This week's Uncanny X-Men #11 finally reveals just why the world really needs the X-Men - and it's a reason that would break Charles Xavier's heart. There's always been a remarkable difference between the X-Men and the Avengers; one superhero team is celebrated, and the other is hated and feared.
Even in-universe, the X-Men have been fighting for peace between man and mutant for decades now. But for all their efforts, for all their sacrifices, humanity still looks upon the mutant race with fear. There are still bigots who spout hateful words about mutants, still attempts to "cure" the mutant race, still Sentinels. It's frankly difficult to understand why the X-Men don't despair. And now, with the X-Men believed dead, the mutant race no longer has its champions.
Uncanny X-Men #11 explores the stories of three mutants in the post-X-Men world; the resurrected Cyclops and Wolverine, and the young precognitive mutant named Blindfold. It's a bleak issue, as each one of them struggles to navigate a world where prejudice runs rampant, where a mutant vaccine is being fast-tracked into production, and where government agencies raid the Morlock community and drag mutants away - if they don't kill them. In one shocking scene, Callisto explains to Wolverine why the death of the X-Men had such a horrific effect.
"They were afraid of the X-Men," she tells Logan. "Magneto. Xavier. Summers... You. You all scared the #$*% out of them, but that kept them in line. Then Legion and X-Man had their little war and almost destroyed everything. Then all the X-Men died. The humans aren't scared anymore. They're just angry."
The X-Men believed they were fighting to protect a world that hated and feared them; but according to Callisto, the X-Men were effective only because they were hated and feared. The world's governments came to realize that investment in Sentinel programs would backfire when the X-Men arrived, or when it drew the attention of Magneto. Anti-mutant hate groups knew if they made too much noise, they'd get a visit from Wolverine or wind up being taken down in one of Cyclops' grand plans. So prejudice and bigotry was suppressed - for as long as the X-Men were around. Now the X-Men, and Magneto, are all dead. There's nothing to hold the hatred back anymore.
And the Avengers can never deal with this problem. Although they watch the hate rallies with fury, they still wind up working to keep the peace. They're not hated, they're not feared, and the bigots know how to work around them. They know exactly how far Captain America will go to protect mutants - and the sad truth is, it's not far enough to make any real difference. The world needs the X-Men; fortunately it has Cyclops and Wolverine, and those two aren't just going to sit back and watch as their race slips gently into the night.
Uncanny X-Men #11 is on sale now from Marvel Comics.