Mutantkind is never going to make it. Moira MacTaggert’s many lives told us this, and as a result, we’ve accepted this Krakoan utopia for as long as we can. But while we know that there will always be outside forces breathing down mutant necks, how do we fight the enemy within?
The Onslaught Revelation #1
VC’s Clayton Cowles (letterer), Bob Quinn (artist), Si Spurrier (writer), Java Tartaglia (colorist)
September 22, 2021
One of the biggest triumphs of Krakoa is defeating death and mastering resurrection. Exploring what life means in light of this has come up in many of the subsequent books, and has been at the core of Way of X, where Nightcrawler has been exploring the dogma of Krakoa. Si Spurrier has worked to clearly spell out what has lurked in the background of the new Krakoan order in that there really is no order, despite the new laws. David Haller and Kurt Wagner are here to fix that, but there’s just one big red and purple problem.
Onslaught is back, the manifestation of Orchis’ machinations, Trojan Horsed into the minds of mutants in Krakoa, feasting on the lost Tuesdays between death and resurrection. Onslaught is spreading agitation-turned-murderous aggression until we end up with a full-on “trauma-quake,” complete with a reminder of the trauma inflicted on a queer couple earlier in the Way of X series.
Oh, this is the finale of Way of X, by the way. Just in case you’ve picked up a shiny new #1 and have absolutely no clue what is going on. Visually, the goings-on are quite dramatic. Bob Quin, in perfect harmony with colorist Java Tartaglia, paints a pounding, pulsating picture of paradise gone mad, raging toward a dancefloor crescendo to rival Blade‘s blood rave. Contrasting the chaos, David takes us to the church of the mind, using his incredible abilities to shape the headquarters and resting place where mutant souls can find focus and peace and meaning after a hard day in paradise. Kurt, freshly minted from his death in the last issue and sporting a sexy sleek red, calf-length vest, is finally ready to take his place at the altar David has created and lead mutantkind to enlightenment. If fate will always end badly for mutants, at least they will go down not merely fighting, but also truly knowing and accepting and loving themselves, warts and all. Because that, Nightcrawler reveals, is how the inner hate and darkness that Onslaught manifests will be defeated — by embracing it and learning to accept all of our flaws.
Which, apparently still means getting along with your abusers. All of this plot still hinges on Fabien Cortez, who continues to enjoy center stage. This comes complete with a backstory about growing up privileged and getting stuck in Magneto’s shadow, even as he idolized him, and using all his vaunted power and privilege to trample over anyone in his way. That includes Lost, the woman who hates him — justifiably so — for murdering her parents, yet will still use her powers to save him. As with Mercury and Loa, using the trauma of marginalized people, or actively traumatizing them in the process, makes for great plot. Note that neither of these characters get to have any kind of real character development like Fabien, with Lost existing only as a conduit for his story and the spark that sets everything aflame. They just have to get over their trauma and play nice so that paradise can persist.
We can’t talk about Onslaught and what the psychic monster is up to here without talking about the minds that birthed him: Magneto and Charles Xavier. The fathers of Krakoa, they are both Onslaught’s instruments in its downfall here, with Charles possessed and busily deleting backups that surely will have ramifications for that whole defeating death thing. Guarding him in this process is Magneto. Good thing Pixie’s soul blade isn’t made of metal.
I should say, this really is my first time meeting Onslaught as his first appearance was exactly when I tapped out of my long-time X-Men love after growing utterly exhausted with the direction of the storytelling. Still, I can appreciate what it means to bring him back here to upset Magneto and Chuck’s godhood. The dark shadows of the soul is a theme haunting Krakoa in other books, such as New Mutants where we’ve seen the Shadow King’s return. David has also been doing a great job of upsetting Charle’s beatific rule and has now set himself up in quite a position of power. It’s not the first time David has done something like this. I might be biased, but I was quite fond of Age of X, if only because I enjoyed the pairing of Namor and Storm and seeing them sauntering around in their bathing suits all day.
But, allowing David Haller to hold this level of power with very little empathy is a dangerous situation to maintain. This allows for a nice complement with Nightcrawler finally acting like the Nightcrawler we know and figuring out the path he’s been looking for to lead his new school of
fish thought — with bonus thought police to keep everyone on the up and up.
I had my own ideas on where the series would go, and, while I am fine with being proven wrong, I can’t say I’ve enjoyed where things ended up. But at least the journey has been a visually stunning treat.