How the Oppressed Mages Trope Sabotages House of X

The ruined X-Mansion from an X-Men Comic

The term oppressed mages refers to any situation in which characters are systematically marginalized for their supernatural abilities, whether those powers come from spellbooks or mutant genes. When I first wrote about this trope, I mostly stuck to general points rather than going after specific stories. I did that because oppressed mages are remarkably consistent, no matter what form they appear in. Even so, some of my points were more than a little abstract, and it pays to have a concrete example. Fortunately, I didn’t have to look very far before I found House of X.

House of X is an X-Men comic published by Marvel.* The basic premise is that long-time rivals Professor Xavier and Magneto team up to create Krakoa, a nation for mutants and mutants only. This comic has already caused a lot of controversy. Some have rejoiced to see Xavier finally radicalized into realizing that the human oppressors cannot be stopped with kind words. Others see it as the X-Men embracing white nationalism. That’s quite a contrast.

The reason House of X produces such startlingly different reactions is simple: oppressed mages. Marvel has long tried to use mutants as a parallel for various marginalized groups, and it’s always awkward because mutants have superpowers, something actual marginalized people are notably lacking. Today, we look specifically at how that clash of themes affects House of X and why that effect isn’t good.

This isn’t a judgment on House of X’s overall quality. There’s plenty to like in terms of moving dialogue and strong characterization. We’re only looking at how oppressed mages affect the story’s message. Also, Marvel’s full continuity is an unending labyrinth, but in this article we focus exclusively on what’s in this particular series.

Spoiler Notice: House of X and Powers of X

Wakanda or Galt’s Gulch?

An aircraft flying over Wakanda from the film Black Panther.

For those of you who don’t keep up with Marvel films, Wakanda is a fictional African nation that avoided colonization through secrecy and advanced technology. Most of its history features isolationism, but not without good reason. The European empires were a clear and present danger to Wakanda, so the country’s decision to remain isolated from the world is understandable, if not automatically correct.

By comparison, Galt’s Gulch* is from the objectivist Atlas Shrugged, and it’s the city founded by rich people when they flee from the unwashed masses. Not only were those dirty peasants ungrateful for all the things rich people did for them, but the stinking poors kept trying to enslave their rightful masters by making them pay taxes. How horrid! Clearly, the only option was for the entire upper class to form their own society.

Whether House of X works for you will largely depend on if you see the mutant nation of Krakoa to be more like Wakanda or Galt’s Gulch. Is it a nation that must make the difficult choice of isolating itself in order to survive,* or is it a collection of privileged people who are tired of breathing the same air as the rest of us? Of course, House of X tells us it’s the former, but what does it really show us?

In case it’s not obvious, I’m hardly unbiased here. To my eyes, Krakoa is nothing more than Galt’s Gulch with superstrength and mind reading thrown into the mix. And it’s not just because Wakanda is populated by Black people, who are marginalized in real life, whereas most mutants we see are white. It’s baked into Krakoa’s very DNA along with those superpowered mutant genes. But I don’t expect you to just take my word for it. It’s time to examine exactly why the X-Men don’t work as a parallel for marginalization and oppression, no matter how much Marvel desperately wants to use them that way.

Mutants Are Way Too Strong

Storm, Xavier, and Magneto from the X-Men comics.

In my previous post about oppressed mages, I explained that the first problem with the trope is that mages are hard to oppress, on account of them having supernatural powers and all. There are other problems in the few stories that manage to get past this obstacle, but House of X is not one of those stories. Not even close.

The mutants are so much more powerful than their human adversaries that it’s almost comical. The only way the mutants face any opposition at all is because they use the worst tactics imaginable. For example, early in the comic, Xavier and Magneto find out that the anti-mutant organization Orchis is trying to activate a powerful factory in orbit of the sun.* They find this out from their network of telepaths, so that’s already a major advantage. If the factory comes online, Orchis will use it to produce an army of killer robots to attack Krakoa. It might even result in the creation of a villain named Nimrod,* who the mutants know is a threat to them because they can also see the future.

The mutants quickly put together a team to destroy the factory. It contains some heavy hitters like Cyclops, Wolverine, and Nightcrawler, but they also bring along a mutant whose only power is to fly and a mutant who’s great at infiltrating. Neither of those is going to be much use in a pitched battle aboard an enclosed space station. They notably don’t bring Magneto, whose magnet powers could have ended this whole mission in minutes. The mutants then choose not to destroy the factory from space. Instead, they get close to boarding range so the guards can shoot at them with guns. Supposedly, this is so they can kill fewer humans, but it’s unclear how they thought unleashing Wolverine in close combat would result in a lower body count.

We then find out that the mutants’ various powers now include the ability to resurrect anyone who dies. They can even use this process to duplicate living mutants if they want to. If you’re keeping score, we’ve already seen that the mutants have unparalleled information gathering, can completely dominate their human enemies in battle, and can easily replace any casualties. Oh, and they can also teleport to nearly anywhere in the world using Krakoa’s various portal-gates. Plus several mutants have mind-control abilities. This is before we even get into the thousands of other mutants living on Krakoa and whatever powers they have.

Mutants Can Use Tech Too

The X-Jet from the X-Men films.

The closest House of X comes to explaining how the seemingly all-powerful mutants might be oppressed by regular humans is through the use of technology. Orchis already has access to Sentinels, and one of their goals is to create even more powerful robots and AI with which to crush the pesky mutants. And while it is technically possible that a powerful enough robot army could defeat Krakoa’s mutants, no ever seems to consider that mutants could build a robot army too.

This is a basic failure common to oppressed mages stories. Storytellers assume that supernatural characters would be less likely to use technology, but that doesn’t hold up. A gun is just as useful to someone who can fly or teleport. In fact, the mutants would probably be better at making Sentinels than Orchis. In just this comic, there’s a mutant whose power is being really good at building machines. His name is Forge, and while it’s not clear if he considers himself part of Krakoa, he does build part of their resurrection machine for them, so he’d probably help if they asked.

Even without Forge, we know many mutants are incredibly rich. They could use that money to finance the creation of their own Sentinel army. That would put the mutants on an even footing with their enemies, and the mutants would still have their powers to fall back on. Who do you think wins in a fight: a robot army led by normal humans, or a robot army led by psychics who can teleport?

Of course, not all the rich mutants would want to make their own armies, but that still leaves plenty of soft options at their disposal. Xavier is able to produce a slew of miracle drugs overnight, which he uses as leverage to make other countries recognize Krakoa as a sovereign nation. While that’s exactly what I’d expect someone in Xavier’s position to do, it raises the question of why he never thought to do this before. Even without the idea of an independent mutant nation, Xavier could be using his vast resources to hire PR firms, back pro-mutant candidates, and lobby the mutant cause in the halls of power.

Being a Mutant Is Awesome

Once we get past the questions of money and superpowers, we have to examine the root cause of why House of X thinks mutants would be oppressed so badly that they need their own country where no humans are allowed. This comic goes beyond the general “humans fear what’s different” and gives us a more specific reason: within a few decades, mutants will outnumber regular humans on Earth.

The explanation for why is super confusing, but we’ll accept it for now. This is eerily similar to the white supremacist “Great Replacement” idea,* except in House of X’s world, it’s a reality. Normally, taking a hate group’s fantasy and making it real in your story would be pretty problematic, but that doesn’t even matter in House of X, because the idea of humans being replaced doesn’t work.

In order for mutants to replace humans, they would need to be different groups. But they aren’t. Mutants are clearly also human; they just have some special abilities. Most mutants don’t even look any different from baseline humans. So really, House of X is telling us that within a few decades, the majority of humans will have superpowers. It’s really difficult to imagine anyone getting riled up over that. Might as well have a comic about how Olympic athletes are having too many babies and within a few generations, most of the population will be capable of competing in international sporting events.

To be completely fair, I’ve heard that in recent years, Marvel has actually added mutants whose genes don’t manifest as a superpower but as a useless mutation. This would be similar to the Wild Cards concept of aces and jokers. In that setting, aces are mutants with actual superpowers, while jokers only have a visible difference like green skin, extra toes, red eyes, etc. Some characters are a mix of both.

In that context, it would be more believable for humans to irrationally fear an increase in the mutant population, though then we’d be back at the problem of making the Great Replacement real. However, the concept of jokers doesn’t make it into House of X. All the mutants we see or hear about have superpowers. A few of them like Beast and Toad also look different, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone who doesn’t get a major advantage from their x-gene.

Humans Are Envious and Ungrateful

Namor the Submariner from Powers of X

Until now, we’ve looked at issues that are common to all oppressed mage stories. But House of X goes even further, and this is where Krakoa really starts to feel like Galt’s Gulch. You see, the problem with humans isn’t just that they hate mutants – it’s that they don’t appreciate mutants enough.

This first comes up when Xavier goes to visit Namor the Submariner.* Namor declines the invitation to join Krakoa, but he does grace Xavier with a speech about how humans are just the worst because they’re so jealous of all the superpowers mutants have. This is a strange choice considering that earlier we were supposed to believe that humans were freaked out by the idea that their children might have superpowers soon, but that’s what we’re told.

It’s always possible Namor is supposed to be wrong – he is sometimes a villain after all – but Xavier doesn’t make any attempt to correct him. Later, when Xavier announces Krakoa to the world, he makes a point of how ungrateful humans are for all the times the X-Men saved them from various threats. Never mind that at least some of those threats came from other mutants.

The idea of humans being envious of and ungrateful to their betters sounds like it was ripped directly from Atlas Shrugged. How dare those dirty humans not appreciate everything we’ve done for them, the freeloaders? Next, they’ll be demanding universal health care! This further degrades the idea that Krakoa is some triumph by a marginalized group seeking justice.

Somehow, it gets even worse. Later in the comic, we flash forward to the far future. In this section, we’re told that the final triumph of humans over mutants comes when humans discover how to grant themselves superpowers through genetic engineering. It really does come down to humans wanting the powers that mutants have. I don’t know how we’re supposed to square this with the idea of humans being scared that they’ll get superpowers from the increasing number of x-genes, but here we are.

Mutants Are Not a Distinct Culture

Magneto shouting his name from the X-Men comics.

Mutants may not actually be a good parallel for marginalized groups, but that doesn’t mean they don’t try to act like one. In House of X, we’re introduced to the concept of “mutant names,” which coincidentally happen to also be the character’s superhero/villain names. Don’t call her Emma Frost, that’s her human name! It’s White Queen, thank you very much.

This is clearly “inspired” by the way people of color sometimes choose a name for themselves that honors their heritage. This is a complicated subject, but the short version is that for a long time, white people have forced names on those they subjugated, particularly Black slaves and Native Americans. This was a way of severing people from their cultures, to dehumanize them, to force greater assimilation, or all of the above.

Most of the characters in House of X have nothing akin to that kind of history. They were born to human families and were part of human culture. There is no older mutant culture from which they were cut off. This could get hazy around the subject of Genosha, a nation with an extremely complicated backstory where mutants were used as a parallel for apartheid, but it’s a moot point, as none of the major characters seem to be from Genosha as far as I can tell.

When the mostly white Krakoans talk about “mutant names” and getting in touch with their culture, they sound like privileged posers pretending to be oppressed for the thrill of it. Using the language of actual marginalized causes in a fictional setting is always risky, but at the very least, storytellers should try to make sure that language fits their scenario.

Krakoa Appears Super Evil

Xavier standing with some creepy branches from House of X.

If you came to House of X with no previous knowledge of the X-Men, you would almost certainly think the Krakoan mutants are supposed to be villains. The island seems more cult than nation-state, including a ritual where newly resurrected mutants need to stand naked in front of a crowd and go through a formal recognition process. Did I mention the naked mutants are also covered in goop from the resurrection process? Also, Krakoa doesn’t have prisons because those are unjust. Instead they put criminals inside a magic tree for indefinite solitary confinement, so that’s nice.*

More important for our purposes is how the mutants interact with humans. Namely, mutants rule and humans drool. Every interaction between the two is full of references to how mutants are the new gods now and humans better be grateful they aren’t destroyed immediately. Magneto explicitly says that humans should have wiped mutants out “when they had the chance,” and no one bothers to correct him. Krakoa’s ruling council is full of super villains and mass murderers, which Xavier justifies by saying the island needs to be for all mutants.

The only way to view Krakoa as anything other than a new stronghold for evil is to completely buy into the idea that mutants are an oppressed minority. That way, their god complex and obvious loathing of humans can be chalked up to the frustrations of a marginalized group that can finally say what they’re feeling without fear of reprisal. Adding super villains to the Krakoan government is also more acceptable in this scenario, as we can imagine they need the likes of Apocalypse and Mr. Sinister to defend themselves against their human neighbors.

But there are two problems with viewing Krakoa through this lens. First, it’s really hard to see the mutants as an oppressed minority, what with all their superpowers and endless resources. If you can get past that, you reach the second problem: it’s not great to portray oppressed groups as eager to become the oppressors.

Like the Great Replacement, this narrative is common among actual bigots, particularly white supremacists. They have this idea that if we privileged people ever take our boots off marginalized people’s necks, soon we’ll be the ones suffering from oppression. This idea isn’t true, but that doesn’t matter to the people that believe in it. They’re convinced that all of human interaction is a zero-sum game where their group is either the conquered or the conquerors, and validating their worldview isn’t a great look.

Of course, this is still early days for Krakoa. Maybe in future comics, things will settle down and we’ll find out all the talk of being new gods didn’t amount to anything. Or maybe the more ethical mutants will realize that their new country is founded on the concept of superpowered supremacy and do something about it. All I can say is that in this comic, Krakoa’s status as both a home for a downtrodden minority and also a rising threat to humanity is sending seriously mixed messages.

Is it possible for mutants to ditch their oppressed-mage baggage and function as the oppression parallel that Marvel so desperately wants? Probably, but they’d have to go through some major changes. The story would have to focus on mutants who either have no superpower at all or whose power at least comes with a major drawback. Then it would have to acknowledge the difference between these mutants and characters like Magneto and Xavier, whose power affords them a ridiculous amount of privilege. Marvel would also have to think hard about the messages it’s sending when it portrays the Great Replacement theory as real. Until then, we can expect to keep seeing comparisons between the X-Men and real-life bigotry like white supremacy and objectivism. That’s just what happens when you add mages to an oppression metaphor and expect everything to work out the same.

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  1. Cay Reet

    Now, this is not, strictly speaking, about the Mutant Nation, but I’m still curious … how exactly do the rich forming a society of their own work? Are they suddenly going to do all the ‘menial’ work such as cleaning, building, repairing, cooking, etc? Do they have a rota as to who is whose servant when? Because that is what the rich usually need the ‘unwashed masses’ for. Wakanda is more believable there, because it’s a full society, so it will actually have people filling all roles, from farming and building up to administration.

    While I could see that Mutant Nation forming, either because the mutants want a place where they can live in peace or because regular humans want the mutants to live somewhere else, please, it wouldn’t really work, either – not in a world where mutants come from regular families, which means that not all children of a mutant might have powers whereas quite some children of regular people might. That means there would have to be a constant exchange between the Mutant Nation and everywhere else, dropping off children with mutations and taking those born in the Mutant Nation who are regular humans away. But that’s me – I’m often thinking to practically for my own good (and never really got that whole ‘oppressed mages’ thing).

    • Dvärghundspossen

      Correct me if I wrong, those of you who still read X-men (I used to read a whole slew of X-men books each month for years, but it was quite some time ago that I quit, mostly due to event fatigue): I think it never, or at least almost never, happens that two mutants have a regular kid. Regular people have mutant kids all the time, but not the other way around. This is connected to the (extremely weird and unscientific) way evolution works in the Marvel universe: Mutants are the next evolutionary step. They’re sort of destined to replace regular humans for that reason, and so it only goes one way.

      • Cay Reet

        I’m not sure, since it has been a while since I read X-Men, too, but I seem to remember reading somewhere that the mutated gene was on the X chromosome, which means that if the mother is a mutant (or the father of a girl is one), there should be a mutation.

        But, since the mutated chromosome happens suddenly in normal families, would it be too unlikely that the mutation might also ‘mutate back’ every now and then and a child with only one mutant parent might be ‘regular’ again? Regression happens with other genes as well (so sometimes humans are born with a little ‘tail’ for instance).

        • Dvärghundspossen

          Regression wouldn’t be too unlikely, I guess, if genetics in the Marvel universe resembled genetics in the real world, but it really doesn’t… and Marvel Evolution is also super different from real evolution.

          • Julia

            When are we going to see the comic series X-Squibs? This needs to happen!

      • M

        Greydon Creed, the son of Mystique and Sabertooth. But, that’s the only one I know.

    • LeeEsq

      The answer in a lot of science fiction seems to be that robots take the place of working class humans or even up to lower middle class humans. That way you can have a society consisting solely of wealthy and glamorous humans while robots do the grunt work.

      • Cay Reet

        Yes, in Sci-Fi, robots can step in there, but I doubt that Rand already used them.

        • LeeEsq

          I don’t think Rand used robots either. I’m not willing to subject myself to her writing to learn how her only rich people society functioned though.

          • Cay Reet


            In Sci-Fi, you can use robots and in fantasy homunculi or something similar may suffice (zombies, if your necromancer/necromantix is suitably rich), but in this case, I can’t see how their place would be run.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      Yeah I have no idea who Rand thought was gonna be cleaning toilets and fixing power lines in Galt’s Gulch. How passing on the x-gene works is a big question mark so I couldn’t tell you if there’s a mutant equivalent of a squib.

      • Dave L

        Adam Lee has an extensive in-depth analysis of Atlas Shrugged:

        His discussion of Galt’s Gulch starts here:

        • Oren Ashkenazi

          This is fantastic, thank you!

        • Dvärghundspossen

          Ok, I’ve read through some of it, though not gonna read it all… But long story short for fellow Mythcreant readers: Apparently in Galt’s Gulch the capitalists, first of all, stop competing and become über-nice and cooperative with each other. Then a bunch of them, who are all geniuses, make amazing sci-fi inventions like infinite energy generators and robot workers, so suddenly the whole scenario is a lot more like Star Trek or something.

      • Prince Infidel

        Mutants do occasionally have children without the X-gene. Famously Mystique & Sabertooth had a kid from a summer fling between them, that was a baseline human named Graydon Creed. He grew up to hate mutants & worked to exterminate them because he hated having parents that were “freaks”. Cause that’s how Marvel bigotry works.

  2. Dvärghundspossen

    Even if you just roll with the whole “oppressed mages” thing re mutants, the following is STILL really really weird: Humans don’t hate everyone with superpowers in the Marvel universe! They only hate MUTANTS – e.g., those who have superpowers due to being born with the X-gene. Every other way of gaining superpowers is fine, as far as the general public go. The Fantastic Four, for instance, were never oppressed or hated, because they got their powers from cosmic rays rather than genetics, and in the eyes of the Marvel universe population, that makes all the difference.

    I didn’t use to read much of the other Marvel comic books, just the X-men ones… but when I did read something that featured other superheroes, it was always hard to overlook the EXTREME ARBITRARINESS of this distinction. Sure, all prejudice is weird and irrational under close scrutiny, but this one really stretches the suspension of disbelief to its limits…

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      Yep, this is something the Marvel universe really struggles to explain, when they bother at all. The best explanation they can come up with is that being a mutant can be passed down to children, which makes it scary. Supposedly there are powerful groups who spend a lot of time doing anti-mutant propaganda, but it’s all just wall papering over a giant problem with the setting.

      • Dave L

        This has been covered, if not explained, in-universe

        Oddly enough, what would work instead of “Oppressed Mages” would be if altered humans (Spider-Man, Hulk, Captain America) oppressed mutants.

        There would have to be reasons, and excuses, but you wouldn’t have the power difference problem, depending on which group had better powers

        But humans oppressing mutants? There’s the problem

    • Grey

      At one point they explained Anti-Mutant prejudice as being partly driven by a sentient bacteria known as Sublime, who can infect any multi-cellular lifeforms except Mutants, and was responsible for the Weapon Plus Program.

  3. LeeEsq

    We had a big debate on this very subject on another blog I read very recently. The unfortunate fact for X-Men fans is that nearly every mutant tends to be a walking God who happens to be rather conventionally attractive. In other words, an oppressed mage. So I happen to agree that mutants as an allegory for various oppressed minorities tends not to work that well. Another poster pointed out that “we the oppressed are really powerful” is a popular fantasy though.

    One way to deal with mutants as really oppressed is to introduce greater power differentials. Right now nearly all mutants are of the Walking physically attractive God level. There should be more mutants whose X-genes gives them strictly utilitarian powers like the ability to roast meat by touch or no powers but disfigures them in a way to make them convenient soft targets like they have an elephant like truck for a nose.

    • Yora

      Non-powered mutants getting all the hate for things that super-powered mutants messed up would be an actual interesting conflict situation.
      Those with superpowers are untouchable, but the regular mutants are suffering all the fallout from their antics.

    • Jason Duncan

      Morlocks is the Marvel answer to this. They are comprised mainly of mutants whose mutations are less fortunate and not beneficial.

  4. LeeEsq

    Above is the thread from the other blog. I still think that the entire mutant thing really works better for what people on the outs in high school hope their adult lives would be like. Humans are the jocks and cheerleaders that while on the top in high school end up on the bottom afterwards.

  5. SunlessNick

    n House of X, we’re introduced to the concept of “mutant names,” which coincidentally happen to also be the character’s superhero/villain names … This is clearly “inspired” by the way people of color sometimes choose a name for themselves that honors their heritage.

    It struck me as trying for a transgender parallel.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      Maybe but they still go by their “human names” in private, and the “mutant names” mostly seem like a thing done to separate them from the lowly humans.

      • SunlessNick

        Oh, I see. That makes it sound more like celebrity naming than anything.

  6. Steven

    I believe the mutant nation is kevin feige trying to reinvent the x men for film.

    The new conflict will be about…colonialism vs isolationism.

    Mutants are privileged people who are now torn between using their powers to help humans they do not need to save…or to conquer them.

    Basically the plot of black panther.

    Which is frankly more…interesting than the racism angle of the x man series

    • Jason Duncan

      I think the entire House of X arc is going to wind up being a “hoax”. I think the return of mutants to the Marvel Universe and the House of X storyline will either be them being mind controlled, part of some alien/alternate dimension/plague species, etc. I think it is going to be like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. As the original poster has already stated, the behaviors and personality of all the X-Men, but especially Xavier is a radical departure and deeply problematic. I think casual readers are not catching a trail of breadcrumbs to let us know this is NOT actually the Marvel Mutants we know and love.

  7. Neapolitangirl

    A lot of people have started to compare the mutants to the inhumans, would you say that’s accurate especially when you consider Galt Gulch, seeing as most of the inhumans are all powerful royals?

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      I’m not very familiar with the Inhumans unfortunately, so I can’t say much there.

    • Erynus

      Inhumans had the Alpha Primitives, a sort of genetic robots without superior functions that did all the hard work for the Attilanian society. A society that subject their population to the Terrigenesis, a rite of pass that change the body of an Inhuman to allow him/her to better fit the job that is genetically predispossed to perform. There are artists, warriors, botanists, scientists… all of them empowered in their fields by the terrigen mist.
      The fantastic four liberated the Alpha primitives based on human moral values, destroying in fact Attilans prosperity.

  8. Dvärghundspossen

    I was thinking a bit more about the “prison is horrible but eternal solitary confinement in a magic tree is fine” thing. So I haven’t read these comics, but this might be an example of something I’ve noticed before – where some fantastical punishment/violence/horror is presented by the narrative as being far less bad as some more realistic punishment/violence/horror. Even though this makes no sense in-universe.

    One example of this is the Sandman. First we have this writer dude who imprisons the muse Calliope and regularly rapes her, because the rape transfers creativity to him so he can make great art. He’s treated like a total monster who gets his just deserts at the end.
    Then we have Dream himself. We see in a flashback how he’s stalking some girl who doesn’t wanna bone him, and eventually he’s so pissed off at her for rejecting him that he puts her in a cage in Hell, and leaves her there for literal millenia (yeah I get that this is based on some old myth or whatever, but in-universe, that’s neither here nor there). This is in NO WAY BETTER. I’ve mentioned this before in the comments section on some article, and got the reply that this is supposed to be bad, Dream is supposed to be a bad person who eventually evolves and learns better. Yeah, I get that – but it’s clearly portrayed as FAR LESS bad than what writer-dude did to Calliope. The whole thing isn’t supposed to paint Dream as a total monster. We’re still supposed to ultimately root for him.

    I think the reason Gaiman gets away with this in the eyes of most readers, is, well, first of all, Dream is like the ultimate goth boy fantasy so half of the readers have a fiction-crush on him, but second, what he does to the girl who pissed him off is more fantastical than what writer-dude did to Calliope. Ok, the raping-a-muse-magically-makes-you-creative part is fantasy, but a dude imprisoning a woman and raping her sadly happens in real life. Torturing someone in Hell for millenia is much more fantastical, and so the full horror of it in-universe might slide past people.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      Oof, yeah I forgot about that. Dream has clearly crossed the moral event horizon but we’re expected for forgive him and buy into his redemption arc because it was just fantasy magic torture, not real torture!

  9. Leon

    People are jealous and hateful of the elite because they don’t believe they use enough of their power for the greater good.
    Why would it matter if that power was wealth or or supernatural abilities?


    Wakanda abandoned the other peoples of Africa to their fate. Every African should hate them with a white hot fury that would make Gaza look like a nice place to raise the kids.

    • Leon

      Sorry, some people will need this spelled out;
      If those elite are clearly NOT the same people as the numerical majority it would take very little to mobilize people against them.

  10. Jenn H

    So we have a society full of superpowered megalomaniacs who are only banding together because of external oppression. I’m sure this won’t end badly…

    And having the powers of a god doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to run a country.

    I also worry that even the good mutants have fallen into the trap of fearing and despising all humans, the same way some humans feel about mutants. Sure, military commanders and the CEOs of megacorps potentially pose a serious threat to them. But what happens if a boatload of poor human migrants arrive? How are they treated?

    There is the potential for a very dark story about a group of superbeings deciding they’ve had enough of humanity who go off to build their own country, and all the problems that follow when they realise the only thing they have in common is their powers.

  11. Xandar The Zenon

    So… Xavier is behind everything? The impression I’m getting is that Xavier takes in young and powerful mutants, indoctrinates them into believing they are oppressed, then manipulates them into doing whatever he wants to their horrible “oppressors.” And now he’s got his own fiercely loyal army/nation of super powered beings isolated from the rest of the world.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      That interpretation would certainly make more sense than the one we’re supposed to take away from the comics.

    • Dave L

      That’s actually Xavier’s character in “X-Men Noir”

      Well, no super powers. But the X-Men are juvenile delinquents he trained in crime. Sort of a Fagin or Father Chains

      He’s in prison when the story starts, though. His X-Men are on their own

  12. Jared

    I get the impression that something isn’t right about House of X- for instance, “Xavier” wears a mask constantly. I think that something else is going on and that the current order of things with the mutant nation-state of Krakoa is going to shift down the road. I refuse to believe that the current ex-villains running Krakoa aren’t going to become villains down the road again. It’s rare for characters to entirely shift sides in comics after they’ve been established for decades.

    • Jason Duncan

      Agreed. I think casual readers are missing breadcrumbs. This will be some type of “Body Snatchers” scenario down the road. The character departures are too divergent.

  13. Prince Infidel

    Some of the way this story has shaped out makes more sense if you think of mutants as a parallel for the queer community. The creating a home where we can all support each other, choosing new names because the old ones don’t reflect us, & deliberately creating a culture separate from the culture around us, are all things present & celebrated in the LGBTQ community. To be fair, that makes more sense than the racial angle, since most people who are racially/culturally oppressed are not of a different group than their parents.

    That being said, it’s still hugely flawed. House of X feels like it’s shaping up to be a “oppressed become the oppressors” cautionary tale. And I am so very tired of that story. It was never a good trope & I wish it would just die. It’s kind of story that people with tremendous privilege like to write. And since Marvel only lets straight, white, cis, men direct the course of their major stories, this trope is going to keep cropping up.

    • Dvärghundspossen

      Just like PoC aren’t actually dangerous, queer people aren’t actually dangerous either, so the analogy still fails at that point.

  14. Jeppsson

    Okay, now I’ve read House of X in a big-ass collection, which mixes comics from two different comic books, because modern superhero comics… (sigh) But I actually ENJOYED THE HELL out of this book!

    So Moira McTaggart rather than Xavier is very much the overall main character of the entire collection. Xavier’s non-powered sometimes girlfriend has been revealed as a mutant, and her really weird power is that when she dies, she’s reborn again, but retains all her memories from previous lifetimes. The really weird part is that she’s not reborn AFTER her death – instead, Moira dying means the timeline rewinds (at least that’s my impression – it might be that an alternate timeline is created, but I don’t think so). So she’s born again at the same point in time as in her previous life, but since she remembers her past lives, she can take different actions each time and see how they play out. In some of her lives, she lives for millenia, and so learns about possible far-futures as well.
    (However, we also learn that if she would either die as a child or become assimilated into the Dominion – more on this later – the rewind-and-rebirth-cycle would end).

    One really shocking discovery Moira makes – and I LOVE this part – is that Bolivar Trask didn’t actually invent the sentinels, even though everyone, including himself, thinks he did. Rather, there are these entities I’m gonna refer to as the Machine Gods – weirdly, they don’t get a collective name for their entire “species”, even though the book names all their subgroups and everything else.
    We learn that Machine Gods always manifest on a planet whose civilization reaches a certain stage of development, just as a mutant super-powered version of the dominant species always pops up around the same time. The traditional sentinels aren’t sentient, because they’re more like, IDK, Machine God embryos or something, which still need humans to care for them. But they’re gonna evolve and eventually gain sentience and full self-awareness (while humanity, all the time, think that they’re INVENTING better and better machines, but this is basically an illusion).

    I LOVE THIS, it’s an AWESOME concept!

    Like, the book is still very much flawed, and I agree with Oren that what we’re SHOWN is mutants being defeated because they’re crap at strategy, rather than humanity’s machines being a true threat to them. But at least in theory, it’s not so much mutants vs humans now; rather, it’s humans (later on genetically enhanced cyborg “post-humans”) and Machine Gods on the one hand vs mutants on the other.
    Also, if sentinels, Nimrods etc aren’t actually inventions but their own lifeform, so to speak, which nevertheless starts out as “parasitic” on human civilization, it makes some kind of sense that Forge can’t just make his own. Presumably, he can only make advanced but yet “normal” technology, not Machine Gods.

    There’s a lot of complicated stuff about the various types of Machine Gods and how they relate to each other, but the ultimate one is called Dominion, and it’s like a super-Borg whose goal it is to either straight-out eat or assimilate everything in the universe. Although it doesn’t turn people into drones, but into pure streams of data, so it’s more irreversible. This is a really good Big Bad for the mutants!

    Also, I think the mutant society on Karakoa is meant to be creepy and cultish. In the book, there are these inserted pages from Moira’s diary, where she frantically goes on and on about Xavier. Basically, in all her previous lives, he was consistently good and hopeful and dreaming of harmony with the humans, but now, she writes, she’s “broken” him and messed him up. Yet, she had to “try something new”. This is a recurring theme with her, she keeps trying new things to avoid the eventual victory of the Machine Gods over mutants. Now she thinks this all-mutant society might be the answer, with a really ruthless Xavier at the helm.

    Now, it’s still very much a flawed book. And the oppressed mages theme comes up now and again, not just in dialogue (which makes some kind of sense, given that besides Moira, only Xavier and Magneto seem to have full information here), but also in some narration boxes and narration pages. It remains unclear to which extent some kind of Machine God power influences hatred of mutants, and how much is humanity’s own. (At least in the future, the post-humans seem pretty brainwashed by their Machine Overlords – even though there’s this one person who’s getting cold feet about the whole assimiliation thing and helps future-Moira out so she can die and start over again.) As I said, we’re not really SHOWN that humanity’s current sentinels pose enough of a threat to mutants.

    There are lots of issues, but I still enjoyed the hell out of this book, and largely because it moves beyond “oppressed mages” and turns into “cosmic epic fantasy of mages vs mages”.

  15. Prince Infidel

    So, what many have suspected early on has been confirmed by multiple writers on the X-books. The decree has come down from on high (though how high is not clear) that mutants are no longer to be a metaphor for oppressed groups. From here on out mutants are a cool sci-fi concept & nothing more. The Mutant Metaphor (the common term for using mutants as a proxy for real world oppression) is dead. Long live weird pseudo science adventure stories I guess.

    While I agree with Oren the using cool powers as a stand-in for oppressed groups doesn’t really work, I have to say I hate this move. As an individual at the cross section of several marginalized identities, I typically hate “oppressed mages” but Marvel’s mutants felt…different. It was never perfect. And many writers (especially ones with shall we say, poor politics when it comes to marginalized peoples) made a mess of it. But the Mutant Metaphor was often the best handled version of this trope I’ve seen in fiction. From Chris Claremont to the modern day, multiple writers drew on their experiences as part of or adjacent to queer, black, disabled & other communities to make the Mutant Metaphor work when it really should not have been able to work.

    Maybe this just nostalgia for me. The X-Men meant a lot to teenaged Infidel & still does. The Mutant Metaphor, when handled well, spoke to me where other “oppressed mage” stories didn’t.

    There’s also a part of me that wonders about what this means for the perception of the X-franchise to the public at large. We’re 3 decades deep of mutants being a marginalization analog in the minds of pop culture outside of comics. No doubt the Powers of Mouse think this will be an easier version for the “mainstream” to digest, but they’ll be fighting some deep set public perceptions here. Also, the X-men have been pretty good at generating money with the Mutant Metaphor at the forefront, so I don’t know what this shift is supposed to accomplish.

    • Jeppsson

      That’s interesting.

      For my own part, I used to love X-men and was fond of other oppressed mages stories too… But not really anymore. I can’t really unsee the extent to which it doesn’t work now (no judgment on you, Prince Infidel, we enjoy what we enjoy, just telling you my own feelings). So I’m happy to see the X-men moving away from it.

      When I was young, I really liked to think that if I was made fun of, ostracized, and experienced various difficulties due to my mental disorder, then this was at least in part because my disorder made me more special and amazing and in many ways BETTER than other people. Like, IDK, more creative, artistic, smarter, and way better at thinking outside the box than all the regular moronic sheeple with their sane little minds.
      This was obviously just a coping mechanism, and I’ve ditched it now… but thinking this way makes it very easy to identify with oppressed mages.

      I also have so many trans people in my social media feed who write about how disappointed they are in J K Rowling, like, how could she NOT be trans ally when she’s written a book series about witches and wizards who are JUST LIKE trans people. The Dursleys of the world sneer at them, but they’re actually very special and magical, and that’s JUST LIKE being trans; you’re sneered at by the Dursleys, but in reality you’re special and at least metaphorically magical.

      I agree with Oren that the oppressed mages trope depends on a complete misunderstanding of how oppression works. And yet, so many REAL oppressed people easily identify with oppressed mages. It’s just a nicer piece of escapism to read about oppressed MAGES and imagine yourself in their place, then to keep staring realistic oppression in the eye when partaking of fiction.

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