Warning: The following contains spoilers for New Mutants #24, on sale now from Marvel Comics.
A forgotten theme coursing through the X-Men comics from the beginning is emphasized in New Mutants #24 by Vita Ayala, Danilo Beyruth, Dan Brown, VC’s Travis Lanham, Tom Muller, Martin Simmonds, and Peach Momoko. From the start, the New Mutants reflect on the challenge of communication, exploring how people can be misunderstood and how it’s more critical than ever for mutantkind to get beyond barriers. This is a subtext that has been at the beginning since the first X-Men comics. New Mutants keeps this theme in the spotlight. Yet, with the advent of the Second Krakoan Age, failure to bridge the gap of understanding could unravel everything.
As the issue opens, Rahne and Dani reconnect as they deal with the aftermath of the Shadow King’s latest manipulations. Dani tells Rahne, “I didn’t hear you before, when you called for me, but I hear you now. I’m listening.” That declaration forms the subtext of the entire issue and reinforces a theme of the X-Men comics from the beginning. While the New Mutants are often overlooked, they carry the banner of the original formation of the X-Men forward.
The X-Men are about connection. From the very beginning, Stan Lee used the series to tackle the serious issues of discrimination, racism, and sexism. when Giant-Size X-Men #1 (by Len Wein, Dave Cockrum, Peter Iro, Glynis Wein, and John Costanza) came to the newsstands, it featured a wide array of characters from across the globe. The X-Men were never like the Fantastic Four or even the Avengers—these were not people brought together due to family or a singular responsibility. What brought the X-Men together was that every one of them was different and due to that difference, had been shut out of mainstream life. The X-Men connected those disparate individuals into a team first and a family second. As Akihiro (Daken), Laura, and Gabby reunite, Gabby comments, “We chose each other, not because we are related, but because we love each other. That’s what family does.” In a single moment, the youngest of the Wolverine bloodline encapsulates the forgotten running theme through all of the X-Men comics from the start.
While there are running plot threads throughout the Marvel mutant comics, the X-Men ultimately is about how individuals from completely different backgrounds, different lifestyles, and different perspectives can find a way to not just communicate but truly connect. In the Krakoan Age, this is more important than ever. Even the darkest villains of the series have found a home.
New Mutants #24 sees the realization in the redemption of one of the darkest villains of the X-Men: Amahl Farouk. Farouk was a mutant possessed by a dark force known as the Shadow King, who first encountered Xavier when he was searching for a young Storm. Later the Shadow King would possess the New Mutant Karma. Over the years, he has tortured various mutants. In his most recent onslaught of him, the Shadow King manipulated a set of young mutants on Krakoa named the Lost. After the New Mutants intervened, Farouk was finally free from the Shadow King’s influence, but not after having horribly hurt several of the New Mutants. As Farouk reflects, what he did “was monstrous and vile.” Yet, this issue sees the New Mutants offer Farouk a path towards complete atonement and healing. Even those wounded the most offered a hand of peace and a hope towards betterment. Rahne tells him, “We’re here to stand with you as you take this step.”
The mutant known as Cosmar, a reality-bender, finds her own internal self-image to be constantly projected. As a team, the New Mutants acknowledge that they did not listen to her concerns when she first came to them. In apology, they guide her towards healing her self-image of her. Dani encourages Cosmar, “And maybe if you talk about it, it’ll have less power over you.” Dani acknowledges, “I should have listened to what you were saying, and tried to understand what you were really saying. I was wrong, and I’m sorry.”
As well, No-Girl has requested that her resurrected body and her new name be altered to reflect who she truly believes she is. Storm acknowledges, “As important as celebrating our triumphs, we must acknowledge our failures. . . For too long, we did not hear our sister’s cries for help. . . Today we are given another chance to listen and to learn.” Storm’s final words reflect how that theme has been enfolded into Krakoa: each day is a new chance to listen and to learn. Even the Goblin Queen herself is given an opportunity to redeem her legacy. Magik invites Madelyne Pryor to assist her in developing a Krakoan school of magic for young mutants. As Magik lays out her plan, Pryor affirms, “I’m listening.”
Yet, even now, that lesson has not been learned by all mutants. The theme is likely emphasized here, on the eve of the Second Krakoan Age, because the failure to bridge that understanding gap is going to be the major problem in the Age that’s about to dawn. The Quiet Council is straining at the seams with devious infighting and the machinations of nearly everyone seated. Across Krakoa, hidden agendas are coming to fruition. The stated goal that “Krakoa is for all mutants” has never been more at risk than this very moment.
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