Warning: SPOILERS for House of X #5
With the story now mostly told, there's no way around it: Marvel's X-Men reboot is changing everything the heroes believe in. The X-Men are one of the most powerful, notable comic book brands in history. But their heroics began as a mirror for society, as they strive to protect a world that fears, and even hates them. Xavier's Dream is often seen as an allegory of the battle for equality in the real world, and has been explicitly linked to everything from civil right, to gay rights, to the fight against Apartheid in Africa.
Understandably, there has always been a strange tension to Xavier's Dream. On the one hand, the X-Men live apart from the rest of the world, and for most of their comic book run they've kept their identities a closely-guarded secret. On the other, Xavier preaches a doctrine of mutant-human coexistence, with the X-Men fighting for a world where mutants will be able to live together with humans in peace. At least... that's how it's supposed to be.
But now that superstar comic writer Jonathan Hickman is relaunching-- or, perhaps, rebooting--the X-Men in a high profile event, things have changed. With House of X dropping massive twists, readers may be missing the problem: his X-Men are completely abandoning Xavier's Dream.
The X-Men Relaunch Isn't About Xavier's Dream
From the start, something has seemed off about Jonathan Hickman's X-Men relaunch. He's envisioned a world where the mutant race has sequestered itself on the living island of Krakoa, with humans denied permission. In House of X #1, Charles Xavier chose Magneto to act as his ambassador among the human race, and the Master of Magnetism delivered a simple message to humans: "You have new gods now." It was all eerily reminiscent of Magneto's mutant nation of Genosha in years past--an isolationist mutant community that was approved by the United Nations out of fear, rather than respect.
Xavier's Dream has always been about the fight for equality. In the classic X-Men animated series in the '90s, it was summed up poignantly by Beast when he remembered lines from Shakespeare. "If you prick us, do we not bleed?" he asked, "If you tickle us, do we not laugh?" Fundamentally, the X-Men are about celebrating the fact that man and mutant have more in common than differences. But House of X #5 reveals that this entire concept has been fundamentally abandoned. In one scene, Storm plays the role of high priestess. "On your feet, mutant," she declares to her friends, placing individuality second to their fundamental mutantcy. She then runs a strange ceremony in which the assembled Krakoan community celebrate these resurrected mutants. It's presented as more militant or cultist than anything else--and the very antithesis of Xavier's Dream.
Perhaps the most disturbing scene opens House of X #5, with Polaris at the side of Magneto, her father. The two have never been close, with Lorna only recently learning Magneto really was her father, and the ideological gulf between the two has always seemed like a chasm. But in House of X #5, Lorna openly asks: "Humans. Is there any good in them?" Incredibly, Magneto takes on the role of the voice of reason. It's impossible to overstate just how out of character this scene really is, or how alien the perspective should be to Polaris.
X-Men Aren't The Only Ones Acting Out Of Character
But the X-Men aren't the only ones who appear to be out of character. House of X #5 ends with Xavier summoning the next wave of mutants to Krakoa; the supervillains. Evil mutants like Emplate, Selene, Exodus, and even the X-Men's greatest enemy, Apocalypse. He is, predictably, the one who steps forward to make his voice heard, as he offers his support for Krakoa. The goal he worked for, according to him, as all his prior atrocities were "in the hopes of mutantdom finally asserting dominance over this world." He celebrates Krakoa as the fulfillment of this dream, and the issue ends with him shaking Xavier's hand.
There's just one problem: that isn't what Apocalypse has fought for at all. Apocalypse believes in the principle of 'survival of the fittest,' and that the weak are worthy only of death so that the strongest will flourish. House of X #5 reveals that Charles Xavier is using Cerebro technology to resurrect his dead X-Men--an act that Apocalypse would view as heretical. After all, the ones who have passed away have already proven themselves unable to defend themselves, and therefore unfit to survive. And yet, for some reason, as soon as he steps foot on Krakoan soil... Apocalypse's mind reinterprets everything he has ever stood for.
What's Going On With These New X-Men?
Something is clearly happening to any mutant who is brought to the mutant island of Krakoa, and the key may have been offered back in House of X #1. There, Hickman revealed that Krakoa and Cypher have created a completely new language, Krakoan, and that the language is telepathically imprinted in the cerebral cortex of any mutant when they arrive on the island. That's presumably done by Charles Xavier himself, given new arrivals appear to be personally welcomed into his presence when they first enter Krakoa. But if Xavier digs into every mutant's mind and implants an entirely new language... what else does he do?
Perhaps it is significant that, in House of X #5, Magneto carefully dons his helmet--which blocks his psychic abilities--before standing next to Charles Xavier, as though reluctant to allow him unfettered access. This isn't the only opportunity Xavier has to meddle with the mutants' psyches, either. According to House of X #5, the Professor uses Cerebro to record a copy of every single mutant's mind. Everything they think, everything they feel, and all of their memories. And he keeps doing it every week.
This is done, ostensibly, to ensure mutants can cheat death, with the "latest version" of each psyche saved in multiple redundant "cradles" hidden across the planet. But in order to make this kind of recording, Xavier would have to dig deep into every mind, and there's no reason to assume he leaves everything untouched. The longer a mutant is on Krakoa, the more times Xavier explores their minds, and the more opportunities he has to rewrite them according to his own desires.
X-Men fans know that Charles Xavier has always been morally ambiguous, going to extreme lengths in pursuit of his dream. The idea has even made its way on to the big screen, most notably in X-Men: Dark Phoenix. But, as noted, the ends he is working towards in House of X are not Xavier's Dream at all... which raises the chilling possibility that even Xavier is under the influence of some other power. It's notable that he no longer removes Cerebro, which may simply represent his powers always being active. But it could also be a way of hiding something from the psychic or telepathic X-Men and the mutants of Krakoa.
If the latter is the case, then the entire mutant race is being controlled by a force that has turned Charles Xavier himself into a puppet. Given the power levels assembled on Krakoa, Marvel's world, if not its entire universe is in grave danger.
House of X #5 is on sale now from Marvel Comics.