The new issue of Hellions sees the X-Men become everything they’ve fought against as they commit genocide against an entire race of AI.
This article contains spoilers for Hellions #8 by Zeb Wells and Stephen Sergovia.
The X-Men have just committed genocide by wiping out a techno-organic race. Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men relaunch has rewritten the history of the mutant race, revealing mutants existed since prehistoric times. The history of mutants has blurred with that of anti-magic violence, with mutants routinely targeted as witches, werewolves, and demons.
Now, after millennia of persecution, the mutants have finally established a land of their own. They have settled on the living island of Krakoa, and the United Nations has reluctantly accepted the creation of this mutant nation – granted, with a little psychic persuasion from Emma Frost. But Krakoa’s leaders, Charles Xavier and Magneto, have an edge nobody knows about: a reincarnated mutant named Moira MacTaggert, who has given them the benefit of her experience of other timelines. They believe mutantkind is ultimately destined to come into conflict with technological rivals – and they are doing their best to prevent that happening in this timeline.
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In this week’s Hellions #8, Mr. Sinister’s crack team of mutants – the X-Men equivalent of the Suicide Squad – encounter a techno-organic race who have clear anti-mutant leanings. And yet, oddly enough, by the end of the issue it’s clear destiny has been rewritten; Havok is able to reach out a hand of acceptance to these beings. It leads to a hilarious moment, in which one AI declares, “Adjusting value: Mutant=enemy. Adjusting value: Mutant=friend. Simplification: We are family, mutant scum.” Unfortunately, while Havok is occupied making friends, Psylocke is following Krakoan protocol and uploading a virus into the AI network to kill them all.
It’s a shocking scene, revealing the X-Men are in danger of becoming just what they spent so long fighting. There’s a striking parallel between the X-Men’s attitude towards AI lifeforms and humanity’s traditional view of mutants. The bigots who typically oppose the X-Men do so because they believe the mutant race will ultimately render humanity extinct, just as Xavier and Magneto believe the mutants will be rendered extinct by any AI lifeforms allowed to flourish. Hellions #8 includes a quote from Charles Xavier insisting AI should be opposed at all costs. “Like fire, AI is a discovery, not an invention,” he observes. “Let us not tolerate embers, lest we face an inferno.“
It’s interesting to speculate whether the X-Men’s anti-AI prejudice will lead to conflict with the world’s other heroes. The Avengers have a number of AI among their members, most notably Vision, and they are allies with a number of experts in AI. The relationship between the X-Men and the Avengers has always been fractured, and it would be strange to see the X-Men‘s own prejudice cause the next battle.
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