By Jamie Grayson — In the recent 'two-series-that-are-one' combo of House of X and Powers of X, writer Jonathan Hickman and artists Pepe Larraz and R.B. Silva tackle many complicated subjects, including alternate futures and pasts, reincarnation through parallel timelines, and the fate of a newformed utopia. But behind all that high-concept, flashy blockbuster business lies one key concept — unity, built upon mutual trust.
In House of X #2, after deciding the key to mutant survival lie in aggression and taking offensive positions against those who would vilify mutants, Moira McTaggart (newly-revealed to have the mutant power of reincarnation) spends three lifetimes siding with three different possible future mutant leaders, those being Xavier first, Magneto second, and Apocalypse at last. And after it all, Moira comes to the conclusion that picking the side of any one person always leads to the alienation of the others, and thus mutants are divided between them, cut into separate groups that are too weak to survive. This is a problem, given that unity among all mutants almost certainly increases the odds of survival for the mutant race. With that, Moira starts her tenth life, the life that the continuity of our new formed utopia resides in. And in the following issue, Powers of X #2, the first step toward that unity is taken, as Moira forms an alliance between Xavier and Magneto.
"But has this really never been tried before?" one might ask. "How has not a single mutant realized before this that the solution was simply to achieve peace among mutants first, before trying to get the rest of the world to accept living in peace with them?" Well, it in fact has been tried before, multiple times, to varying degrees of success.
So yes, fostering unity among mutants has been attempted in the past. The problem, however, was that in the world of the X-Men, full as it is of backstabbing and betrayal, doubt always managed to creep in, supplanting unity and trust. Because unlike in the HoX/PoX story, where the trust is built on shared truths and knowledge, before it was always a forced, one-sided trust.
In the 2012 series X-Men: Legacy, by writer Simon Spurrier and artist Tan Eng Huat, Xavier's son, David Haller (a.k.a Legion) takes it upon himself to make his father's dreams of peace between mutants and humans into a reality. Haller sets out meaning to act alone, with a fire of dislike and distrust towards the X-Men burning in his heart. At one point, he even tricks the X-Men as well as other mutants into unknowingly participating in his plans. Then, as the series progresses, David realizes his constant tricking of the X-Men, and his distrust in them, is in turn causing them to not trust him, which starts to interfere with his plans — one step back for every two steps forward.
With another big plotline, that same series tackles David learning to form a unity amongst the legion of personas he's got living in his mind. David eventually realizes he has to trust the X-Men, form a unity with them, work with them instead of trying to use them. And to accomplish this...David then tricks them all into believing he isn't tricking them at all...and though he gains their trust long enough for them to defeat the villain they were facing at the time, in the end this faux-unity falls to pieces, once the truth shows its face.
Then, in 2018's X-Men: Red by writer Tom Taylor and artist Mahmud Asrar, Jean Grey, after recently coming back to life, sees that the world's stance towards mutants, in her years and years of absence, hasn't changed a bit for the better. Instead, it has gotten worse, if anything. And thus she decides to make her own change, starting with herself. Jean forms a new team of X-Men, intending them to not be a reactive force, but a proactive one instead. The plan is to not battle enemies, but to fight the very hate and prejudices people hold, which is the force inevitably to be the underlying cause of mutant extinction.
To this end, during a United Nations meeting Jean uses her powers to make people not see mutants as "the other", but to see humans and mutants as a whole, as one in the same, or as Jean puts it, as "just us.” And for a moment there is peace. But immediately afterwards, in a story in Uncanny X-Men #1 (2018), by writers Ed Brisson, Kelly Thompson, and Matthew Rosenberg, and X-Men: Red's very own artist Mahmud Asrar, we see this forced unity backfire. Because although the humans now see mutants as people no different than themselves, they still hold the same prejudices and fears against their mutations, which they now see as a sickness to be cured. They want to make mutants be what Jean essentially told them they were — people no different than themselves. And so once again the unity breaks, without ever truly becoming what it was intended to be.
But the unity HoX/PoX is different, only ever expanding. In House of X #5, with the United Nations recognizing the new mutant nation of Krakoa as a sovereign state, the first step towards peace between humans and mutants is taken. And this happens not thanks to trickery or mind control, but thanks to honest discussions between ambassadors from various countries and the heads of Krakoa, Xavier and Magneto. And after establishing their diplomatic relations with the United Nations, the people of Krakoa welcome what seems to be the last piece needed for the ultimate mutant unity. The last mutant leader, perhaps the greatest enemy of the X-Men, Apocalypse.
And we see that even he has accepted that the road to survival and peace is paved with truth, trust, and total unity.
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Jamie Grayson wanted to put something witty in this bio, but they aren't much of a funny person. Grayson writes comics, and about comics, and is definitely better at that than they are at writing bios.