At one point in this week’s Immortal X-Men #10, Charles Xavier ponders the the true nature of his X-Men—and how he shaped warriors out of children to police his own people. It’s a chilling re-examination for a “practical idealist” like Charles to make, framing the question of why Mutants are always fighting each other and their relationship to being interpreted through the lens of other minority groups.
Mutants are different from the minority groups they’re often held in parallel with, Charles argues—rightly—in one incredibly important way. They are persecuted, yes, but they are also dangerous. The X-Men were a dream of mutant unity not achieved until the dawn of the Krakoan Age, but they were also the shield against mutantkind’s own sword, a weapon to hold in check the potential weapon at the heart of so many mutant manifestations.
But now their latest sword has been raised against them at last—and it’s going to be much harder to shield against when it stabs them in the back.
Immortal X-Men #10—written by Kieron Gillen, with art from Lucas Werneck and David Curiel, and with lettering by Clayton Cowles—picks up in the bloody aftermath of Mr. Sinister’s most recent and most successful attempt to wipe out his “allies” on Krakoa’s Quiet Council. After many failed killing sprees, he successfully managed to reset himself via-Moira-clone to a timeline where he could murder Exodus, Emma Frost, Hope Summers, and Charles Xavier. Taking out the most powerful psychics on the council and, in eliminating Hope, putting all of mutant resurrection at risk, Sinister flees, and at first we’re meant to believe that this strand of the timeline will end as several of the more comical ones we saw in Immortal #9 did: the Quiet Council regrouping, cornering Sinister, and then someone violently blowing his head off.
But something is different this time, not just in the fact that Sinister successfully eliminated all of his targets in one run. The tension and dread of something being off lingers throughout Immortal #10 as we see its basic premise play out—the council regroups, Synch steps in for Hope in the Five’s resurrection circuit, and she’s brought back against all odds, allowing her in turn to revive Emma, Xavier, and Exodus, and they capture Sinister, throwing him into the Pit to rot in perpetuity, the gravest punishment Krakoa can give. All’s well that ends well, right? Not if you really look at what Charles is saying throughout the issue, diving into his own complicated legacy as the the pursuer of his Dream, his own dark side in spite of his reputation as the idealist champion of mutantkind. Audiences, and a lot of people in Marvel’s own comics, have long known and almost embraced the fact that Charles is a massive asshole, but Immortal #10’s narration isn’t about Charles embracing that reputation as fact, but offering a question to his unseen audience and his own grim thoughts: oh, reader, but what if he was so much worse?
The Charles Xavier we know sees himself as some kind of ethical pariah, the man who takes the metaphorical slings and arrows for doing the necessary, awful things to keep even a spark of his idealistic hope for mutant-human harmony alive. But that mutant exists internally and externally to protect us all from a Charles Xavier who could very easily use his vast power and position to toss what little ethics he still has out of the proverbial Krakoan gateway, and psionically girlboss, gaslight, and gatekeep his way to complete domination and the destruction of mutant and human civilization alike.
A Charles Xavier we might be about to see, because Immortal X-Men #10 saves its greatest spike of dread for its very last page, when the resurrected Charles retires to his quarters and lifts his Cerebro helmet… to reveal Mr. Sinister’s red diamond embedded in his forehead, denoting Sinister’s host controlling his body. Sinister’s real plan was never to just kill the people on the council he hated most, but to pervert the process of resurrection, so he could genetically manipulate his way into the reborn bodies of Charles, Emma, Exodus, and most horrifically of all, Hope—giving him the key to all of Krakoan resurrection in the process.
We knew something, well, sinister was coming up with the X-Books leading up to Sins of Sinister this year, when the Krakoan age will finally come to reckon with the Faustian bargain Magneto and Professor X made with Mr. Sinister all the way back in House of X. But as Charles grimly ponders in Immortal #10, this is more than just Sinister, but a man of Sinister’s evil with the powers some of the most powerful mutant abilities around. Krakoa has faced apocalyptic war and judgement in its few years as the X-Men’s status quo—but this sets the page for a disaster that could upend mutantkind’s utopia for good.
Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.