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May 23

The X-Axis – w/c 21 May 2024

Posted on Thursday, May 23, 2024 by Paul in Uncategorized

This shouldn’t take long.

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #140. By Steve Foxe, Steve Orlando, Nick Roche, Yen Nitro & Travis Lanham. Well, if nothing else, we’ve reached the final boss phase. And a giant Selene made of blood is at least a strong image. But it’s pretty much just random fighting at this stage. Hey, speaking of which…

FALL OF THE HOUSE OF X #5. (Annotations here.) So there you go. We’re not quite at the end of the Krakoan era. There’s still Rise of the Powers of X #5 and one final issue of X-Men to go (oh, and a couple of stray issues of Wolverine and Ms Marvel). But this is the end of Orchis, 2019-2024.

In many ways people are right to say that this is the strongest issue of Fall of the House of X. The art feels more polished and epic than in earlier issues; the pieces that needed to be yanked into place were already there. Now, the book can go out with the X-Men defeating Orchis by restoring Omega Sentinel’s real personality, and defeating Nimrod. We can just get on with the fight scene. And Nimrod does look good here.

There are problems even on those terms. Why are the characters who know Omega Sentinel was possessed still treating her as a villain in need of redemption? It’s fine for her to think that – it’s the obvious direction for her – but it just makes the X-Men look weirdly unreasonable. The art, even if it hits the right tone, is meant to be showing two simultaneous fights with Nimrod in different locations; but there’s no sense of place to either of them, because the backgrounds are all just fire and energy effects. And if you can read “The storm that Nimrod faced even wiped out the duplicates of himself he hid from combat” without groaning, you’re a better man than me.

And… seriously, that last one? The issue literally goes out of its way to hammer the question of “how do we beat Nimrod when he exists in multiple places at the same time.” And then its answer is “punch two of them hard enough at the same time and all the others switch off for some reason.” Really? We’re not even going to pay lip service to, I don’t know, a computer virus or something?

In fact, when I read X-Men #31 I thought the direction must be that Synch was using his powers to somehow get the disembodied Talon into Nimrod so as to stop her from dissolving altogether. Then you’d do Talon taking down Nimrod from the inside while the X-Men fought him from the outside, and she dies heroically destroying the body that’s keeping her alive, and… I mean, it’s not Shakespeare, but it’s better than this, right? Maybe something like that was the idea and it got cut for space. Who knows.

There’s a wider problem here, though, which was locked in place years ago when the post-Hickman direction for Orchis was settled on. Hickman’s version of Orchis were a mirror of the X-Men, with very obvious parallels; there was a very obvious theme that the X-Men kept accidentally accelerating Orchis and Nimrod with everything they did to try and stop them. I can see why you’d have second thoughts about going in that direction, given the fan reaction to Krakoa. But once all of that was stripped out, Orchis were left as one-dimensional fascists, who just weren’t very interesting. Now, you can absolutely make the case that this is not a moment in American history for nuance, and fair enough. You can make that case for the humans in Orchis.

But the AI contingent in Orchis are… what exactly? They’re in the odd position of being the power behind the throne in Fall of the House of X, and Enigma’s dupes in Rise of the Power of X. By sheer luck the X-books committed to AI as a major theme in 2019 before it was a big deal, but the plot isn’t really set up to engage with what people are saying about AI in 2024. They want to wipe out humanity and ascend to Dominion status because… reasons? Why do they even need to wipe out humanity? Was that ever explained? They can’t be a cosmic threat beause Enigma’s doing that, so is their role really anything more than to enable Orchis to self-destruct?

Did we start with the ambition and scale of House of X, and wind up with a fight scene with a robot? Well, in this book, yes we did, because once you’ve decided that Orchis are just going to be one-dimensional bad guys, how else was it going to go? Still, the Enigma plot is going last, and that has more ambition and scale. Whether it can serve as a resolution to the broader themes of Krakoa seems more doubtful to me, but we’ll find out next week how it manages.

Bring on the comments

  1. Chris V says:

    I almost want to say that Duggan was actually showing some subtlety by picking up the theme from Hickman with Karima, how all the different sides were the mirror image of each other. Just as Omega Sentinel hated mutants due to what Krakoa did in an alternate timeline, the mutants were blaming Karima for what she did under the influence of an alternate universe version of Omega Sentinel. I still wouldn’t say it was a very good attempt, and I am sure I am giving Duggan far too much of the benefit of a doubt (not to mention that the Krakoans are supposed to be presented as the good guys now).

    The Machines want to wipe out humanity in this timeline because Nimrod stated it would take ten years to create a Worldmind which was necessary to attract the attention of the Phalanx/Dominion. It was pointed out by Hickman in Powers of X that anything less than a Type 2 civilization on the Kardashev scale would be beneath the notice of the Phalanx/Dominions.
    So, in Life Nine Nimrod was using nanotech to forcibly upgrade humanity. I guess in this timeline, Nimrod and Omega Sentinel decided the easiest method would just wipe out humanity and not face any opposition to their plans for evolving civilization.

    That is all the defence I will give “Fall of X”.

  2. Chris V says:

    I should mention I do like this idea that the Machines have just decided to wipe out all human and mutant life on the planet in Life Ten. It goes with the idea that Moira keeps making things worse with her interference.

    In Life Six, one thousand years in the future mutants are on the verge of extinction, post-humanity has created utopia, and it’s only at this point that Nimrod the Greater reveals that the Machines will be victorious in the end.

    In Life Nine, we see a world one hundred years in the future ravaged by endless war. The Machines are hunting mutants to extinction. The existence of post-humanity is technology being forced upon humanity by the ruling Machines.

    In Life Ten, we see a world ten years in the future where Machines are absolutely victorious and preparing to scour all other life from the planet.
    Life Six doesn’t look so bad.

  3. Bengt says:

    As I understood the Nimrod fight, they used the connection he uses to communicate between the different bodies to fry all bodies, even the ones that isn’t present. But I think for that to feel right there need to be technobabble about how special the connection is, you know Quantum Entangle this and that. And if that has been established somewhere else it should have been repeated in this issue.

  4. Paul says:

    Okay, but: Once you’ve decided you can get rid of life on earth and start from scratch to get to your Worldmind, why even bother? Why not just colonise a dead planet? You’re robots.

    And yes, clearly the idea is that the energy of the attack is somehow transmitted to the other Nimrods, but you need some sort of vague explanation of how that happens, because otherwise it just leaves the reader thinking “but that’s not how electricity works” – and, as I say, it was clearly set up at the start of the issue as being the major problem in defeating Nimrod, which leaves you expecting an actual solution.

  5. Chris V says:

    I mean, couldn’t you argue the same thing for mutants with Krakoa? They showed they could colonize Mars with no problem. As has been shown, they can leave the solar system. Why not find some abandoned planet and create a planet of mutants instead of wanting to have a nation on Earth and then deciding to colonize Mars, which they knew that mankind planned to attempt to colonize in the future (so Mars obviously wasn’t far enough away to escape humans)? Doesn’t everything fall apart in the Krakoan-era if you ask why they don’t just go find an abandoned planet in another solar system?
    I guess that everyone just wants to own the Earth, for some reason. Humanity is stuck here. Mutants and Machines could just leave.

  6. ASV says:

    Mutants are Earthlings whose lives are embedded in Earth culture, protestations toward mutant exceptionalism notwithstanding. Machines aren’t embedded in Earth culture, to such an extent that they’re affirmatively attempting to wipe it out.

  7. Chris V says:

    Culture is something you can take with you or leave behind as you see fit. How many millions of science fiction stories have been written about the concept of humanity’s future being the colonization of space? The humans in those stories have no problem leaving behind Earth, and it would be the same for mutantkind.
    In this very story, we have reference to Feilong’s dream of humanity one day colonizing Mars and leaving Earth behind.

  8. Chris V says:

    Also, the Machines aren’t attempting to wipe out Earth culture. They believe they are the future. Culture is ephemeral. Someday, the Sun will go nova and everything mankind created will be gone. The Machines are just speeding up the process and ensuring that all of Earth’s knowledge will live forever by having it be assimilated by the Dominion. That is what the Dominion is, the end point of all evolution. All of our goals, hopes, dreams, aspirations…it all leads to the Omega Point.
    Go back and read the Librarians comments about Ascension in Powers of X. While the physical will die away, post-humanity is resigned that the only way they/their culture can ever be truly immortal is to surrender to the Machines.

  9. JDSM24 says:

    It’s CANON that Earth-616 is the Prime World of both the Seventh and Eight Marvel Multiverses , which is why instinctively nobody wants to leave it and everybody wants to have it LOL

  10. Adam says:

    Like Mike said in the comments of the notes on FOTHOX 5, I mainly felt relief after finishing this issue.

    I’m glad this series is over and that the era is almost over.

  11. Daibhid C says:

    @Chris V

    I think the point is, mutants (mostly) quite like living in a world with a functioning human society. Even Krakoan isolationism still involved interacting with humanity (admittedly in a rather high-handed manner). Go off and create your mutant society on some empty planet and there’s nobody to sell drugs to.

    If you want a dead world, like the machines do, there are plenty available without destroying a living one. But the mutants don’t.

    (Now Atlanteans deciding to leave Earth and find an unhabited water world would make perfect sense.)

  12. TLNS says:

    While I agree that overall the art was better in this issue, I can’t say the same for how Nimrod was drawn: I thought he looked very cartoonish here.

    When he isn’t up against a deadline, Werneck can produce truly gorgeous artwork, but even when he’s on form, he has always struggled to draw Nimrod well. Just compare the first panel on page 24 of issue 3 to the one it’s clearly evoking by Francesco Mobili
    (X-Men Vol. 5, issue 20, page 12): the term “night and day” springs to mind.

    Last year’s Hellfire Gala had a variety of artists depicting the mighty hunter, and in my estimation, they were all – with the exception of Dauterman – better than Werneck. I believe he’s the weakest illustrator of the Krakoan era when it comes to drawing Nimrod, and that’s a problem when your final issue is basically an extended fight sequence involving him.

  13. Luis Dantas says:

    The way I understood this issue of “Fall”, the individual Nimrods don’t share anything significant beyond the ability to perceive things through each other’s sensors and, apparently, the electricity from Storm’s lightning attacks.

    But that is not physics. That is not science. Gerry Duggan does not write science-aware plots. It is not his thing. What does defeat each and every Nimrod in this issue is that they are facing Mutants With Resolve. In Duggan’s plots resolve is the ultimate and universal power booster.

    Beyond Duggan’s limitations as a writer and his mismatch to the requirements of the storyline, there is a deeper problem of internal coherence in the wider plot, going back to early stages of the Krakoa setup. It is just not clear what the X-Men are hoping to achieve, nor why. They may be aiming for protecting humanity from Orchis, from the AIs, and/or from Enigma. They may be out for vengerance. They may want to rescue their own reputations, either collectively or on an individual basis. They may have decided that Krakoa was not a good idea after all, or they may be wanting to restore it as best as they can.

    We just don’t know. And we do not see any hints that the X-Men have even discussed any of that among themselves.

    This is not a logical plot; it is the Mutant Awesomeness Parade, comicbook edition. I don’t think that we have even seen any indication that _anyone_ remembers that Orchis promised to kill geometrically ever greater numbers of humans if the mutants returned, for instance. Why? To the best of my understanding, it is because that would distract from the high fantasy vibe that is being used now.

  14. Diana says:

    @Luis Dantas: That last point, at least, has been addressed – the X-Men used a piece of High Evolutionary technology to neutralize the kill switch in the Krakoan meds. Orchis can no longer make good on that threat.

  15. Luis Dantas says:

    I never considered the drugs as a possible means for killing the humans as promised. Are they suitable for such fine-tuning of numbers?

    I assumed that they meant to use the Nimrods and the Stark and Box Sentinels for that purpose.

  16. deworde says:

    “There are problems even on those terms. Why are the characters who know Omega Sentinel was possessed still treating her as a villain in need of redemption?”

    I feel like a combination of “that was still a future version of you” and “I’m sorry I’m being weirdly unreasonable about your face being used to murder the crap out of us, person who goes by the codename “Sentinel” could justify that.

  17. Diana says:

    @Luis Dantas: MODOK was shown activating specific individuals, it’s not too much to assume that he (and ORCHIS) could control how many switches got flipped and whose.

  18. Chris V says:

    Daibhid-Yes, but mutants see themselves as the future just the same as the Machines or post-humanity. Eventually, mutants will replace humanity (which was the point of the human faction wanting to found Orchis due to the fear that eventually more and more mutants would be born until Homo Sapiens Sapiens had been bred out of the gene pool and baseline humanity was extinct). In order to prevent this, humans turn to genetic engineering so they can control nature ensuring that the X-gene is bred out of the gene pool instead. This is something that the mutants won’t abide which means that the mutants need to conquer the commoners before technology accelerates to that point. So, the mutants would need to police humanity until the inevitable occurs and humanity is extinct. As happened in Life 10A. Rather than wanting to be around humans and sell them drugs, mutants wanted to rule the humans.
    Hickman points it out in “Inferno”:
    Xavier (speaking to Magneto):When we win. We will be merciful, right? We can agree on that much, can’t we?

    As far as the Machines, it needs to be remembered that the Machines’ “religion” is that eventually the Phalanx will assimilate all lifeforms in the universe. There will come a time when Earth reaches a Type 2 civilization and draws the attention of the Phalanx, just as happened in Life Six. At that point, life on Earth comes to the same endpoint as Nimrod is promoting now. In that way, Nimrod and Omega Sentinel’s actions can be read to mirror Moira’s decision to wipe out the X-gene. It can be read as what they see as a mercy…you’re heading towards extinction at some point anyway, it’s kinder to help you along that path now and save the pain that happens along the way. All the works of mankind will be preserved for eternity with the Machines.

    Basically, I think Moira is correct. Mutants and Machines are both like a cancer. They could just leave Earth and live their own lives as they see fit, but instead they insist on staying on Earth and causing problems for the humans.

    I read Hickman’s run as being critical of the idea of fighting evolution. Humanity refuses to allow nature to replace them with something “superior”. Mutants refuse to accept death and fight against nature by pursuing immortality through resurrection, which means that the natural inheritors of the planet (the ones who are naturally immortal) the Machines won’t be able to inherit the future.

  19. Thom H. says:

    One thing that complicates a mutant exodus into space is that baseline humans are making new mutants all the time. You can work around that, I suppose, by leaving a portal open between Earth and Mutant World for a team to search for them.

    But what if some mutants don’t want to go to Mutant World? I’m assuming more than a few have personal ties to baseline humans — not all of their parents/families/partners can hate mutants.

    Especially if we’re talking about hundreds of thousands or millions of mutants, then that’s a lot of people cutting off their families entirely to join…a bunch of people they don’t know? In space? With known killers? At least on Krakoa, mutants had the option to portal back and forth to their hometowns if they wanted to.

    I think one of the biggest mistakes made during the Krakoa era was writers assuming all mutants were just okay with being separatists. When you start aggregating people into groups that are millions of members strong, you lose sight of the relationships all of them have. Mutants are grounded in humanity who, in turn, are grounded to Earth. Robots, not so much.

  20. Moonstar Dynasty says:

    Chris V: “Basically, I think Moira is correct. Mutants and Machines are both like a cancer. They could just leave Earth and live their own lives as they see fit, but instead they insist on staying on Earth and causing problems for the humans.”

    Whoooa, my goodness, you really believe this?

    “Mutants are like a cancer”?

    “they insist on staying and causing problems for humans”?

    What the what?

    Even looking at your statements strictly through lenses of racial discrimination is nauseating. Your argument sounds disturbing similar to alt-right incels telling “inferior” minorities in any number of Western countries to just go back to Africa or Asia.

    I know readership on this site is like 99% white, but surely this wasn’t the intended message?

  21. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    @Thom H: And it’s maybe worth mentioning that that’s something the writers of x-books kept in mind in the past. I’m thinking of the Decimation/Utopia era, when Madrox specifically kept the team in New York (and later declined the offer to join up on Utopia) because he didn’t share Scott’s siege mentality and to remain connected with the regular humans.

    And later in the Utopia era Dani moved her team out of Utopia and into San Francisco to build a rapport with the local community there. (That was, I think, when Abnett and Lanning took over New Mutants?)

  22. Michael says:

    @Thom H- It never made sense to me that the majority of the world’s mutants decided to move to Krakoa in less than a year. Israel has been around for 75 years and the majority of the Jews in the world still live outside Israel. (The United States had more Jews than Israel until the 2000s.) Of course, Morrison did something similar in his run when he implied millions of mutants decided to move to Genosha while Magneto ruled it. Because Magneto is a stable individual who never mistreats his underlings.

  23. Thom H. says:

    @Michael: Exactly. That’s another great example.

    I think it flattens the story to leave natural human/mutant relationships out of it. There are definitely homogeneous societies, but even those include family relationships in addition to whatever other religious or racial characteristic unites them.

    Of course, writers have been eroding those meaningful ties for a long time. Jean’s human family was all killed, Scott’s human dad is a space pirate so he may as well be metahuman, Nightcrawler is now the son of two mutant mothers instead of one human one (who is also a witch, so she barely counts), Colossus and Illyana’s human parents are dead, Moira…

    The X-books used to have lots of humans who mattered around the edges. And now humans and mutants are hermetically sealed in their own separate worlds.

    @Krzysiek Ceran: I thought we were going to get an examination of what separatism meant for humans and mutants — even just a little bit — when Northstar brought his husband to live on Krakoa with X-Factor. But that was just kind of hinted at and never followed up on.

  24. Mathias X says:

    The existence of gates helps sidestep the separatist question in a lot of cases. We know Blob camped out on Krakoa and most of the X-Teams did, but with teleportation gates, people like Maggott and Siryn and whoever isn’t on camera 24/7 can go back to their apartment wherever else they want. Franklin was able to visit Krakoa and stay with his family. Nobody actually had to “choose” the human or mutant world since they all had the option to keep a foot in both, and at that point, I think most people would pop off to the island protected by superheroes where death is reversible and food is free whenever they felt a bit anxious.

  25. Si says:

    Thinking about it, I don’t know if it was ever stated outright that every single mutant barring a few outliers had relocated permanently to Krakoa, but it was strongly implied. Marvel retconned Franklin Richards into not being a mutant so that they didn’t have to justify the character not being situated there, for example. Yes it was always dumb. So much of the premise was. But it did make for some interesting stories I suppose.

    And I’ve been thinking about them going off-planet since Chris V brought it up. My gut instinct was to say of course they’d want to stay on Earth. But every reason why mutants wouldn’t move to another planet is neutered by the Krakoan age. They had magic gates that worked across galaxies and allowed instant, effortless transit. Their island nation could have been literally anywhere. Shi’ar space. The Microverse. Inside Simon Petrikov’s head. Meanwhile, at least in the original setup, they invented a new language and banned all imports. There was no hunger for their parent cultures, but even if there was, a homesick Gambian mutant on distant Planet X could take five steps and be in the suburbs of Banjul for some afra with his old school friends.

  26. Mike Loughlin says:

    In defense of the concept of Krakoa:

    1) mutants who are scared to interact with baseline humans would probably like to have a place where they not only don’t feel afraid but are celebrated for their differences. Visible mutants, especially, would probably jump at the chance to live openly and with some sense of security.

    2) I don’t recall there ever being a data page that said “X% of mutants live on Krakoa.” Even if millions went to the island, millions more might not have. In the most recent Hellfire Gala, it appeared that Prof. X was marching mutants through gates in places other than the island.

    3) most characters who appear on panel are young adults, probably under 30. People in there late teens & 20s are, in my opinion and observations, more likely to try a new living situation away from their parents during this stage of life. Since affordability was not a concern, it makes sense to me that many young mutants would seek a family of choice.

    4) making the mutant metaphor about any one real-life minority is tricky and can be ill-advised. “But real [group] didn’t do that” isn’t an argument that, in my opinion, invalidates Krakoa. This is a fictional situation for fictional people. Since these fictional people have giant robots and power-armored fanatics hunting them down, I think 1:1 comparisons don’t work.

    4) Krakoa turned out to be a bad idea after all, something I think was obvious from the start. It turned out mutant separatism did not lead to mutant equality or supremacy. I think some mutants wanted the former, while others wanted the latter. Whatever the goal, they didn’t achieve it. All the AI threats, Dominions, and alternate futures were window dressing. Krakoa was brought down by forces within and without. If there’s an overall point to the era, it’s that cutting oneself off from the world and/or trying to force it to bend to your will aren’t viable options.

  27. Si says:

    Quite so. At some point, probably Hickman’s exit, the concept changed from all mutants living on Krakoa to it just being a homeland if you want it.

    And in-story, Krakoa makes perfect sense. Of course people want to live there, it’s amazing. But out of story, the whole era happened way too fast from out of the blue, and in a way that cheapened half a century of previous stories and characters. And also it just plain doesn’t make much sense if you think about it.

    I completely agree that mutants should be just a generic persecuted minority. Stories should be able to discuss things faced by real minorities, but never be *about* those minorities. One of the worst things Claremont did was when Shadowcat compared the fictional term “mutie” to an actual real-life racial slur in God Loves Man Kills.

  28. Diana says:

    The problem with going off-world isn’t a matter of logistics, it’s a matter of morality. Just as Moonstar Dynasty says, it’s reprehensible to argue that the solution to persecution is for the persecuted minority to go away. And while I’ve enjoyed plenty of Krakoa stories, there’s always been this uncomfortable undertone of Hickman seeing separatism and isolationism as a viable option in the face of bigotry.

  29. Si says:

    That’s down to in-story and out-of-story again. Withdrawing to Krakoa or withdrawing to Betelgeuse, there’s no difference beside relative safety when you can teleport infinitely. But as a serial superhero comic set in the present day, there’s any number of problems, moral, technical, and plotwise.

    Anyway, the story we got was most mutants trapped living in the White Hot Ghetto, so …

  30. Luis Dantas says:

    There were some data pages by Reed Richards in the 2020 X-Men/Fantastic Four series by Chip Zdarsky that gave us some numeric parameters. Of course, that was both 4 years ago and by the FF editorial instead of the X-Books one.

    Between those and Cyclops’ attitude when rescuing Sabretooth from the FF back in… I believe it was House of X #1? … it sure felt that only a tiny percentage of known mutants chose not to live in Krakoa. Frankly, that was one of the main weaknesses of the setup from day one, enough to make me wonder if it was meant to be an alternate, separate continuity. If you are going to depart from reality so deeply in a way that ought to affect the characters so deeply, you better put that tale on panel.

    But that turned out to be a defining characteristic of the Krakoa era, both during and after Hickman’s period: it did a formidable job of playing against its own strengths at every opportunity. I feel like Si Spurrier was the only writer who even attempted to explore the interesting questions.

  31. Michael says:

    @Luis Dantas- OK, I found it. In X-Men/ Fantastic Four 2, it explains that there were 200,000 mutants on Krakoa and 10,000 mutants off Krakoa. That does sound implausible, although 10,000 mutants off Krakoa does explain how there were so many mutants for Orchis to terrorize during Fall of X.

  32. Moonstar Dynasty says:

    @Si: re: mutants’ desires to be off-planet: We’re still on this? Okay.

    The Krakoan age doesn’t “neuter” any argument to stay at all.

    1. The aforementioned friends/family/culture argument is still the biggest reason for making the prospect of going off-planet undesirable.

    2. Finite number of gates, some of which I imagine are not conveniently located.

    3. Some gates are policed, actively guarded or blocked, or destroyed.

    4. The existence of a gate doesn’t guarantee social or cultural acceptance from the locals in question on the receiving end (see: Otherworld, Arakko).

    @Mike Loughlin and Si: re: allusions to actual plights of real minorities: I’m not at all opposed to the concept of mutants as an allegory for “othered” people tackling the plights of persecuted or discriminated groups in real life. When artfully or tastefully handled with care, you can get a complete reinvention of characters (i.e., Magneto’s backstory as a Holocaust survivor) that enriches the story. That said, it is something that needs to be handled with an extraordinary amount of thoughtfulness.

    Re: Kitty in God Loves, Man Kills–I understand what Claremont was going for, and I think it would have worked better if Kitty–as a young, white Jewish teen–simply referenced a Jewish slur that she, herself, would have painfully and intimately aware of.

    However, the N-word belongs to Black people and should never have left her lips/Claremont’s pen, because they are both white. Intersectionality breaks down whenever white people conflate their problems with racial justice movements whose pain and suffering they will never know (which goes to show you that this is probably why the N-word was used–because there is STILL nothing quite as equivalent or hurtful to it).

    Perhaps the moment would have landed differently or more elegantly if it were a Black writer articulating this point through an actual Black character.

    (As anaside, I’m down for any future writer–Ayala, Leah Williams, anyone who would conceivably care–to square this point in Kitty’s history away with an on-panel apology to Stevie Hunter: “Stevie, I didn’t know it at the time, but I was going through a Karen Pryde phase when I was 13 and I used a word I shouldn’t have that was never mine to use in the first place.” Because it’s really not off brand for a bratty, self-righteous, shortsighted teenage Kitty Pryde to say these things at one point in time but then reflect and grow from the experience. Easy layup.)

    Claremont took some big swings in ’80s; this particular moment doesn’t work with hindsight, but as a person of color I’m not mad that it happened (assuming that we continue to refine the process and representation). And frankly, I’m in favor of other writers taking *more* big swings, not less, because we’ve already been getting mutants as a “generic persecuted minority” for decades, and that’s how we end up with a bunch of rich, privileged white people occupying and overrepresented in the vast majority of real estate in these stories.

  33. Michael says:

    @Moonstar Dynasty- Kitty used it two more times as well:

  34. Diana says:

    @Moonstar Dynasty: To be fair, Kitty using a Jewish slur wouldn’t have made sense in the context of the scene – she was lashing out at Stevie for tolerating the use of a slur she *knew* applied to Kitty, essentially telling her to brush it off. The fact that 40 years later readers are still deeply uncomfortable about that scene only drives home the point that Stevie was wrong – clearly, they’re *not* “just words”.

  35. JDSM24 says:

    @Michael , btw , Reed Richards or whoever’s guesstiimates of the numbers of 616-X-gene mutant populations may very well be wrong at that point in time , since if I recall correctly , it was said somewhere somewhen in a datapage when that there were around “20 Times as many Arraki as Krakoans” when [A] was able to return it to Earth from Amenth , and later there were “Five Times as many Arraki as Krakoans” by the time of Ouranus’ Massacre , but it was said later in Legion-naires that around half or so of them had already gone into space mostly as freelance mercenaries , and also in the AXE crossover , it was said that there were around a million mutants on Arrako before Ouranus genocided them , so based on these statements , there were around 2M Arraki and 100K Krakoans after X of Swords and around 1M Arraki (on Mars) and 200K Krakoans before AXE , which later became ?M Arraki and 250K Krakoans by Fall of X .

    @MoonstarDynasty, yes , both CC and KP are demographically White , but they , or at least KP , is also ethnically Jewish after all , supposedly the OG Chosen People , and thus , the usual general rules whatever they are , on such matters apparently dont apply to them in particular , at least in the current era , according to both themselves and a statistically significant number of other people LOL

  36. Moonstar Dynasty says:

    @Diana: I don’t agree, at all =p

    The long and short of it is that Black people exist and mutants do not.

    Claremont co-opted and capitalized on the entire Black Civil Rights Movement in the US to draw a direct line between the real suffering, brutalization, subjugation, perseverance, and accomplishments of Black people equivalent to the make-believe suffering of fake, mostly white, privileged characters.

    In the most general and superficial sense, the retooling of the narrative has elevated the X-Men for the better and separated the book from the rest of pack because of this twist; however, on this specific link to racial justice movements, it has long run out of interesting things to say or new perspectives to present, because it is a series frequently written by white people about white characters and for white people. Without meaningful in-universe representation (i.e. more prominent stories centered on characters of color) by creators of color who have been shaped by similar experiences, we run the risk of having more scenes like an impetuous Kitty in a Karen Phase (pun semi-intended) whitesplaining to a *Black woman* about the hurtfulness of racial slurs, which lol forever. (God, that scene would have been so much less offensive if Kitty just literally said, “N-word.”)

    I still love the X-Men. I’m just also willing criticize the lack of will Marvel has when it comes to breaking away from its rigid conventions to tell more daring and challenging commentary on the matter.

    Lastly, as what I’m assuming is a mostly white (or non-Black) group of commenters at House to Astonish, I’m not expecting my perspective to move the needle for any of you, so we can leave it at that.

  37. Evilgus says:

    Because we can’t “like” posts on this board, just commenting to say I found your posts very thoughtful and well argued. I’ve read from a few other Black commentators how X-Men as racial metaphor really breaks down the second you look closely at it (coming at this as a white guy in Europe).

    I think the missed opportunity of Krakoa was opening up the stories of many non-white characters, only to have the book close on that promise again. For example, will we get more Synch, Frenzy, Manifold in the new era? I’m not confident.

  38. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Well, Frenzy will be in X-Factor, at the very least.

    I’m… not sure Synch will survive the end of Krakoa. He’s conspicuously absent from all From the Ashes announcements so far.

    Then again, he’s already been forgotten as the leader of the X-Men by the writer who made him the leader of the X-Men, so…

    Changing subjects. As a white man from Poland, I am in no way qualified to opine on the subject. Has ‘the N-word’ as a euphemism been used at all back in the 80s, though? Like, could Claremont actually use that, has that been a thing back then?

  39. Michael says:

    @Krzysiek- it’s worth noting that in a Fantastic Four storyline involving Psycho-Man stirring up hatred on Earth in the 80s, the word itself was actually used, not the “n-word”.
    OTOH, during a Captain America storyline about the same time, the writer wanted to have the Red Skull use a derogatory term for homosexuals that starts with f. But the editors turned him down and instead the Skull wound up calling people fops. It just looked sIlly.

  40. Michael says:

    @Krzysiek- And I just looked it up in Wikipedia. Wikipedia claims that “the N-word” as a euphemism only became popular in the 90s.

  41. Mike Loughlin says:

    Anecdotally, I grew up in the ‘80s & ‘90s in a city with a very diverse population. I don’t think I heard the phrase “N-Word” until my late-teens. I heard the uncensored version from other white people, though. Same with the f-slur, the r-slur (still hear that one on occasion), and slurs targeting other groups. I’m kind of amazed we the people use them with less frequency now. At least there’s progress on that front.

    I’ve always maintained that the mutant metaphor is a good thing, but flawed. A lot of those flaws come down to (mostly)heterosexual white characters being equated with real life PoCs and LGBTQ+ people.

    @Moonstar Dynasty, I appreciate your breakdown of what doesn’t work in the Kitty-Stevie exchange, and why. Some people are frustrated with the fact that Jonathan Hickman left the X-books. I’m more frustrated that Vita Ayala and Leah Williams left. They brought fresh, new perspectives to the mutant books. I’m glad we got Victor LaValle’s Sabretooth series and the Escapade stories, but none of the non-white, non-male* writers were given a main series. Why so much Gerry Duggan and Ben Percy? I’m sure another writer could have put together FotHoX while Duggan stuck with X-Men, and both series might have been better for it.

    * unless one of them identifies as non-binary, and I’m forgetting.

  42. FUBAR007 says:

    JDSM24: … both CC and KP are demographically White , but they , or at least KP , is also ethnically Jewish after all…

    Claremont is half-Jewish–Jewish mother, English father.

  43. Mathias X says:

    Krzysiek–I think Duggan’s books are done at this point, and it would be a bit odd to have Gillen drag in Synch for the final issue of Powers to kill him. Not impossible, but I think short of him keeling over in UXM 700 from stgrain or getting shot to start off the new era dramatically, I think he’s home free.

  44. Michael says:

    @Krzysiek, Mathias X- Agreed that its not likely Synch will die at this point, especially since from what Gillen’s said, the final issue of Powers will focus on Jean, Enigma, Xavier and Moira. Now, Enigma will probably die or get trapped in a Fate Worse Than Death but I think that everyone other than Xavier and Moira (and maybe the mutants trapped in the White Hot Room) are safe.

  45. Rinoa says:

    @Moonstar Dynasty- great discussion from you. Do you have a comic blog? Would love to follow if so.

    Now that Omega Sentinel’s AI personality was “lobotomized”, does that mean her remaining human brain/memory is essentially “our” Karima, or is it the Karima of Moira 10A? Either way, I too felt like the mutants sans Kwannon were reacting to her oddly.

  46. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    She’s been handled oddly for the whole five years of Krakoa. Like, there was not one scene of characters reacting to the fact that a former X-Man is co-leading Orchis. Not one!

    Also, wasn’t the ‘eeevil Karima from a doubly alternate future’ explanation given only via a data page? Nobody in-universe knows that, right?

  47. Moonstar Dynasty says:

    I appreciate the kudos everyone. Pretty wild how Paul’s readership spans so far!

    @Rinoa: No blog–just a super leftist comic book nerd in a sea of fellow nerds trying to convince other nerds someone on the internet is wrong, lol. Might entertain one someday.

    But no joke, this is miles away my favorite X-Men commenting community. It’s routinely stacked with challenging commentary and interesting insights. Genuinely enjoy spending my time reading people’s reactions and seeing what I missed on my first pass.

  48. Karl_H says:

    FUBAR007 says: Claremont is half-Jewish–Jewish mother, English father.

    Wouldn’t that make him full Jewish?

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