Now that Krakoa is officially open for business and the mutant reincarnation technique has been revealed in House of X #5, Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva and Marte Gracia are free to slow things down and explore some of the hidden mechanisms behind Xavier and Magneto’s new mutant society. Touching on everything from the mysterious Krakoan drugs to governmental structures, a key moment occurs right at the beginning, as Forge is brought into the fold to help Xavier build the technology necessary to achieve his version of paradise.
It makes sense that Xavier, who I really want to call “Xavier the Persuader” moving forward due to his new, menacing, wrestling-inspired costume, would turn to Forge- a mutant with vague mystical powers who is also a genius inventor- to build a new and improved Cerebro in X0. Forge has a long history with the X-Men (and your highness, Storm, in particular), joining the team on the field multiple times and constantly updating the team’s defenses, but this is likely his most significant project to date.
Rather than dive into the ethical quandaries of creating a full-blown copy of someone’s mind, the technological genius probes his old friend about his exact needs. For this new Cerebro to work, Forge posits they will need access to an unlimited power source and a massive amount of space to store all of the raw data. Xavier’s suggestions of antimatter engines and Shi’ar logic diamonds- can you say hello Gabriel Summers- provide Forge with quick answers to his complicated questions, but unfortunately he doesn’t prod the Persuader to go deeper into what he plans to do with the machine and whether or not he will ask mutants permission to use this new, intrusive device on them.
Despite how interested Forge clearly is in the opportunity to retrofit Cerebro and take on a new challenge, his body language slightly evokes a sense of discomfort with what is going on. The smile and relaxed posture he gives off in his debut panel quickly disappears and he is seen scrunching his face into a frown and folding his arms for a majority of the conversation. It’s also worth noting that in this scene, a rare moment where Xavier is depicted without his massive helmet and readers can actually see his face, he still comes across as menacing; his facial expressions constantly give off a snarky, arrogant vibe that makes him appear more like an overreaching entrepreneur than the leader of a minority group fighting for their right to live comfortably.
Something still going largely unaddressed throughout the development of Krakoa and Cerebro’s new programming is the acceptance or dismissal of the intrusive ideas by regular mutants. Through the brief interactions Xavier has with both Namor and Emma Frost– more on those in a minute- it’s made clear to the audience that not everyone is onboard with Xavier’s plan. Fortunately for them, both Emma and Namor are (or in Namor’s case would be) offered prestigious positions in Krakoan society, but not everyone who has to follow Xavier’s new rules will do so from a position of privilege and power.
For a group that has been persecuted and experimented on numerous times throughout their history, often by madmen who perform these tasks without mutant consent, it strikes me as naive for Xavier to think that the world’s mutants will all agree with this encroaching practice. Even Forge, who looks slightly uncomfortable about the ask and is responsible for building/maintaining Xavier’s intrusive machines, doesn’t mention the fact that some mutants may not like having their minds remotely copied and stored in five distinct databases. In fact, right at the moment where it seems he could voice some dissatisfaction about creating a “backup of sentient being[s],” Forge is pulled deeper into Xavier’s vision after hearing the Persuader claim that Hank McCoy felt the updates were impossible to achieve, essentially daring the ego-driven machinist to achieve what others consider undoable.
No matter how intriguing the Powers of X material set in the X3 timeline is, the Phalanx and ideas revolving around machine assimilation have felt thematically linked but somewhat disconnected from Hickman’s larger narrative. This week, however, Nimrod’s conversation with the Librarian about organic machines gelled with the technical developments happening on Krakoa. Momentarily discussing blackholes, Nimrod hypothesizes that each wormhole is actually part of “one single machine that stretches its tendrils across the entirety of the known universe,” similar to how the various Krakoa portals placed on Earth and in space all function as parts of one system. With the data pages implying that Forge’s ability to develop organic machines is still growing, even claiming that “a revolution in Krakoan technology seems imminent,” it’s likely only a matter of time before Krakoa itself is considered a hybrid machine-mutant.
Including the interaction with Forge, much of this issue boils down to Xavier the Persuader selling key figures in the mutant community on his vision for Krakoa. Not only do we see him bring Emma Frost into the fold as the emissary of the Hellfire Trading Company, promising her three seats on the mutant council in exchange for her work, but we also see him telepathically contact villains like Exodus and Mr. Sinister who made their debut on the mutant-nation last week. Almost everyone he reaches out to is curious about Krakoa and takes Xavier up on his offer, but there is one important holdout: Namor.
There are a lot of reasons to not trust Chuck here, from his obscured face to his strongman belief that the council should be chosen rather than elected, but Namor, a proud monarch who served on the Illuminati and secretly shaped the Marvel Universe alongside Xavier, sees right through the facade. Sure, developing Krakoa is an accomplishment that could benefit all mutants, but ultimately it’s another ego-driven attempt by Xavier to reshape the world to his liking, something the already proud King of Atlantis doesn’t need to bother himself with.
This is not a drill, people, we only have two more issues of HOX/POX before the Dawn of X officially begins. If you want to dive deeper into the world of Krakoa, check out last week’s column on the effects of nationalism on the overall narrative.