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Orchis on the cover of X-Men #22
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

‘X-Men’ #22 offers an in-depth look at a horrific enemy

It’s about time that Orchis evolves into evil Santa Claus.

Mutants have taken the solar system. The X-Men have earned the world’s love. The Fall of X is fast approaching. It’s time for Orchis to finally make its move.

After X-Men #21‘s schism between Jean Grey and Cyclops, Gerry Duggan and Joshua Cassara are ready to show exactly why the X-Men are more necessary than ever. The world may still hate and fear mutants, but it’s about to get a lot worse.

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SPOILERS AHEAD for X-Men #22!

The issue starts with a quiet meeting between Opal Vetiver of Hordeculture and the Omega Sentinel of Orchis. Opal hands over the keys to the mutant gates, and the Omega Sentinel offers a word of advice. The Krakoan flowers have been corrupted, and they’ll kill any consumers.

Omega Sentinel, of course, doesn’t mention who corrupted the flowers. As M.O.D.O.K., Dr. Stasis, and Nimrod tour the world on a villainous version of Santa’s sled, they show off exactly what Orchis’ experiments have caused. With a click of a button, a consumer of Krakoa’s drugs smashes through a window and jumps to his death. Save for Nimrod, the Orchis leaders are ecstatic.

Omega Sentinel meeting Hordeculture in X-Men #22

Marvel Comics

That isn’t where Orchis’ machinations stop, of course. A mutant in Chicago signs an agreement that gives Orchis permission to revert his X-gene. Yet, after stepping into a terrifying-looking tent, the mutant Woofer decides that’s actually a bad idea. Orchis won’t let him leave, but the X-Men aren’t about to leave a mutant behind.

Forge, Firestar, and Cyclops face off against Orchis’ agents. In the process, Cyclops discovers that human-sized Sentinel Zero machines are on the loose. To make matters worse, they’re all equipped with Adamantium. It turns out that sending them so many Wolverine bodies was a horrifically bad idea. Who would have thought?

Sentinel Zero attacks Firestar, who is only able to keep it back by launching the equivalent of a tactical nuclear weapon in the middle of Chicago. If the X-Men are trying to fight a PR battle, that isn’t how they should hope to win it. It’s a great moment for Firestar, at least, who’s had a somewhat lackluster run so far.

With their mission done, the X-Men return to the Treehouse, where they consider Sentinel Zero. Together, Forge and Cyclops realize that there are too many missing Adamantium skeletons to count. Off in space, the monkey scientists fist bump as they get their 10th X-Sentinel activated. To make matters worse, the plan is to use human flesh to make them look more realistic. Uh-oh.

Things may not be going well for the mutants, but the X-line is certainly enjoying this era. The best decision that X-Men made after losing Pepe Larraz was picking up Joshua Cassara. The art of this issue is fantastic, and his work really helps to show the sheer brutality of Orchis’ plans. From the civilian smashing his head through a glass window to Sentinel Zero slashing through Firestar’s arm, the issue feels as grounded as it is painful, which is exactly what Cassara seems to have been going for.

Jean Grey fans may be disappointed that the schism between Cyclops and Jean has been put off for another issue, but X-Men #22 succeeds all the same. With mutants about to face their fall at the Hellfire Gala, this issue feels like an important set-up. In a few months, it may be easy to look back at X-Men #22 to see the start of where everything went wrong for the mutants.

Speaking of everything going wrong, bringing back the Wolverine skeletons was a brilliant move. After all, it’s been a hanging plot thread for ages that has desperately needed fulfillment. Actually putting them to use is a great way of showing Krakoans that their immortality doesn’t make them immune to damage. They need to be careful before anything gets worse.

Omega Sentinel speaking with Hordeculture in X-Men #22

Marvel Comics

The discussion between Opal and the Omega Sentinel is a welcome return for Karima, who has been conspicuously absent for too long. It’s nice to know that Omega Sentinel is still up to her old tricks and is getting ready to target more than just mutants. After all, Orchis is planning to target other superheroes as soon as the mutants are dealt with. That does seem to explain how the Avengers are getting involved in Fall of X, anyway.

Of course, Orchis isn’t the only one getting set up here. Forge apparently also has some tricks up his sleeve, and he’s planning to lay out his cards soon. The Treehouse technologies are about to be offered to humanity — free of charge. Maybe now Krakoa can earn the love of the people. Oh wait, the Krakoan drugs are about to explode. Good try, Forge!

If there’s any major flaw to X-Men #22, it’s that it’s mostly set up. That does have a place, but for a single issue, it makes for a somewhat empty read. This is one of those issues that will read seamlessly in a trade, but it will be a forgettable affair for month-to-month readers. At least until the X-Sentinels show their faces again, anyway.

Still, it’s worth a read, and it’s always fun to see Firestar get to show off exactly how she got her name.

Orchis on the cover of X-Men #22
‘X-Men’ #22 offers an in-depth look at a horrific enemy
X-Men #22
If there's any major flaw to X-Men #22, it's that it's mostly setup. That does have a place, but for a single issue, it makes for a somewhat empty read. This is one of those issues that will read seamlessly in a trade, but it will be a forgettable affair for month-to-month readers. Still, it's worth a read, and it's always fun to see Firestar get to show off exactly how she got her name.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Brings back some long-awaited characters and plot lines, and it promises more to come.
Will read nicely in a trade.
Cassara's art has never fit a book so well.
This is mostly just setup with little payoff, which can be disappointing for issue #22.
The data pages don't seem to have much relevance at all.
7.5
Good
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