Sabretooth: The Adversary

Sabretooth: The Adversary
Sabretooth The Adversary review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Marvel - 978-1-3029-3145-2
  • Release date: 2022
  • UPC: 9781302931452
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes
  • CATEGORIES: Horror, Superhero

The mutant society of Krakoa welcomes all mutants irregardless of previous crimes, but protection from the wider world and the wiping of the slate comes with the proviso that they set the past behind them also. Sabretooth was unable to do so, which resulted in him being consigned to a pit beneath the ground. That’s as far as the continuity went in the X-Men title, and it’s where Victor LaValle and Leonark Kirk pick up.

Sabretooth is irredeemably feral with no respect for life, nor for the views of others. Truth be told he has no respect for the few able to hand him his head on a plate either, yet at least he’s able to recognise that. Initially rendered comatose, he’s eventually given the freedom to let his mind roam free, which is problematical when a few other mutants fall foul of Krakoa’s ruling council and are also consigned to the pit. Where they find themselves is the middle of Sabretooth’s resolutely unpleasant fantasy, and he just sees them as prey.

To look at Adversary, you’d assume it was a straightforward superhero comic, although a better drawn example thanks to Kirk’s imagination and clarity. Except LaValle has plenty of interesting ideas of what Sabretooth is, and what he might be able to do while on Krakoa. The most obvious violent fantasies manifest in the first chapter, thankfully drawn with some restraint by Kirk, but still grim. Afterwards LaValle starts characterising the supporting cast with more dignity than they’ve previously received, and throwing in some asides pertinent to exploring the idea of holding people to account. He looks not just at imprisonment of the body, but of the mind, so being able to journey through the astral plane gets a look in. This is in the middle of a plot narrated for the most part by a very confident Sabretooth certain he’s got everyone fooled.

Has there ever been a Sabretooth story that can be labelled as intelligent? Adversary is. It’s smart, a mystery, a collection of points for consideration and still fulfils the purpose of being a cracking superhero story. It leads into Sabretooth and the Exiles.