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In 'Sabretooth & the Exiles' #2, an obscure villain climbs the ranks
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

In ‘Sabretooth & the Exiles’ #2, an obscure villain climbs the ranks

Nekra gets a promotion right before the end of the world.

Nekra-philiacs rejoice! The second installment of Sabretooth & the Exiles is available now, and with it comes shifting roles in the team and an even more concrete idea of the threat that Dr. Barrington poses for mutantkind. Victor LaValle, Leonard Kirk, Rain Beredo, VC’s Cory Petit, and Mark Basso bring their talents together for an issue that sets a solid pace and keeps the band of ex-Krakoan misfits on their toes.

Sabretooth & the Exiles continues to probe at uncomfortable questions around justice posed by Krakoa as well as detailing what greater evil lurks that only the Exiles can stop. There are lots of great character moments to go around this week, but the most interesting development belongs to Nekra near the top of the issue. Speaking of, issue #2 begins a short time after the conclusion of the bombastic opening entry, with Dr. Barrington and the Creature absconded away with Orphan-Maker while the rest of the Exiles regroup aboard Sabretooth’s stolen ship.

SPOILERS AHEAD for Sabretooth & the Exiles #2!

Oya and Melter as well as their fellow Exiles clarify throughout the issue that not a shred of trust remains between them and Victor Creed. Nekra embodies this distrust by nearly taking Sabretooth down at the top of the issue. Their fight is implied to be one over leadership of the group. Like Cyclops and Storm’s iconic battle in Uncanny X-Men #201 viewed through a mirror darkly, Nekra beats Sabretooth into a near-pulp in part due to his mysterious de-powerment.

The plot threads of the issue bounce between Sabretooth’s stolen aircraft and ORCHIS’ top-secret Station Two, where Dr. Barrington and the Creature fled to with Orphan-Maker in tow following the obliteration of Station Six. The two narratives converge at the Exiles’ break-in to Station Two, but along the way there are more great character beats for the team and a deeper dive into Barrington’s demented designs. A highlight among these is Nanny’s recollection of her rescuing Orphan-Maker and the important reminder that she is the superior scientist to Nathaniel Essex.

Sabretooth & the Exiles #2
Nanny = Scientist Supreme
Credit: Marvel

LaValle flexes his familiarity with prose in documenting a memo from Dr. Barrington to the higher-ups at the Orchis Corporation. A similar text page appeared in the first issue that drew parallels between historic malpractice and experimentation visited upon Black people by white American medical professionals and her own treatment of mutants. The new memo provides a look into the fruits of her depravity. She invented the Barrington Coil: test run on Sabretooth, it’s a device surgically inserted into a person that can suppress the expression of their X-gene.

The introduction of the Barrington Coil sets a larger backdrop, a larger threat to all of mutantkind. Most fascinatingly, LaValle specifically includes Barrington’s musings on how her dark device ought to be commercialized. Just as he introduced the corporate branch of ORCHIS and their for-profit mutant prisons, LaValle does the important work of tying oppression to the system of capital that sustains it. And if these larger themes are not enriching enough for readers, the immediate danger posed by Orphan-Maker’s leaky containment suit adds the perfect ticking clock heading into the next issue.

Issue #2 features good character moments for nearly the entire cast, however this means that the few characters like Toad who pull no focus are almost a non-presence in the narrative. Even still, this is a subversion of traditional comics storytelling when Toad loses page space to Nekra. And ultimately, centering the bond between the two lead Black women of the narrative–Idie and Nekra–is one of the most important facets of this developing story.

A strong development of the stellar foundation laid last issue, the second issue of Sabretooth & the Exiles puts in the work to better realize the dangers at hand. Furthermore, it develops the bond between Oya and Nekra’s rising star, which is a rare relationship even within the X-Men franchise. While unable to provide good character moments to the whole cast, the insights we do get carry the development of the whole team forward.

In 'Sabretooth & the Exiles' #2, an obscure villain climbs the ranks
In ‘Sabretooth & the Exiles’ #2, an obscure villain climbs the ranks
Sabretooth & the Exiles #2
A strong development of the stellar foundation laid last issue, the second issue of Sabretooth & the Exiles puts in the work to better realize the dangers at hand. Furthermore, it develops the bond between Oya and Nekra’s rising star, which is a rare relationship even within the X-Men franchise. While unable to provide good character moments to the whole cast, the insights we do get carry the development of the whole team forward.
Reader Rating1 Vote
8.1
Nekra beating up Sabretooth and playing sneaky with Cypher's seed
Nanny trash-talking Mister Sinister
A deep sense of immediate and long-term danger for the team and mutantkind
Why is Toad here?
8.5
Great
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