Welcome back to Mutantversity, a class offered at the Krakoan Akademos Habitat. This isn’t a place to find big reviews of X-books, (that’s what our Review section is for!) but it’s a great way to keep up with one of the most complicated superhero series around. We’re going to dive into the deep end as we try to parse all the secrets of this new era of “X-Men” comics. As your designated X-Pert, I will do my best to help you work through everything Marvel’s Merry Mutants have to offer!
Some smart mutants need to think their way out of some tough spots this month. Here’s what’s happening on Krakoa.
The Quiet Council’s Moral Alignment: Quantified!
Data pages have been a wonderful addition to the X-line, and sometimes a throwaway can be completely engrossing. Case in point: in “Immortal X-Men” #6, Destiny uses her powers to quantify the morality of the quiet council. The set-up: Mr. Sinister has told Destiny that there is a way to turn off the big angry god before he destroys the whole Earth. But the collateral damage could be catastrophic. This gives us a trolley problem of sorts. Which members of the Quiet Council would allow innocents to die to save the world? Who would be too scrupulous? And who is just trying to show their best side to Professor Xavier?
It’s weird that Destiny is unsure how she will act, but there you go. She knows it’s weird too, she says as much. As the person doing the potential manipulating, we’re really looking at Destiny’s chances of getting away with it. She is more likely than not to kill a lot of people if it means saving the people she likes.
Hope is unlikely to allow innocent people to die, but she could be convinced. Less likely with Professor X there, as he’s something like her great grandfather? (If you consider him a father to Cyclops). Xavier himself is very unlikely to take the risk. He may be a bastard a lot of the time, but he’s not into killing innocents. Sinister will be absent from this vote no matter what.
Exodus is an interesting case because he’s sort of a ‘villain,’ but he’s very moral and religious. The thing is, he’s easily swayed. If an authority figure like Xavier is present, Exodus will probably err on the side of protecting innocents. Mystique though DGAF. She is very likely to follow through on the risky plan, regardless of any casualties. She also sticks to her guns, won’t change her mind no matter what.
Most of the X-Men team members on the council are staunchly against risking innocent life. Kate Pryde, Nightcrawler, and Colossus are extremely moral no matter what. True to form, Emma is somewhat on the fence as someone pretty ruthless, but she is so sick of sacrificing innocents, she’s unlikely to actually go there. Storm is busy fighting Eternals on Mars.
That leaves Sebastian Shaw. More than Exodus, more than Magneto, more than Emma, more than any council member (aside from former councilor Apocalypse), Shaw is ruthless incarnate. He represents the domineering power of wealth. But he seems inclined to save innocent lives. Later in the issue, he has a dream about his father, and then a vision of Emma Frost. The idea is that despite how amoral he is, Shaw does crave approval from certain authority figures. Either that or he doesn’t like the idea of losing Iceland or whatever- that’s a potential untapped market!
“AXE: Judgment Day” is smart enough to have a simple premise: every character’s worth is considered by a big weird god, giving us an excuse for every character to reflect on their deeds. Shaw is morally repugnant, but “Judgment Day” has given us a chance to see another side of him.
Reader Discretion Advised
Every minute that I’m not reading a new Leah Williams comic is awful. I am so excited she’s back on a book, teamed with artist Carlos Gomez once again. Williams books can be smart and insightful, but they can also be chaotic and sexy. “X-Terminators” is the latter. It’s the adventure of Dazzler, Jubilee, and Boom Boom, three single screw-ups with impeccable fashion sense and light shooting out of their fingers.Continued below
The story itself is still shrouded in a little bit of mystery. Vampires are involved, and Jubilee has a history with them. But also, there seems to be mazes and deathtraps that make me think of Arcade, who debuted as an X-Men villain and in recent years has menaced Jubilee too.
But the book is really an excuse to have sexy girls making big bloody messes. All of the outfits in this comic, from Boom Boom’s dress to Jubilee’s sweater, to Dazzler’s shorts that say “PRAXIS” on the ass, are excellent. Gomez’s sense of style matches perfectly with William’s wit. Ugh, now I wish #2 was out and I was reading it.
Nature Girl in Exile
Over in “X-Men Green,” there’s a whole lot of murder going on. Lin Li, aka Nature Girl, is determined to save the world from environmental collapse, and she doesn’t care which humans need to die to do it. This of course violates a law of Krakoa (“Murder No Man”) and thus is punishable by imprisonment in the Pit. I was on the edge of my seat for this issue, wondering how Nature Girl was going to get out of this one. But on the way to that inevitable showdown, Nature Girl teams up with a young mutant named Curse, a very good dog, and Sauron, the dinosaur man who could cure cancer, but he’d rather just turn people into dinosaurs.
And this team rules. I’ve always been morbidly fascinated with Sauron, who in addition to being a dinosaur is also a hypnotist and vampire. And yes, he knew about Lord of the Rings when he picked that name, and didn’t care. Curse is also a great addition. She’s got a memorable look, and her bad-luck powers are teased at having enticing, and perhaps malevolent, depths. She seems like a good kid, even though her powers feel evil.
Also, Nature Girl? She rules all on her own. Her powers are so excellent, and her motivation so simple and strong. Duggan’s writing of her is deeply impressive. What could have devolved into a wishy-washy political point is actually used to have a really thoughtful destruction on environmentalism, and seriously considering our moral weight and responsibility. Also, many of the X-Men characters to really hit big in the last 20 years have been white people ( ex. Emma Frost, Quentin Quire, Iceman, Magik, Deadpool…). Lin has carved out a niche in the Marvel universe, and I hope creators give her the exposure she deserves.
Nature Girl does of course get found guilty- she did it, and she’s not trying to hide anything. But Krakoa, being a part of the Earth, sends Cypher to free her. I don’t know how I feel about Cypher’s role as a reluctant prison warden; it seems like pretty much everyone in the Pit finds a way to escape (
except for Nanny and Orphan Maker, where is the justice?) (I was just reminded that they escaped in Sabretooth’s prisonbreak. I miss them.) Doug lets Lin out of jail, and Krakoa gives her an awesome new wooden staff that looks awesome. Lin reunites with Curse and Saoirse the dog, and heads into exile. “X-Men Green Will Return” promises the very MCU caption at the end. I hope it’s telling the truth.
Recently, the human world learned about mutant resurrection. And lots of people had a reasonable question: can you resurrect humans? Would you resurrect humans? And the X-Men said no, that’s impossible, the resurrection process only works on mutants. Was that a lie!?
The last page of “AXE: Judgment Day” #5 sure seems to think so. The Progenitor passed judgment, and the Earth was found unworthy. Captain America was one of the first to fall. But then we see a Krakoan egg burst open, revealing an arm and Captain America’s shield. What do you make of this? Could the mutants have resurrected people at any time, they just didn’t want to? (If so, fair). Or has something changed about the resurrection protocol, perhaps using Eternals tech? Is this Captain America a mutant!? And hey, what’s his shield doing in an egg anyway? Most people come out totally naked.Continued below
As far as this event goes, this is the moment that will probably have the longest lasting impact on Krakoa. But we’ll have to wait another issue before we find out the how, why, and what.
Into the Vault
The Children of the Vault are such a great idea for a super-antagonist. Their power is having near infinite amounts of what everyone else only has a little bit of- time. They can stretch moments into centuries, preparing for any challenge. So you’re going to need a creative solution to mitigate that advantage, and boy does Forge deliver. The Mutant Maker has built a gun, hooked to a motion sensor, that fires off a black hole. If the Children try to leave their Vault, their entire civilization could be ended in a moment. And just to be safe, Forge also built a big ‘ol Krakoan dome over the vault, so that the Children will be slowed down in a countering-time-compression. Basically, Forge has managed to invent a Christopher Nolan movie, where every door leads you to a different speed on time. That’s the kind of demented creativity I like in my superhero books!
Of course, this isn’t a genocide mission, it’s a rescue mission. By the cliffhanger, Forge is wearing a special suit that will let him scan as mutant and Children-Vaultian simultaneously. He’s protected from time-nonsense and he has a built in shapeshifting ability, stolen from Mystique.
Oh yeah, and he’s wearing a groovy-looking bandolier that it turns out is… some incarnation of Caliban? If you are new to this guy, Caliban was a Morlock with the ability to find other mutants, anywhere, without the help of Cerebro. The thing is, Caliban is usually a big monster dude. He’s sort of gentle, but over the years he’s been roped into violence more than once. But one thing that he’s not is an article of clothing. Is this actually Caliban? Maybe it’s a clone? Or maybe Caliban’s powers were added to Forge’s suit, like Mystique’s?
Any way it goes, it’s gotten me excited to see the adventures of Forge: X-Man. That’s not something I would have told you at the Hellfire Gala. And him palling around with Caliban may be just what we need when this Celestial malarkey is over and done with.
“AXE: Death to the Mutants” #3 – This has been the rare event with a story sprawling enough to justify all the tie-ins. This issue exemplifies that.
“AXE: Judgment Day” #4 – As this event takes shape, it’s establishing itself as one of the all time best Marvel has ever published.
“AXE: Judgment Day” #5 – Killing characters is cheap. Revealing secrets is a lot juicier. This issue has a lot of both!
“X-Terminators” #1 – Holy $#@%! this series is going to be a blast.
“Immortal X-Men” #6 – Probably my favorite issue so far. There are huge moments for Destiny and Exodus, but it’s the Sebastian Shaw show, beautifully written and illustrated.
“Marauders #6 – Putting Birdy at the center of this story was cool, and analytic character work feels much better on this series than all that Shi’ar nonsense.
“X-Men Red” #6 – I expected this issue to rip. I was not disappointed. Best series!
“X-Men Green” #2 – Nature Girl is low key one of the bet X-Men characters of the last few years.
“X-Men” #15 – The Children of the Vault were one of the most memorable parts of the Hickman run, and this series manages to rise to that greatness.
“New Mutants” #30 – A light, fun anniversary issue.