Orphans of X Part 4
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Juann Cabal
Colors: Nolan Woodard
Cover Art: Elizabeth Torque + Nolan Woodard
Published: December 13, 2017
So the Orphans of X have the Murmusa blade, and Laura, Gabby (now know as Honey Badger), and Daken are on the run. The logical/only place for them to run is to Madripoor, where mutants are less hated than they are other places in the world. As they wait on the beach for their ride Laura and her cousin discuss the motivations of the orphans, who have suffered because of the collateral damage inflicted by Wolverine and those following after him. Laura’s past has always very immediate in this book, with her doing everything she can to atone for having done that which is arguably unforgivable. In the case of Laura specifically she has exerted herself to avoided killing people, even innocuous henchman, if at all possible. Her crimes then are specifically those she committed when she was being controlled by Dr. Zander Rice, which is slightly less interesting because Laura’s culpability for her actions during that time are very much up for debate (and there is a strong argument to be made that she wasn’t acting her own free will). But the idea that a diverse group of citizens have banded together to punish those who have not fully upheld their responsibility to preserve life and defend the innocent (that’s my opinion of what the general aim of superheroes ought to be and is by no means definitive) is intriguing territory for a series which has sometimes lacked ideas.
Before their ride shows up, the orphans track them down and the group discovers that the orphans have melted the blade down into bullets. The Murmusa metal sort of poisons the body tissue that it touches and turns off normal tissue regeneration and prohibits healing factors. This means that the affected tissue can be cut out to allow the healing factor to resume as normal. This is exactly what needs to happen after Daken is shot down on the beach before their plane (piloted by danger!) arrives. Laura takes one of her claws and cuts out the infected area of his midsection which allows him to heal. But knowing that the orphans have altered the blade into something more lethal they decide to head to Japan to find Murmusa and ask for his help. It is here that a little bit more about Daken’s healing factor is revealed (he’s still missing an arm) as Murmusa explains that his guilt about his father’s death is inhibiting the healing factor. There’s a pretty abstract page where Daken is meditating, and as his unconscious/self (zazen) begins to flow his arm grows back in constituent parts (nerves, skeleton, muscle). The idea that healing factors are linked to mental clarity, or an extension of a person’s current metal state is an interesting concept that hopefully will be revisited, but isn’t given more time in this book. After Daken makes himself whole, Murmusa can begin his process of using their spirit/emotions to craft one set of armor that will defend against the orphan’s bullets. This is going to be something they desperately need as the final pages show the orphans gathered in their lair to watch three of their peers pull the trigger on Old Man Logan, Lady Deathstrike, and Sabertooth. Death is often more of a difficulty than a finality in comic books (also two of these characters are in other ongoing books), but things will have to change real fast to get these three back.
In what was kind of a heavy issue, there were plenty of lighthearted moments. When Daken wakes up after Laura performs impromptu surgery on him, he tries to flirt a little with her cousin Megan, but Laura is all over it and tells him “Take your charming smile and shove it back into your face.” When they go undercover in Japan to find Murmusa, Gabby invents a whole complicated back story for her character much to the annoyance of everyone else. Daken’s moment of clarity, when Gabby imagines all the comic books with her new superhero name on them, and using the trajectory of the bullet that pierces Daken to break up two panels are all examples of Juann Cabal making this book his own and not just maintaining status quo. Gabby and Daken each get a great moment in this issue which probably contains the most interesting artistic decisions from this series thus far. And whats better is that these moments don’t come from some absurd situation (fighting giant bugs in space), but from understanding the characters and building something around them. This is promising for future issues and hopefully Cabal feels encouraged to keep making interesting decisions.
(Subjective) Score out of 10: 8