Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

336 – Serpents in Eden, feat. Si Spurrier

Art by David Wynne. Wanna buy the original? Drop him a line!

In which writer Si Spurrier joins us to talk Nightcrawler, the unsustainability of Krakoa, bringing back Legion, the stuff growing on Dr. Nemesis’s head, Welsh accents, founding (and not founding) a mutant religion, and—yes—Onslaught.

NEXT EPISODE: Shady Secret Organization Team-Up!

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The visual companion to this episode is Way of X #1-2.

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  1. Really good interview But you guys really need to stop with the slander of Charles Xavier because if you guys remember Gabrielle Haller intentionally kept his son away from him. She had no intention of ever telling Xavier about his son she remarried no I’m I’m sorry she got married to another guy and raise the boy with her new husband. Now before you guys say oh Charles would’ve known because of his telepathy you have to have an idea of what to look for and as far as he was concerned Gabrielle was old news. You can’t put the blame on Charles for him not being close to his son How could he have known? If that was the case why didn’t Jean Grey know that cable was actually Nathan?

  2. I’m really loving almost everything being done in the “Reign of X”. Children of the Atom seems to be treading on a fine line that I don’t agree with, but that’s neither here nor there.

    My only problem with Way of X is, in fact, Dr. Nemesis’ head. I’m one of those poor souls afflicted with trypophobia (I know it’s more of a revulsion than a recognized phobia). It’s hard to look too long at those panels where Nemesis appears but otherwise I think this is one of the most original premises in an X-Title that I have seen in years.

    I am beyond excited for the approaching “Inferno”. Which is great because it means, in the macro, that you guys are now building towards Inferno again.

    …it’s always Inferno.

  3. This was a very interesting interview. I’ve dropped off the Hickman-era X-books, and part of it was that the books didn’t seem to be interested in exploring the kind of questions that Mr. Spurrier is asking, with the result that the supposed weirdness of Krakoa just started to come across as cosmetic in a way that I was finding rather, well, boring. So I’ll definitely be at least looking at Way of X on MU at some point.

    Mr. Spurrier touched on something that has niggled at me a bit, which is that everyone on Krakoa seems automatically to accept that Krakoan resurrection is actual resurrection, when it’s fairly obvious that’s questionable. It’s cloning plus rewriting the mind of the clone to be a copy of the original person.

    First, it’s going to occur to everyone immediately that you could carry out the process before the original person died, so that you had two of them at the same time — and I would think that at that point many people would at least entertain the possibility that it would not be OK to kill one of the two off casually, just because you had a spare.

    Thirdly, an awful lot of the writing seemed to assume that survival instinct and the fear of death was reducible to the abstract factual knowledge that there would not be a you in the future. That’s dubious — while that’s obviously a component, if it was merely the thought of there not being me at some point in time that was responsible for my fear of death, I would think that I would be more bothered than I am by contemplating the vast amount of time before I was born when there was no me. In fact, that doesn’t bother me at all, although I can imagine that it might bother Doctor Doom.

    Not that there’s any clear answer to some of these issues, or that people would all think about them the same way. But it annoyed me a little that no-one in the story seemed to entertain any of these questions at all.

    1. I’ve actually thought of a lot of the same things you mention. Particularly the way that “rebirth” is handled. I agree that these are clones with over written memories. There are also other questions that have yet to be answered or even addressed. Presumably, when Scott Summers was resurrected, the brain damage would have been fixed. So when they resurrect him, are they re-traumatizing his brain or is he just wearing the visor as a cosmetic choice? If they can rebond adamantium to Logan’s skeleton why not do that for Laura Kinney? It’s beyond bizarre to resurrect these characters to their status quo. (Don’t even get me started on the missed opportunities for transgender characters if they exist yet).

  4. As an atheist in our world I can buy Krakoan resurrection because a clone with my memories would essentially be a new version of me. Souls are definitely real in the Marvel Universe, so for it be true resurrection there the new body has to somehow have the original soul.

    1. Well, not necessarily, because if you can have all of your memories and personality and not your “soul,” as apparently you can, what actual difference does a “soul” make to the question?

      This reflects the fact that what a soul is in the MU is rather undefined. And isn’t really what, for instance, a Catholic like Kurt should think it is. For that matter, from a Catholic perspective, I think it’d be a heretical Gnostic error to think that you can have a new body and still be the same person.

      However, I think the question is not whether some people would regard this as a continuation of themselves. There are difficult questions of what identity *is* here, and arguably the sensible thing is to agree with Buddhists and say that there is no such stable entity as the self in the first place.

      But I think it’s highly unlikely that *everyone* would accept it automatically without question, and that no-one would go, “Wait, this is a copy of me, and a copy by definition is not the original. That’s what ‘copy’ means.”

      It’s an obvious story (which maybe they’ve done, but if not, they should). Someone is presumed dead, and a new them is born. Then the first one turns up again, not dead. We have two separate and different versions of the same person.

      How do you do resurrection now? Do you say that these are, under Krakoan law, now two people, and when both die, you will resurrect them both? And so as their memories and experiences differ, and as they acquire separate relationships, presumably they will diverge.

      This, however, strikes at the resurrection concept — it’s saying that now there are two, they have independent value as separate people, and that previous versions always had their own independent values, and their deaths are a loss. I’d think that there should be some ideological resistance to following that line of thought.

      Or you could take the position that one should wait until both die and giving the resurrected clone the memory of being both, reuniting them. That’s what the logic of Krakoan resurrection might imply that one should do. But what about committed relationships, children and so on? Do you bereave a spouse for decades — or alternatively, tell two spouses that, well, now you have to be polyamorous or one of you has to divorce?

      Arguably, the most consistent position with thinking of Krakoan resurrection as genuinely preserving a person is to say that this was a terrible mistake and we should immediately kill one of the two as surplus to requirements. I would hope that no-one would want to do that (and there’d also be no obvious way to decide which of the two you should kill). But what makes it unthinkable is probably our moral intuition that actually, option 1 was correct and we have two people here, each of whom has their own value.

      There are other obvious stories here that the Krakoa era should explore. What if someone does not accept that Krakoan resurrection gives them exactly the same person — and the resurrected person is their devoted partner? Obviously, I think we would all agree that no-one should be forced to continue in a sexual relationship with anyone for any reason.

      I think for some people, that would actually be a more clarifying way to think about where their intuitions were leading them. Don’t think about whether you would regard resurrecting you as resurrection for yourself. Think about the situation, if the person with whom you were in a committed long-term relationship died, and then someone offered you the possibility of cloning them and installing their memories in the clone. Would be certain that you were in the same relationship with the same person, without feeling any doubt?

      But, definitely, we would have to say that if a person felt uncomfortable about being with the clone of their dead partner, they should not be forced into this. But what if a parent regarded a child in the same way, that this is not their child, but a copy of their child? What does that do to the child?

      1. Quentin Quire has already experienced a past version of himself in the pages of X-Force. There’s also the edict that a person has to be confirmed “dead” before they can be resurrected so as to avoid having two of the same people running around.
        This also brings rise the question of what is consciousness? After all, if there is someone running around exactly like you who remembers everything you do, up to a point, then you can assume it is a different consciousness, even if it is like you in every respect. (This a is a point a lot of people seem to miss when they talk about their minds being uploaded to a computer).

        The only workaround for souls, in this case, is in knowing that in the Marvel Universe, true resurrection is possible (as we’ve seen time and time again). So there could be a mechanism in place for such a feat but I’ve seen no indication of it yet.

        There is a lot going on in Krakoa that is morally murky and that, until Way of X, no one has questioned. I’m hoping all of these things get addressed at some point.

        1. There’s also the edict that a person has to be confirmed “dead” before they can be resurrected so as to avoid having two of the same people running around.

          No such edict can be 100% reliable, though. Sooner or later, you’re going to screw up and declare someone dead who isn’t.

          This also raises some other interesting story possibilities, though. Also, what’s the standard of proof here? It’s very difficult to prove a negative, especially in the MU (which has actual *reality*-warpers in it!). Someone always could be alive. So it’s not practical, I think, to say that Krakoa demands absolute certainty — that would be equivalent to banning resurrection entirely, practically speaking. There’s some standard that’s accepted as good enough to declare someone dead, and there will be difficult boundary cases, and fallible and corruptible human beings making hard decisions in those difficult boundary cases.

          This is where you get the human story that I think is interesting. Imagine such a boundary case, and the (rather unaccountable, as far as I can tell) Quiet Council or whoever makes such a questionable decision. For at least some of those who do buy into the Krakoan ideology of “we’ve conquered death,” the fact that there is this decree saying that their loved ones aren’t going to be restored has to be wrenching, and they could hardly be blamed for being bitter and resentful. Stir in some reason to suspect the motives of the decision-maker(s) and watch the fireworks…

          1. A lot of this has actually been covered to a degree in the X-Factor title. At least nominally. A good example is actually in New Mutants where Rahne Sinclaire has been trying to get her son resurrected, to no avail. She knows her son is dead but X-Factor hasn’t found proof so there’s been no resurrection.

            I can’t say for sure, but some of these things seem to be a part of the narrative in the upcoming “Inferno” title. Since (possible spoilers) the Quiet Council has thus far refused to resurrect Destiny and that has repercussions that they are unaware of concerning Mystique.

            1. That’s really interesting. I’ll probably check those out at some point, particularly if they get into the political issues of who exactly gets to decide what counts as “proof” and why should the people affected trust their judgment.

              The Mystique/Destiny thing I had suspected would come up, because it was set up from the beginning as a bit of a Chekhov’s Gun. But I’m more interested in the Rahne situation. If you duplicate an adult, there are the obvious potential problems of who they are married to, etc. But a parent can reasonably claim that, if it turns out that the original is alive after all, then they can raise two identical twins with the same short set of memories who have plenty of years ahead of them to develop into separate and distinct people.

              1. “But I’m more interested in the Rahne situation. If you duplicate an adult, there are the obvious potential problems of who they are married to, etc. But a parent can reasonably claim that, if it turns out that the original is alive after all, then they can raise two identical twins with the same short set of memories who have plenty of years ahead of them to develop into separate and distinct people.” (Sorry, I don’t know how to format italics).

                I hadn’t considered that angle before and that would be interesting to at least address, even if they chose not to go that route.

                It occurs to me that the reason they don’t allow doubles are because of they way everything works. Since the memories are constantly backed up on Cerebro it could cause mental harm. I don’t know that it can make the distinction between the doubles so if both (or more) of the subject died and was resurrected it is possible they would be resurrected with contradicting memories.

                As far as the Resurrection Protocols go I knw some of the details. Before they can be resurrected, there must be proof of death (something the X-Factor group is responsible for). There is also a ban on clones (that does not extend to Laura Kinney, Gabby, or the Cuckoos for some reason). This has been a point of contention with Havok in Hellions where he’s trying to get answers as to why Madelyne Pryor can’t be resurrected. So far, they mostly have been blowing him off without any concrete answers. And finally, per Moira, no precogs can be resurrected. The relevant titles, should you be interested, are X-Factor, New Mutants and Hellions. Certainly, now that the X-Books are in the “Reign of X” phase, they are actually starting to look more closely at the ramifications and mysteries raised of the island. Way of X also looks to be addressing these things in a much more specific way. It might worth your while, after they arrive on MU, to look at most, if not all, of the titles post-X of Swords.

                1. I thought they did give Havok an answer as to why Maddy can’t be resurrected. The stated reason was because she was already a clone of someone else, in this case, Jean Grey.

                  And that, in turn has led to Gabby Kinney’s current existential crisis over in New Mutants, because she’s already a clone of Logan and Laura and is unsure as to whether she would be resurrected either.

                  1. I had thought that Havok had already gotten that answer as well, but in the most recent issue of Hellions he seems to be trying to find out why clones can’t be resurrected.

                2. The Cuckoos aren’t clones; in Phoenix: Warsong #3, it was shown that John Sublime stole Emma Frost’s eggs and raised them to adolescence.

      2. “For that matter, from a Catholic perspective, I think it’d be a heretical Gnostic error to think that you can have a new body and still be the same person.”

        Not sure about that, given that it’s a fundamental tenet that Catholics live “in sure and certain hope of resurrection on the last day”, whereby everyone will be recreated in new bodies.

        (Which leads to all sorts of interesting notions about how that would work, given that anyone alive today is made up of the recycled remains of countless millions of others. “Who gets first dibs on which part of the biomass?” is perhaps one of the Jesuits among us)

        1. I believe that in strict theological perspective, the body that one will have is not a new and different body, but one’s current body, which will be transformed into a spiritual body. This is direct from Paul, in fact: 1 Cor 15.42ff.

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