The X-Men franchise has been consistently one of the most fascinating things going in the world of comic books since House of X and Powers of X started. Jonathan Hickman has continued that momentum with the core X-Men series. What’s made this X-Men series different from before is how it is truly taking on the identity of being the core series that ever other comic book in franchise builds from. Hickman has used this X-Men series to explore the bigger concepts that each individual X-Men comic is exploring. Now it looks like Hickman will go further in on mutants status in relation to the rest of the world. How will Professor Xavier, Magneto and Apocalypse handle a meeting with world leaders? Let’s find out with X-Men #4.
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
Inker: Gerry Alanguilan and Leinil Francis Yu
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Over on Davos, Switzerland the media is conducting coverage on the latest World Economic Forum. The coverage is heavier due to this World Economic Forum taking place one month after the mutants on Krakoa made their presence known to the world. As stated by the news coverage, the nation of Krakoa has been extended an invite.
Just as the report concludes an X-Men jet lands. Charles Xavier, Magneto and Apocalypse exit the jet with Cyclops and Gorgon acting as their security guards.
Inside the building where the World Economic Forum is held the security guards tell Cyclops and Gorgon that they are not allowed to be in the meeting as it is only the invited guest allowed. Cyclops tells Magneto to call them if they need any help.
After Xavier, Magneto and Apocalypse head to the meeting room the same guard asks Gorgon to hand over his sword. Gorgon says that his sword is not a dangerous weapon because he is the dangerous weapon.
Elsewhere Xavier, Magneto and Apocalypse are informed that the World Economic Forum meeting will be held over a meal to make things more friendly.
Once inside the conference room everyone is cordial with each other and they all make a toast to peace.
Elsewhere several heavily armed military officials are shown wearing devices to block having their minds read.
Back in the conference room, Xavier immediately detects this and contacts Cyclops to inform him about the assault two teams located on the top and bottom floors. Cyclops says he’ll get things taken care of.
As the World Economic Forum begins the politicians are quick to ask what Krakoa’s endgame is. Magneto states they’ve been very clear from the beginning what they are doing and are not hiding anything. Hodari (the Wakandan Attache) says he is not surprised by Krakoa’s acts since it is in every nation to act in their best interest. Magneto wonders if this means Wakanda is open to having a more formal trade agreement. Hodari states, with a smile, that is something they should leave to their kings and queens.
On the topic of trade, Banhi Gahlot (the business representative from India) brings up how Krakoa continues to have their borders closed to the majority of countries. Reilly Marshall (the U.S. Ambassador) asks what the mutants are hiding. Apocalypse responds by asking if it looks like they are hiding by attending the World Economic Forum.
On the top floor of the building Cyclops is surrounded by an assault team. Cyclops quickly goes on the defense using his optic blasts and fighting skills to disarm and knock out each member of the assault team.
Back at the meeting Ma Mingyu (the Chinese Ambassador) brings up the uncertainty in the drugs coming from Krakoa and how they are being recommended to be used. Magneto states that he knows enough about the drugs to know Mingyu’s concerns are wrong. He goes on to state that the drugs are structured to mitigate the negative effects. To make his point more clear Magneto gives a quote from Aldous Huxley’s ‘Island’ “Armaments, universal debt, and planned obsolescence—those are the three pillars of Western prosperity.”
Frederico Joao de Cezare (an academic advisor from Brazil) finds it funny that Magneto uses a quote from a human author. Magneto fires back by saying that in time there will be a famous mutant author since breaking human norms has become the new normal, which Reilly Marshall finds ominous.
Magneto goes on state the reality of this as the history of man has shown that every country teach their children in a way the rewrites and unlearn history. To prove this Magneto reminds everyone of what caused society to fall during the Dark and Bronze Ages. This is something that Apocalypse supports by revealing to everyone in the room he was what caused those Ages to fall.
Listened to enough of what Magneto has said, Daniela Gentile (a business advisor from Italy) says it sounds like this is all leading to a war. Magneto says there will be no war. Magneto then explains how mutants methods have changed. He gives the example of how in the past he would’ve shown his power to the World Economic Forum by turning their weapons against them.
As he says this Cyclops psychically contacts Magneto for a little help. Magneto uses his powers to quickly disarm one of the guys about to shoot Cyclops. This gives Cyclops the chance to knock out the final members of the assault team with an optic blast.
Magneto then continues to talk about how they’ve learned that humans quietly use their weapons of fiance and influence to end up causing others to be indebted to them so when the time comes they control others through these debts. Magneto says they are now doing the same to lead better and healthier lives. He states they will use their wealth, power and influence to own banks, schools, media, politicians so that people can turn their dangerous and outdated ideas against them.
Magneto then finishes his meal and gives his compliments to the chef. As he does that the members of the World Economic Forum are left in shock.
On the top floor of the building Cyclops contacts Xavier to tell him that he has wrapped things up on his end and that it is time to go. Xavier says he will meet Cyclops and Gorgon in a bit.
On the bottom floor of the building, Gorgon has decimated the assault team that came after him, cutting off some of their limbs while leaving them all alive. Gorgon tells the assault team’s leader that he is leaving them alive so they can embrace mercy and never test his kind again.
Back at the World Economic Forum meeting, Magneto brings up how he has noticed that Reilly Marshall keeps touching his ear so he hopes things are okay. Reilly says he is not sure. Magneto tells Reilly that his assault team is not coming.
He then informs all the members of the World Economic Forum about the two assault teams that were set up in case things didn’t go the way Reilly wanted. Ma Mingyu tells Reilly to recognize he can’t handle things himself. Reilly gets pissed off and says he knows he is the one arguing the money is not worth it.
Reilly then asks Xavier how long until someone blinks and this peaceful period ends. Xavier states it is a month as that is how long it took for Reilly to send a team to kill him but that did not work since he cannot be killed by the likes of him. Reilly denies sending anyone to kill Xavier.
Tired of this denial Magneto can just talk about how they even made it a law not to kill humans.
Xavier takes off his Cerebro helmet and says he has never stopped believing in his dream of humans and mutants coexisting. He goes on to say even when someone (Moira MacTaggert) told him he was dreaming the wrong dream he still has a part of himself that believes in human and mutant coexistence. Xavier then brings up how it only took Reilly a month before trying to kill him and then attempt to do it again today.
Reilly angrily says that Xavier is just admitting that mutants believe the world is theirs. Xavier fires back by saying they all need to learn to evolve and adapt to become something more. Xavier says that Reilly and others can angrily lash out if they want but this is the last time things end like they have today.
Mingyu wonders what Xavier means. Magneto states, as he said before, they’ve been clear about their intentions. Even though they are still learning how to handle the position they are in they’ve had good teachers in all of them so if they try to attack them again Krakoa will respond.
Xavier, Magneto and Apocalypse then leave the World Economic Forum with Cyclops and Gorgon in the X-Men jet. End of issue.
The Good: With all the developments in the Marvel Universe an issue like X-Men #4 was very much needed. This issue begins the new year with a clear statement of where we are when it comes to the mutants status within the political spectrum. It also sets the table for what the franchise will deal with moving forward as they make their intentions as clear as possible.
With X-Men #4 taking place around a World Economic Forum it is only appropriate for Magneto to take the lead in this conversation. While Charles Xavier has become somewhat of the King of Krakoa he is much more calm when it comes to speaking with others of power. That is something we saw at the end of X-Men #4. But with his recent assassination there was a strong, forceful voice that was needed to get Krakoa’s statement across. Which is where Magneto enters the scene as being the voice that was needed in this World Economic Forum meeting.
The most impressive part of Magneto taking charge was how he never lost control of the discussion going on. Even in the brief moments when you think Magneto would rage out we saw how he quickly kept control of his emotions. Jonathan Hickman made Magneto come across as the person most in control of the discussion. Even when other government officials tried to make him slip up Magneto continued to make things clear and conscious.
Magneto even bringing up how in the past he would have used his powers to turn the world’s weapons against themselves was a perfect character choice. Magneto being the one to spotlight this about himself rather than one of the representatives shows how he has changed. This isn’t the same Magneto that will simply let his emotions cause him to change sides as we’ve seen so much in the past. Now he knows he has to be more thoughtful and use the power of influence and money to best position mutants as he has done with Charles Xavier.
Making Magneto’s position even stronger was how Hickman brought in the real world aspect of countries using the education system to tell their own version of history. This is something that is very much a topic of discussion as we’ve all experienced how history books do more of a top level exploration of their country’s history. The fact that at no point do the representatives deny this makes Magneto’s point stronger.
It all goes to highlight how the X-Men have been placed in their strongest position in the franchise’s history. Xavier and Magneto leading Krakoa to employ the same tactics of wealth and influence to gain the same advantages as their human enemies have employed to keep things like the Sentinel program going is makes you respect them more.
This creates an intriguing question of how mutant opponents like Reilly Marshall will evolve their tactics. Because as we saw from Cyclops and Gorgon, simply employing the same tactics of psychic blocking tech by an assault team aren’t enough. The X-Men are far more prepared for things like this.
At the same time Hickman creates a lot of possible sub-plots with what the relationship will be between Krakoa and the countries across the world. As of now, Krakoa has been very careful in how they open their borders to others. As Magneto and Xavier explain, this has been done deliberately to make proper trade agreements. Now with what they’ve laid out on the table at the World Economic Forum there is the question of which countries will be easier to deal with and which will continue to give the X-Men a tough time in this new status quo.
Through this serious discussion Hickman was able to bring things back to Xavier’s original dream of humans and mutants coexisting. This is something that hasn’t been spotlighted very much in this new post-House of X and Powers of X world. Bringing this back after everything Magneto said was well timed. It showed that at the core of why Krakoa was formed was to have a future were humans and mutants coexist. It’s just now Xavier and Magneto are going about achieving this through political and business means rather than being spotlighted as heroes like the Avengers and Fantastic Four.
While Magneto and Xavier get the bulk of the development in X-Men #4 they aren’t the only ones that come out better from this. As the third member of Krakoa to attend the World Economic Forum Hickman further establishes Apocalypse’s position right now. Hickman kept things simple with Apocalypse by only having him say a few things. Those few things that Apocalypse reinforces how powerful and dangerous he is. It once again makes you wonder what Apocalypse is thinking as he watches Xavier and Magneto take the lead on things. Apocalypse isn’t one to just let others do things without having some ulterior motives. That feels like it continues to be true with the way Hickman characterizes Apocalypse each time he appears on a panel.
At this point it’s been well established what roles Cyclops, Magik and Bishop serve as the Krakoan Captains. Cyclops role as Captain Commander has been heavily spotlighted in this X-Men series. And we once again see why Xavier and the others trust Cyclops to have the Captain Commander role with how he takes care of the assault team and maintains a political tone to the way he talks.
The one Krakoan Captain we haven’t seen be placed given a spotlight is Gorgon. He has been more of a background character up to this point. But now Hickman rectifies that with X-Men #4 fully establishing why Gorgon is not only a Krakoan Captain but also the Council Guard. Not only do we see him be an absolute badass with how he tears through the assault team but it was the way he carried himself. Gorgon fully believes himself to be the dangerous weapon with things like swords just being tools that can act as an extension of himself.
Adding to Gorgon’s belief in his powers and abilities is his change in fighting style. Leaving the entire assault team alive shows that this isn’t the same Gorgon as before. Gorgon has come around to what Xavier has preached and goes by the law of not killing humans. This makes it clearer why Gorgon will now be placed in the position of lead guard to the Krakoa Quiet Council.
With X-Men #4 having a more character focus story Leinil Francis Yu was able to play to his strength which is capturing character’s emotions. He gets over how confident and in control Magneto is throughout his conversation with the rest of the World Economic Forum attendees. It led to a great payoff to how Yu captures the speechless expressions in all the world leaders faces once Magneto was done talking. At the same time, Yu is able to show off how he can choreograph a strong action scene with Cyclops taking on the anti-mutant assault team.
The Bad: As intriguing as all the plot elements Hickman expands on in X-Men #4 are there is a fine line that he and the other X-Men writers are starting to walk. The deeper we get into the current direction of the X-Men franchise the more it is feeling that you need to be reading the bulk of the X-Men comics. That is fine for those who are exclusively reading the X-Men comics. But for those that don’t have the budget to do so the heavy reliance on what other comics are doing, such as the whole Xavier assassination and ressurrection in X-Factor, this could lead to a lot of confusion.
The danger in going with this approach is eventually making this X-Men series, the comic that is supposed to be the core book of the franchise, come across as a tie-in comic book. Telling more standalone stories, like X-Men #2 and #3 did, will be a better direction for this series. Those two comics were able to tie in the greater narrative of the X-Men franchise without completely feeling like you were missing out by not reading X-Factor or New Mutants.
Overall: X-Men #4 was more about establishing the current standing of Krakoa than having a huge status quo shaking event take place. And as he has shown in the past, Jonathan Hickman knocks it out of the park thanks to incredible writing for Magneto, Charles Xavier and Gorgon. Hickman’s writing is strengthened by Leinil Francis Yu’s artwork putting over how impactful the words spoken are during the latest World Economic Forum.
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