While the developments of this week’s Inferno #2 — from writer Jonathan Hickman, artist Stefano Caselli, colorist David Curiel, and letterer Joe Sabino — are the big, flashy pearl-clutching sort, a certain someone being resurrected (or not) isn’t the only major twist Marvel’s been teasing for its Krakoan mutants.
Even though the newest team of X-Men just got itself together, Marvel’s already hinted at a major shakeup to the roster following Cyclops being replaced by an unknown newcomer: Captain Krakoa. Following Captain Krakoa’s arrival being teased in the solicitations for Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz’s X-Men #6, due out in December, Marvel’s released more detailed concept art of Captain Krakoa’s costume that gives you a better sense of the mutant’s seemingly plant-focused power set.
Because Captain Krakoa’s civilian identity has yet to be announced, there’s been some speculation as to who might be hiding beneath his visor, which looks something like a cross between the helmets Cyclops and Professor X have been wearing as of late. Given how the X-Men, along with the rest of Krakoa’s various mutant teams, are all finding a new footing in the universe following the terraforming of Mars, there are a variety of wild possibilities when it comes to who Captain Krakoa could be. Like, for example, him actually somehow being Cyclops in disguise after he stepped down, being able to operate as more of an unknown agent.
Interesting as that might be, a more solid hint about who’s under the floronic mask may have been tucked into Inferno #1 from Hickman, artist Valerio Schiti, and colorist David Curiel, in one of the comic’s quieter moments that wasn’t about a certain reincarnating mutant living in fear of a certain dead clairvoyant. In a sequence immediately preceding Cyclops announcing that he plans to step down as one of Krakoa’s four Great Captains, we’re shown a snapshot of Cypher’s life as he greets the day and the people most important to him in the entire world: his wife and his best friends. The degree to which Doug and Bei the Blood Moon have gotten along with one another in the wake of X of Swords is debatable, given how their respective powers make it difficult for them to communicate with one another. But Cypher insists to Warlock, the technarch he’s fused with, and Krakoa, the sentient embodiment of the island as a whole that only he can understand, that he genuinely loves Bei.
Cypher’s declaration of love for Bei prompts both of his friends to express a possessiveness of him that whiffs of jealousy, and the chumminess that Cyber uses to diffuse the moment’s tension feels like it might be a subtle hint about who Captain Krakoa might really be. Though Cypher, Warlock, and Krakoa might not be seen as the same exact kind of mutant circuit that the Five are — the mutants who govern the resurrection process that has made Krakoa the superpower it is — their pasts and power sets have made them a unique unit in the Dawn of X. Though Warlock can exist on his own, he often spends his time physically (and to a certain extent, mentally) bonded with Cypher, who himself has a profound connection with Krakoa, who appreciates that the humanoid mutant can interpret its form of speech.
Krakoa being Krakoa — the literal sentient Earth landmass without which the mutant’s new age of glory wouldn’t be possible — it was necessary for the being to have a seat on the mutants’ Quiet Council, mutantkind’s secretive governing body, with Cypher (and perhaps Warlock by extension) joining as interpreters. Both of the first two issues of Inferno have been detailing how the balance of power on Krakoa is gradually shifting as different members play their hands at wresting control from Xavier and other members of the Quiet Council. Between Cyclops stepping down as one of the four Great Captains, and the shuffling that occurs on the Quiet Council in Inferno #2, it’s interesting to wonder whether Captain Krakoa’s arrival might be the result of Krakoa and Cypher making moves of their own, to further extend their power’s reach beyond the Quiet Council itself to the primary X-Men team specifically.
What little we’ve seen of Captain Krakoa’s plant powers and costumes could plausibly be some sort of combination of Cypher and Krakoa stepping out in a new identity to mix things up a bit, but Inferno #1 also includes a curious tidbit suggesting another potential true identity for the new hero. Benjamin Percy’s recent run on X-Force detailed how Beast and other X-Force members came to be involved in an underhanded espionage plot targeting the human nation of Terra Verde that ended disastrously.
In response to the Terra Verdan government developing sophisticated telefloronic technology that, if left unchecked, could have posed a threat to Krakoa, Beast attempted to hack the technology for his own ends, and in doing so caused hundreds of thousands of people to lose their lives as Terra Verde’s population was transformed into plant monsters. The fallout of Beast’s actions were something that he and the rest of X-Force continued to deal with well into the Hellfire Gala and beyond, as individuals like Black Tom Cassidy fell victim to an unknown menace hunting people on Krakoa. While Black Tom’s yet to properly resurface since he was attacked by something in the forest back in X-Force #18, a medical report from Dr. Cecilia Reyes in Inferno #1 confirms that he’s alive, and than ever, but suffering from some sort of profound mental trauma from his assault.
The concerns about what’s happening with Black Tom are mirrored somewhat in X-Force #21, where Reyes details various strains of intelligent plant life that now exist on Earth — including those hailing from Terra Verde, but also those that transformed Dr. Theodore “Ted” Sallis into the creature known as Man-Thing. Reyes singles out plants born of Man-Thing as having given rise to the “mutant” Man-Slaughter strain of plants seen in the issue itself, acting as a benevolent figure and ally to X-Force. While the point of Reyes’ Man-Slaughter speculation was whether or not plants grown on Krakoa might have infectious properties mutants should be worried about, X-Force #21 also underlined how, despite being made of several plants, Man-Slaughter considers himself to be a singular person.
There are more than a couple of possibilities when it comes to who Captain Krakoa truly is, but whether it’s Cypher and Krakoa in a trenchcoat, Black Tom reborn, Man-Slaughter in a new guise, or someone else entirely, everything about the character’s impending arrival points to them being rather suspicious. Flowers or not, the world’s perceptions of Krakoa are still being formed, and everything the X-Men have been working towards could definitely be ruined by one flashy Krakoan patriot insisting that he alone stands as the embodiment of the best and brightest of mutantkind.
Inferno #1 and Inferno #2 are now on sale. Captain Krakoa is set to make their debut this December, in the pages of X-Men #6.