Charles Xavier is the most important character in the X-Men franchise. Founder of the original Uncanny X-Men, headmaster of the Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, lauded as the strongest telepath on Earth, the main user of Cerebro, etc. He is a lot of things, and I do not like him…most times. There are times I love him and how he’s written so much, and it’s when a book deconstructs him. Xavier is very vital to the entire brand and it’s not because he is an overall “good” person, it’s because he’s responsible for a lot of things that push characters forward. He’s done a lot of shady things, from leaving the academy in the hands of Magneto for a long time to be with the Shi’ar, to mindwiping people countless times without their asking, or even enlisting a team of teenagers who were artificially aged-up to go on a suicide mission, and then erasing Scott Summers’ memory of his now “dead” younger brother in Deadly Genesis by Ed Brubaker and Marc Silvestri, that DEFINITELY didn’t bite them in the ass.
Now we flash forward to the beginning of the Krakoan era, where Xavier is portrayed very creepily, almost like a utilitarian leader. He has Cerebro on 24/7 to constantly keep track of mutant backups, and he’s in an all black bodysuit. He really looks like The Maker, honestly, and it made me think he’d become a villain (he did… but not how I thought). As one of the main leaders of the nation, one might think he’s been extra shady lately. Almost like he’s hiding something all the time. It’s an interesting flip considering all his publication history he’s never had his face covered in public, and even this is for a reason. I’ve likened that change to be thematic in a way to show that his confidence and control is just a facade. I say this because we see in Way of X, he finally spoke with his son Legion after resurrecting him, which only happens because he thought Legion was poisoning minds on Krakoa. Instead of coming to him as a father, he comes with Xorn and Zorn at the ready to vaporize Legion’s brain. You can see how insecure he feels about Krakoa. He needs Krakoa to be successful- he needs his dream to succeed at this current moment.
Fast forward to Jonathan Hickman’s last entry to the Krakoa era, Inferno (featuring art from the amazing Valerio Schiti and Stefano Caselli), you also get a moment where Xavier’s weakness is fully shown. On a mission with Magneto to rescue Moira from Orchis, they’re ambushed by Nimrod and Omega Sentinel. Both of which weren’t really a threat up to this point? At least, back in the “Messiah Trilogy”, the X-Men were fighting a whole horde of Nimrods, so one shouldn’t be too bad…right? Well…we later see even Nimrod can manipulate Xavier’s dream and Magneto’s belief in it by tricking Magneto into sparing Omega Sentinel in exchange for Xavier and well…lets just say that didn’t go how Magneto wanted it to.
Now, we’re in the “Fall of X” and I am VERY excited for this next era because this is where Xavier’s approach to his dream is being tested the most. This is coming not even six months after “Sins of Sinister” hit, where we find out this whole time Xavier, Hope Summers, Emma Frost, and Exodus had been Sinisterified, and they ended up taking over the future along with the original Mister Sinister. With Moira now being a villain and joining Orchis, along with Magneto dying after fighting Uranos and not wanting to be resurrected to respect Arakkii tradition, Xavier is alone. Of the original three founders of Krakoa, Xavier is the last one standing, his dedication to the dream is being tested, arguably the most it’s ever been since maybe Genosha (from his perspective, at least).
X-Men: Hellfire Gala (2023) #1 by Gerry Duggan and a host of artists released July 26th, and with it came probably the biggest shakeup to the status quo of Krakoa since Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz, and R.B. Silva’s House of X/Powers of X almost 4 years ago now. This comes right on the heels of the Quiet Council motioning to go for a more democratic approach that led to Krakoa deciding to protect Doug Ramsey, the ONLY person who can communicate with Krakoa, within the pit back in Immortal X-Men #13 by Kieron Gillen, Lucas Werneck and David Curiel (who are doing an overall phenomenal job on that title, definitely read it from #1 if you haven’t).
During the Hellfire Gala, we saw Orchis finally launch a brutal attack on Krakoa after years of plotting. The Krakoan gates were sabotaged and the Krakoan medicines were mixed with a failsafe so anyone who had taken them could be killed when activated. Xavier is threatened to force all mutants to walk through the nearest Krakoan gate to what we now know is the Phoenix’s White Hot Room. Nonetheless, after that happens, Xavier is distraught because he realizes that he cannot sense a single mutant that has walked through, and goes so far to convince himself that he sent them through a meat grinder. Rogue tries to rescue him but he insists on staying and protecting Krakoa, and it’s drawn by the always amazing Pepe Larraz.
In the recent Immortal X-Men #14, we then see that Xavier is protecting Krakoa using mental projections of kaiju to scare away anyone who may show a threat to the sacred land. He is still dedicated to protecting Krakoa here, even with no mutant currently living there. For the first time since this era began, and honestly maybe ever, Xavier has hit rock bottom. As messed up as it sounds, I honestly love this, and here’s why: Xavier being this paragon for an idealistic dream and being this super good person as well, is not interesting to me at all. Xavier’s best moments are when he’s complex and messy. We see a great representation of this in Mike Carey’s X-Men: Legacy, and indirectly through Si Spurrier’s X-Men: Legacy that focuses on Legion, and how Xavier’s negligence shaped David. We see it again in this era after the events of “Sins of Sinister” and the Hellfire Gala: Xavier is a flawed man, and the moment when his dream is put to the absolute test, when his dedication to protecting mutantkind while also being considerate of human lives is strained, he now only cares about the sacred land. He is alone on the shores of Krakoa, with nothing but his thoughts. Krakoa must succeed, or else, what else can Xavier really do?
This is the third time mutants have established their own country. The first time was Genosha and the second was Utopia, with Scott as the leader. Both ended in tragedy. I see Xavier’s desperation here as a meta-commentary, the Krakoan era must succeed as a line-wide initiative or else. Largely, it has. Commercially this is probably the best X-Men has been in years. I say, keep this momentum up. Continue to innovate while still keeping the remnants of Krakoa/Arakko, regardless of the direction we go. Simply put, mutantkind has progressed very far since the simple days of the X-Men being a group of five cis, mostly hetero, white mutants fighting the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. In my eyes, the X-Men going back to the mansion isn’t the issue inherently, it’s going back to the mansion and not utilizing any of the new mythos that has been built since this era started in an interesting way again, if not at all. Xavier, and the readers, have seen the Institute get blown to pieces time and time again over the last 60 years. They’ve seen Genosha and Utopia be eradicated. It is time that something new sticks. If a big shift is to happen, it should be in a way similar to how Grant Morrison’s New X-Men shook up the franchise. It didn’t change EVERYTHING, but it made significant, innovative changes to produce something that honestly stands the test of time as one of the greatest X-Men comics to this day. Mutantkind cannot be relegated to just a mansion anymore, they are so much more and deserve to be. I think it is imperative that this stays true and with the recent news of this Krakoan Age ending, I hope Marvel continues to take all the concepts developed into interesting ways or, at the very least, shelf them for later.
If you’re interested in seeing this play out, maybe you’ve read some of the Krakoan era and fell off, or maybe you never have — give it a read, I found this to be a very interesting development. The main books I’d recommend would be:
- House of X/Powers of X by Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz and RB Silva
- X-Men (2019) by Jonathan Hickman
- Planet Sized X-Men #1 by Gerry Duggan, Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia
- Inferno by Jonathan Hickman, Valerio Schiti and Stefano Caselli
- Immortal X-Men by Kieron Gillen and Lucas Werneck
- X-Men: Hellfire Gala (2023) #1 by Gerry Duggan and various artists