The X-Men comics are near and dear to my heart. They have been for as long as I can remember, but there was always something that bugged me. It wasn’t until I was much older that I truly began exploring what exactly was bothering me. They were often written the way a white cishet man would interrupt how marginalized people deal with being marginalized, making those experiences more palatable for non-marginalized people.
I’m not at all saying it was always done poorly, but often enough to be of note whenever I’d read these stories. Especially Professor Charles Xavier. His ideology and treatment of the X-Men almost always sat ill with me. I think this is why I enjoyed House of X/Powers of X as much as I did, because Charles, and even Magneto and Apocalypse, get out of their own way and finally start doing right by the mutants they claim to love so much.
Charles Xavier has treated the X-Men as little political pawns, a team of impressionable young people to whom he provided food and shelter in exchange for them doing his bidding. The X-Men were mascots for mutant-kind, putting themselves in harm's way for humans who want nothing to do with them. Are all of those humans harmful to mutants? No, but enough that I’ve never felt it was fair for mutants to be doing all of the heavy lifting when it comes to getting humans to see their humanity. Simply existing should be enough, but I know that’s not the case in real life when it comes to bigots, so of course the comics should reflect that.
On top of all this, Charles puts his agenda before the needs of his own students. I’m not talking about their need for a safe place to their heads, what with how the X-Mansion gets destroyed a lot, but their mental health needs. How taxing it must be to be placed on such a mantle when your very foundation is so fragmented with baggage you’ve yet to fully unpack it, or unpack it at all. Both the Phoenix Saga and the Dark Phoenix Saga are examples of how carelessly Charles treats the X-Men, placing them in danger for the mere sake of not being like those other mutants. I was recently reminded of this thanks to the second cinematic attempt at the Dark Phoenix Saga, X-Men: Dark Phoenix. In the film, Charles Xavier sends the X-Men, who are just a bunch of teenagers chaperoned by Beast and Mystique, to space for good publicity. He is actually at a dinner with political officials when his team is slingshotted into space on a spacecraft that looks like it was put together with duct tape and glue. Actually, one of the few positive things going for X-Men: Dark Phoenix is how toxic and harmful Charles Xaver clearly is to everyone who encounters him. By the way, Magneto is no better.
Magneto makes great points, but his execution is questionable at best, especially since his methods put both humans and mutants in harm's way. His thirst to rule over the human race makes Magneto reckless at times. He puts his own children, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff, in harm's way for the sake of making humans his slaves. Like yes, Homo sapiens can suck it but making them slaves is a lot, and it's not worth being abusive to your children — children who are very much mutants like him — but for Magneto, any mutant who doesn’t want exactly what he wants is no better than the humans he hates. What good is liberation if it's not liberation for all? Meanwhile, Apocalypse wants to rule over everyone regardless, and that’s not exactly a better way of life.
House of X/Powers of X, although written by Jonathan Hickman, a white man by the way, gets Charles, Magneto, Apocalypse, and even Sinister of all mutants on the same page. Nothing else has truly worked or lasted for any of them in their quest for making the world what they all individually want. In House of X/Powers of X, Moira McTaggert shows them all the error of their individual ways and how they all end up harming their fellow mutants instead of actually getting them all the liberation they truly deserve. The safety and future for all mutants becomes the only goal, and there is no trying to continue to convince humans they are worthy of occupying the same space. It’s proven time and time again to be lethal to incorporate humans into their plans. The focus is now Krakoa and making sure it remains a place where mutants can truly be free — all mutants, not just the ones who adhere to a specific ideology. There are still mutants who lose their lives in order to secure the future of Krakoa, but at least it's for the greater good and not for selfish men.
House of X/Powers of X has come at a time a great time, and I can only hope the spinoffs continue to keep the same energy. In 2020, if a fictional group is going to genuinely be reflective of the people they represent, they shouldn’t be doing all the heavy lifting for their oppressors, and they should never have had to. This cannot be stated enough, but it’s unreasonable to put upon the marginalized the entire onus of fixing or dismantling a system that was built to harm them in the first place.
I’ve been enjoying series like Marauders, which shows some of my X favorites like Kitty Pryde doing what needs to be done in the name of all mutants. I’m especially interested in Children of the Atom, introducing new mutants into the X-Men canon. I’m looking forward to seeing how writers like Vita Ayala have these characters reflect those who have loved the X-Men and other mutants for who they’ve been and what they can continue to grow and become.