The Hell That We Carry Within: Reviewing ‘Sabretooth’ #5

by Scott Redmond


The first portion of this story has come to an end as Sabretooth begins the next part of his journey, and those that were placed in hell alongside him have to follow their own new path that is still tied to the man that plagued them. An emotional and thought-provoking conclusion to this series that has taken a deep dive into Krakoa but also the systems that we deal with on a daily basis and just life itself.


Ever since the conclusion of 2019’s House of X/Powers of X stories that brought about a whole new status quo for Marvel’s Merry Mutants, a portion of the audience has wanted a much deeper look at Krakoa. At how the Quiet Council’s actions and how much of the island is run still is caught up in the broken systems that the men behind the island had been part of for far too long. At long last, we got that deep dive, the best dissection of Krakoa and how it has failed in many regards all within a book that had Sabretooth as a title.

Now that part of the story is done, and the next is ready to be told.

Taking advantage of the unrest that was being sowed on the Krakoan surface, thanks to much of what his fellow prisoners were able to do previously in their astral visits, Sabretooth cut a new deal with Cypher and Krakoa that saw him released from the pit. Only him though, leaving the others trapped behind because, well that’s who he is at the end of the day.

Victor LaValle has explored so many interesting concepts about imprisonment, injustice, and how systems fail, and here we see more of that as the concept of creating hell and hell being amongst us is broached. Doug speaks about how Sabretooth has left his hell behind, but unlike others who might carry a hell inside them, Krakoa was not like that. Not before they got there.

We’ve seen before how this partnership of the mutants and Krakoa works, but Doug is the person that is closest to Krakoa and can speak about how the island in many ways has gotten the raw end of the deal. Every moment the mutants and their flawed systems and some of their personal flaws are on the island they are fundamentally changing Krakoa, and not likely for the best.

Much like how the hell that is the U.S. prison system has been able to infect parts of our system and society over time, we’re presented here with the idea of how much the pit prison has now poisoned Krakoa. All the prisoners must leave otherwise any one of them could use that same energy and time to create an even worse hell than Sabretooth already had. Too bad for Sabretooth though that the broken flawed mutant prison escape just led him into the even more flawed and likely far more cruel prison of mutant-hating humans of Orchis. Though based on Destiny’s vision and the title for the next chapter of this story, he very well might get to live out that fantasy of being king that he had in the pit.

Leonard Kirk and Rain Beredo continue to deliver detailed, dark, highly emotional moments on the page with their fantastic work. We spend a ton more time above Krakoa here and it’s lush and vibrant as usual, but there is a heavy weight and darkness that permeates all the aspects we see as Sabretooth moves through the land and the dark secrets of Charles Xavier are now spreading amongst the people. We see these things but feel them too because of the way that Kirk depicts so many things in panels and the choices in color palettes that Beredo makes for any given scene.

There are still those lush pops of color as noted, but there is just enough darkness to bring more emotional weight to the proceedings. Hell has come to Krakoa, and we can see it in every aspect as it metaphorically spreads, and that inherent darkness that has been unleashed makes itself known far more.

Cory Petit makes those letters do magical things once more, keeping the dialogue flowing but ensuring that the characters’ personalities and the energy exuded can be ‘heard’ in their words. While also making sure that volume and tone are clear thanks to changes in size or shape of the font for their varying dialogue contributions. There aren’t a ton of SFX in this issue but those that can be found are used effectively but also have their own personality and their volume is quite clear as well.

This has been a truly amazing series and seeing a glimpse of what is coming next shows that we’re in for so much more.

Sabretooth #5 is now available.

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