X-Men #10 by Jonathan Hickman, Leinil Francis Yu and Sunny Gho is the first in-series Empyre event tie-in, and uses the Marvel Universe invasion of plant-alien Cotati on the Moon to dig into the secret mysterious of Vulcan, Gabriel Summers, the third Summers brother. There are some fascinating revelations here, a number of which connect to my Vulcan theories pitched way back in Krakin’ Krakoa #44, and what I’m predicting is a major X of Swords tease.
Today I’ll answer:
- How does X-Men fit into the Empyre event?
- What did we learn about Vulcan, and what does it mean for Krakoa and the Dawn of X?
- What does this have to do with X of Swords?
Potential spoilers for discussed comics may follow!
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Again, I detailed this history in immense detail back in Krakin’ Krakoa #44, and I’ll link to that video in the show notes, but the general idea is that after War of Kings both Black Bolt and Vulcan were floating near the Cancerverse rift caused by the Inhumans Terrigan bomb. In Hickman’s FF we saw that Black Bolt “awoke” and survived, but it wasn’t until now, with Hickman’s X-Men, that we’ve seen Vulcan’s side of the story. He was presumed deceased until now, when we learn that he never actually died.
This particular opening sequence employs a trick Hickman uses a lot on East of West, where art we’ve seen before is suddenly overlayed with new dialog, to provide additional detail and context to a mystery that’s been building over the course of time.
We see that Gabriel was captured by these alien, extra dimensional beings
In my original Vulcan theory, I posited that creatures from the Cancerverse, the many angled ones, could have gotten a hold of Vulcan and brought him back to life and the dimension of Earth as their sleeper agent. I’m pretty darn excited to see I wasn’t too far off the mark.
Back in Summers House on the Moon, Emperor Vulcan is teased with the possibility of endless partying with Petra and Sway.
Who are Petra and Sway?
Both Petra and Sway were among the secret team of X-Men Professor X sent to Krakoa (including Gabriel Summers) to rescue his original X-Men before the formation of the All-New All-Different X-Men. This story is told in X-Men: Deadly Genesis, and long story short, Gabe, Petra and Sway all meet pretty terrible ends!
Petra’s mutant abilities is to control earth, rocks, and apparently very chilly Margs, and Sway can control time within specified nearby areas.
Vulcan passes on Margs to take a walk near the Grootati on the Moon planning their invasion of Earth.
There’s some important set-up Hickman is working in here, looking at Vulcan as this former Emperor who very much has experience invading planets like Earth under his belt. If anyone can kinda understand the Cotati’s mission of vengeance and galactic conquest, it’s the former Emperor of the Shi’ar.
There’s definitely some strong meta commentary here too just on the nature of humanity’s worst impulses – when Hickman writes “there’s so little good to balance out all that evil” it’s definitely a line that hits home in some disturbing ways wherever we turn, especially at our collective most pessimistic.
This builds to the biggest reveal of the issue
Since Gabriel was shown as a part of Summers House back in X-Men #1, fans have wondered why he’s acting so generally amicably, turned from the raging mad king into a frathouse fire obsessed jock bro.
Here we get our answer – the extra dimensional beings have separated Vulcan’s “goodness” and his more base evil nature. “They will see you as changed – reborn, healthy and whole. But that is just a shell. Underneath it – buried alive in a shallow grave – is the real you.”
This is a frankly terrifying revelation 1) because it means Gabriel is at the whims of these mysterious Alien overlords and 2) the idea that the real you is the exact opposite of the good you are trying to be is existentially devastating. It’s not unheard of territory even in X-Men – Ultimate X-Men plays with this loosely when Professor X makes Magneto forget he’s a mutant and sets him out to live life as a kindly old chess playing in the park dude – but that doesn’t diminish the impact.
Following this forced revelation at the hands of the Cotati, Vulcan wipes them all out, in an apparent semi release of his true nature and the fire he’s been holding inside.
It’s kinda easy to forget, but Vulcan is literally an Omega Level Mutant, who again, has razed galaxies.
Meanwhile, the Summers family is enjoying a day at the beach on their private Shi’ar Chandilor resort.
It’s important here to contrast what “good” Vulcan is growing to want to have – family, days at the beach, peace – with what the extra dimensional aliens are telling him in these memories that are suddenly returning.
Here’s the biggest question for me: Why is Hickman planting all these seeds – plant puns! – for Gabriel Summers?
I think the answer is going to be that in X of Swords, the dimension of the aliens that captured Gabe and the X-Men will come into conflict. Possibly that’s where Apocalypse’s first horsemen are, possibly it’s one of many realms that will be a part of the event (this seems most likely to me).
Either way, the aliens here are saying they’ve basically set up Gabe as a sleeper agent, and they could tear away his “goodness” at any time and bring the Mad Emperor Vulcan back into the fold. In X of Swords, I predict this switch gets flipped.
What would you like to see covered?