So far, Judgment Day has been one of the better Marvel events of the last few years, playing with characters’ histories and altering their futures in fun and exciting ways. Similarly, Immortal X-Men is one of the best books of the Krakoa era of X-Men full stop, playing with the distrust within the Quiet Council and exploring its oftentimes deceitful cast.
Each issue thus far has centered around one Quiet Council member, tying their personal story to the overarching plot. This week, it was Sebastian Shaw’s turn in the spotlight. Gillen is a masterclass at writing characters who you’re supposed to hate, crafting an interesting story for a despicable character with ease.
Watching the Council face their judgments was a highlight of the issue, especially when you compare the likes of someone like Emma’s judgment to Shaw’s. Emma and Shaw are locked in a game of chess, with the former cornering her former abuser and standing tall quite often. They’re forced to work together, but that doesn’t mean they trust each other — and this dynamic, which spreads to the entire Quiet Council as a whole, gives the series the same intrigue that shows like Succession do. There characters dont like each other or trust each other, but it makes for a damn good narrative as you watch these powerhouses try and out maneuver each other in their game of chess.
Emma’s judgment was the perfect choice for her character, having seen the faces of the children she lost on Genosha. This has always been a huge trauma point for Emma, having survived the genocide in Morrison’s “E is for Extinction” storyline and feeling survivor’s guilt for the children she lost — if nothing else, Emma Frost cares about her students and will puts the wellbeing of children first. Kudos to Lucas Werneck for very effectively recreating the Phil Jimenez’s panel from New X-Men #139 where Jean Grey finds out about Emma’s affair with Scott and makes her relive the death of her students on Genosha.
It’s these moments that make Judgment Day stand out as an event, playing with the characters’ histories in fascinating ways. But when the Council deliberates, Emma doesn’t say what she saw — and she downplays the severity of the pain she felt while being judged. It’s these subtle moments that really make the series stand out for how the characters keep secrets to themselves out of distrust for the others.
Emma’s a character with a troubled past, victim to a man who used and abused her while committing various acts of villainy she lived to regret. Countless Emma stories chronicle this regret and her growth, cementing her not just as a unique X-Men character, but a character one generally aligns with the “good” category. This makes her the perfect foil for Shaw, someone who doesn’t care about the well-being of others and feels no guilt about his actions. Despite them both being members of the Hellfire Club in their past, Gillen quite quickly shows the difference between these two complex characters.
Gillen’s analysis of Shaw feels right on the money, with him putting profit and his own security above everyone else’s — he even laughs at Emma’s ideology of “doing it for the children.” His take on Shaw goes beyond the surface, showing his troubled past as a child and his struggles with his own father but not once excusing him either. When the issue is over there is no doubt about it: Shaw is one of the most dangerous people on the Council, motivated only by his own greed no matter who has been hurt by his actions.
Several former villains have found redemption on Krakoa with the safety the island provides, but Shaw is not one of those characters. Werneck’s pencils in this issue do a great job of making Shaw appear like the brutish villain he is, while also demonstrating his taste for the finer things. He’s unphased by any horror that Krakoans are facing; he merely wants power.
Immortal X-Men continues to be a fantastic character study of some of the most interesting mutants on Krakoa, delving deep into what makes them tick while telling a fascinating story at the same time. Gillen doesn’t just understand these characters – he understands the value in a story where not all of the cast are characters you want to root for. Lucas Werneck’s pencils help make Immortal consistently one of the best X-books in years, combining terrific artwork with Gillen’s dynamic script.
Join the AIPT Patreon
Want to take our relationship to the next level? Become a patron today to gain access to exclusive perks, such as:
- ❌ Remove all ads on the website
- 💬 Join our Discord community, where we chat about the latest news and releases from everything we cover on AIPT
- 📗 Access to our monthly book club
- 📦 Get a physical trade paperback shipped to you every month
- 💥 And more!