Updated: Dec 17, 2019
The X-Men are back…
Even though they didn’t really go anywhere…
But hey, Jonathan Hickman is writing it so this should be interesting, right?
Let’s find out!
This first issue opens up with some sort of life tree. It’s a big tree with egg sacks and stuff, like in Aliens. Some people are coming out of the egg sacks and crawling towards a man with an X-shaped helmet.
*Cue the title sequence page*
We find our current X-Men planting some weird purple flowers that come from the mutant island Krakoa in specific places across a five month period, those places being Westchester, Mars, the Savage Land, Washington D.C., Jerusalem, and the Blue Area of the Moon. These plants grow into gigantic trees with vines and other foliage encompassing and overtaking tall buildings and other structures, becoming sanctuaries/embassies, such as the one in Jerusalem, where in the present, multiple diplomats representing different countries arrive.
As the diplomats discuss this we find out that Charles Xavier (possibly the man in the X helmet from earlier) has delivered a telepathic message to the world. The message: He’ll give them a designer drug that extends human life by five years, another that cures mental diseases, and another that’s a super antibiotic but the catch is that the nations of the world have to recognize Krakoa as a legitimate nation. Some of the diplomats are skeptical, others are ready to take the deal, and others are flat out against it but they don’t have time to argue about it because the Stepford Cuckoos show up while they wait for their tour guide, Magneto (in a new snazzy white suit).
Cut to Westchester where Jean Grey is bringing some mutants through a portal to Krakoa. Once there, Krakoa is seen to be a beautiful place full of lush green forests and waterfalls. It’s a place so calm that even Wolverine is able to be happy and frolic in the fields with his fellow mutants (I’m not kidding either, as he’s like the fun uncle at a family reunion with his nieces and nephews).
Meanwhile, the villains are planning something sinister. I mean … yeah, pretty much it’s just that. Cue the team-up of some folks who fear humanity’s extinction from mutantkind from within some of the Marvel Universe’s most notable organizations like S.H.I.E.L.D. , A.I.M., S.W.O.R.D., HYDRA, S.T.R.I.K.E., ALPHA FLIGHT, H.A.M.M.E.R. (wait, those guys are still a thing?), and A.R.M.O.R. They have formed a new secret organization called ORCHIS in response to the impending human armageddon and like all evil organizations they have their secret base in something cool and ominous. In this case, inside a giant sentinel head (possibly Mastermold) floating in space.
Speaking of villains, Mystique, Toad, and Sabretooth are trying to break into Damage Control. Unsuccessfully I might add as while they do hack in and get the data they were looking for, (which we later find out to be the intellectual property of Reed Richards and Tony Stark) their escape plan is ruined by the intervention of the Fantastic Four. Hey look, the last team Hickman wrote!
Checking back in with Magneto’s grand tour of the Krakoa habitats, the Cuckoos explain that Krakoan gateways work by telepathically communicating with Krakoa which are all labeled by signs in Krakoan of course. Oh yeah, Krakoan. With the creation of a country of their own, comes the creation of a language of their own, one which is telepathically imprinted into the minds of every mutant living there. They continue touring through the other habitats, Australia, Tibet, etc., showing the peaceful lives of fellow mutants and answering the questions of the diplomats. One diplomat asks about the military implications of moving armies so quickly from place to place. Another asks if they are actually going to go to the main island of Krakoa. Magneto answers both:
1.) Mutants are above the need to conquer, war, and enslave, so don’t worry about any “military implications”.
2.) The island is a MUTANT ONLY nation.
Mystique and company are still trying to escape and they do…well Mystique and Toad do. Unfortunately, the Invisible Woman was able to trap Sabretooth in a force field when Cyclops shows up. He’s polite and cordial at first, but the FF get suspicious when he asks for amnesty for Sabretooth, leading to a bit of tension. Ultimately Cyclops lets the FF take ole’ Victor Creed away. Sue inquires about the recent actions of Xavier, like the amnesty for mutant criminals, but Scott answers her question with a question:
After being hated and feared by the world and hunted for it, did you really think the mutants would just sit there and take it forever?
He returns to Krakoa and leaves the FF by saying he believes in what Charles Xavier is doing and that their son Franklin Richards has family waiting for him on Krakoa.
Circling back to the Magneto’s Krakoan tour, we find out that all of the diplomats present are also plants. Like the spy kind not the fern kind. One is the head of his state science office, another is from a pharmaceutical company, another is an operative for the Russian government, and another is a S.T.R.I.K.E. agent who’s been tailing the final “diplomat”, who is actually an armed ORCHIS member. Of course Magneto already knew this and disarms him then lectures them about how they are merely wolves waiting to go back to their masters to inform them on how they can keep the mutants down. He goes on to say that this meeting wasn’t about negotiations and that the diplomats: “have new gods now”.
Sooooo yeah… When I heard that they were gonna re-start the X-Men again, I was partially skeptically at such a quick turn-around after they just relaunched the book with a maxi-series, a promising writer, and an event. I was optimistic that Hickman was writing, because I loved Secret Wars 2015 and I’d figure we’ll get a large sprawling epic ala his FF run. This issue is very Jonathan Hickman. There’s some weirdness, some coolness, and some very complex stuff that’ll be explained later down the line, but I’m totally up for all of it.
This “new world order” approach to the X-Men and mutantkind is intriguing as it’s something we’ve seen before, (Magneto with Asteroid M / Avalon / Genosha, Cyclops on Utopia, or Emma Frost with New Tian), but never to this length. I’m also interested in seeing if that’s actually Charles Xavier under that X-helmet or if it’s somebody / something else. The character design is very similar to the Maker, a.k.a. Ultimate Reed Richards, so maybe it’s him, or maybe Chuck’s gone bad again. Clones? We’ll find out sooner or later.
The villains are a newish twist on an old classic, but seem a bit too familiar to be interesting. I’ll wait and see before I make any further judgement. The small touches and background subtleties in the book are really cool. Cypher being in the comm center of Krakoa is a great choice for his power set, the sentinel head evil base for the baddies is cool, Damage Control buying up the IP of Tony Stark and Reed Richards makes sense as to how the Marvel Universe progressed in the absence of the FF and “death” of Tony Stark, and Magneto as Professor X’s consigliere is fun to see.
I’m glad that Hickman added dossiers and files from ORCHIS to help move the plot along in an interesting way and to also set the story straight (at least for now) on what it means to be an Omega Level Mutant but I’m confused why he uses only the Mutant Genocide at Genosha from Grant Morrison’s New X-Men as a point in time marking the temporary but impactful decline of mutants and not others like The Legacy Virus, the House of M Decimation, the Inhuman Terrigenesis Plague or the recent Mutant Cure from the Rosenberg run. I guess we’ll find out later?
Despite a little nitpicking, this was a great and interesting start to a new era of X-Men. Pepe Larraz (who also did Extermination) does an amazing job on art here. It’s eXtraordinary! I can’t wait to see where Jonathan Hickman takes our merry mutants next!
Verdict: 7.5/10 Krakoan Habitats