House of X #2 / Powers of X #2

If a “mutant” by definition is an alteration from the norm, how exactly does humanity come to terms with it?

That question has been at the heart of the X-Men comics since the beginning. Mutants were always an aberration, and in their struggle to exist there was a duality between Professor X and Magneto. Professor X wanted to coexist with humanity and carve out a space for mutants to exist as people with equal rights and everything else that goes along with what we’d consider the “inalienable.” On the other side of the coin, Magneto has always detested and distrusted humanity–not helped in any way by his traumatic backstory–and has always sought out an alternative that kept humans at arm’s length. In Magneto’s eyes, mutants are superior. They’re the next evolutionary step in humanity’s progress.

That functional duality–sometimes mirroring the Civil Rights struggles between Martin Luther King and Malcolm X–has been written about ad nauseam, but it’s worth a read. Growing up, I always found it hard to fight the lure of Magneto’s cause, especially during the story arcs where his actions were a direct response to humanity’s fearful overreactions (legislation, citizen movements, segregation, terrorist attacks, etc.). But that lure was always temporary, because beneath Magneto’s justifications there’s always a darkness lurking underneath. Especially once you realize just how far he’ll go to advance his cause.

STL126233.jpgSo now we’re at a point in House of X where we understand the game: Moira MacTaggart has lived multiple lives, and every single life has been spent trying to prevent the genocide of mutants. Every single time has been a failure, leading her to believe that the only way for mutants to survive any fight against humanity is for Charles Xavier and Magneto to band together and give humanity an offer it can’t refuse. But even here, it’s obvious that there’s a darkness lurking in Magneto’s heart. He understands the stakes, and he respects his old friend … but he won’t hesitate to use force if it comes to that.

… And it’s obviously going to come to that, because in Powers of X #2 we learn that humanity’s response to the mutant request for amnesty is to develop a new class of Sentinel capable of causing immense destruction. This leads to a desperate attempt to retrieve a mysterious drive 100 years in the future, though its exact purpose is still a mystery. And what to make of the jump 1,000 years in the future, as the denizens of Earth humbly request a meeting with the world-eating Phalanx?

I don’t have answers. I have a guess, but I’m dying to read the next issue every single week. This is great art and great writing. It’s got me thinking a lot about destiny–and Destiny, who arrives to warn Moira MacTaggert not to try and cure mutants under penalty–and makes me wonder if human/mutant conflict is inevitable. Can there ever be any sort of peaceful coexistence? Mutations, in this world, give certain people “gifts” (as Magneto might say) that provide significant advantages. Will humans always feel threatened?

Charles Xavier’s plan is a promise: leave mutants alone and we’ll give you 3 gifts. It’s a gutsy exchange that probably won’t work. But he has an Ace up his sleeve:

Moira.

When she dies, they’ll get a second chance. But maybe not a third.

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