A Good Old Fashioned Prison Break: Reviewing ‘Sabretooth’ #4

by Scott Redmond

Overview

Sabretooth continues to pull at the threads that make up Krakoa, showcasing the broken nature of the so-called paradise and the abuse of power, and what is called ‘justice’ in this new land. This is a truly gorgeous, powerful, and heart-wrenching series that doesn’t shy away from actually tackling not only the issues of this world but pointing out how those issues are inherent within our own world at this very moment.

Overall
10/10
10/10

Things were in quite a dire spot the last time that an issue of Sabretooth was released, Melter having unleashed his destructive abilities within the voice space where our ‘prisoners’ are being held beneath Krakoa. It’s this moment that somewhat kicks off the latest issue and helps continue to showcase why this is just such a really great book.

It would have been very easy to spend numerous pages detailing the how of how our characters survived this attack by Melter but that’s not what we get. No instead Victor LaValle decides to use the first two pages to do that while also finally letting us know what Third Eyes’ powers are, what his motivations are (to use his powers better than his father taught him to), how he saved the team and spoke about how forgiveness is given to Melter here at this moment because Third Eye himself has made mistakes. It all comes together beautifully on page thanks to a gorgeous depiction of the void and Third Eyes’ powers from Leonard Kirk, Craig Yeung, and Rain Beredo with Cory Petit bringing the captions to life dotted across these pages.

It would be easy, and it was easy for many before the book actually launched, to write off this book as something to the side and maybe vaguely important to the overall X-Line. Opening these issues though will demolish that sort of view instantly. This isn’t just another superhero book on the island of superpower people, this is a truly tremendous story that speaks to the human condition and the ills of this world in a way that no other X-book, or major superhero adjacent book, in my memory really ever has.

Since the beginning of Krakoa when it was clear that this island nation was probably in a way doomed because the people who started it continued to carry on the same behavior of the humans they were trying to stand apart from, but here in this book we fully see the cracks. Not only that but on-page characters are losing faith. We haven’t really seen that in other books because those characters are too busy fighting the “good fight” on adventures and don’t take much time to really look around and realize how this entire nation is rotting and crumbling little by little.

Blob and Skin bond over how this place is upon the precipice of great change or failure, Bling! relies on her faith that she and Shark Girl will find the bodies of her friends (Nekra & Oya), and we finally find out just what the ‘crimes’ of our characters truly were. Within this data page and the preceding pages with Mole/Magma as well as the dinner at Sabretooth’s house in their minds, the disgusting arbitrary, and corrupted version of Krakoan ‘justice’ is fully laid bare.

Third Eye breaks it all down there, the real crime of the five sent to join Sabretooth was “not knowing their place.” Wolverine slices and dices humans all the time, as do many others as part of a major team, and they are not down in the pit like Nekra and Oya who tried to protect the nation from mercenaries and pirates. Madison loved Danger and wanted her there with them, Melter wanted a seat at the table/bigger role, and Third Eye dared to warn all the mutants making babies that the future of these babies would be awful since many were just going to potentially abandon those children.

This is the series that so many of us have been craving from day one of this new status quo for the X-Line, a book that spends time actually discussing things and looking into this supposed paradise. There is only one issue left, but reports are that LaValle has a trilogy of books planned so there surely is far more to come of this sort of amazing storytelling.

Kirk, Yeung, and Beredo are the other part of that amazing storytelling because this book is not only gorgeous but all those talking or emotional moments on display wouldn’t land as well as they do without the work, they are putting in. We get sparse rooms that speak volumes, gorgeous powerful shots of characters discussing things on cliffs multiple times in this series, close-up shots that give us pure emotion/facial expressions that make the story so much better, and hard deeply brutal or emotionally taxing scenes that just resonate. Kirk & Yeung just make it all sing and work on every level.

Beredo’s colors have just enough colorful bursts to them while being heavily shadowed in many areas or are dulled down to a more muted sort of palette depending on the content or moment in play. Darkness plays a heavy part here not only because some of the characters we’re dealing with, like Sabretooth, come with inherent darkness but the overall inherent lurking darkness that is Krakoa which is overwhelming on every page.

Not only does Petit make the lettering flow so good upon those opening pages noted above, but the rest of the issue also follows. Character voices are clear within their words, even the newer character of Third Eye, as their types of speech or how they speak, is different and has energy. Shifted size to fonts or changing the style of bubbles showcases tone/volume but also some aspect of the character in many cases. The same goes for the variety of powerful and colorful SFX that can be found along the way.

This team is doing amazing work on this book and there is little doubt this is going to be one of the books that is looked back upon and talked about for years and years.

Sabretooth #4 is now available.

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