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Feb 22

X-Force #49 annotations

Posted on Thursday, February 22, 2024 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-FORCE vol 6 #49
“We Need to Talk About Beast”
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Robert Gill
Colour artist: GURU-eFX
Letterer: Joe Caramanga
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Mark Basso

COVER / PAGE 1. Beast and Wonder Man burst forth, with X-Force in the background. It’s a homage to the cover of Giant-Size X-Men #1.

PAGES 2-4. The Beast raids the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station.

This is the Krakoa-era Beast. He’s wearing the suit of Krakoan armour that he stole from the Greenhouse last issue. According to page 10, the component he steals here is a “nuclear reactor”; we see him on page 11 welding it into his “black hole gun”. The US military has experimented with portable nuclear reactors, but not that portable. Still, this is the Marvel Universe.

Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station is a real place. According to its website, it’s “America’s premier weapons station family [sic], and winner of the 2021 Commander, Navy Region Southwest Installation Excellence Award for Small Installations.” Basically, it provides weapons storage and support to the US Pacific fleet.

PAGE 5. Recap and credits.

PAGES 6-7. Sage and Wolverine discuss Beast.

They had a version of the same argument last issue. Since Wolverine’s whole arc is about redeeming himself from his life as a killer, you’d think he’d be more receptive to this sort of point (and he is more receptive to it here than he was last issue). But it’s been a recurring feature of the character that he tends to reject the possibility of rehabilitation in others, the implication being that he doesn’t really believe in it for himself either.

Black Tom has apparently only just woken up and found Beast II gone. He glosses over – or simply doesn’t remember – the fact that he told Beast II that he thought X-Force would probably kill him once they’d finished questioning him. Beast II certainly took him seriously, and refers to it on page 20.

PAGES 8-9. Beast II in Los Angeles.

As we’ll see, he’s looking for Wonder Man. The two gunmen on page 8 are Orchis soldiers.

PAGE 10. X-Force search for Beast II.

Everyone jumps to the conclusion that he’s looking for Beast Prime in order to join forces.

How on earth did Beast II get a 20-hour head start? How long was Black Tom asleep for? It’s not like Beast II drugged him.

PAGE 11. Beast Prime fits the nuclear reactor into his device. 

More of this later.

PAGES 12-13. X-Force head out after Beast.

Oddly, Kid Omega is left behind with Sage and Black Tom, despite normally being a field operative. No particular reason is given for this, but presumably the team are still concerned about Kid Omega following his collapse in issues #46-47.

PAGES 14-16. Beast is reunited with Wonder Man.

Beast and Wonder Man were best friends when Beast was in the Avengers in the early 80s, although this Beast is supposed to come from a little bit later, circa 1985. Still, it makes sense that Beast still thinks of Wonder Man as his closest friend, while for Wonder Man this is far in the past.

“I consider myself a good pacifist…” Percy doesn’t seem to be aware of quite how absolutist Wonder Man’s pacifism has been, since it was introduced in Uncanny Avengers back in 2013. While he uses his powers for rescue work and such like, and he’s willing to assist other superheroes up to a point, he normally flatly refuses to engage in combat personally. It’s miles out of character for him to proactively attack even an intruder in his apartment.

PAGES 17-18. Beast Prime records his motivations.

“Those mutants who were not killed by Orchis were exiled to Arakko, née Mars.” This is more or less true, at least as far as Beast Prime knows. The mutants who were marched through the gates in X-Men: Hellfire Gala 2023 didn’t die, but Beast doesn’t know that. The ones that Orchis captured subsequently were indeed dumped on Arakko, as seen in X-Men. There are plenty of other mutants who Orchis haven’t captured yet, but the thrust of this bit is true.

“Orchis hoped they would destroy themselves in a civil war. But that didn’t happen.” Again, this is broadly true. Orchis genuinely did intend to march the mutants through the gates to Arakko, and they don’t know why the gates were diverted. The plan was supposed to be to entice Genesis to Arakko to start a civil war that would wipe out the mutants, all as seen in various “Fall of X” issues of X-Men Red (represented here by a symbolic panel of that book’s cast).  In the event, Genesis was defeated.

“And when that didn’t happen, Orchis developed a Plan B. They occupied Phobos, a moon of Arakko, as a base from which they could surveil and police the mutants.” This is wrong. Orchis occupied Phobos in X-Men #6 (2022). I suspect this is meant to be Beast overegging the story for his future audience.

“Genesis led a violent uprising.” This is not exactly accurate. In the epilogue to X-Men Red #18, we’re told that the Great Ring exiled Genesis and her remaining Horsemen to Phobos, where they promptly slaughtered all the Orchis staff and seized control. But “uprising” is not really correct. Again, however, it fits better with the version of events that Beast is wanting to put forward to justify himself.

“So now, naturally, Orchis has developed a Plan C. Kill all mutants.” Bearing in mind that this story is before “Sabretooth War”, let alone Fall of the House of X, it’s not clear what exactly Beast has in mind here. He’s undoubtedly right that the AI contingent of Orchis, at the very least, would be happy to get rid of the mutants – but how much he’s speculating and how much he actually knows is hard to assess.

PAGE 19. Beast II explains the plot to Wonder Man.

“Namor is currently imprisoned.” Namor went to jail in Avengers Assemble Omega, the end of the Jason Aaron run on Avengers.

“I don’t really like to punch people anymore. I mean, unless I absolutely have to.” This really underplays Wonder Man’s pacifism, though it’s probably fair to say that other writers have suggested he might be willing to use force as an absolute last resort (in the same sense that Steve Rogers might be willing to kill if boxed into a corner).

PAGES 20-21. Beast II and Wonder Man steal a boat to find Beast Prime.

Beast believes that if he can stop Beast Prime then he’ll prove himself to X-Force and be accepted. X-Force assume he’s a villain and decide to attack.

PAGE 22. Beast Prime completes his Black Hole Gun.

He’s apparently planning to shove the remaining mutants into a black hole to keep them “safe” while he wiped out humanity and reclaims the Earth. Well, he is mad.

I don’t think Forge’s design for this is referencing anything in particular – it’s just a thing that Beast found lying around in the Krakoan archives.

PAGE 23. Trailers. The Krakoan reads VIOLENT ANSWERS.

Bring on the comments

  1. Chris V says:

    Black hole gun
    Won’t you come
    And wash away the humans?

  2. @Chris V

    Up vote! <3

  3. Michael says:

    Forge’s black hole gun was first seen in virtual reality in X-Men 15 and in reality in Children of the Vault 3. Note that it killed dozens of the Children of the Vault in Children of the Vault 3 but Beast has presumably modified it so that it will displace Arakko harmlessly. Hopefully.
    The circumstances that caused X-Force to go after Good Beast were extremely contrived. First, Black Tom assumes that Good Beast is evil just because he ran away after Tom suggested X-Force might kill him. Tom was a SUPER-VILLAIN for years. Has he really forgotten how most people react when you suggest you might kill them?
    Then, everyone decides to leave Quentin behind. I guess that’s to make it easier to justify Quentin not reading Good Beast’s mind.
    Then, at the end, X-Force decides Good Beast is up to no good and decides to kill him. This is extremely stupid. First, they can see Good Beast on camera. Can’t they see Wonder Man as well? Wouldn’t they realize that Good Beast probably brought Simon along to stop Evil Beast?
    Second, X-Force is unsure if they should kill Good Beast as well. Quentin recommends they kill Good Beast. Quentin can READ MINDS. Can’t he read Good Beast’s mind and Simon’s mind and see why they’re there? Note that in issue 47 Quentin was able to not only communicate with people from thousands of miles away but read Phoebe’s thoughts when Quentin was at the North Pole and Phoebe was on Mykines. And in Sabretooth War he was also able to communicate with people from thousands of miles away.

  4. Alexx Kay says:

    Is it just me, or is the relationship between Beast and Wonder Man playing like they used to be romantically involved?

  5. Midnighter says:

    “How on earth did Beast II get a 20-hour head start? How long was Black Tom asleep for? It’s not like Beast II drugged him.”

    Well, we don’t know how much time passes from when Black Tom wakes up and warns of Beast II’s escape to when Sage finds his tracks on global video surveillance systems. Between page 7 and page 8 it could be 20 hours or so.

  6. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Beasts fall into moral compromise could have been so interesting under a writer with a lick of subtlety.

    Now he’s a flat out genocidal maniac I guess.

  7. […] #49. (Annotations here.) The resurrected Classic Beast enlists the help of his best friend Wonder Man to take on the Krakoa […]

  8. MasterMahan says:

    @Alexx Kay: That’s how their relationship was usually written, honestly.

  9. Diana says:

    @Alexx Kay: They were lovers on at least one Earth (seen in Jeff Parker’s Exiles, if I recall correctly), so that tracks

  10. Luis Dantas says:

    Wonder Man and Beast used to hang with each other often during their time in the Avengers and a couple of times around 1998 and 1999, when Kurt Busiek brought Simon back to life and Beast was a sometimes-visitor to the Avengers book. They had a four-issue miniseries at that time.

    You could interpret that relationship as having homoerotic undertones, but that was not shown on-panel. The closest to such a hint was Beast kissing Simon on the mouth when he came back to life.

    But hey, that was about 25 years ago. Even in comics, people change.

  11. Mark Coale says:

    Back in the day when you do a buddy story without everyone looking for subtext. 🙂

  12. Diana says:

    @Mark Coale: Back in the day you had editorial mandates that explicitly forbade any portrayal of LGBT characters, let alone relationships. Not something to be nostalgic for, I should think.

  13. neutrino says:

    Toxic masculinity is right. Men getting closer than dudebros is gay.
    @Diana: That doesn’t mean every male friendship was coded. Jim Shooter instituted that ban, and he wrote them in the Avengers. The ban was more “don’t shout” than Shooter examining everything with a magnifying glass, requiring the writer to slip in microscopic subtext. J.M. DeMatteis was writing Captain America during Shooter’s tenure, and he introduced two roommates who were obviously gay, with the Red Skull calling one of them a “fop”.

  14. Thom H. says:

    Actually, back in the day lots of people were looking for subtext. You just didn’t know about it because there wasn’t an internet.

  15. Mark Coale says:

    Certainly as far back as Kirk/Spock slash fiction (I think where the term gets its name) in modern pop culture.

    Presumably, you probably had people in Victorian England saying it about Holmes and Watson. Further back? Don Quixote and Sancho Panza? The Knights of the Round Table? This wasn’t my area of pop culture study, so I’d defer to someone who did the research.

  16. neutrino says:

    But the writers of Kirk/Spock were aware it was fanfiction. Nobody claimed Roddenberry was coding their relationship to get past the network censors.

  17. Mark coale says:

    I asked Jess about this on blue sky and from his answer and others posting, as far back as the Greeks and also Gilgamesh. So, not surprisingly, as far back as popular culture goes back.

  18. neutrino says:

    Again, were those Greeks claiming that was the intent of Ovid et. al. that was suppressed by Jim Shooter?

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