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Destiny and Mystique post for an old-timey portrait in Victorian dress on the cover of Immortal X-Men #8 (2022). Image: Mark Brooks/Marvel Comics

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Marvel’s newest mutant is the actual Sherlock Holmes

The X-Men line brings new meaning to the ‘hound’ of the Baskervilles

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Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

Surely one of the most puzzling things about the Jonathan Hickman era of X-Men, to new readers, was that the name of one of its most pivotal characters is Irene Adler.

Better known by her mutant moniker, Destiny, Krakoa’s fate seemed to revolve around her, the question of whether she could be resurrected, and what dire consequences that resurrection seemed to promise. She was a big deal! And she inexplicably shared a name with a rather famous 130-year-old crime fiction character.

The early 1980s, when Destiny was created, were a simpler time. Superhero comics were still very niche entertainment and Irene Adler was still mostly an obscure reference from one Sherlock Holmes story, not a mainstay of basically every Sherlock Holmes TV or movie franchise. You could get away with naming a character who had nothing to do with Irene Adler after her without too much cognitive dissonance. It took modern comics to complete the referential circle.

With Immortal X-Men #8, what was once implied is now canon: Mystique, Destiny’s shape-shifting wife, was Sherlock Holmes.

What else is happening in the pages of our favorite comics? We’ll tell you. Welcome to Monday Funnies, Polygon’s weekly list of the books that our comics editor enjoyed this past week. It’s part society pages of superhero lives, part reading recommendations, part “look at this cool art.” There may be some spoilers. There may not be enough context. But there will be great comics. (And if you missed the last edition, read this.)

Immortal X-Men #8

A man exits 221 Baker Street exclaiming “The man’s a genius!” “Wrong on all counts,” mutters Irene Adler as she enters to meet Mystique, in her mutant form, but dressed in a Victorian trench coat and a deerstalker hat in Immortal X-Men #8 (2022). Image: Kieron Gillen, Michele Bandini/Marvel Comics

Longtime X-Men readers will know that comics have heavily implied that Mystique was Sherlock Holmes before. When Mystique and Destiny first got together, Mystique was living in London and posing as a renowned (and male) consulting detective, and readers were left to connect the dots.

In this week’s Immortal X-Men, writer Kieron Gillen and artist Michele Bandini draw the line canonically: Mystique was Sherlock Holmes, and her detecting prowess came directly from Destiny’s clairvoyant sight. Elementary.

Defenders: Beyond #5

“Time to meet god,” says Blue Marvel, to a huge, glowing, androgynous figure who speaks in large, all-caps titles instead of word balloons. “I see through many eyes. I build with many hands. They are themselves but they are also me. I am all-powerful. My only weapon is love. The mystery intrigues me.” in Defenders Beyond #5 (2022). Image: Al Ewing, Javier Rodríguez/Marvel Comics

My hat is off to Al Ewing and Javier Rodríguez for their equally beautiful sequel to Defenders, but it’s double off to Ewing for somehow making Defenders: Beyond a sequel to his Ultimates, his Loki: Agent of Asgard, and even a bit of a coda on his Immortal Hulk. That’s called a flex, folks.

Batman - One Bad Day: Mr. Freeze

“Gentlemen,” says Mister Freeze, striding through the dark in his cold suit, with the round, inhuman lenses of his goggles the only visible part of his face, “The next decision you make will determine the course of your lives,” in Batman — One Bad Day: Mr. Freeze (2022). Image: Gerry Duggan, Matteo Scalera/DC Comics

I’m a person who’s been reading virtually every Batman comic in the past 20 years and it’s hard to show me something I haven’t seen before or have seen done better. It’s a personal problem, but it’s probably why I’ve found the Batman: One Bad Day books — jumbo prestige one-shots giving DC’s best current creators a stab at revamping the origin stories of his villains — decent so far, but nothing to write home about.

So it should hold weight when I say that writer Gerry Duggan and artist Matteo Scalera’s Mister Freeze story is an all-timer. It’s no true revamp, just a calculated tightening up on Freeze’s revolutionary Batman: The Animated Series origin, that remembers to also be a story about Batman. And it’s set during the holiday season! The art is just gorgeous, Scalera’s compositions and color work are delicious, and Robin wears this cold-weather outfit with a yellow hooded cape that makes him look the CUTEST.

Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise #1

Doctor Strange battles several fantastical armored foes, on a detailed, maximalist double page spread filled with warping tile surfaces, huge sound effects, and many panels, in Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise #1 (2022). Image: Tradd Moore/Marvel Comics

I’ve been waiting on Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise, written and drawn by Tradd Moore, since the moment I read that title and artist combination. And Moore did not disappoint.

Department of Truth #22

“I’m Lee Harvey Oswald,” says a man with a cigarette in a trench coat. “For the last sixty years I’ve been a member of a covert branch of our government called the Department of Truth. And you’re about to reveal all my deepest, darkest secrets to this country in your newspaper,” in Department of Truth #22 (2022). Image: James Tynion IV, Martin Simmonds/Image Comics

This is just to say that The Department of Truth, quietly one of my favorite indie series of the past few years, looks like it’s beginning the windup to its finale, if you’ve needed an excuse to get caught up.

Fantastic Four #1

Alicia Masters and Ben Grimm/The Thing get in their truck and drive out of the town of Cedar, talking about a guy named Sandy. Ben says that the fact that they’re here is proof that Sandy either lost his superpower or never used it again, but he’d prefer to think it’s the latter. “A life lived without ever once wishin’ you could go back an’ change things... we should all be so lucky,” in Fantastic Four #1 (2022). Image: Ryan North, Iban Coello/Marvel Comics

A mea culpa: I actually missed Fantastic Four #1 the week it came out and had to read it later. The thing that double sold me on the book wasn’t the solid little one-issue story or the hint at a broader mystery. It was the clear sense that writer Ryan North is bringing the same superhero ethos of Squirrel Girl — that punching and weirdness will happen but many villains are just people who need a little outside help with their problems — to Marvel’s First Family. The FF are often considered as hokey and old-fashioned as Superman, despite the 30-year age gap between them, and if North knows one thing, it’s how to remind the reader that sincerity isn’t boring.


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