X Of Words: A MVP Emerges As The Tournament Rages On In ‘X-Force’ #14, ‘Hellions’ #6, ‘Cable’ #6

by Tony Thornley

Last week we discovered that the tournament was much more than it appeared. This week, we get deep into the tournament, and see stunning sacrifices and betrayals.

Cover by Dustin Weaver & Edgar Delgado

X-Force #14

Written by Benjamin Percy & Gerry Duggan

Art by Joshua Cassara & Guru-eFx

Letters by Joe Caramagna

Now that we know what to expect out of the tournament, this issue lands better. Percy and Duggan cover a lot of ground here and go a little meta in the first fight again.

Magik faces Pogg Ur-Pogg again. This time though, she’s ready and hands the crocodile-Kaiju a loss. From there we see the tournament continue. There’s a spelling bee, an eating challenge, dance-off, catwalk challenge, a foot race and Gorgon %&*^s a rock. This much is clear though- Krakoa is in trouble… until Ororo Munroe steps up…

After last week’s stunning turnabout the team leans into the unpredictable nature of this contest and delivers a brilliant comedic issue, right up to the point that Storm and Death face each other once again. Percy and Duggan set each joke up, and Cassara and Guru knock each out. It’s not going to be for everybody, but it’s sharp, funny and really shows how much trouble Krakoa is in.

However, the issue concludes with Storm facing down Death again. The tone immediately shifts from comedy to stone cold serious. With Storm drunk/poisoned, the odds are stacked against her in her battle with- arguably- the most powerful Horseman. And yet, it’s Storm and this should come as no surprise.

Storm is a complete and total badass, wiping the floor with Death.

It gives a character who has had the backseat for the last year an opportunity to shine and she immediately proves that she is Marvel’s greatest female hero. It’s the best thing that could have happened to the story and I’m glad it did.

Cover by Stephen Segovia & Rain Beredo

Hellions #6

Written by Zeb Wells

Art by Carmen Carnero & David Curiel

Letters by Ariana Maher

While the war rages in Otherworld, Hellions comes in to remind us there’s much more going on. Sinister meeting what is essentially his Arakkoan counterpart takes the team to a bad place.

The Hellions have finally arrived in Amenth at great personal cost to everyone. There they discover Tarn and their Locus Vile. And they get their asses handed to them…

Wells continues to knock it out of the park with these issues. Tarn lands on the page fully formed, which really opens up the conflict between him and Sinister. We also unexpectedly see the team get torn to shreds. Only a few survive to leave Amenth, and when those mutants arrive back home… they’re met with betrayal at Sinister’s hands.

It’s a shock that I’m sure will play out more over the next few issues. However, it lands her as a major shocker with obvious repercussions for some fan favorite characters as well. It also poses an interesting setup for the future of the title too. Will Sinister circumvent the resurrection protocols to ensure his personal army is under his control?

Carnero’s work is top notch again. I would love to see her on one of the X-titles in the future. She captures the feel of Krakoa along with the action beats this story needs. Plus, Curiel’s colors truly elevate the events of the issue.

So when is Hellions back? I need to know how this is going to go for this team.

Cover by Phil Noto

Cable #6

Written by Gerry Duggan

Art by Phil Noto

Letters by Joe Sabino

After two issues that were a bit lighter, this issue feels deadly serious. Sure, Duggan still cracks jokes (including an interaction between Sinister and Kate Pryde that might be the highlight of the crossover), but we get two heartbreaking sacrifices in this issue.

The X-Men are down. Arakko leads the tournament 18-5 as the issue opens. Only three bouts remain. Then Cable loses to Bei the Blood Moon. Things are looking bleak… until Gorgon steps forward to single-handedly face an entire army to the death and proves why he is one of the Captains of Krakoa.

After the lighter opening, this issue is gut punch after gut punch. Bei completely shatters Cable, heart and soul, in a sequence that Noto turns in a tour de force. You feel every ounce of pain Cable is experiencing as he telepathically begs his parents for support, and Cyclops and Jean’s determination to be there is equally palpable.

But then we come to the week’s second MVP. Gorgon steps forward to face the White Sword, and the warlord reveals that the mutant isn’t just battling him but his entire army. It’s a stunning sequence that Duggan and Noto execute perfectly. The only negative to this scene is that there was little to no build up to Gorgon as this champion in past months. He steps up and single-handedly brings the score to a one-point lead… until White Sword slays him and evens the score.

It’s a scene that should be immortalized like Skurge’s last stand on the bifrost. This is a masterful portrait of a character who was capable of much more than we ever saw on panel, and his last act was to prove it.

After a difficult week last week, this was a stronger batch of stories. I hope it’s a sign that the crossover will end strong. The tournament is nearly over. One battle remains. And the future of Krakoa hangs in the balance…

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