No longer are mutants the next step in human evolution. This week’s X-Men #1, the first title in Marvel’s X-Men: From the Ashes relaunch, sees Cyclops leading a new mutant strike team — Beast, Psylocke, Magik, Temper, Kid Omega, and Juggernaut — under Magneto. With Professor X imprisoned for crimes against humanity and Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters refitted into Graymalkin Prison, Jed MacKay and Ryan Stegman’s X-Men have set up shop in The Factory: an Alaska-based former Sentinel factory that manufactured the killer robots for the anti-mutant organization Orchis.

Spoilers for X-Men #1. The 34-page issue, “Fire-Baptized Species,” sends the X-Men to Santo Marco after Cerebro detects six new mutants. There they battle an X-branded Orchis remnant, Fourth School, which was formed after the artificial intelligence-powered Nimrod and Omega Sentinel betrayed the human parts of Orchis in Rise of the Powers of X.

Fourth School is “a mishmash of Orchis science-propaganda and half-baked John Sublime U-Men memes,” according to Juggernaut, referring to an ancient sentient bacteria that propagated the idea of a “Third Species” during the Grant Morrison-penned New X-Men in the early 2000s. Sublime’s self-mutated U-Men utilized cosmetic-gene surgery to turn humans into mutants, calling this third species “Homo Perfectus.”

The Orchis Fourth School cell believes that the “Third Species” predicted by Sublime is actually A.I. — and so they must become the Fourth Species, a mix of human, A.I., and mutant. “The good news is that they no longer hate us,” Temper says. “The bad news is that they want to become us by consuming us.”

It turns out the new mutants are adults — something that should be impossible because the mutant X-gene activates at puberty. And it’s even more impossible that six X-genes would activate all at once in adults. Kid Omega’s telepathic powers confirm that they’re “real mutants” and not “Frankenstein graft-jobs,” only for Fourth School’s mutants to use their own powers against the X-Men.

Watching from off-panel is a shadowy group known only as 3K, which turned this sextet of spies and terrorists into man-made mutants. Back in Alaska, Cyclops hands over a severed arm for Beast to investigate how six adult Orchis Fourth School agents manifested active X-genes at the same time, and who might be behind the mysterious mutants.

While that’s a question for upcoming issues, X-Men #1 ends with an exclusive stinger scene that is accessible only by QR code. Readers who scan the code are taken to a bonus scene not included in the issue itself (which you can see below), and it shows the mystery members of 3K at a table marked with an “X”: The Zealot, The Doctor and her son, The Means, and The Chairman. And their “Great Work” has only just begun.

“Some mutants have reintegrated back into the human world. X-Men isn’t about those mutants,” MacKay wrote in an issue-ending letter page. “Ours are the ones who can’t, won’t, go back. Former mutant terrorists, villains, and assassins, our misfit X-Men have built a home and a base from the ruins of the previous age. Let the world hate and fear the X-Men. If the world has a problem, the world knows where to find them: a home built on the bones of shattered Sentinels, marked with an X. The dream is dead, and so new dreams rise.”

MacKay added: “But among those dreams, like a shark in a shoal, is a nightmare: one called 3K.”

Marvel’s X-Men #1 is on stands now.

 Jed MacKay and Ryan Stegman’s X-Men #1 introduces new X-villains Fourth School and 3K.  Read More