Sabretooth’s five-issue series carries on this week with issue #2. After the first issue revealed what Sabretooth has been up to in the Pit (Krakoa’s jail), we also learned he’s not the only prisoner. Writer Victor LaValle and artist Leonard Kirk show us what happens when Sabretooth gets a few new cellmates.
When mutants break Krakoan law, they are sent to a different kind of hell where their bodies can’t move, but their minds live on so as to allow them some kind of life. The problem with that is, with Sabretooth now a master of this domain, what kind of life is a Hell made by Sabretooth? As it turns out, not so bad after all.
Sabretooth #2 opens with Xavier condemning five mutants to the Pit. Xavier promised Sabretooth would be the last, but when you have a handy prison for people who disobey why not chuck them all in? LaValle is setting up the fact that Xavier may be a “good” guy, but he’s making choices that certainly are not of the good guy persuasion. We, unfortunately, don’t learn much about any of the five mutants, with only a few bits and character power set details.
This issue could be split up into three parts. The first is Xavier condemning the mutants, the second is about these mutants trying to stay alive in Sabretooth’s hell, and the third is a new plan to reject the Pit as a prison and plan an escape. Along the way, we get some colorful moments in Krakoa, some limited detail on the types of mutants who were sent into the Pit in this issue, and a somewhat haunting notion that Sabretooth isn’t acting like a homicidal killer.
A lot of these themes, and the themes set up in the first issue, remain under the surface. It never overtly condemns the prison system on Krakoa, but one gets the impression it is a hell unworthy of anyone through dialogue and the character’s reactions. A key factor in all of this is the idea that Xavier has no idea the Pit has become a place where Sabretooth has control, but little is explored in that regard either.
Not quite enough detail is given on these five mutants, although we do get to learn about some of their abilities. Knowing more about their crimes would be intriguing, but it appears that’s not the point. You end up never really knowing them that well which makes them more bystanders in their own story. That makes it all the harder to believe they could get on the same page as Sabretooth so quickly and start figuring out their escape.
Even stranger is how the first issue set up Sabretooth as a figure who loves to kill, but here those urges are missing, or at least he seems to have subdued them. He’s not quite acting himself and it’s not relayed whether this is by design so as to use the five mutants, or if he’s grown out of that nature. His various personalities are seen in one panel, but they are used far less than in the first issue. It’s unclear what is going on with him, although one can expect his violent urges and multiple personalities to appear again in a future issue.
Art by Leonard Kirk and colors by Rain Beredo are good at character expressions and body language. You get a sense of who these characters are rather quickly. The general look of Sabretooth’s Hell is a bit limited, though, with few background shots. In fact, much of this issue resorts to close-ups and limited backgrounds. One of the most detailed pages ends up being the biggest standout as we see all six of the prisoners dangling from Krakoan roots. They are in no pain and seem at peace, but it’s also unnerving to see the organic roots clinging to the characters.
Sabretooth #2 seems to be jumping forward a bit too quickly, setting up the five mutant prisoners, and surprisingly changing the direction of the narrative. There are themes here worth exploring, but it’s hard to gather what it’s trying to say as it tries to do too much.
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