February 2's Sabretooth #1 sets up a terrifying (and terrifyingly appropriate) new status quo for the eponymous mutant villain - he's the ruler of mutant hell.
With Sabretooth having been stuck in exile in Krakoa's equivalent of prison since House of X/Powers of X, Sabretooth #1 (of 5) finally shows what actually happens in 'the Pit,' and explores the unforeseen consequences of Krakoa's brand of mutant justice.
Spoilers ahead for Sabretooth #1 by writer Victor LaValle, artists Leonard Kirk and Rain Beredo, and letterer Cory Petit.
The vicious mutant murderer Sabretooth was the first recipient of Krakoan justice way back in House of X/Powers of X when he was exiled to a void somewhere deep in Krakoa known as 'The Pit,' where he's been held in stasis - as Xavier describes it "aware but unable to act" - for the violation of killing humans.
He's been stuck there ever since, with neither hide nor hair of the mutant berserker seen above ground on Krakoa. At least, not until Sabretooth #1, in which his visage starts appearing in the foliage of Krakoa, much to Black Tom Cassidy's dismay.
As it turns out, Sabretooth's been trying to escape the Pit through whatever psychic and physical strength he can muster - and it's getting bad enough that Krakoa sends Doug Ramsey's mind into Sabretooth's consciousness to make him a "plea deal" of sorts.
In what Doug Ramsey calls an "act of mercy," he offers Sabretooth a kind of "psychic freedom," in which his mind will be paradise, rather than a prison, with his awareness of his captivity and the resulting anguish therefore soothed. He also promises Sabretooth that he's trying to ensure no one else shares his fate - but that promise will soon be broken, as we've already seen in other stories.
Seeing few options, Sabretooth agrees, and his mindscape essentially becomes a freeform playground at the will of his imagination. Sabretooth embarks on a series of his own psychic adventures, living out his fantasies of slaying his enemies and conquering whole worlds in his own mind.
Finally, he descends to the furthest depths of his violent dreams, creating his own psychic version of Hell, which he then conquers, finally taking a seat on the infernal throne of his personal realm of damnation.
At the same time, Sabretooth's appearances as an odd apparition around Krakoa resume, but with a much more sinister implication than his previous attempts to escape - because this time, Sabretooth is showing up because he's managed to fully carve out his own place in Krakoa thanks to his psychic connection to Krakoa created by his sentence in the Pit.
Everything snaps into place when other mutants start arriving in the Pit, including Nekra, Madison Jeffries, Oya, Melter, and Third Eye - much to Sabretooth's surprise, and devilish delight.
Thanks to Krakoa's "plea deal" offering Sabretooth psychic freedom over his own mind, Sabretooth's personally crafted Hell has seemingly become one with the Pit - a place where the minds of mutants are inadvertently sent when they are exiled to the Pit, with Sabretooth vowing they will suffer eternally at his hands, in keeping with the idea of his own personal Hell.
What this means is, Krakoa now effectively has its own mutant Hell, with Sabretooth essentially filling the role of the devil, much to his own apparent delight.
This development offers a stark counterpoint to Nightcrawler's efforts to forge a new mutant spirituality in the recent Way of X series, which will give way to the upcoming Legion of X title in March/April's 'Destiny of X' relaunch. Legion of X will focus on Nightcrawler leading a team of mutants who will serve as a kind of mutant police force, with their own psychic headquarters in the mind of David Haller AKA Legion.
Sabretooth #1 may be setting up a key aspect of Legion of X's plot in establishing a fate for mutants far worse than death (which they can overcome with resurrection), and putting Sabretooth himself in place as something of a devil for mutantkind - a role he's sure to relish if it lasts.
Sabretooth #2 (of 5) goes on sale on March 9.
Keep up with everything going on with Marvel's mutants with our listing of all the new X-Men comics planned for release in 2022 and beyond.