When I asked Jonathan Hickman at 2020 C2e2 about writing X-Men Empyre tie-ins he seemed uniquely excited about the storytelling chances the mega event afforded him, and now we can see why in the deliriously fun Empyre: X-Men #1.
Today I’ll answer:
- How does X-Men tie into Marvel’s Empyre event?
- What role does Scarlet Witch play in the story, and what does her presence mean for mutant resurrections?
- What is X-Corp and why does it matter?
Creative credits belong to:
- Jonathan Hickman, Tini Howard
- Matteo Buffagni
- Nolan Woodard
- Clayton Cowles
- Tom Muller
The issue opens unexpectedly with Doctor Strange addressing Wanda Maximoff, aka the Scarlet Witch, aka mutantkind’s “Great Pretender” since House of X and Powers of X, responsible for the depowering of approximately 1 million mutants on Marvel’s M-Day.
That Doctor Strange opening feels so much like Hickman jumping back into New Avengers. Thematically, too, I think we’re seeing Wanda utilized very similarly to how Hickman used Doctor Strange in New Avengers, sinking lower and lower into the depths of mystical solutions that only cost more of his soul.
Wanda spends a year looking to redeem herself by resurrecting the mutants of Genosha. Which, again, historically is not her fault.
“Your powers over reality make you a touchstone of the reality in which they exist” ~ Doctor Strange to Wanda Maximoff. So here’s the question: Is Wanda’s “No More Mutants” a recurring thread across Moira’s lifelines? Was this an unanticipated anomaly in the plan? There’s certainly been plenty of *very important* attention given to the phenomena, just behind the events of “E is for Extinction” on Genosha.
Following the events of Empyre #1 and #2, the Cotati invade Earth and Genosha as a staging area for a Wakandan invasion.
Hickman gets to have a lot of fun with the Cotati invasion: “They are meat, Captain. Never mythologize the meet.”
Which all leads to an all out side-war during the Cotati’s razing of Earth.
Wanda M is back on her BS. The absolute tragedy of Wanda here is she clearly doesn’t know resurrection protocols exist, so she’s doing all this herculean mystical energy gathering only to get a massive spell wrong for nothing.
Raises the question too if Wanda’s resurrection could overlap with Krakoan resurrection (Genoshan mutants already brought back?) There was an interesting conundrum raised in Hellions #2 about resurrecting clones of clones and Wanda’s machinations certainly seem to fit that bill.
Warren and Monet are setting up a new X-Corp, Magick shows up to tell them Professor X wants to make sure their work is not redundant with his existing portfolio of riches.
Monet gets a hilarious line: “Look at these old men… Warren could take them“
X-Corps is a concept that debuted during Morrison’s time on New X-Men in Annual #1, and was essentially an international organization providing safehaven for mutants everywhere (since the X-Men couldn’t be everywhere). It’s a lot like a later Morrison idea Batman, Inc, but more tangentially a part of the New X-Men narrative. As far as I’m aware, X-Corps has been shut down since House of M and “Decimation” which means mid 2000’s in real time.
The Cotati invasion is leading to a sickness of Krakoan gates and Black Tom Cassiday recognizes this.
I’ll be curious to see as these Empyre tie-ins progress just how much damage the Cotati actually do to Krakoa and mutantkind’s means of travel. Ironically, Krakoa itself might be one of the very few forms of life the Cotati are content to let live.
Warren, Monet, Magick, and Multiple Man (if Warren starts going by Mangel that’s a hell of a 4M alliteration party) check out the disturbance on Genosha to uncover the Cotati vs Zombie mutant war.
Hordculture re-emerges to keep the Mutant Zombies at bay. I think.
Since it’s been a fair amount of time – some would say it could have been infinitely longer! – Hordeculture debuted in the Hickman and Leinil Francis Yu X-Men #3. It remains the absolute wildest curveball of the Hickman era, although honestly given that we have a majorly plant focused Event going on at Marvel, I’m glad to see there’s a natural role for this strange group of octogenerians to fit!
The Krakoan for the next issue reads Next: Zombie Hordes
Personally, I’m quite glad to see Empyre used as a springboard for telling Scarlet Witch, X-Corps, and Genosha stories. These are all some of the major historical touchpoints the Dawn of X has held up as sacred texts, so it’s refreshing to see them expanded upon.
One idea I’d really like to see explored is why Wanda’s spell went so awry. Is she just bad at this, or is there something deeper, something she actually loathes about mutants (remember, her paternal lineage is a mess, but for plenty of time she’s thought Magneto was her dad) and that’s coming through in her actions. Likewise, there has to be a Krakoa meets Scarlet Witch and assesses her culpability in this latest monstrous act, however well intentioned. That could easily be the fodder for the Avengers vs. X-Men 2 that gets teased so often, although I’d hope the House of Ideas gets a little more creative than that.