collection of prophecies all of which are historic.

The “white room” is obviously the White Hot Room in Immortal X-Men and Jean Grey. The “island lonely” is Krakoa. “The anger and hurt of a family found” is probably something to do with the reunion of Typhoid and the Kingpin.

PAGE 25. Trailers. Since this is the final issue, we’re directed to X-Men #29, and the Krakoan just says DOOM.


Bring on the comments

  1. Michael says:

    Can someone please explain to me what the point of establishing that Magik is tapping a dark and unstable source of magic was? In practice it works just like her usual magic and makes her look like an idiot for not thinking of this 3 issues ago.
    Frider mentions being able to see a white room. The entire point of the White Hot Room in Fall of X is that it’s outside of space and time and therefore cannot be perceived by precogs.Then again, she mentions that her vision was clouded and she didn’t understand it, so maybe that’s what happens when a precog tries to perceive the White Hot Room.
    I don’t think the “anger and hurt” of a family found has to do with the Kingpin, but we’ll see.
    And now it’s obvious why this series exists. The current Gang War crossover in the Spider-Man books is about the conflict between Madame Masque and Janice Lincoln, the current Beetle. But according to the solicits, Kingpin and Typhoid Mary are going to be appearing in future parts of the crossover. Apparently Marvel didn’t think that Madame Masque and Janice could sustain a major crossover all by themselves ,so they wanted Kingpin and Typhoid Mary brought in. But Fall of X required that Mary disappear so that the Kingpin would ally himself with the X-Men. And it doesn’t look like the mutants in the White Hot Room are coming back until Fall of the House of X. So Mary had to be sent somewhere and then return in time to appear in the Spider-Books. Hence, this series.

  2. Diana says:

    The strange thing is, there could’ve been a much simpler explanation for Mary’s behavior with Vonos – namely, that it’s one of her alters. Maybe not Bloody Mary, but Typhoid Mary used to bounce between Kingpin and Daredevil all the time, it would be far less of a stretch for that persona to flirt with some rando

  3. The Other Michael says:

    Well, this was a series which certainly happened. Why it happened, I’m not entirely sure. I don’t buy that it existed solely to move Mary off the board for this period of time, since that’s a lot of effort for such a relatively minor character.

    I agree that it feels weird to see Mary flirting with a rando who’s not Fisk, and the best explanation would have been that it was one of her alters popping up for the duration.

  4. Mike Loughlin says:

    Why were Marrow & Dani in this series? They did almost nothing. How did the prophecy connect to the mutant characters? Barely. Will Magik keep the power derived from Vanaheim? Doubtful. Did Typhoid Mary change or learn anything from seeing that guy she flirted with dead? Again, doubtful.

    I’m not a big continuity wonk, and I can appreciate a narrative.cul-de-sac if it’s done well. This series, however?Waste of time.

  5. MasterMahan says:

    Well, as the mutant fantasy successor to Excalibur, Knights of X, and Betsy Braddock, this certainly captured the plotting style of its predecessors.

  6. JD says:

    Dani is in this series because of the Valkyrie connection, even if she doesn’t actually do much.

    Marrow, I have no clue.

  7. Luis Dantas says:

    I liked this closing issue better than the previous ones, although I have to agree that the series does not accomplish a lot – or, rather, that it does not feel like it does. Objectively, quite a lot happens, perhaps even more than we initially notice.

    The main achievement, both succesfull and flawed, was introducing X-Men fans to the writing of Torun Grønbekk and fans of Grønbekk to the X-characters. She is a considerably good writer of fantasy, which is no small feat; the genre is difficult to write for. This series reminded me of the “Death of Doctor Strange” tie-ins, which were just a bunch of spotlights of various corners of the Marvel Universe paying lip service to the connection to Doc’s death. It is a showcase, a bit of internal publicity, an attempt at promoting cross-pollination and diversity of (literary) genres among segments of Marvel’s readers, not entirely unlike the various “Strange Academy” books. Marvel has given indications that it wants to connect the MCU and X-Men franchises, and this series to some extent reflects that goal – as do the connections of Fall of X with Captain America, Spider-Man and Iron Man.

    It is smart management, I must add. Not only because it is wise to maintain a fair variety of literary genres in the published books so that they don’t undercut each other’s potential sales too much, but also because some characters simply work better in that genre. Thor seems to have drifted towards it in recent years and that is probably a good thing.

    Beyond that? We have Mary dealing with the X-characters and being surprisingly human, at least in these trailing issues. She doesn’t do much and maybe that is the point. It is hard to tell whether this is one of the five established personalities, some alternation among them, or some other situation. For all we know this unusual environment may have rearranged her inner landscape. I can hardly tell from what is in the page; the one trait that comes across is her apparently innocent flirting. It is possible and perhaps likely that she literally does not remember ever having met Kingpin, at least in these final issues.

    Torun is also writing the just-released new Carnage series, which is a far better read than the character warrants, so I don’t think that Mary’s placement here is as random as it seems; she, too, seems to be broadening her writing – or perhaps Marvel is encouraging her to.

    So, overall, not a great series, but not a bad one either – and perhaps also a significant stepping stone for better things to come. If nothing else, Torun has her own style and voice and is not just giving us more of the same that works elsewhere.

  8. Michael says:

    What’s weird about Marrow is that she was supposed to appear in Dark X-Men, where she would be reunited with Callisto, and Torunn had to fight for her to appear here. Why fight for a character and then do nothing with her? Literally any female mutant could have played the role Marrow did.
    @Luis- Realm of X, by all accounts, was the worst selling and most critically bashed of the Fall of X minis, so I doubt Torunn will be getting another assignment from the X-Office soon.

  9. wwk5d says:

    This series was so pointless more than anything else. And I really wanted to like it, given how much I enjoy Dani and Illyana as characters (and even Marrow to a certain degree). As with the Jean Grey mini, my reaction to this was basically “But, why?”.

  10. Luis Dantas says:

    You may well be right, @Michael – although I would put the Jean Grey series well behind this one – but I would offer that Marvel and Torunn both may be taking other factors into account, and bringing a different set of expectations to the table.

    This book does not seem to have been marketed particularly strongly not with too much expectation of being a X-book (which is only fair; it isn’t much of a X-Book). If the longevity of other recent fantasy books by Marvel is any indication (such as “Mighty Valkyries”, co-written by Torunn in 2021), that genre just isn’t all that hot right now.

    I am just guessing, of course (no data whatsoever on the sales) but it is very conceivable that this series fulfilled all that Marvel and Torunn expected of it and then some.

    It may have been a mistake to label it as a Fall of X book, though.

  11. Mathias X says:

    What’s the point of making Saturnye a cackling villain here? I barely remember Knights of X here, but I was under the impression she was allied with Betsy to try to take back Otherworld.

  12. Luis Dantas says:

    I don’t know that there is a point, but I suppose that there is no contradiction as such. Saturnyne just happens to have made a hobby out of attempting to conquer mystical realms recklessly…

  13. Diana says:

    @Luis: If Realm of X is Grønbekk introducing herself to X-Men readers, I don’t think she put her best foot forward. She had a remarkably diverse team at her disposal (two New Mutants, a Morlock, an Academy X graduate, a Daredevil villain and one of the newest additions in Curse), and proceeded to do almost nothing with them. It’s one thing to have a throwaway plot in a throwaway mini, but to waste so many opportunities for character interaction and development tells me Grønbekk doesn’t really know her cast at all

  14. Diana says:

    @Michael: Honestly, Foxe should’ve gotten Marrow and Grønbekk should have taken Mercury, for any stabbing-related needs, it’s not like anyone else is using her

  15. neutrino says:

    @Luis Saturnyne was never reckless before Tini Howard.

  16. JohanL says:

    Not sure how it’s possible to have Illyana and Dani and still have it be so dull and boring.

  17. Taibak says:

    neutrino is right on this one. Saturnyne is supposed to be cold, calculating, and ruthless. Recklessness would be WAY out of character for her.

  18. Pseu42 says:

    That Joanna lady is supposed to be a ghost, right? Did we ever find out why/how she ended up hanging around Saturnyne? Did Saturnyne summon her for information? Is she just attached to that castle Saturnyne was using? What happens to her when Saturnyne peaces-out at the end of this issue?

  19. Karl_H says:

    I found the plot here to be difficult to follow, and based on the amount of inference and guesswork Paul made in his summary, I’m not alone.

  20. Pseu42 says:

    I think that the influence of “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” on this story is quite strong and shouldn’t be overlooked. Both stories have White Witches dominating their respective realms. Both White Witches need to subvert a bratty, imperfect youngster (Edmund, Curse) to fully carry out their plans. In both cases Spring returns to the land.

    Realms, naturally, doesn’t have an Aslan figure.

Leave a Reply