To the delight of many critics and X-fans, Jonathan Hickman completely re-engineered the mutant status quo in the pages of House and Powers of X. Marvel’s genetic misfits now have a sovereign nation and no longer contend with petty concerns like protests outside of their schools and death. Also, through the establishment of this new mutant culture, every mutant, heroic or otherwise, has been given a clean slate via a pledge of fealty to Krakoa and The Quiet Council.
Yet, the most admirable of Hickman’s feats in this new era of X is his creation of a mutant society where every mutant, even those who can’t control the weather, teleport, read your mind, or shoot concussive blasts from their eyes, has a role to play. Now mutants who have been floundering in limbo or lost in obscurity due to problematic or weird power sets are moving front and center.
In honor of this great paradigm shift, here are ten mutants Hickman and co. have taken from X-pendable to X-ceptional.
Of the young mutants introduced during Brian Michael Bendis’ Uncanny X-Men run, Eva Bell, codename Tempus, was chocked full of potential. Her impressive powers allowed her to travel to the future and past, as well as slow time in temporal bubbles. While she used her powers to great effect on numerous occasions, Eva’s incredible power became too much of a Deus Ex Machina to use on team missions (plus, some applications of her powers were impacted by her level of stress). Seemingly unable to circumvent these issues, Tempus went largely ignored by writers.
Much to the delight of many readers, Eva re-surfaced as a member of The Five, mutants whose powers allow other mutants to cheat death via a delicate process of cloning, accelerated aging, and psychic resurrection. As the mutant who helps incubating X-clones age, Eva’s powers now have a distinct and essential purpose on the island.
Perhaps in-between resurrecting fallen powerhouses, Eva can apply her powers to solve some more mundane problems on Krakoa. Like, why wait for your cookies to bake when time is your bitch?
Oh, Mondo. Originally a member of Generation X, Mondo was able to take on the properties of any organic or inorganic material he came into contact with. Shortly after his introduction, it was revealed that Mondo wasn’t actually a person, but a plant-based simulacrum of the real Mondo created by Banshee’s evil cousin, Black Tom Cassidy, to infiltrate the team. Black Tom had “saved” the real Mondo from the clutches of the Hellfire Club and Emma Frost’s sister, Cordelia Frost, and groomed him to become a villain. After the villainous Mondo briefly encountered Generation X, he all but disappeared from X-titles.
Due to his sparse, chaotic history, Mondo’s inclusion in the Hickman’s New Mutants was surprising, but it seems that big things are on the horizon. Mondo is able to absorb Krakoan flora into his body. This is an incredibly handy skill, considering Krakoa’s flowers are the nation’s sole export and the primary mode of mutant transport. Mondo recently used his abilities to store a flower needed to return him and his team to Krakoa from an intergalactic jaunt.
Most impressively, Cypher discovered that Mondo’s abilities allow him to serve as a mouthpiece for the nonverbal Krakoa. Though the experience left him isolated in a place that resembled Stranger Things’ Upside-Down.
Forge has quite a long history with the X-Men , and his mutant ability to invent genius-level tech has proven a very valuable asset. He was also a government liaison and leader of the government-sanctioned X-Factor. Yet Forge is often remembered for accidentally de-powering Storm and generally dropping the ball with their relationship. He also has some magical abilities with which he summoned a demon during the Vietnam War that eventually killed all of the X-Men. But don’t worry, they got better!
In Powers of X #5, we learn that Forge’s historic contributions to X-tech are much more substantial than we were led to believe. He was the force behind redesigning Cerebro so it can store back-ups of mutant minds, one of the most essential components of the resurrection protocols. Additionally, Forge is now the architect behind all bio-organic military technology in Krakoa.
Now Forge spends his days in an underground armory, dreaming up impossible gadgets. Also, according to his daily planner in X-Force #4, his mornings are filled with beachside breakfasts with Professor X and 500 hundred squats by 10 am. It takes a lot of work to fill out all that spandex!
7. Hope Summers
As Cable’s favorite daughter, Hope’s purpose was to host the Phoenix Force and spark the restoration of the decimated mutant population. As a result, Hope was given an incredible amount of play during the Mutant Messiah, Messiah War, and Second Coming story arcs, including her own series, Generation Hope, in which she led her own team of mutants.
After completing her mission, there wasn’t much use for Ms. Summers. With her primary ability to mimic nearby mutants’ powers at their greatest potential (not to mention a Jean Grey-inspired aesthetic), Hope’s lack of distinction led to her being sidelined. Fortunately, Hickman has restored hope for, er, Hope.
As part of The Five, Hope’s ability to amplify/activate mutant powers is used to create a synergy and power level between the collective that is necessary to bring mutants back from the grave. It seems that Hope is the most important member of The Five and thus their de facto leader. No longer an aimless mutant amplifier with a jetpack and gigantic guns, Hope is once again a savior to mutant-kind.
Sage is an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, shrouded in mystery (and she always came across as a little halfbaked despite her complex history). Created by Chris Claremont, she began her career as a lackey to the Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle. When Claremont returned from nearly a decade-long X-Men sabbatical, Tessa was retconned to be a deep-cover spy who trained with Charles Xavier before he founded his first class of X-Men.
From there, she blew her cover, joined the X-Men, took the codename Sage, and revealed a grab bag of powers like low-level telepathy, a brain with unlimited storage capacity, perfect memory, and the ability to read and jumpstart mutant DNA. After Claremont’s second departure from the X-line, her mostly passive, ill-defined powers caused Sage to get lost in the shuffle. She was eventually lost in space…in a different dimension.
As a citizen of Krakoa, Sage is finally able to make use of her beautiful brain. Tessa is essential to the daily functions of Krakoan society. Initially, she collaborated with Cypher on Krakoan interface, system functionality, and general operations. She’s also a member of the intelligence arm of the mutant CIA, X-Force, where her mutant mind is used as an incredible asset for data analysis and investigation.
Sage’s gifts are also essential to Krakoan security. With the immensely high-volume of mutants shuttling to and from the island, Sage plays a vital role in monitoring incoming and outgoing personnel. But make no mistake, she’s made it clear, her many powers do not include being a mutant babysitter!
Irene Adler, the precognitive mutant codenamed Destiny, is best known as Mystique’s lover and Rogue’s other foster mother. Despite spending time as part of Mystique’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and Freedom Force teams, Destiny became more potent in death (like Obi-Wan). When her power of precognition was activated in the early 20th Century, she used her abilities to create a series of diaries that foretold events that would occur decades in the future. Knowledge of these diaries surfaced years after Irene’s death at the hands of Legion. For quite some time collecting these 13volumes became the goal of Storm’s X-Treme X-Men, but they were eventually burned by Gambit and the prophecies lost forever.
In House of X, we get to see Destiny play a more active role in the future of mutant-kind — in fact, she is the catalyst behind the X-Men’s current status quo. She was the only mutant able to comprehend Moir MacTaggert’s secret mutant powers and gave her a painful execution by fire to promote altruistic pursuits in Moira’s next lives. As an older mutant, Destiny informed Moira that she would always be able to stop Moira from executing any evil deeds in any of her future incarnations.
While Destiny remains six feet under, Mystique’s cooperation with The Quiet Council is contingent on Irene’s eventual resurrection. With an unspoken pact between Moira, Xavier, and Magneto that prohibits pre-cogs from entering Krakoa, the destiny of the mutant race could depend on the fate of Destiny.
4. Black Tom Cassidy
Black Tom was once just a tree in a forest of evil X-relatives. (See also Emplate, Zaladane, Vulcan, the Mastermind sisters, Adrienne & Cordelia Frost.) The cousin of Banshee, Tom’s strange abilities allow him to control, merge with, and project energy through plant life.
Most of Tom’s history is less than compelling. He spent most of his early appearances in a criminal bromance with Professor X’s evil brother, the Juggernaut. Tom’s days were filled with kidnappings, grooming young mutants for criminal activity, hiding evil tree clones in his cousin’s Krakoa-powered bio-sphere, and receiving a life-saving emergency wood graft. It’s a wonder he never got his own series.
Since the dawn of Hickman’s new mutant nation, Black Tom has received an impressive promotion from weird tree guy to head of Krakoan security. Able to merge with the sentient flora of Krakoa, Black Tom can extend his awareness through Krakoa. This aura covers an impressive radius in miles above, below, and around Krakoa. Whether it’s the greenery on the island, spores in the sky, or plankton in the sea, Black Tom is jacked in and able to sense disturbances caused by the intrusion of foreign bodies.
Tom recently discovered that his own body can also be absorbed into Krakoa and transferred to other points on the island like a rudimentary form of teleportation. He has yet to master this skill, but it appears that his connection to the island is only growing stronger. It’s all a pretty impressive display from someone whose biggest claim to fame was blasting his foes with a shillelagh.
The mutant formerly known as Goldballs seemed destined to become a mere footnote in X-history. Fabio Medina seemed to exist solely to subvert the cliche of the last kid picked for a middle school dodgeball game. His slumped, stocky figure and awkward ability to shoot a variety of concussive golden globes from any part of his body instantly made him a walking punchline. After years of floundering in creative limbo, he was exported to the pages of Spider-Man to pal around with Miles Morales.
Within the pages of House of X, Fabio underwent a dramatic transformation. Now a key member of The Five’s mutant resurrection machine, Fabio’s spheres were revealed to be eggs, in which the DNA of fallen mutants could be injected and incubated into full-grown replacement bodies.
As a member of The Five, Fabio has gone from being the silly, stocky, sphere shooter to a god amongst gods. He even adopted a much more dignified codename, Egg! Okay, so it’s not a vast improvement, but anything is more dignified than Goldballs.
Doug Ramsey has the distinction of being one of the most derided characters in the history of X-Men. His passive powers of omnilingualism (the ability to understand and all manner of written, spoken, and coded language without any prior knowledge) and his timid personality did not earn many fans during his initial stint with The New Mutants.
As a result of his unpopularity, Cypher quickly died by taking a bullet for his teammate and dear friend, Wolfsbane. When writers first tried to resurrect Cypher, they attempted to make his powers more palatable to the masses. They merged him with the techno-organic Warlock to give him a “cooler” design and skillset, but that wasn’t enough and he was quickly put back in the grave again.
He was revived years later and given a shiny new ability to read “body language,” which translated to a knack for hand-to-hand combat. He was later further re-imagined as an effective, yet internet-addicted hacker. Yet the strangest attempt at making Cypher interesting was allowing him to have a one-night stand with the robotic Danger after his best friend Warlock passed on the opportunity. Still, none of these attempts at giving Doug an edgy reboot really clicked.
When Doug first appeared in the pages of Powers of X #4, it was clear that Hickman was prepared to bring him back to basics. Doug, most recently seen as a shaggy hacker trying to kick his cyber addiction, had returned to his clean-shaven boyish looks, trading in his sweats for a stylish uniform and bleary eyes for a bright-eyed smile. Most importantly, Doug’s powers of deciphering languages made him the most important person on Krakoa. He created Krakoan language and the system by which it’s processed (it can only be understood by mutants who had entered the gates or via a telepathic crash course from a Krakoan psychic). Cypher also created a workable interface with Krakoa, which allows for the infrastructure necessary to maintain a nation on the island.
On top of all of this, while psychic mutants and Black Tom can decipher images and impulses from the island, Doug has the only direct link. As the only person who can have an actual conversation with Krakoa, Doug has a special seat on the Quiet Council. Glimpses into alternate timelines have even indicated that Doug can bond with Krakoa in the same way he bonded with Warlock. Or maybe even the same way he “bonded” with Danger?
1. Moira X
For years, Moira MacTaggert was the dutiful human ally of the X-Men and former love interest of Charles Xavier. Her general idealism, genius-level intellect, and aptitude for genetics made her the ideal right hand to Professor Xavier. Initially introduced as a housekeeper, it was revealed that Moira was a silent partner in the founding of the Xavier School. She established a mutant research facility which for a time secretly housed her incredibly powerful reality-warping son Proteus. She was also responsible for the formation of two short-lived X-Men teams as well as for discovering the key components to the cure of the mutant-killing AIDS allegory, The Legacy Virus, before succumbing to the virus herself, ostensibly it’s the only human casualty.
House of X#2 brought readers the iconic reveal that Moira is actually a mutant herself. Gifted with the power of reincarnation, Moira can repeat the exact same life with complete knowledge of her past lives from birth. While she is on her 10th and potentially final life (as prophesied by Destiny), Moira has over 1,000 years of knowledge and is seemingly the mastermind behind Krakoa. Who’s a nobody now?!
In her past lives, she was a normal woman who died in her 70s, an anti-mutant geneticist, an assassin of anti-mutant leaders, an ally of Magenta (founder of a distant mutant stronghold), and even the paramour of Apocalypse. By revealing the knowledge of her past lives to Professor X, she was able to convince him that the best way to secure a stable future for the mutant race was to form alliances with some of the X-Men’s most dangerous and untrustworthy foes, like Magneto (while he still led the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants), Mr. Sinister, and her ex-beau Apocalypse.