Kicking Down All The Walls: Reviewing ‘Sabretooth’ #3

by Scott Redmond

Overview

Everything is going according to plan as the cast of mutant exiles begins their journey to secure their freedom but also bring the curtain crashing down to reveal the truth of Krakoa’s sins. Such a deep and gorgeous and thoughtful issue, continuing the energy and amazing work this creative team has done so far. A title with the name Sabretooth upon it is sure to turn many away, but this is truly one of the best X-related books we’ve ever gotten.

Overall
10/10
10/10

Since day one it’s been clear that not all is right with the Mutant nation of Krakoa. Not only was it a nation built upon a bed of lies (the secrets of Moira, Xavier, and Magneto) but its self-elected governmental body began to maliciously play judge, jury, and essentially executioner whenever they so choose to.

Over the few years since this status quo change, we’ve seen these glimpses of what is wrong with Krakoa but the characters that we know and love for the most part have never noticed or choose not to notice because at the same time it offers them the paradise and freedom that they never had outside of the nation. At long last the moment that so many have waited for, the moment of reckoning for Krakoa/Quiet Council’s sins has arrived.

Orchestrated by one Victor Creed, the devious man known as Sabretooth.

What Victor LaValle has done with this series is extraordinary. It very easily could have just focused upon Sabretooth and his issues overall as we know them but instead rightfully and wonderfully it has become a commentary and indictment of the industrial prison system and the systems of power overall. Even in this Mutant paradise, there are clear delineations of essentially a class system. All those mutants that we feel don’t get enough time or pop up only once and a blue moon is even incorporated into this story as they are the forgotten and ignored of Krakoa.

For every Cyclops or Storm or Wolverine, there are hundreds of other mutants that are paid no mind by the powers that be. Having one of the key plot moments tied to the potential prison break for the pit bound mutants relying on Mole’s realization that there are tons of mutants upon the island that Xavier would never bother to even scan because they are not important to the “State” in many ways is brilliant and sad at the same time. It speaks to the reality that for all their separation and strength right now, the mutants of Krakoa spent their lives in the broken systems of humanity and those corrupted instincts are hard to shake off.

Sabretooth is a near-unstoppable killing machine, and much of that brutality from the first issue is on display here as the Feral Council returns, but this run really showcases how devious and tactical the man truly can be. Using CIA style operations to trick the other captives into helping him bring down Krakoa from the outside (sending them to physically manifest to go after former Marauders, knowing that they’ll not do that and rally others instead) and giving us a lot of moments that show how Xavier/Magneto and Sabretooth are not all that different in their manipulative methods. Privileged men of power who continuously use their power to send others into danger or to do their dirty work, so that they can reap the eventual rewards.

This is a story where the mental/dream prison state and reality are intertwined to the point of them sometimes being indistinguishable, which Leonard Kirk and Rain Beredo sell visually in a truly beautiful way. All the fantastic paneling and closeups/great facial expression shots mentioned in the previous issues are there as well as the heavier muted shadowy toned colors that fit the darker story. Whether in the more normal scenes or the more brutal scenes, the overall story feels terrifying in many ways because the subject matter is factually terrifying to so many within our real-world who go through already or fear they could end up going through such situations.

What stands out differently and intriguingly is the choices made for when the various Pit characters are able to manifest back on Krakoa. Each of them is made out of natural unique elements while retaining so many of their physical attributes as they manifest. Visually they are detailed and quite a sight, and then Beredo adds in the accurate and heavily shadowed colors, and it all comes together. Especially the Earthy plant look of Third Eye and then the shiny and fitting microplastic manifestation of Madison Jeffries (and his conversation with Skin was interesting, but also, yay seeing Skin again at last!).

One also can’t forget the nice touches such as the raft made out of Xavier/Magneto/Sinister bodies during the mental prison escape, the depiction of open vicious brutality against the pristine yet anything but clean Quiet Council chambers, and just the slew of mutants and figures on display through this issue. Truly this team is doing transcendent work.

There is a ton to be said in this issue so there are a lot of words, but they never feel overwhelming as Cory Petit fills up the dialogue bubbles and caption boxes. Shifting the size and style a bit makes more words fit into the standard bubble while maintaining that element of looking fine and still being easy to read. We also get a lot of those size/style shifts to help make each character’s ‘voice’ different and to differentiate the volume/tone in which they are speaking.

That cliffhanger with the visual of a burning Sabretooth (whether it’s really happening or another mental trap) along with the massive scream SFX was a great ending that will not be leaving the mind anytime soon. Just the way it should be.

Marvel Comics’ Sabretooth #3 is now available.

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