Excalibur # 20 reminds readers that the X-Men’s idea of mutant justice is much darker and more twisted than traditional capital punishment.
Warning! This article contains spoilers for Excalibur # twenty
The X Men I just reminded readers how horrible the mutant alternative to prison really is. Since they established themselves on the island nation of Krakoa as a safe haven for their species, the heads of state within the Silent Council have made a number of ethically questionable decisions regarding the safety of mutants. One, in particular, is the punishment for mutants deemed unfit for Krakoan society.
First seen in House of X # 6 from the creative team of Jonathan Hickman and Pepe Larraz, the Krakoan version of mutant justice is revealed when the X-Men’s old enemy Sabretooth is found guilty of violating Krakoa’s first law: Murder No Man. His punishment is outlined. as “Stasis… deep within Krakoa. Alive but immobile … conscious but unable to act on it … Forever. “Known as” exile, “Sabretooth remains the only mutant so far that readers have been aware of suffering this fate.
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The concept of exile is mentioned once more in Excalibur # 20 by Tini Howard and Marcus To. Having trapped the evil force possessing mutants known as Malice after she inhabited Betsy Braddock’s body, Professor X suggests that the villain be punished. Despite the national amnesty for all mutants willing to obey the laws of Krakoa, Professor X refers to Malice as a “security threat” and that she is cruel or reckless enough to “endanger the own nation. “
Referring to Krakoan’s exile, Professor X, in his own words, refers to punishment as “a place for our greatest threats … awake and aware, but motionless, without the joie de vivre”, and that it will not “remain in the prisons “of Krakoa. . In response, Kwannon tells Professor X that the exile “sounds exactly like a prison.” In fact, it is difficult to argue that a waking death in isolation for the rest of the time is worse than a traditional prison sentence. Kwannon and Besty, with the help of Emma Frost, are finally able to convince Professor X to give Malice a fresh start in a new body, despite his repeated urge to throw Malice into the dark bowels of Krakoa.
It remains to be seen how exactly Professor X and the rest of the Silent Council view exile as a more humane alternative to prison. The status of the prisoners in exile has not yet been revealed. However, from their depictions and descriptions on the panel, it seems unlikely that the punished mutants are receiving long-term care, nor a path to rehabilitation. Their survival inside a dark well potentially devoid of food and water also raises unanswered questions.
With the formation of Krakoa as a nation-state for mutants, readers have witnessed previously heroic X-Men characters betraying their previously established codes of ethics in favor of the greater good for the mutant race. Very few decisions regarding Krakoa, however, are as morally compromised as the X Men enact exile to punish their former enemies, and they are unlikely to abandon the process any time soon.
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