As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.
REALM OF X #3
“First Blood Spilled”
Writer: Torunn Grønbekk
Artist: Bruno Oliveira
Colour artist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Lauren Amaro
COVER / PAGE 1. Um…, well, that seems to be Mirage crying out on the Bifrost, with images of Thor and Sif overhead.
The original solicitation for this story reads: “No gods, only mutants! The date of the prophecy looms ahead, and despite their best efforts, the Vanir and their mutant protectors are ill-equipped to meet their destiny. Meanwhile, their enemy grows ever stronger, sinking their claws deeper into the misguided Curse. Lost and at the end of her rope, Dani beseeches her former friends in Asgard for help – but will reinforcements arrive in time to turn the tide, or have they truly been abandoned to their fate?”
Most of that solicitation is in the issue, but the closest it gets to Dani beseeching the Asgardians is four panels on page 13 where she stands under a tree and yells to the gods. Presumably it was planned to be a much more prominent plot thread when the cover was designed.
Diógenes Neves, who drew issues #1-2, was solicited to draw this issue as well, but instead we get Bruno Oliveira. It’s been a long while since I’ve seen Marvel plug a fill-in artist with a style so comprehensively unlike the regular artist into the middle of an arc. Actually, I quite like the art, aside from the bafflingly high number of vigorously cross-eyed characters throughout the story. But boy, it’s going to read strangely in the trade.
PAGE 2-5. Saturnyne summons her soldiers.
The previous issue ended with Saturnyne ignoring Joana’s warnings that she needed to sacrifice something in order to change her fate, and deciding that she was going to kill the approaching mutants (presumably, before they got to Curse and removed her from Saturnyne’s influence). She also said she was going to “summon some help”, which is evidently what she’s doing here. Unlike the locals, who can’t reach the rest of the Ten Realms, Saturnyne can open a portal, but struggles to keep it open.
The ship she manages to get through is occupied by alien-looking soldiers who seem to regard themselves as having a deal with Saturnyne, rather than working for her. We don’t know at this stage who these guys are.
PAGE 6. Recap and credits.
PAGES 7-9. The mutants fight the aliens.
Straight action sequence. The heroes finally learn that they’re fighting Saturnyne.
PAGES 10-11. Trabin dies.
A “Verus” was mentioned last issue – it’s basically a ceremony where Vanir precognitives predict the future of children.
PAGE 12. Data page. Librarian Frider Frostborn annotates another prophecy about the upcoming battle (as she did last issue). In a sense, this literally annotates itself. Obviously, “fire” is Typhoid, “sand” is Dust, “fear” is Mirage and “bone” is Marrow, simply tracking their powers. Frider dismisses the bit about “stars embrace their light” as “poetic drivel”, which probably means it’ll turn out to be the plot of issue #4. It has to be said that the standard of poetry on this particular prophecy is not top notch. (“This threat we can’t dismiss”?)
The “fifth stranger” is clearly Curse, but on the face of it, Magik doesn’t feature in the prophecy at all. Of course, story convention tells us that she’s probably the unspecified person who makes the “choice” in the final two stanzas.
PAGE 13. Mirage calls out to Sif.
Dani mentioned last issue that she had been trying to contact Asgard (though she didn’t really specify how), and we saw that Trabin was writing increasingly frustrated letters to the Asgardians too. The obvious implication was that the messages were being blocked somehow.
PAGE 14. Data page. The dying Trabin entrusts his role to Vonos. It doesn’t come up in this issue, but Vonos was flirting very obviously with Typhoid in issue #2 (and the prophecy on page 12 is all about “passion” and “love” where Typhoid is concerned).
PAGE 15. Saturnyne and Joana.
Last issue, Joana was berating Saturnyne for thinking that she could alter her destiny without making a sacrifice. Saturnyne insists that she has successfully averted the prophecy – the Vanir might attack, but there isn’t going to be a pitched battle as advertised. Joana has obviously heard this sort of thing many times before and has confidence that her prophesies always come true in the end.
PAGES 16-18. Magik enters Saturnyne’s citadel alongside the refugees.
When we left Magik last issue, she had been left behind by the others, and she’d wandered off on her own. Her advantage, at the moment, is that nobody is paying attention to her.
PAGES 19-21. Magik and Curse.
The narration tries to tell us that Curse is a teenager, but she’s drawn to look like a child (which is normal). We saw in previous issues that Saturnyne has told Curse that the mutants abandoned her. Curse is initially pleased to see Magik and kind of brushes her off, but we’ll see in the next scene that she does take Magik’s protests somewhat seriously.
Saturnyne justifies the damage that she’s doing to Vanaheim on the grounds that “sacrifices must be made.” This seems to call back to Joana lecturing Saturnyne last issue about the need for her to sacrifice something in order to alter her fate. But Saturnyne is trying to get someone else to make the sacrifice for her.
PAGES 22-23. Saturnyne and Curse.
Curse figures out, a little too late, that Saturnyne has indeed been lying to her. Saturnyne doesn’t seem to have much of a plan B for the eventuality of Curse seeing through her.
PAGE 24. Magik plummets from the tower.
And has a flashback to being a trainee of a bored-looking Belasco, as a child growing up in Limbo. Apparently, this is some sort of breakthrough which helps her reconnect to her magic.
PAGE 25. Trailers. The Krakoan reads TAKE FATE INTO YOUR OWN HANDS.