This week, we’re looking at the penultimate issue of Sabretooth, and a wild ride awaits. MILD SPOILERS AHEAD!
For some less spoiler-y reviews, jump down below the break for a Rapid Rundown of Captain America: Symbol of Truth #2, Iron Man & Hellcat Annual #1, and The Variants #1.
Writer: Victor LaValle
Penciller: Leonard Kirk
Inker: Craig Yeung
Color Artist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Design: Tom Muller w/Jay Bowen
Cover Artists: Ryan Stegman, JP Mayer & Frank D’Armata
At this point, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Sabretooth might be one of the most important books of the entire Krakoan experiment.
Victor LaValle’s mastery over the voices in this series, particularly those of Sabretooth and Third Eye, is nothing short of incredible. With Victor Creed, he understands the shrewd and calculating tactician that lies beneath the violent exterior. There’s a cruelty that comes through in his voice that I’m not sure we’ve seen in quite some time. Third Eye, on the other hand, is one of the most insightful new characters to come from this grand new (three year-old) era.
There’s a crucial data page toward the end of the issue from Third Eye’s POV that lays out both his perspective and the ethos of this entire mini: “So what did we [the six mutants in The Pit] do? I’m going to tell you what law we really broke: We didn’t know our place.”
As is the case in a 59 year-old franchise, certain characters will rise to the forefront in an overwhelming majority of stories, while others will fall to the wayside, appearing here and there when deemed useful by the writers. However, while, to an extent, this is a commentary on the nature of minor characters attempting to assert their place in a world of big names™, it feels much more relevant to draw a connection between the way society treats those who it sees as “expendable” and those it does not. Those in power will do whatever they can to maintain that power, regardless of both the ethics surrounding the decisions they need to make and the feelings of those they hold control over.
There’s an underlying hypocrisy that comes with that, leaving those who might act with the best intentions for the nation (i.e., the detainees in the Pit) in the crosshairs of those in control. A great example of this is the fate of Oya and Nekra. The two of them were placed in the Pit after preventing a group of human mercenaries from attempting to attack, but were subsequently imprisoned since they “weren’t given a spiffy team title,” as Third Eye puts it. Murder is wrong, but, since they’re not officially X-Men, the Quiet Council makes an example of them, while still letting X-Force operate outside of these same rules. It’s a glaring indictment of the ruling elite, both on Krakoa and in general, and it’s a fascinating exploration of the ethics of politics — found in the pages of a Sabretooth comic.
The page also highlights LaValle’s clever use of historical events to tie in the disturbing history of the carceral state with the disappointing job the Quiet Council has done to this point. It’s absolutely a feature of the Krakoan story engine that the Council is a flawed organization, which lets stories like Sabretooth get told. But if/where the Council moves on from the use of such a monstrous system remains to be seen (hopefully we’ll find out more in one of the next two minis in the triptych LaValle is writing).
All of my rambling is to say: Sabretooth is good comics.
Leonard Kirk’s work with Rain Beredo and Cory Petit throughout the series has been consistently awesome. The figures have this smooth quality to them, while also feeling wonderfully detailed at the same time. There are all these subtle hints about Creed’s psyche and his past hidden in the book and the way this art team is able to sneak them in there has been so cool to watch over the past four issues. The addition of Craig Yeung with this issue only complements this team, making this just as strong and cohesive as the first three issues.
I can’t stress enough how great the dynamics have been between everyone in the Pit. For characters as neglected as Nekra and Oya, it’s great to see them given voices that feel just as important as anyone else in this series. Their pairing and bonding over their shared experiences (horrible as they are) makes for a really solid dynamic, and I hope to see more of this friendship moving forward.
The timeline of these issues has been incredibly interesting to see, and LaValle and Kirk do a great job adding segments that explain where during the Krakoan story this takes place. Based on how the story is about to end, I’m wondering if our ol’ pal Creed is gonna be able to make an appearance at the next Hellfire Gala…
Next week, Ghost Rider #4 and Strange Academy #18!