A solid amount of content coming out of the Dawn of X can be described as upbeat, funny and even cheerful. Benjamin Percy‘s and Joshua Cassara’s X-Force is certainly enjoyable, and it does include some fantastic one-liners courtesy of Quentin Quire, but it is far from cheery. Ever since the first issue ended with the death of Charles Xavier at the hands of stateless, biologically enhanced terrorists, the rose-colored sheen has slowly disappeared from Krakoa as its citizens panic and ponder the young nation’s next moves.
Jonathan Hickman may have introduced mechanisms to give mutants a quasi sense of immortality, but resurrection has always been a constant in the X-Universe. Jean Grey, in particular, has an extremely complicated relationship with death and rebirth that gives her an interesting perspective moving into the Dawn of X. She reveals to her old friend Hank McCoy that, when she was younger, her parents used to take Jean and her sister to old cemeteries on road trips; as their parents rested in the shady grass, Jean and her sister would frolic and compete to find the oldest gravestone. This casual relationship with death — making it something to be cherished and accepted rather than feared and avoided — perfectly positions Jean as someone level-headed enough to bring Xavier back.
It’s fitting that all of the responsibility falls on Jean Grey, one of Xavier’s first and most powerful students. While people like Magneto and Cyclops continue to run around the world and make noise — Magneto nearly reveals the truth about Xavier’s death to a group of hungry journalists — Jean is the one following protocol to bring her former mentor back in a timely manner. Beast, a man of science and reason, is clearly shaken and almost doubts Jean’s abilities to bring Xavier back, but he is also skeptical about what will happen should mutants shake a healthy fear of death. While he doesn’t go so far as to say that being immortal is bad, Jean clearly believes that not fearing death makes it easier to think about the wellbeing of a community instead of constantly putting one’s individual needs before everything else.
This conversation about the effects and limitations of death between Jean and Beast is likely the highlight of the issue despite how quickly it transpires. In Jean’s opinion, her lack of fear around death has made her a “better person [….] and hero.” By accepting death as an inevitability rather than a limitation, Jean believes she can be more selfless and help people in a more complete way. With Krakoa inspiring mutants to come together — I mean just look at the room arrangement that Jean, Logan and Scott are sharing ;) — now is the best time for people to put aside their personal differences and truly think about how far they are willing to go and what they are willing to sacrifice for the preservation and advancement of mutantkind.
More than anything else, this issue shows how powerful a symbol Xavier is for mutantkind; at one point, Hank even posits that “he’s all of our lives,” making it clear that he immediately fears for his people’s safety once Xavier’s gone.
Xavier may just be one among many members of the Quiet Council, but the former headmaster has essentially become a messiah for his people. Ever since he shook hands with Apocalypse, ushering in a new era of peaceful cooperation between previous rival groups, his unofficial status has been elevated and his wellbeing is essentially tied to the position and prosperity of the young nation. Upon his passing, the young nation fell into complete shock and mourning. Despite the fact that Xavier has previously copied himself two times in the past, knowledge that was likely withheld from lower Krakoan citizens but known to his major allies, everyone feared the worst and immediately doubted how sustainable their new nation was without its most public-facing founder.
As Xavier is reborn, so too is his understanding of his new mutant utopia. Yes, Krakoa is still supposed to stand as a beacon for mutant hope around the world, but now the weary father of the nation understands that, in order to thrive, mutants still need to have a presence in the shadows.
This issue marks the first time that “X-Force” is even explicitly mentioned in the series so far, showing that the events of the previous two issues served as the necessary catalyst for the new nation to reconsider their intelligence and security operations. Moving forward, X-Force is an official branch of Krakoan government, performing the off-the-books operations necessary to keep mutants safe from the world’s encroaching threats. Stacked full of people like Wolverine and Jean Grey, individuals who certainly don’t fear death and would do anything to defend their loved ones, the team is in a good position to get things done.
The sword that Magneto crafted out of the remnants of Cerebro in issue #2 makes a dramatic, off-page return this issue. In a Tom Muller designed data page, it is revealed that Magneto gives his old friend the weapon and tells him to keep it close — advice Xavier eagerly takes to heart. While the metaphor is a bit heavy handed, literally handing a self-proclaimed pacifist a weapon right as he realizes offensive operations are necessary, it’s also a nice visual representation to show that things change. Now that Xavier has hung the sword on his wall right above his bed, it’s the first thing he sees in the morning and the last thing he sees at night, symbolizing that he will be far more likely to consider using force and might than ever before.
Xavier is back but we still don’t know much about Xeno, the loose affiliation of shadowy groups that despise mutants. While there are likely a lot of unknown players still set to make their introduction soon, Weapon X was explicitly mentioned, meaning Wolverine will be crossing paths with the shadowy organization that forcefully added adamantium to his skeleton sooner rather than later. Until then, check out last week’s column about the razor-sharp, mature ladies of Hordeculture, and prepare for the onslaught that is four X-books being released simultaneously on the 18th.