Way of X, written by Si Spurrier, is the latest book to join the ongoing list of X-titles. The new comic focuses on Nightcrawler and his (possible?) road towards creating the first mutant religion.
I have been looking forward to this book because it’s one of those titles that ties directly to the “thesis” of Hickman’s vision starting back in HoX and PoX; mutants have forged a new country for themselves promising to deliver safety, independence, and eternal life for their people. The issue is, it is all based on a lie.
The prologue to this new series would be X-Men #7 which walks us through a brutal ritual on Krakoa known as Crucible; a gladiator fight of sorts that allows mutants, who were depowered by the Scarlet Witch, to fight to the death in order to earn their right to be reborn as a mutant once more. Nightcrawler, featured in that issue, had deep reflections and anxieties around the ritual and mutandoms new relationship with death overall.
Since we saw him in X-Men it would appear not much has changed for the teleporter. He thought aloud to create a mutant religion that would take into consideration mutandoms new relationship with mortality, but appears at a loss. Ever the modest and humble Kurt expresses in his logs within the issue that he is no authority to dictate what is correct or incorrect to this new civilization. Despite his insecurities what we do see in the issue is how the forging of their new country has begun to see evolutions in attitudes and behaviors, especially among the youth, towards death.
What I want to reflect on are four key takeaways from this fantastic #1.
Meaning of Death: Mutants have supposedly solved one of humanities greatest fantasies; they have found the formula for eternal life! Once this is discovered what are the natural changes in society? So much of what we do and don’t do is based on our attitudes towards death. There are those of us that live with it constantly somewhere in our consciousness and it serves as our push to achieve and make our mark. There are some that ignore it completely and the terror of it stops them from ever taking any real chances. Ultimately, the truth has been, we live because we die. If death is no longer an obstacle what is the motivation to live as opposed to exist?
For me, seeing Pixie and the younger mutants treat death so carelessly brings an air to the subject that some mutants are seeking only to exist now. Death is not their challenge so if it is not, what is? Eventually, the absence of challenge births stagnation. Are mutants truly the dominant and best if they no longer aspire to nothing? I think the issue took great strides into the philosophical perspective of death and its meaning.
The Power of Myth: Wow. The issue really brought home one of the key elements of Yuval Noah Harari’s work, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. He states that human beings can only be organized and cohesive for up to a group of 150. After that there is no real means to keep everyone in line and under the same governance and rule. What makes it possible, and makes us the only species capable of this, is the power of myth. When we think “myth” we think stories and religion when in reality it’s also justice, human rights, government, corporations, credit, money, and even statehood!
To create a mutant religion is therefore not only to create rules to follow, but to create a purpose that will guide all mutants around the world and beyond as one people. It will give them a legend to follow that can guide their moral compass.
The piece of the issue that knocked me out was after Nightcrawler intervenes in the crucible with the Lost woman; he says it is not Crucible he fears, but rather the roaring crowd. A data page follows breaking down the nuance of the rules of resurrection. Whether intended or not, the system as it stand values violent and aggressive loss of life over passive natural death. Those who die by means of Crucible, or even in other violent manners, jump to the front of the line to return. This in itself MUST create an alteration in social morality and values; Are they breeding a state that is inclined to extreme violence and aggression? Can peace for these people be real where that is what reigns? Pixie is a rather passive character that is used in the issue to see that slow shift in social engagement. She too by the end, after coming back, embraces the violent perspective of her peers from either a desire to fit in, truly enjoying the experience, or both.
Ultimately, the issue makes it clear; create myth and legend to influence mutantkind, or, the most powerful will create it regardless. This is what Crucible is! It’s the creation of ceremony and belief around something pushed by characters like Magneto, Apocalypse, and Exodus; ALL members of the nation’s government.
The Lie to be Discovered: This is where the real foreseeable stakes are for this title. Moira X gave one very big rule to Magneto and Xavier; no Precogs are to be allowed onto Krakoa. This is honestly one of the most ridiculous rules! Eventually someone is going to realize that their friends aren’t being brought back to life! One of the laws of the land is to make more mutants! What happens when one of those natural born comes with the power of precognition? Banishment?
This title is bringing the risk of this secret rule front and center by giving us a cliffhanger with Legion and Nightcrawler meeting face-to-face. I’m hoping that this is the title where this element from HoX and PoX will unravel. The resurrection component of this era’s prologue is the most fascinating to me! The possibility that this title might directly explore that through the moral soul of the team (Nightcrawler) already feels like a home run.