Written By: Fabian Nicieza
Art By: Ron Garney
Colors By: Matt Milla
Lettering By: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: January 6, 2021
Review by: Gabriel Hernandez
Juggernaut #5 concludes the current story arc with Juggernaut and D-Cel taking on the for-profit prison, Dungeon, to free the superpowered prisoners used as guinea pigs. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn Cain Marko has been making plans for D-Cel’s future, and we see how a tragedy affected the course of D-Cel’s life. And finally, we get the answer to the big question lingering over this entire arc – Is D-Cel a mutant or isn’t she?
Was It Good?
It’s just okay. It’s not great and not terrible. Within the scope of the whole arc, the final reveal and conclusion is weak, and therefore a let down. The story wraps up neatly – perhaps a little too neatly – but you can definitely see how certain points of the story could have been handled better.
To cap this section on a high note, I really enjoyed Garney’s art through this entire arc. Garney brings an intimidating gravity to giant characters like Juggernaut and Hulk that I’d like to see continue in the future. Perhaps a full Hulk story or something with the Wrecking Crew.
Short Story Long
Nicieza uses this wrap-up issue to jump back and forth in time with flashbacks, so this is going to get a little confusing. Stay with me.
We open with a telepathic conversation between Charles Xavier and Cain Marko. Marko is informing Xavier about D-Cel, her potential status as a mutant, and his belief that she could benefit from living on Krakoa. Even the mutants on Krakoa are unable to tell if D-Cel is a mutant because her powers block scanning. At this point, the mystery of what D-Cel really is has been pushed to almost the last possible minute. I was hoping the mystery has been built up for a brilliant payoff because Nicieza has gone out of his way to make this mystery a big deal. Does it pay off? Read on.
Back to now, Juggernaut and D-Cel are charging towards the Dungeon to free the superpowered prisoners used as lab rats and to find out who has been pulling the strings to capture D-Cel. Crashing through the outer defenses, Juggernaut discovers the prison is a front and a portal will take them to where the prisoners are really located. Juggernaut steps through the portal and confronts the warden.
Here’s where the wrap up gets too clean and too easy. Why didn’t the guards at the Dungeon simply shut down the portal? Why is a front with a portal to a separate location needed in the first place. It seems like a lot of extra complication that serves no purpose, and Juggernaut gets to the final destination with almost no effort.
Surprise! The real Dungeon is located on a never-landing, always-moving helecarrier. Again, why is the extra complication for the prison necessary? To make it harder for the prisoners to escape? To make it harder for people to find? Who knows? It’s not a big deal complication but it feels inserted to make it look cool, but it lacks practical value.
The warden directs his genetically altered guards (bees mixed with frog toxin) to attack Juggernaut, which stuns him briefly. D-Cel comes to Juggernaut’s defense and her targeted force blast somehow shuts down the entire helecarrier, causing it to nosedive. I’ll admit, I don’t know how this worked. D-Cel blasts some guards, but that one blast shuts down a technically advanced carrier that’s the size of several city blocks? Again, this seems like an invented problem that’s not consistent with how D-Cel’s powers have worked in previous issues, and it’s only happening to prevent Juggernaut and D-Cel from escaping.
Flashback to a diner scene where Juggernaut and D-Cel are talking about whether or not she’s a mutant, and without outright stating the answer this scene states the answer. D-Cel IS a mutant. And the mystery buildup to the reveal is the biggest down of the issue for the very reason why it was such a mystery in the first place. D-Cel’s mutant power manifested violently while on a car trip with her parents, killing them in the process via a car crash with a truck. D-Cel explains she doesn’t want to admit she’s a mutant because that would mean admitting the crash was her fault.
This makes no sense.
D-Cel has spent the entire arc explaining that her powers are a result of a science accident. Denying she’s a mutant. Regardless of how she got her powers, the accident was still effectively her fault. Is she trying to convince herself that her powers manifested after the car accident? Where did she think that big, weird, pinkish-purple light came from? If she’s deluding herself into thinking the accident was the truck driver’s fault, why does she show no animosity to the truck driver? Or her parents who were driving? This is a poorly executed attempt at “lying to yourself,” and it makes the buildup of “is she or isn’t she?” over the entire arc fall flatter than tissue paper on a marble floor.
The helecarrier’s systems recover, and Juggernaut, seeing they can’t escape without D-Cel getting hurt, convinces D-Cel to request asylum on Krakoa as a mutant. Apparently, due to international treaty, the warden would have to honor her request. I’m not up on everything that’s going on with Krakoa, so I’m assuming this is accurate. D-Cel agrees, and the warden just let’s them go.
Again, this is way too neat. Juggernaut broke into a legal prison, injured guards, destroyed property, and basically made a big mess… and there are no consequences for this? Okay, fine. Also, we never get a clear answer as to why the warden went through so many manipulations to have D-Cel captured in the first place. Yes, her powers are unique but is that all there is to it? Oy!
Days later, Juggernaut and D-Cel are waiting at a Krakoan portal for Xavier to arrive and escort her back to Krakoa. It’s a sweet moment. No criticism. It was a nice bit of heartfelt acting when they said their goodbyes.
A week later, Juggernaut is out in the desert with Zola and Primus to try and reconstitute Quicksand. They succeed, and Juggernaut gives a little speech that implies he’s putting a team together to help other criminal supers get on the straight and narrow like him. Thus ends the 5-issue arc.
Juggernaut #5 wraps up the arc in a neat little bow, answering most of the mysteries and setting up the potential for a Juggernaut team to convert the wayward. The art has been excellent all through the arc, but while the big questions get answered, the answers were less than satisfying. Compared to the first issue, this was a mediocre ending at best.