Victor LaValle (story), Leonard Ki (art)
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This was a series with a fantastic premise but one that I think in short, the team possibly didn’t know what to really do with – I mean they did something with it and all, but was it the right choice?
For those who have been not reading the revamped and totally retooled X-Men line of books, the world has changed and the mutants now have their own island nation, language, culture, science and are the most dynamic and intriguing societies on Earth. It is a free and seemingly egalitarian society (albiet with some uneasy elements) but the starting point was that all mutants are welcome and free of their past so long as they abide by the new laws of the land – and of course our resident ultraviolent sociopathic murder-machine, a.k.a Victor Creed, a.k.a, Sabretooth is the first to be faced with charges and thus found himself pulled into the heart of the living island that is Krakoa and kept in a kind of purgatory.
His body is effectively comatose (is that the right word?) but his mind is in a mental prison he can’t escape and he is supposed to be here for effectively eternity. But he is Sabretooth. He creates and carves out a whole new hell within this dream world, he runs rampant and then when new mutants are punished and sent to this dream-prison kind of place, they must contend with the pure carnage and chaos that is Sabretooth.
I can’t help but feel that this series was a great premise but between the narrative choices and the clearly longer-term plan in place with the fact that this story ends with a big cliff-hanger-like finale as well as a teaser for the future, it’s like a placeholder or first chapter kind of tale.
The stark flaws of the series I think struck me harder because the tone of the first 2 issues into the 3rd issue and then the final two was a drastic shift in story quality and focus. We start out with Victor being thrown into purgatory and given the kind of character he is in a society that does not want to kill nor be exactly like the human style prison system that’s deeply flawed, this was a fantastic exploration of possible avenues of incarceration and a metaphorical view of what prison can do to a mind. It was also a great little chink in the armour that is Krakoas image as a free and fair society – most strongly evident when we see the other mutants get incarcerated, though the bulk way in which they were all imprisoned at the same time pretty much was my first sore point in the story. It’s wierd and highly unlikely but fine.
Then we have the whole dynamic with Victor and Cypher (a.k.a Doug Ramsey, a.k.a, the voice of Krakoa) and all that’s taking place – I feel like there was a purpose and a message to their interaction and all but it made little to no sense to me. There’s the nature of the prison where no one, not even Xavier can see what’s happening inside that felt so strange to me and a missed opportunity. There was the types of crimes for which these mutants were thrown into this purgatory that seemed not just in contrast to Krakoas mores but downright contrary and more than a tad wierd/forced. Plus there’s almost a jumpy nature to the second half of this 5-issue mini series that feels like one of those poorly edited B-movies where you can see there were some good ideas in there but you didn’t know how to flesh it out and ended up with a chopped up feeling narrative that bounces around and doesn’t quite feel right or coherent enough. By the end, I had no one to cheer for, potentially interesting lesser-known mutants that we never got to really know and then several more that were like props that never got explored as well as a prophetic vision, barely anything resembling action and some kind of confusing attempt at a “message” that seems to have totally sailed over my head.
As to the art, I have very little to say because it was serviceable but at times, inconsistent. It was not bad but there was nothing except for perhaps the odd section again in the first issue or two that was at all striking and it left sadly little impression on me.
IN THE END:
This was a book that had many kinds of potential to it. Like the Black Bolt mini written by Saladin Ahmed, this could have been a fantastic exploration about a different kind of prison and could have even been just a fantastic meditation on being in a prison, period. It could have been a perspective on the Krakoan society and their choices and the flaws and cracks in it that were contrary to the veneer of perfection they had tried to craft.
It was in fragments, all of the above and in the end, not really any of them. It’s not a bad read per-se, but did I want to read more of the same? No.
Would it motivate me to read the next installment? Unlikely.
Would I recommend it? Probably only to die-hard X-fans who have to at least try it all (as I have been) OR to fans of Sabretooth, probably worth it for some decent character moments for him and they’re clearly planning much for him that starts here.
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