WWAXing PoetiX: Looking Back on Dawn of X

Cover of X-Men #2 with the team fighting a sea monster?

The sun has now set on the Dawn of X, the ambitious relaunch of the Merry Mutants on their new entirely apolitical separatist nation of Krakoa, bereft of any socio-political commentary of any kind. It’s been a truly wild ride, coming off the immense highs of House of X and Powers of X, the tie-in event that radically shifted the X-Men and the Mutant Metaphor.

In the following year of comics, Dawn of X, has truly had something for everybody — even whatever Fallen Angels was. We saw familiar faces recontextualized, we saw subtext become explicit, things got so horny, we saw old faves finding a new place in the X books, and we saw the new mutant Utopia get its hands a little dirty. It truly has felt like no matter the reader, this era had something to offer, and along the way, my fellow WWAC-ers consistently crafted amazing critical pieces, that played an integral role in fans’ immersion into the new mutant paradigm.

So, WWAC-ers why don’t we all WWAX poetic about our favorite moments, panels, pages, covers, and issues from Dawn of X.

Danielle: Thinking about this on and off the last few days and was initially unable to decide on a favorite because there are so many good moments to choose from in regards to Dawn of X, but I’ve managed to settle on one. It’s in the final page to Hellions #4, after the team’s returned to Krakoa and Mr. Sinister has had his time to cackle. Nanny makes her surprise appearance and questions how many mutants were resurrected. The chilled sternness in Nanny’s voice combined with the emptiness of Bar Sinister creates this remarkable and unforgettable moment that very possibly sets up one of the endgames for the series, if not the run itself.

Hellions #4 - Marvel - Sept 2020 - Segovia
Hellions #4 – Segovia & Wells- Marvel – Sept 2020

Dani: Picking a favorite moment from DoX is a challenge. Unsurprisingly though, all of my favorite moments are heavily tied to my sustained framing of the mutant-metaphor through a trans lens. I love that these themes were so present that it’s hard to pick just one. That said, what hit me the hardest was The Crucible. The process of coming out, the journey a person goes on in their transition, can look a certain way from the outside. Like the crucible, ignorant or ill-informed lookers-on could see the journey we go on, the changes to our bodies as “violent”, “brutal”, “needlessly destructive”. Folks question our journeys and the pain it can look like from a distance. But Crucible showed the euphoric resolution of this pain, it showed the beauty in the process.

Obviously, everybody’s journey through their transition is different, and some are never able to access the privilege of transitioning. Aero’s resolve, her conviction, I found myself there. Aero has lived through some of the most traumatic events to impact the mutant community, and her class of mutants has suffered at the hands of countless anti-mutant forces. I saw so much of my own journey in her story. Having begun my transition during the Trump administration, my transition like many others, was a battle through constant attempts (successful & otherwise) to strip us of our humanity and our rights. Aero was reborn on Krakoa, at the end of a long and painful road, she was reborn in the Crucible. It’s a single reading of a widely discussed issue, but for me, X-Men #7 will always hold a place at the center of my heart.

Panels from X-Men #7 by Hickman and Yu, published by Marvel Comics, 2020
Panels from X-Men #7 by Hickman and Yu, published by Marvel Comics, 2020

Ali: After lots of thought, I’ll have to second Dani’s thoughts on The Crucible. No single issue from the Dawn of X era has impacted me personally the way that X-Men #7 did. I think about the issue almost every day and cry every time I read it. What on the surface seems like an outright barbaric ritual is actually an incredibly strong metaphor for transition, at least to me. My feelings on Aero mirror Dani’s and I’d like to expound on them regarding what I see as Apocalypse’s role within the scene as a stand-in for Aero’s self-doubt. Throughout the scene he taunts her, giving voice to her own doubts about herself. Is she strong enough, is she really who she says she is, does she have the courage to step up and claim her identity in a world filled with people who hate and fear her?

It’s been my own experience with transition that the only time I’ve ever doubted that I was in fact trans was when faced with blind hatred and vitriol from passers by and those within my family and friend groups. Vitriol and fear which asserts I’m some kind of monster or perverse being who should be hidden away which — in my most vulnerable moments — caused me to wonder, are they right?

Apocalypse uses his own strength, his stature, and his conviction to help Aero to face those doubts head on and conquer them so that she can claim her identity freely and with self-confidence. It was extremely cathartic for me to read the scene and see Aero refuse to back down, and to watch her — eyes filled with tears of joy — as she once again ascended as her whole self. It’s no mistake that Apocalypse means “to reveal” in Greek. As he stated so succinctly when Aero thanked him for his role in her process of self-actualization he says:

Aero takes flight
X-Men #7 by Hickman and Yu, published by Marvel Comics, 2020

Cori: I bought the two pages that have been sitting with me the most. The first of those is Marauders #12 page 12. This is the page where “Our Lady of Perpetual Subtext” (emphasis on sub, especially in this case) is greeted after her resurrection by her best “friend,” one Illyana Rasputina. Yana shows up with a mariachi band in the background playing “De Contrabando.” This song, which Yana has played as she greets her newly returned “friend” has lyrics that translate to: “With patience, I will wait until your return / Just tell me that I’ll have a kiss as a reward / And to love me / Yes, that you love me.” While this song presumably plays in the background Yana tackles Kate to the ground and pins her with a smirk on her face. This is the gayest sequence in a book that includes an actual lady to lady kiss.

Pencils by Matteo Lolli for Marauders #12
Pencils by Matteo Lolli for Marauders #12

Cori: The other is X-Factor issue #1 page 6 when we first see Lorna trying to use the hair of the dog to kill a nasty looking hangover. This was the moment when I was absolutely 100% sold on the series, and in truth might be the moment Lorna became my favorite X-Man.

David Baldeon's pencils for X-Factor #1
David Baldeon’s pencils for X-Factor #1