Xavier has abandoned his dream in favor of a dark government plot on a psychic island. But his orders won’t stop the X-Men from being heroes.
Spoilers for X-Men #15 and X of Swords!
Marvel’s X-Men haven’t been themselves, but the team’s first leaders just stood up to change that. On their new home, the sentient psychic island nation Krakoa, the mutants formerly known as the X-Men became so different that the name “X-Men” itself lost all meaning. In X-Men #15, the heroes of mutantkind decided to cut ties with Charles Xavier, believing that his dream has changed too much from what they believe in.
In 2019, X-Men writer Jonathan Hickman spearheaded a reboot of the X-Men franchise. The House of X and Powers of X miniseries set up an ambitious story about mutant time travel between the birth of the mutant superhero team and the end of organic life itself. The tenth reincarnation of Moira McTaggart, aka Moira X, convinced Charles Xavier to change his plans of human/mutant unity. Together they moved the entire mutant race to a new mutants-only country called Krakoa. Thanks to mental time travel and bioengineering, Xavier has nearly infinite money, cloning pods that make mutants virtually immortal, and a secret plan that only Moira, Xavier, and his right-hand man Magneto understand.
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If the premise of mutants as posthuman, post-scarcity polyamorous separatists sounds bizarre and even immoral to you, you aren’t alone. Krakoa is portrayed as ominous and secretive, especially the island, who lures mutants in to eat them. Krakoa’s government, the Quiet Council, mixes reformed villains like Magneto and Emma Frost with unrepentant tyrants like Apocalypse and Mister Sinister. Beast runs the X-Force like an oppressive mutant CIA. Moira herself laments in her journals how much she had to corrupt Xavier to do what she feels is necessary to prevent the extinction event in their future.
X-Men #15 reveals just how far the X-Men’s leadership has come from what it was before Moira X took control. A Krakoan memo shows the name “X-Men” was struck down by the Quiet Council, who saw “only potential complications” in maintaining the classic mutant hero team. They referred to it as an “old model” that could cause “societal cracks”. The X-Men aren’t just considered obsolete by Krakoa, but seditious. From a reader perspective, that also means that the actual comic book series X-Men hasn’t been about “the X-Men” at all, but a bizarre mutant death cult whose members used to be superheroes and supervillains.
Cyclops and Jean Grey approach the Quiet Council determined to pull off a desperate plan: assemble a team, go to a hostile dimension, and save their son who’s dying after a battle in the X of Swords tournament. They know Xavier and the Council must refuse, since it’s far too risky, and going against their vote would mean sedition from Krakoa. So Cyclops levels with them: he and his wife cede from Krakoan political power, choosing to act not as its agents, but as its heroes. The pair are also recruiting whoever will do the same. They’ll bring the X-Men back against all orders.
While Xavier openly disapproves, he can’t help smiling at seeing Cyclops follow his principles, which the hero says come from “how he was raised” by the Professor. Magneto, Cyclops’ mentor in adulthood following his switch to good, utters a simple “good boy”. As the Krakoan government descends further into the X-Force moral abyss, its two leaders know in their hearts that their reboot of the mutant race still needs heroes.
X-Men #15 is written by Jonathan Hickman with art by Mahmud Asrar, color by Sunny Gho, and lettering by Clayton Cowles, and is available now from Marvel Comics and Comixology.
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