X-Men has been a fun series thus far. Gerry Duggan has gone the route of doing one shot stories that build a greater narrative in the background. Now five issues in it’ll be interesting to see if Duggan will start addressing the bigger picture for the big event he is building during X-Men. There are certainly enough hints with the developments around Orchis and Ben Urich getting each close to their respective goals around what is going on in Krakoa. Let’s see how things go next with X-Men #5.
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Javier Pina and Ze Carlos
Colorist: Erick Arciniega
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In Mexico, Sunfire is the last X-Men standing as the Reavers have knocked the rest of the team out with tranquilizers. Sunfire does his best to defend himself and his teammates but gets overwhelmed by the Reavers numbers.
Polaris is the first of the team to wake up and sees Jean Grey on the ground and Wolverine on a bus. Not willing to give up Polaris uses her powers to control Wolverine while she is knocked out as back-up.
Flashing back to the Hellfire Gala, it is shown that when the mutants were each making their case for being a member of the new X-Men team that Polaris actually didn’t want to. Jean Grey probes deeper into Polaris mind to get Polaris to admit she actually wants to be an X-Men. After that Jean announces the current X-Men roster to the entire Hellfire Gala.
Sometime later, Polaris uses her powers to stop a nuclear meltdown from happening at a power plant with Rogue’s help.
The next day the stop the High Evolutionary’s beast attack in Central Park. During the fight Polaris notices a dog wearing a camera being used by the High Evolutionary to monitor the battle. When the battle is lost the High Evolutionary activates a protocol that kills the dog and makes it look like Polaris did it.
In the present Polaris uses her powers to control Wolverine’s body to fight the Reavers. One of the Reavers launches a large flashbang attack that blinds Polaris, making it more difficult to have her fight using Wolverine.
Polaris switches to using her powers to detect the iron in the blood of all the Reavers to give her a form of sight. As her attack causes internal bleeding in all the Reavers it gives Wolverine time to wake up and knock out all of the Reavers.
After the rest of the team recovers Cyclops and Jean Grey (using really bad Spanish that appears to be just a Google Translate of dialogue originally written in English) to announce to the people that the polls are open for them to vote freely.
Polaris asks to talk to Jean alone.
When they are alone Polaris calls out the fact that Jean manipulated her to say that she wanted to be part of the X-Men. Jean says she did not actually manipulate Polaris but instead tapped into her actual desire to be an X-Men that she was denying herself. Polaris admits that Jean is right.
Later, outside the X-Men’s Treehouse headquarters, the X-Men host an event to provide the homeless and less fortunate with food from Krakoa. During the event Ben Urich shows up and asks to talk to Cyclops alone, much to Jean and Emma Frost’s suspicion.
Finding a place to talk alone Ben reveals to Cyclops he discovered where Scott Summers body that died during the attack at the Orchis space station was buried. Ben goes on to reveal that he knows about Krakoa’s resurrection protocols and how it is a monumental discovery that he plans to write a piece that will go live on the Daily. Ben says that he is telling Cyclops this to give him a chance to provide a comment for his story.
Nearby, Dr. Stasis is shown watching the entire conversation with pleasure as he notices Cyclops unease. End of issue.
The Good: X-Men #5 is one of those comic books that I find myself 50-50 on. There are certainly developments that I enjoy. Then there is others that do not work as well as Gerry Duggan intended them to do.
Polaris, along with Synch, is clearly the favorites of this X-Men series as Duggan has made sure to spend quite a bit of time to develop her character. Which is honestly deserving since Polaris has been one of those fringe X-Men characters that has been used in various stories but normally as a complementary character. With this X-Men series we are seeing Polaris be placed at the forefront of the team as Duggan has been establishing her as a powerhouse on the team.
In the process we are seeing how there is more of her father, Magneto’s, personality in her. X-Men #5 is the best example of this with how she not only uses Wolverine’s unconscious body but also uses lethal force by using the iron in the Reavers blood to fight them off. Those are exact actions that if you saw Magneto do would be appropriate for his character. And to Duggan, Javier Pina, and Ze Carlos credit he does a good job making these move not come off as out-of-character for Polaris. Seeing as she was the last one standing after Sunfire was knocked out Polaris knew she had to do something so she and her X-Men teammates could survive. This move was about survival and that was something Pina and Carlos as artists got across.
It was also good to see how this all led to exploring how Polaris is someone that has never been fully confident in being positioned as a main X-Men. As we see with the Hellfire Gala flashback scene, Polaris has doubts about being good enough which makes her hide her true feelings on what she actually wants. Its not until she is pushed that Polaris true desires are shown.
Which makes what would be an otherwise heel turn for Jean Grey with how she used her telepathic powers on Polaris to come across as Jean looking out for her friend. Polaris even admitting that Jean didn’t manipulate her as she was talking truth about her own self-denial was good character work. It adds into how throughout this X-Men series we’ve seen Duggan pair Polaris and Jean up on the field as there is a clear strong friendship between the two.
Bringing in the Reavers to act as the latest threat that the X-Men go up against continues the trend of re-establishing the rogues gallery for the franchise. Right now we know that the Orchis organization is the biggest threat to the X-Men and Krakoa as a whole. Tapping into how the X-Men franchise have serious threats that aren’t just other mutants is a smart play to build out how this is supposed to be superhero team book rather than just an extension of Krakoa’s politics. Providing the Revears and High Evolutionary this spotlight helps to strengthen the future of this series.
All of that said, by far the most interesting development was that with Ben Urich confronting Cyclops about Krakoa’s resurrection protocol. This is one of the most closely guarded secrets Krakoa has from the world. Now with Ben Urich outright telling Cyclops he is publishing a story and is only telling him this to give Scott Summers or the other X-Men an opportunity to tell their side was an excellent move. While Ben respects Scott he also has his own journalistic sensibilities that won’t let him just bury this story. It is something that is of importance to the world and Ben is going to do what he believes is best, in this case publish the story on the Daily Bugle.
Which given that Dr. Stasis was watching this entire meeting between Ben Urich and Cyclops go down we could see an acceleration of other organizations trying out their own resurrection protocols. We know that Orchis is doing something similar and now that Ben’s story will make Krakoa’s resurrection protocols public it is only good news for the villain organization. Now it is going to be up to Krakoa’s leadership to figure out how to respond to this world changing secret that will no longer be a secret.
The Bad: One of the things that did not work was how Laura Kinney responded to Polaris using her unconscious body to fight the Reavers. While maybe Logan’s Wolverine would’ve brushed it aside this was very out of character for Laura. Laura has been a weapon so long that she is only in recent years of her life getting her own agency. She should’ve had more of an adverse reaction to being used by someone as a weapon and taking away her agency in the process.
Laura’s reaction would’ve actually added weight to Polaris decision to do this. Because otherwise Polaris is not suffering any consequences from doing something that you would characterizing being a Magneto-move. To give full growth to both Polaris and Laura’s Wolverine this issue should be brought up for the health of both characters.
The Reavers plot was also very thin and not fully developed as intended. Because it was made clear by Cyclops and Jean Grey’s announcements about the Mexican voting stations being open that there was more to this Reavers plot. But that is something that Duggan just clearly ran out of time in properly developing. That led to the Reavers coming across as nothing more than villain of the week rather than top-tier threats like the High Evolutionary and Orchis were in previous issues.
Overall: X-Men #5 was another solid issue in this series that has become one of Marvel’s most consistent monthly titles. Gerry Duggan does a good job providing some development for Polaris’ character and pushing the greater narrative around Orchis’ plot forward. The final few pages of X-Men #5 sets the stage for the next issue of this series to be a highly important comic book in this era for the franchise.
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