A few weeks ago I wrote about how, as the X-Men were crossing over with Spider-Man in last December’s Dark Web event, I decided to go back and read four years worth of the Krakoa Era of X-Men comics. It’s the first time I’ve read X-Men comics regularly since the ‘90s and I’m following X-Force, Marauders, New Mutants, Excalibur-cum-Knights of X, and, of course, X-Men. Presently I’m up to August 2022 in all those titles so I’m almost ready to read Dark Web! To say I’ve encountered a few new characters along the way is to put it mildly. To say I’ve encountered so many new characters it’s given me whiplash and I sometimes wonder if authors are just making up names to mess with new/old readers like me because there is NO WAY this many new characters could’ve popped up in the twenty-five years since I last read X-Men comics feels closer to the truth. One of the (many) new characters was Laura Kinney/Wolverine. As she appeared in the pages of X-Men and New Mutants I felt a pull between what I’d’ve done as a kid and how I’ve learned to read comics now. So, how was I to meet Laura? How do I get to know Wolverine? I decided to take a breath, set aside those new habits, and read like a kid again. I kind of loved it! And it illuminated an interesting comparison for me about how we tend to consume narratives today.
Krakoa Cometh: Examining the Birth of the X-Men’s Mutant Utopia
I’m fascinated by utopias. Thomas More’s 1516 novel Utopia coined this term for a perfect society. In the book, More explores the politics, religion, and culture of an ideal island nation. I’ll never forget learning More created “utopia” from the Greek words eu-topos, which means “a good place,” and ou-topos, meaning “no place.” The text was satire and the name a pun. That blew my mind…and made me a little sad as it inherently implies such a good place may not be possible. Part of what fascinates me about utopias is how little (comparatively) we envision them in our art. Scores of dystopias fill our films, TV shows, comics, and novels. It feels like we’re always imagining our end. But what a perfect society looks like? How it functions? We don’t create those as often nor celebrate them when we do (remember George Clooney’s Tomorrowland? …that’s my point). When it comes to the Marvel Universe, Wakanda has always been the shining example of a perfect society. But when writer Jonathan Hickman was given the keys to the X-kingdom in 2019, Marvel’s mutants settled on the living island Krakoa (a mutant itself), creating an independent nation and new utopia in the MU. As Thomas More did 500 years before, Hickman’s Krakoa gives readers a good place which invites us to consider whether no place like this will ever exist…and it got me hooked on reading and thinking about the X-Men again for the first time in twenty-five years!