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Sabretooth & the Exiles #5
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

‘Sabretooth & the Exiles’ #5 concludes a series of unfortunate events…for now

Things don’t really go well for this crew, they just go bad in different ways.

The finale of the limited series is equal parts wrap-up and setup for the continuing misadventures of Victor Creed and his former cellmates in Sabretooth & the Exiles #5. Depicted by Victor LaValle, Leonard Kirk, Rain Beredo, VC’s Cory Petit, and Mark Basso, the issue details Sabretooth’s showdown with his estranged son Graydon Creed as well as the Exiles’ exploits at Orchis’ Infernal Nursery. The series’ signature blend of violence and absurdity maintains its deep grounding in reality to the very end, and I for one cannot wait to see where the story goes next.

SPOILERS AHEAD for Sabretooth & the Exiles #5!

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The majority of the series has seen Victor Creed in an extremely delicate alliance with the other Exiles while Nekra established herself as the leader of the makeshift team. On top of this, the episodic nature of their journey has seen the squad dismantling six different Orchis stations globally each month. Issue #5 disrupts this pattern by splitting Sabretooth from the Exiles, each trapped perilously in two different Orchis stations. Creed is dying due to a disabled healing factor as his murderous son parades his wall of trophies, each the head of a Sabretooth variant plucked from the multiverse for slaughter. Meanwhile, the Exiles are deep undersea with the villainous Dr. Barrington and her Creation surrounded by lethally unstable mutant infants.

Opening up the story in this manner finds nearly the entire cast in dire straits. Yet Victor Creed is a creature that seemingly cannot be held down for long, as the few surviving variants imprisoned in the base are able to send Graydon running and teach him how to reignite his healing factor. The trio includes a Victor Creed who managed to become a dark reflection of Captain America, a superstar Sabretooth with wicked acrylics, and a seriously savage Sabretooth femme.

Sabretooth’s side of the plot brings the guts and gore to the issue. Literally, gutting open Sabretooth-616 is essential to restoring his healing factor. On top of this, the main action set piece of the issue is when Graydon deploys the headless corpses of the fallen Sabretooth variants as combat drones against the squad of Sabretooths (Sabreteeth?). For all of his speechifying about sending his father to hell, and despite having the Creed quartet outnumbered, Sabretooth defeats Graydon rather handily and shunts him off elsewhere into the multiverse.

Sabretooth #5 Sabretooth Variants
Sabreteeth Galore
Credit: Marvel Comics

The more screwball, comedic aspects of the series come to light once more in the Exiles’ half of the issue. Specifically, Nanny gets the ultimate moment to shine as she convinces the team as well as Barrington and the Creation that she must mentally de-age them in order for the traumatized infants to be calmed down. Doing so turns out to be Nanny and Orphan-Maker’s last hurrah for now as the two escape with the Infernal Nursery and its occupants in tow. Credit where credit is due, Nanny did release the Exiles, Barrington, and the Creation as well as restore their minds, and that’s definitely growth since her days of de-aging the X-Men.

LaValle’s experience as a novelist adds an extra element to the issue in the text passage titled “Maroons.” Detailing the historical significance of the term as a moniker for communities of Africans who escaped enslavement in the colonial United States, the Caribbean, Brazil, and colonized regions across Africa. Ta-Nehisi Coates used the term elsewhere in the Marvel Universe in his Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda arc to a similar effect. Here, LaValle draws special attention to the kinship in the way these free people used “maroon” and the way that various mutant communities employed the term “Morlocks.” It would seem that the Exiles and the mutant prisoners they liberated from Orchis are choosing the name Maroon as well, and this may end up being the next title the majority of this cast appears in.

While issue #5 is meant to be a finale, this feels undermined by a significant chunk of this installment that introduces what will likely be a third X-Book penned by LaValle as well as Sabretooth’s future appearance in the ongoing Wolverine book. The aforementioned piece of Maroon prose ends with the tease of “The Sabretooth War.” Even as Graydon goes blasting off again, he swears that he will return for his father with a vengeance. Dr. Barrington and the Creation escape, furthering their own brand of racist white woman super-villainy. The closing panels of the issue also feature the Sabretooth squad amassing their headless drone variants and setting their sights once more on making Logan’s life hell. Finally, the issue ends with “Sabretooth & the Exiles will return.” All these various foreshadowings are a bit overstated in comparison the “to me, my Exiles,” that concluded Sabretooth #5.

Wild, bloody, and tinged with humor, Sabretooth & the Exiles #5 retains a sense of authenticity to the world around us to the end and surpasses that of its fellow X-Books. While it may not have carried the weight that some expected out of a final issue, this finale cements this limited series as The Empire Strikes Back to Sabretooth‘s A New Hope. Whether or not LaValle has merely a trilogy of miniseries in mind or more, Marvel would do well to hear out whatever he pitches next.

Sabretooth & the Exiles #5
‘Sabretooth & the Exiles’ #5 concludes a series of unfortunate events…for now
Sabretooth & the Exiles #5
Wild, bloody, and tinged with humor, Sabretooth & the Exiles #5 retains a sense of authenticity to the world around us to the end and surpasses that of its fellow X-Books.
Reader Rating1 Votes
8.7
Nanny's Last Laugh
Every-Sabretooth Everywhere All At Sabretooth
The Etymology of Maroon with Victor LaValle
About three foreshadows too many
8
Good
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