Another week means another series has entered the Dawn of X lineup. This time, it’s Chip Zdarsky’s, Terry Dodson’s, Rachel Dodson’s and Laura Martin’s X-Men/Fantastic Four. An enjoyable crossover that highlights where both groups’ heads are at as the Marvel Universe enters new territory. In addition to integrating Franklin Richards into the Krakoan era, the book performs another important function: further solidifying Kate Pryde at the center of the mutant world.
Franklin Richards, the universe-creating, mutant child of Reed Richards and Susan Storm is the focus of this limited crossover. As the world’s mutants congregate on the new nation of Krakoa, all of the mutants who still haven’t accessed the island are stuck wondering what life there is like. While Franklin is an accomplished member of the Fantastic Four (and Future Foundation) and clearly loves his family, he, like any young adult, wants more from his life.
Linking the story back to the original 1987 X-Men/Fantastic Four series, the crossover grounds the loving, familial relationship between Franklin and Kate Pryde established in the Chris Claremont penned story as the key to Franklin’s future allegiance — especially after he feels betrayed by his controlling father for manipulating his mutant gene.
I’m happy to see Kate occupy more space, but there is something frustrating about it all happening right now. Despite her elevated position in the Dawn of X, for all intents and purposes Kate Pryde is currently missing — thrown overboard after being blindsided by Sebastian Shaw at the end of Marauders #6. Obviously the character is going to return at some point and Sebastian may be reprimanded for his betrayal, but her prominent position in this new series undermines the enjoyable cliffhanger Gerry Duggan conceived.
Rather than dwell on her disappearance, X-Men/Fantastic Four’s opening issue ostensibly ignores the situation. Even though Kate is already an established Marauder captain in the story, the confrontation has either yet to happen or already been settled because we see Kate come face-to-face with Doctor Doom at the end of this issue, a confrontation that hasn’t been alluded to anywhere else.
She may be the dreaded Marauder Pirate Queen Kate Pryde, equipped with her pet dragon Lockheed and ready to fight or kiss whoever she wants on the seven seas, but she is still a tender individual when her friends need some guidance. It’s nice to see Kate slow down for a moment and return to the personal mentorship role she used to occupy. Yes, she is currently saving a new generation of persecuted mutants and bringing them to Krakoa, potentially becoming a heroic figure for them to look up to, but she isn’t really spending much time with them after helping them get to Krakoa. With Franklin, on the other hand, it’s her patient guidance that ultimately pushes him to feel comfortable enough to run away from his family and try to access a Krakoan gate for the first time.
Marauders #7, on the other hand, highlights Kate through her absence. Without her, the Quiet Council has come to a stalemate, giving Sebastian Shaw the opportunity he craves to influence mutant events at the highest levels. While Emma implies she knows about Kate’s current condition and excuses her Red Queen’s absence, it’s clear that her true status is unknown for most people in the council. It’s hard for her recent walk overboard to have any dramatic impact because it’s immediately undercut by her prominent position in the new miniseries.
Things like this happen all the time in comic books. At one moment, Thor and Captain America may be incapacitated by Kang at the end of an Avengers issue, but the characters are both fine and dandy over in their solo books the following week. It’s not a problem and it allows for more stories to be told overall, but it does feel a bit awkward when a character is seemingly dead in one series and perfectly fine in another released on the same day. I’m sure a satisfying explanation will be given to mitigate the temporal inconsistencies as the series progresses, but the fact that a simple editor’s note placing this story and Kate’s condition somewhere in the timeline doesn’t exist is frustrating.
Overall, X-Men/Fantastic Four is a welcome addition to the X-lineup. Not only is it interesting to see how one of the most powerful omega mutants in the Marvel Universe reacts to Krakoa, but watching characters like The Thing and Susan Storm, two empathetic individuals with old connections to the X-Men who understand their long history of persecution, display hesitation or dismay about mutant’s new global status speaks volumes. It makes sense for the Thing to feel fear watching his godson jet off to a new mutant nation when the memory of Genosha’s eradication still hangs so fresh in the world’s memory, rooting any potential conflict between the two groups in understandable emotions rather than cosmic entities or shape-shifting aliens.
Hopefully the Fantastic Four can avoid legal repercussions for attacking Krakoan citizens with diplomatic immunity, but I think Bobby Da Costa knows a decent space lawyer if anyone needs one.
While the future of the HiX-Men moment of the week column is somewhat in the air due to The Beat’s transition back to independence, I want to say thank you to all of you for reading up to this point and supporting the column thus far! I’ve always loved the X-Men but now feels like a truly special time to be paying attention to this nutty franchise and I’m so honored to get to share in the nerdy love with you all. Please bug me on Twitter about all things HiX-Men to keep the fun times rolling!