The following contains spoilers for Children of the Vault #2, now on sale from Marvel Comics
The X-Men are having a rough go of it in the modern Marvel Universe — and given their history of enduring trials and tribulations from all sides, that’s saying something. Fall of X has seen Orchis and much of the world turning against them, with only a handful of other heroes left to work alongside them and fight Orchis’ influence. It’s even extended to one of the X-Men’s most important locations, which has been corrupted in a truly tragic way.
Children of the Vault #2 (by Deniz Camp, Luca Maresca, Carlos Lopez, and VC’s Cory Petit) reveals how Orchis is using the conquered remains of the original Xavier Institute to their advantage. What was once a safe haven and school for young mutants has become a trap, designed to lure in desperate mutants who’d otherwise escaped their grasp. It’s a horrifying fate for one of Marvel’s most iconic locations and highlights how dark the X-Men titles have become in Fall of X.
What Has Orchis Done To The Xavier Institute?
For years, the Xavier Institute was a safe haven for young mutants. Established all the way back in X-Men #1 (by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby), the school is a fundamental piece of the X-Men and their identity. The fact that the franchise is based around a school instead of a standard base of operations invites young people to find acceptance there, for wanderers to learn and grow and become teachers themselves. The school has been blown up numerous times, and each time it’s promptly rebuilt to serve as a home for the next generation of mutant heroes. While the school itself may have been tweaked or reinvented at various times, making way for new technologies or different leadership under Cyclops, Wolverine, or Kate Pryde, it’s always been a place for hopes and dreams to flourish and grow. It’s become one of Marvel’s most important locations, a constant in the sea of change that is the X-Men titles.
The fact that the Xavier Institute was largely abandoned during the Krakoa Era was a rarely commented upon element of the modern era, but a constant reminder of how far mutants had come — or from some perspectives, drifted away — from their early days. Left standing as a monument to the past, it remains overgrown with plant life and was ignored by much of the Krakoa leadership. But in Fall of X, the school now serves a far more dangerous role. In the aftermath of the Hellfire Gala, most mutants have been exiled away from Earth. Many have been lost to the mysterious desert alongside Exodus and Hope, while many more have been sent to the war-torn Arakko to try and survive Storm’s war with Genesis. Stragglers may see the Xavier Institute as a last safe space to return to — which is exactly what Orchis is counting on. Children of the Vault #2 revealed that the school is currently occupied by Orchis, who have invested a great deal of money and manpower into securing the school. They specifically did this because the school is seen as a sanctuary around the world for mutants, and they’re hoping to capture any stragglers who can make their way to school.
Why The Xavier Institute’s Fate Is So Sad
It’s a particularly grim fate for the school, a nightmarish purpose for a building that has long represented much brighter hopes for the future. In a way, it’s even sadder than the horrifying fate of the school in the grim Sins of Sinister timeline. In a world where the X-Men were corrupted with Mister Sinister’s influence, the school was remade into a cloning lab, where new soldiers for the expansive mutant empire could be manufactured and unleashed onto the world at large. In that reality, the ideal and genuine purpose of turning mutants into better people was perverted into a vicious and cynical process, mechanical and imperialistic in nature. Orchis gaining control of the school is a more somber evolution of the school, reinventing it from a haven into a trap. Orchis are among the most dangerous foes the X-Men have ever faced. A collection of mutant-hating scientists, soldiers, and leaders who are working to drive the future of the world in opposition to mutants as a whole, their corruption of the school hasn’t even given it a real purpose.
While the Sins of Sinister timeline turned the school into a terrifying factory for villainous mutants, the core-Marvel Universe of Earth-616 has instead reinvented it as a trap. It’s the exact opposite of what Charles Xavier intended for it in the first place. No longer a haven for wayward mutants, it’s now a false hope, designed to pick off survivors of Orchis’ global plans for extraction and extinction. It’s perhaps the most striking reminder of how dark things have become for the X-Men during the Fall of X period. In the aftermath of Orchis gaining a genuine foothold over the rest of the Marvel Universe, classic heroes like Kate Pryde have been driven to carry out horrifying acts.
Noble figures like Captain America are embracing far harsher tactics than they’ve historically allowed. Hopefully characters like Ms. Marvel have been confronted with a dark new perspective on the world. The Xavier Institute being turned into a trap speaks volumes to how grim things have become. For decades, it was a safe haven for mutants, a home away from home for generations of people both old and young. It was where Marvel’s most hated and feared heroes — or just scared teenagers — could find safety. Now, it’s been turned into a trap, designed to target the desperate and hunted. The fate of the Xavier Institute highlights how bad things are going for the X-Men in the modern Marvel Universe, and retaking it from Orchis might be one of the best ways for the mutant heroes to make it clear that they’ve reestablished themselves down the line.
The X-Men’s historical Xavier Institute has been turned into a trap for mutants by Orchis, highlighting the tragedy of Fall of X. Read More