X-Plaining the Dawn of X: House of X and Powers of X
Hickman Breaks all the Rules
In July of 2019, Marvel Comics, Johnathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz, and R.B. Silva completely upended and revitalized the mutant-centric X-Men line of comic book titles with House of X/Powers of X. The twelve-part event comic brought many changes to the structure of the Marvel Universe, as well as ten new monthly series, two limited series, three one-shots, and more on the way. With the next major event, X of Swords (read as ‘Ten of Swords’) on the way this September, it seems appropriate to recap all the titles and changes that lead here. Starting with the pivotal HOX/POX
HOX/POX are two different, six issue series that would alternate weekly from July 24th to October 9th, 2019. They told the same story, though in different parts. HOX told the story of how the X-Men’s founder, Professor Charles Xavier, creates a new mutant-only nation on the mutant island Krakoa. He debuts new flower-based technology that create portals that allow mutants to travel from Krakoa to wherever the flower is grown, as well as new drugs that cure most human ailments. Xavier pledges to give each nation on earth these new wonder drugs in exchange for those nations recognizing Krakoa as sovereign.
In addition to becoming a sovereign nation, the X-Men also seek to discover and thwart the plans of the anti-mutant secret society Orchis, a collection of scientists and soldiers from multiple intelligence organizations (including S.H.E.I.L.D., AIM, Hydra, H.A.M.M.E.R., and Alpha Flight). Xavier and Magneto send Sabertooth, Mystique, and Toad to the Damage Control headquarters in Manhattan to download their specs on Orchis’ Forge, a space station dedicated to building mutant-hunting robots called Sentinels. During this mission, Sabertooth let his animalistic tendencies get the best of him, killing multiple innocent security guards in the process.
Sabertooth was captured by the Fantastic Four, who send him to a super prison to stand trial. During the trial, Emma Frost interrupts and reveals that the US Supreme Court has granted amnesty to all mutants as part of their agreement with Krakoa. In effect, Sabertooth now has diplomatic immunity. The Fantastic Four object to this, but Cyclops promises that Sabertooth will face “mutant law”. Later, Xavier and Magneto order the destruction of Orchis’ Forge. In their, albeit successful, attempts to halt the production of a Sentinel creating factory in space, a team consisting of Cyclops, Wolverine, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, M, Husk, Angel, and Mystique are all killed by the soldiers on the space station.
However, Magneto reveals to his daughter, Ploaris, that mutants have now conquered death through the combined powers of “The Five”: five mutants who can resurrect mutants on Krakoa when they use their powers in unison. They consist of Goldballs (who creates infertile eggs from his hands), Proteus (who can turns the eggs fertile with his reality warping abilities), Elixir (who nourishes the egg with his healing powers), Tempus (who speeds up the process with her time manipulation powers), and Hope Summers (who can both mimic and augment the powers of any mutant in her proximity). While The Five can regrow the body, Xavier is the only one who can restore the soul. With his newly portable Cerebro Helmet, Xavier creates a ‘copy’ of each mutant on earth’s mind, so that he may ‘upload’ it into their new body if needed. However, other telepathic mutants can use Cerebro in this function if they want, but traditionally it’s Xavier who does this.
The team who sacrificed their lives on the space station are resurrected and given a hero’s welcome on Krakoa. Later, Wolverine, Xavier, and Magneto welcome the arrival of all “villainous” mutants, such as Gorgon, Daken, Selene, and Apocalypse. They agree to follow the forthcoming laws of Krakoa, and all are accepted as brothers and sisters of one people, one nation. After the UN officially recognizes Krakoa as a legitimate nation, The Quiet Council of Krakoa hold their first meeting to officially define what exactly “mutant law” is. The Council consist of four sections, each with three members: Autumn (Xavier, Magneto, and Apocalypse), Winter (Exodus, Mr. Sinister, and Mystique), Summer (Storm, Jean Grey, and Nightcrawler), and Spring (Emma Frost, Sebastian Shaw, and Kate Pryde). Krakoa, the island itself, is also an official member, with mutant linguist Cypher acting as it’s translator.
The Council determine that the first laws of this new nation are ‘Kill No Man’, ‘Respect this Sacred Land’, and ‘Make More Mutants’. After establishing these new laws, the Council judges Sabertooth by them. Seeing as he killed many humans needlessly, he was unanimously voted guilty by the Council. Since Krakoa has no prisons or death penalty (he’d just be resurrected if they were to kill him), Sabertooth is sentenced to the Pit of Exile, a hole far beneath Krakoa, where he’ll stay forever, or until the Council decide to release him. After all the hardship, all the deaths, all the persecution, the mutants of the world finally have a safe place to call home, where they can live, love, and prosper in peace.
Concurrently, POX tells the story of the inspiration of Krakoa, what it took to build it, and what the future had in store for it. The first issue reveals that the X-Men’s longtime human ally, Dr. Moira McTaggert is actually an Omega-Level mutant with the ability to resurrect herself upon death. She lives ten lives, in total, and is currently in her tenth life. In her third life, convinced that mutants are diseased, she develops a ‘cure’ for the mutant X-gene, before being confronted by Mystique’s clairvoyant wife Destiny, who vows to come back in Moira’s next life to kill her again and again if she decided to try and wipe out mutantkind again. She also informs Moira that she has a limit of ten lives, maybe eleven. She implores her to chose “the right choice”, before having Pyro burn her alive.
In her fourth life, she falls in love with Xavier and helps him build his school, before mutantkind is obliterated by Sentinels. In her fifth life, she tries to build Xavier’s school with him earlier, but they are still all overwhelmed by the Sentinels. In her sixth life, Moira and Wolverine are the last mutants in existence, being kept alive for thousands of years by the Post-Humans, the next evolutionary step for humankind. The Post-Humans wish to be assimilated into the Phalanx, a hive mind of Artificial Intelligences from across the cosmos. They see mutants as a blight on evolution and intend to keep Moira from resetting the timeline with her death. Wolverine, however, is able to overpower their jailer and kills Moira so she can stop the rise of the Post-Humans.
She trained all her seventh life to hunt down and kill every member of the Trask family, the creators of the Sentinels. Sentinels were created anyway, as humanity’s technology grew along with their fear and hatred of mutants. So, for her eighth life, she aligned with Magneto and helped him take over the United States, before both the Avengers and X-Men overwhelm them, and she’s killed in a prison breakout. Her ninth life saw her join Apocalypse’s Horsemen, and with him she created a nation built on Krakoa with him, only for it to be wiped out but the human’s robots, led by a Sentinel named Nimrod the Lesser. After determining when exactly Nimrod is created, Apocalypse has Wolverine kill Moira, so she can stop Nimrod before he’s created.
This leads to her tenth life, where Moira (now going by Moira X) intends to combine all her knowledge and “break all the rules” to stop the destruction of mutantkind and the rise of the post-humans. She gets Xavier and Magneto to work together behind the scenes for years, setting up the resurrection process, creating the right technology, and acquiring the right allies to build Krakoa properly. After the Council’s first meeting, Magneto and Xavier inform Moira, who lives in a hidden ‘no-place’ from the rest of Krakoa, that Mystique only agreed to help the formation of their nation if they resurrect her dead wife, Destiny. Moira objects, saying that clairvoyants are not allowed on Krakoa, otherwise they’d realize that mutants always lose, and their paradise is all for not. Xavier and Magneto assure her that this time is different and Moira can rest now. The pair of old friends then leave her and overlook the celebrating island, proud of their accomplishments, ready to welcome the new Dawn of X.
Next time: a look at Johnathan Hickman and Leinil Yu’s X-MEN!