The X-Men have never been especially shy about swapping and combining DNA with one another, but post-“House of X”, the idea of mutants procreating has taken on a different significance that’s being explored in Way of X from writer Si Spurrier, artists Bob Quinn and Java Tartaglia, and letterer Clayton Cowles.
At the end of Marvel’s “House of X”, the X-Men and their fellow Krakoan mutants vowed to go forth and be fruitful in the biblical sense, as part of their new mission to lay the groundwork for a new age of mutant ascendance. Now that everyone’s had a bit of time to get adjusted to the new (and still-changing) status quo, there’s been more of an opportunity to dig into what all the existence of Krakoa means for mutant society, beyond being the site of the X-Men’s extravagant theatrics like the Hellfire Gala.
Aside from serving as an event space and a fortified sanctuary for all of mutantkind, Krakoa has become a way of life defined by three laws that Way of X has been exploring the moral implications of, with a story about Nightcrawler as he reconciles his Catholic faith with his deeply-felt belief in Krakoa’s ideals. Abundance and excess seem to be core elements of Charles Xavier and the X-Men’s plans for the future where mutants’ deaths are a temporary inconvenience. But Nightcrawler’s been grappling with questions about whether the way Krakoa and its people are moving towards that future are spiritually sound and healthy, ideas that carry an added significance to them in Kurt’s case because of how they embody his connection to his human religiosity.
Way of X #3 opens with a very inebriated Nightcrawler teleporting his way through the Hellfire Gala’s dance floor, where he briefly catches up with a few old friends like Northstar and his husband Kyle, and Meggan (whom Kurt still carries a torch for) and her man Brian Braddock. Krakoa’s first law — make more mutants3seems to be the topic of conversation as Kyle and Northstar spill the beans about Meggan’s pregnancy while commenting on how the mandate poses some specific challenges to same-sex couples. Kyle’s offhanded comment touches on an important question about what sort of implications Krakoa’s laws would pose for mutant society in the long term, and what sort of goals mutants would be committing their lives to. When “make more mutants” was presented in “House of X”, it was a provocative promise of X-Men comics that would use characters’ sexualities and romantic entanglements to set up fascinating plot points for the future.
Though Kurt bamfs away to embarrass himself in front of Meggan and Brian, the heteronormativity Kyle argues is baked into Krakoa’s first law is something worth contemplating. Unlike Krakoa’s other two laws — murder no man, and respect the sacred land of Krakoa — the first has never been presented as compulsory, but rather an encouragement for people to act on their sexual desires, especially if said desires are likely to lead to the creation of offspring. While there’s been no mandate for mutants to couple or throuple up and form nuclear families just like the humans do, that has been the M.O. of the X-Men’s most famous power couples who’ve have been held up as examplars of Krakoan society. Unconventional a family unit as Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Wolverine (and all their respective children) have formed with one another, convoluted procreation has been a hallmark of their identities and interconnected legacies.
It’s not hard to see how, in a world where the X-Men are seen as the embodiments of mutant excellence, the first law might read as a call to action to become the next great Summer-Grey genetic template for gene-obsessed madmen like Sinister to become fixated on. But an even more pressing and immediate matter Kurt’s forced to consider as he ports around the Gala is what becomes of all the babies born to mutants who do the deed, and decide that they aren’t ready for parenthood.
When Nightcrawler crosses paths with Stacy X, he’s stunned to learned that the pheromone manipulator not only uses her powers to help people to let go of their inhibitions, but does so while encouraging them to use contraception, should things become sexual. In the Bower, a pseudo-spiritual gathering space, Stacy X helps create and environment where people feel safe and comfortable enough to be intimate with one another in ways that can be healing for them.
It’s hard for Kurt to reconcile the idea that people might find growth, comfort, and meaning in sexual connections that aren’t procreative, despite the fact that those kinds of connections are crucial for many people like Loa and Mercury, two women whose powers make sexual contact tricky. Loa’s ability to tear apart things she touches leaves Mercury’s metallic hand in shreds after the pair attempt to hook up, for example. But in the Bower, they’re able to share a mind-bending experience with the help of David Haller, who links their minds with his own telepathic abilities.
Unnerving as the unexpected results of Loa and Mercury’s pairing is, it’s the Bower’s nursery full of babies who end up really underlining the most impactful ideas Way of X #3 establishes as the issue begins to wrap up. For all of the promise and potential Krakoa has, there doesn’t seem to have been much thought put into what to actually do with the nation’s newborn children. There’s little question that none of Krakoa’s children would ever want for anything (setting aside their potential desires to one day know their biological families.) But the Bower’s nursery does, in a way, read somewhat like the precursor to a future Krakoa where the state readily welcomes children into a much grander version of Charles Xavier’s original school for gifted child soldiers.
What Stacy X is doing in the Bower is addressing an important and often-overlooked aspect of people’s needs as they function as parts of a larger society, in addition to recognising an oversight the Quiet Council apparently overlooked. But at a time when the X-Men have begun covertly colonising human sovereign nations and overtly terraforming other planets, mutants running around squeezing out kids out of national pride only adds to the cult-like vibes that have dominated the X-Men books since “House of X.” Marvel’s current “Reign of X” is clearly building to something larger that’s coming after the Hellfire Gala’s finale this week, and it feels quite safe to assume that whatever goes down is going to have lasting consequences for everyone, including all the children.
Way of X #3 is in stores now.