A Rotten Apple From A Rotten Tree: Reviewing ‘Sabretooth And The Exiles’ #4

by Scott Redmond


‘Sabretooth And The Exiles’ #4 cruises towards its upcoming conclusion by peeling back the curtain to reveal the most expected yet effective of figures hiding in the shadows. This series continues to be one of the best of the X-Line, tackling some big real complicated situations through the metaphor lens that is so much a part of the X-Line.


Arthur Conan Doyle wrote about how whatever remains after eliminating the impossible, however improbable, must be the truth. When it comes to the Marvel Universe and the mutant species, the impossible and improbable are just a regular old Tuesday for them. In fact, in the case of Sabretooth, eliminating the impossible and improbable actually leads to the most expected and personal of revelations. 

All of this mystery talk is because there has been a bit of a growing mystery within the pages of Sabretooth And The Exiles, one that begins to come together with this issue. It’s not been a mystery that has needed to beat us over the head with its existence, mostly taking the shape of the unknown person that Doctor Barrington was communicating with. Some bread crumbs were scattered about that one might notice or pick up to get to the reveal before the reveal, and some on the internet seemed to pick up rather quickly. 

Turns out that the figure behind the other Victor Creed found in the Astral Plane and was the mystery General Contractor behind Doctor Barrington was in fact someone with the initials G.C, one Graydon Creed. If you’re not familiar with Graydon Creed, well he’s the child of Victor Creed/Sabretooth and Raven Darkholme/Mystique who is not just a human but is a mutant-hating human that has led many a crusade against his parents, his siblings (Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler & Anna-Marie/Rogue), and mutants overall. It’s a reveal that some were expecting, it was one of the most logical choices, but that expectation doesn’t rob the reveal of its power though. It being expected because of the family connection and the animosity, and us not having seen Graydon and this relationship in quite some time, makes it all work perfectly. 

Victor LaValle continues to impress with this series as it delves into difficult topics but also is chock full of big character moments and development. 

We’re witness to a great number of conversations from Sabretooth trying to convince the Exiles that he wants to avenge his doppelganger (while really wanting to fix his powers) to Nanny and Orphanmaker understandably telling the new mutants rescued to stay away from Krakoa because of how broken that place truly is. I mean they were thrown into a pit as punishment and were left to rot there, kind of makes sense these characters are all against Krakoa and would want to warn others away. It’s terrifying to watch as both Nanny and Sabretooth work to undermine these children and influence them using their fears and anger, with Toad there as the character to speak to how sadly easy it can be for the wrong element to take advantage of anger. 

Our data pages, another Orchis discussion memo from the “General Contractor”/Creed, continue to be one of the places that keep this book’s propensity to tie in real-world moments, atrocities, and situations into the overall story. LaValle makes sure that the metaphor situation of the X-Men is truly applied to realistic things, pointing at how similar much of what Orchis and even Krakoa have done and continue to do has shades of real-life situations that have harmed so many. In this case, the memo refers to the boarding schools that Indigenous people were forcibly sent to, stripped of their language and culture, and many dying, and how Creed used that as motivation for some of the Orchis programs he spearheaded. It’s putting the data pages to great use of fleshing out the story and showcasing the evil intent of the villains, without needing to take space for them to monologue such things for the audience. 

Every issue of this series is just such a beautiful sight to behold because the energy and work that Leonard Kirk and Rain Beredo put into every single page is incredible. While the last issue had the Astral Plane to really let them cut loose, most of this issue takes place upon the (now expanded) ship of the Exiles with simple corridors and wide open ocean/skies as backdrops. Yet, they make it compelling. 

There is a lot of depth and detail in the artwork, with great changes of focus where certain objects or people become fuzzy and blurry on purpose to guide us to where we need to be looking. There is an isolating and even confining energy that comes from the setting of the ship, and they play into that so well here. Even as we witness characters on the deck with wide open skies, there is nothing else to be seen really hammering home their status as exiles, alone in the world outside of themselves right now. Kirk does really well with the emotional aspects displayed for characters, and there are a lot of them to see here because the issue is very heavily focused on the aforementioned character moments and conversations. 

One of the things that I like about the way Beredo colors this issue is the fact that there is plenty of colorful aspects yet they are almost all pulled back/toned down. This is a series that takes place in a superhero fantasy world where bright vivid colors grow on trees, but this story is a darker more realistic grounded look at so many terrible elements of humanity and what it does to the marginalized, having colors that aren’t that bright shiny level is the right way to go. These are not superheroes, these are people that were left behind and ignored by those of their own community that should have been reaching out to them and have been mistreated by the prevailing powers just for being different. 

Things are not as dark color-wise as they were inside the hope-draining Orchis facilities (outside of the final reveal which takes place inside an Orchis station), with a lot lighter colors at work. It speaks to how the characters are free and might be feeling some lightness and hope now, but again they are stuck in a sort of in-between state because they are not free from Orchis fully and are not sure if Krakoa or anywhere will be their safe haven. 

There is plenty of things for Cory Petit to do in this dialogue and word-heavier issue, sliding all the dialogue and captions around to frame and complement the rest of the artwork as we move along. Sentence case being used more by certain letterers in projects is one of my favorite things because it perfectly encapsulates and sets up a more baseline/normal tone type of volume for characters. This allows letterers to make volume or tone changes far more apparent because they can shift to all caps or grow the size of the font in various ways that instantly tell our brain that how they are speaking has now changed. Such visual cues are very important in a medium where we can’t hear or fully see those changes ourselves without some indicator on the page. 

Sabretooth And The Exiles #4 is now available from Marvel Comics. 

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