What if the X-Men students were indestructible half-demons who could summon Cthulhu? Meet the Vile Schools.
Spoilers for X-Men and X of Swords below!
Ever since the X-Men began in a boarding school run by Charles Xavier, the history of Marvel’s mutants has been about education. The X-Men learn from their teachers, pass knowledge on to the next generation of mutant heroes, and form new schools even when Xavier’s mansion gets destroyed. Their newest enemy, Arakko, is a dark reflection of the history of Earth’s mutants. X-Men #14 reveals that Arakko even has mysterious schools that produce the most demonic mutants yet.
Everything has changed for Marvel’s biggest team: mutants have come to live on a deserted sentient-island called Krakoa, which thousands of years ago was a huge landmass teeming with mutants. Then the demons of Amenth cut it in half and Apocalypse’s family sealed their half, called Arakko, inside of Amenth, leaving their weakling dad Apocalypse behind to safeguard Earth if the demons came back. In X-Men #2, the X-Men meet their first Arakko mutant, Summoner. He impresses them with his ability to bring forth “greater daemons” that looked like horrors from the Cthulhu mythos, such as “Hool-go-Dir the Vanquished God”. Summoner is also indestructible, immune to damage everywhere except his eyes.
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Then Apocalypse approaches Summoner in X-Men #12 for an update on Arakko, but the latter lies about a few details. He says Apocalypse’s family is losing the war and needs him to open a portal to them… but leaves out that his family has become the leaders of the demon horde and they want the portal so they can invade Earth. X-Men #14 gives us the same story, this time from Apocalypse’s wife Genesis, who offers the unvarnished truth.
As Genesis tells it, when Arakko lost the war on Amenth and came to negotiate a surrender, she discovered that the Amenthi demons had been interbreeding mutants and demons to create mutants with demonic powers. These mutants were developed at something called “Vile schools”, which produced a “hybrid warrior race” of mutants who would betray their own kind. Arakko became a vassal state of Amenth, and Vile mutants were installed to quash any hope of rebellion. “Vile school omnipaths” could monitor Arakko’s thoughts; Vile “stealth suppressors” exposed subversives. But Genesis thought their most abominable creation was the Summoners, a “black experiment” that was loyal to neither side, only “their own power and twisted religion”. Summoner was a high-ranking member of a Cthulhu cult.
This concept acts as a subtle callback to Powers of X #1 from 2019, which shows a future where mutant-hunting android Nimrod controls the world. He breeds “Hounds”, genetically engineered mutants intended to betray and hunt the mutant resistance. But as one Hound named Cylobel shows, their treacherous nature was programmed in “too well” and they turned to the mutant side. If these Summoners are anything alike, the Summoner who betrayed Apocalypse might turn hero by the end… or he might stay dead after being stabbed through the eye by Wolverine in Wolverine #7. Either way, if Arakko and Amenth survive the X of Swords storyline, even the X-Men’s master sorcerer will have to beware of the dark magic the Vile mutants bring to the table.
X-Men #14 is written by Jonathan Hickman with art by Leinil Francis Yu, color by Sunny Gho, and lettering by Clayton Cowles, and is available now from Marvel Comics and Comixology.
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