The X-Men’s island of Krakoa has built up its own power in Marvel Comics, but its strength has inspired a new enemy in the Vampire Nation.
Warning: spoilers for Wolverine #11 by Benjamin Percy, Scot Eaton, and JP Mayer are ahead.
The X-Men of Marvel Comics have had no shortage of enemies in the past, but their newest foes have more in common with them than Krakoa would like to acknowledge. With the mutant nation of Krakoa officially recognized by the United Nations, the significance of a country composed of people who are misunderstood and met with distrust by human society has not been lost on other groups. In particular, the Vampire Nation, a group led by Dracula, has formally made plans to establish their own state that could rival Krakoa.
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In Wolverine #11, this new threat to Krakoa is brought to light with Wolverine’s solitary crusade to uncover details of the Vampire Nation’s plot (written by Benjamin Percy, pencils by Scot Eaton, inks by JP Mayer, colors by Matthew Wilson, letters by VC’s Cory Petit, and design by Tom Muller). Finding and destroying vampire colonies wherever he finds them, Wolverine has devoted time to consider the similarities between mutants and vampires, as two groups that humanity see as disgusting and yet fascinating. In doing so, the tension between Krakoa and the Vampire Nation demonstrates how the dream of mutant unity could be corrupted by other groups to serve their own ends.
The similarities between mutants and vampires harks back to a talking point from Captain America: Civil War, signifying that the Vampire Nation could threaten the already rocky sense of unity on Krakoa. While discussing the merits of the Sokovia Accords, an act from the UN that would limit the operations of superheroes like the Avengers, Vision notes that the number of “enhanced individuals” in the world has rapidly grown since they debuted as a group. He says, “Our very strength invites challenge. Challenge invites conflict,” an ethos that can be directly applied to Krakoa and its relationship with the Vampire Nation. Because Krakoa has gained such a high profile internationally, why shouldn’t vampires also try to achieve that same status?
While the Avengers’ disagreements on the Sokovia Accords resulted in their dissolution as a group, the emergent Vampire Nation provides an opportunity for Krakoa to reflect on its shortcomings. The failings of Krakoa have begun to add up in recent issues, and if the X-Men want a more equitable mutant society, they need to address their underlying issues. In addition, the vampires share the very worst qualities of Krakoan mutants, and by reckoning with how Krakoa has inspired the Vampire Nation, the X-Men might be able to finally achieve their idealistic dream of mutant unity.
Like Vampires, Mutants Are Parasitic On Krakoa.
The most egregious aspect about vampires is that they need to survive on the blood of other beings, and while mutants think that they are exempt from this trait, recent X-Men books have pointed out their parasitic relationship with Krakoa. With a parasite ravaging the island and strange creatures lying in the depths of Krakoa’s waters, there is a footprint that mutants leave on the island that they have not yet come to terms with. While Krakoa offers mutantkind an unprecedented future of both sovereignty and safety, it is clear that the island itself sees its mutant inhabitants as parasites. This is especially damning, considering how the X-Men have long prided themselves on being progressive visionaries in support of life and evolution. And while vampires are obviously contrary to this ethos, because of their nature as blood-suckers, the parasitic behaviors of mutants on Krakoa still contradict this central tenet of the team.
Moreover, Krakoa’s mutants strongly resemble vampires because they possess a level of immortality thanks to the Resurrection Protocols. Vampires have a bad reputation because they are undead, but as recent X-Men stories have shown, the aggressive cycle of birth, death, and resurrection on Krakoa make many of its heroes “undead” in their own way. Resurrection has become an area of friction for many mutants on Krakoa, particularly for clones, who are unsure if they are even eligible for resurrection because of their status. Recognizing that the Vampire Nation isn’t too different from Krakoa in this regard could bring some much-needed attention to the pitfalls of the resurrection queue.
The X-Men’s Best Hope Is Conflict With The Vampire Nation.
For some time now, the problems on Krakoa have been growing more and more difficult to ignore. Because it appears that mutant society has been thriving, many of Krakoa’s leadership have not addressed the underlying issues that certain mutants face on the island. But a conflict with the Vampire Nation does, ultimately, provide Krakoa with an image of its evil twin that it must defeat in order to become its best self.
By fighting the Vampire Nation, the X-Men will be forced to consider how similar the two groups have become, thereby destroying Krakoa’s idealistic veneer. Even Dracula, the leader of the Vampire Nation, understands a core element of both of their societies in Wolverine #11: “If there’s anything Charles Xavier and I have in common… it’s an understanding that true power is exclusionary.” Krakoa will only be able to save itself once it purges its vampiric qualities.
Ultimately, the coming conflict with the Vampire Nation exposes an unintended consequence of Krakoa: that by establishing a safe haven for mutants, other groups, such as vampires, would be inspired to do the same. Unfortunately, while Krakoa was made with noble intentions, the same cannot be said for the Vampire Nation. This turn of events for the X-Men signifies that Krakoa requires them to take far more accountability for their actions than they initially planned.
Vampires have been a mainstay of Marvel Comics since the early 1970s, but they have never been more salient to the X-Men than now. In facing off against the Vampire Nation, the X-Men will have the chance to stare into the ugliest parts of themselves. Though Krakoa’s isolation has offered mutants safety from some of their oldest enemies, it has also prevented them from reflecting critically on their actions within a real world context. But with a new threat on the horizon, the X-Men must now hold themselves accountable, and rejoin the world they had once separated themselves from.
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