We’re three issues away from wrapping up the opening story of Jonathan Hickman’s new X-Men era, and even before it’s finished, I can say it’s definitely been worth the hype. In the nine issues that have come out (House of X 1-5 and Powers of X 1-4), the mutant world not only has an all-new and all-different setting, but history has been re-written, characters have new directions and new info, and the X-Men are finally getting an important place in the greater Marvel U. Like Wakanda important, should it last beyond the normal X-Men direction life span of six months before the next big thing is announced.
The exciting part is that the entire direction hasn’t even launched fully yet. That won’t happen until this run is complete, which is good because there has been A LOT of new information set up to explain Charles Xavier’s new mutant world order. And with each subsequent issue, more pieces get added to an ever-expanding puzzle. Pieces of Moira MacTaggert. Pieces of Mr. Sinister. Pieces of Apocalypse. Pieces of Krakoa. Pieces of Sentinels. There’s just SO MUCH to take in.
This week’s addition, House of X #5, revealed the question that has been on everyone’s lips since the story began: just how in the world are all those dead characters that have been showing up alive again? If nothing else, Matthew Rosenberg finished up the last remaining run of the previous age in Uncanny X-Men by slaughtering over a dozen characters. Yet many of them have turned up here. And even in this run, a number of characters died. Like in no uncertain, body is right there to be proven dead terms DIED.
This week, all is explained. And we’re going to look at that and then do some guessing on what might happen in the future.
It should go without saying that there are ENORMOUS SPOILERS for this issue from this point on. If you’re planning on reading it and don’t want to know anything, as in the entire reveal of the plan, then go now.
Alright, the X-Men’s suicide mission to destroy the Mother Sentinel base lived up to its title. Every single person that went on the mission died. And that doesn’t just mean the obvious red-shirt additions of Husk and M (now calling herself Penance), or even the B+ members Archangel and Nightcrawler or top villain Mystique. We’re talking Cyclops, Jean Grey (going by Marvel Girl again), and Wolverine. All dead. Obviously, this wasn’t going to stick.
And sure enough, come next issue, a panel from House of X #1 was repeated, but this time it was explained.
The secret of all them resurrecting heroes come from a team of five mutants, dubbed – wait for it – THE FIVE – working under Professor X. All are familiar faces from the last few eras of the X-Men line, along with one villain from a LOOOOOOOONG time ago.
The girl on the far left is not Rogue despite the white bangs, but rather Eva Bell (Tempus), a character from the Brian Bendis run. Opposite her on the far right is another character from that period, Fabio Medina, the aptly named “Goldballs”. Next to him is Josh Foley, Elixir, who was introduced way back during the New X-Men days. Opposite him, the big glowing purple guy, is Kevin MacTaggert, who you should better know as Proteus. Yes, THAT Proteus. The one introduced by Chris Claremont and John Byrne just before the Dark Phoenix Saga. And rounding out the group is former mutant messiah Hope Summers.
That’s quite a ragtag quintet, to say the least. But together, they are rebuilding the mutant race, with a little help here and there. Let me explain how the process works.
It turns out that those gold balls that Goldballs had been shooting around were not just a wordplay gag and fun for the Chris Bachalo art that had created him. Turns out that when somebody actually looked at what his body was producing, they turned out to be a sort of egg, or a source of biological material, though unviable for life.
That leads to Proteus, who has the ability to warp reality. Under his power, the unviable egg becomes viable. Once that is done, they inject the egg with the preserved DNA of a mutant, which have been meticulously collected and catalogued by Mr. Sinister, who was revealed in Powers of X #4 to have formed a deal with Xavier and Magneto. Still with me?
Once the egg has the genetic information of the mutant, Elixir forces the process of life, making a little mutant embryo. Once that gets going, Tempus comes in and manipulates time around the egg, speeding up its growth to whatever point they wish the body to be. Once done, they have created a mutant husk, genetically identical to whomever’s DNA they used.
It is explained that this process would not be possible on their own, but with Hope’s ability of unifying powers and bringing them to peak performance, as she did with her Five Lights way back when, the group can make it happen with machine precision. However, even with it all going perfectly, they have basically created a mindless cloned body of the mutant. That’s where Xavier comes in.
As it turns out, Cerebro wasn’t just a ‘mutant detector’ as it was presented for so long. Of course, any X-Fan knows that it also served to enhance the telepathic abilities of the psychic using it. In the case of an insanely powerful mind like Charles Xavier, he was able to make something of a copy of the minds of mutants he had connected to. A back up of their very essence, so when, say, someone died, he would have their mind recorded up to the point they died. And provided an empty shell, say, a cloned mutant husk hatched from a big gold ball, he projects that mind into the body, restoring them to life as they had been, in a reborn body, albeit a little slimy.
And thus, you have why all these dead characters have been popping up around Krakoa since the beginning of this story. You even have explained some of the foreshadowing panels, as well as a reason as to why Matthew Rosenberg was allowed to slaughter pretty much anyone he wanted during his run of Uncanny X-Men. Death is no longer the enemy in the new mutant world.
Now this leads to Xavier’s bigger plan. With the process established and the Five working like a well-oiled (or mutated, if you will) resurrection machine, Xavier has begun bringing back all of those mutants who were killed. We’ve already seen the likes of Banshee, and gotten mentions in the notes of the likes of Mimic and Synch. But beyond all of the students Xavier has led to be slaughtered over the years, his big plan is to restore the entire slaughtered population of Genosha, which would take around ten years to complete. Big picture stuff.
By bringing back all of those who have been killed by anti-mutant forces, Xavier can reclaim mutantkind’s rightful place as the next step of human evolution. And the plan is so solid, that even Apocalypse is on board with it.
So what could possibly go wrong? I’m glad you asked.
The obvious point is that this is a very intricate process with each participant playing a very specific and very necessary role. If any of the pieces of this process is removed, the entire thing falls apart. So if someone wants to disrupt the great mutant return, all they need to do is target one of the Five. This is handled a little bit in the notes by saying they are looking into having alternates of copycat powers from the likes of Mimic or Synch being able to sub in for one of them. But that is a pretty big target.
There’s also this little nugget in the info dump:
Basically, what happens if Xavier decides to put the Wolverine mind file into the Jean Grey cloned husk? Does that mean Wolverine wakes up all Freaky Friday style and finds himself not only a smoking hot redhead, but also a ridiculously powerful telepath and telekinetic? The potential would be allowing anybody to assume the identity of ANY MUTANT in appearance and power. That could be a level of deception beyond a shape-shifter like Mystique, who can copy form but not substance, or a level of power copying beyond someone like Rogue or Mimic. It’s not a power duplicating another power – it’s THE power.
And since this story is bringing up Grant Morrison ideas like the Genoshan massacre, or even the mutant fashionista Jumbo Carnation hinted at in Mr. Sinister’s SINISTER SECRETS…
…I guess it would be a good time to mention the outfit that Professor X was wearing in that same issue (Powers of X #4) when he introduced Cypher to Krakoa.
If that looks eerily similar to you, it might be because you remember seeing something like this:
That was the outfit worn by Cassandra Nova when she first appeared in the very first issue of Grant Morrison’s run of New X-Men (#114, if you care). You remember Cassandra Nova, right? She orchestrated her master plan by…placing her mind into Charles Xavier’s body and using his appearance and mental powers to ravage both the X-Men as well as the Shi’ar Empire. Kind of like what could happen if the wrong mind got into the wrong body in this thing.
But I’m sure that’s all just a coincidence.
Needless to say, this is all very VERY exciting for the future. It’s finally a good time to be an X-Men fan again and this whole thing is crazy awesome. There’s so much here to enjoy and so much potential and the main line hasn’t even started yet. I have hope for the future for the first time since…well, a LONG time.