WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Uncanny X-Men #3, by Matthew Rosenburg, Kelly Thompson, Ed Brisson, Yildray Cinar, Rachelle Rosenburg and VC’s Joe Caramagna, out now.
When the home, school and headquarters of the X-Men gets destroyed, you know things have gotten serious. That seems to be the trope with Marvel’s premier team of mutant heroes anyway, as over the years the X-Mansion in its various forms has been blown up, trampled, punched apart and obliterated so many times that you wonder how much they’ve spent on building contractors since the 1960s. Much like when the Watcher used to show up in a storyline (Rest in Cosmic Peace, Uatu), showing the X-Mansion getting decimated is a surefire way to raise the stakes.
The latest example just happened in Uncanny X-Men #3, which begins with a violent protest on the front lawn of the mansion, and ends with the arrival of the Horsemen of Peace. These strange, new figures don’t exactly live up to their name, however, seeing as the first thing they do is blow up the mansion in their effort to “end the X-Men.” That brings to mind perhaps the second reason the mutant school gets destroyed so often: as a symbol of change. This is a relaunch of Uncanny X-Men, so the mansion getting destroyed is a good way to symbolize a shift in the status quo for the teams, and allows new writers to shake things up in a way that feels organic to the story. As you look back through the multiple times this has happened over the years, you find that the same can be said for a lot of those occasions too.
The first time the X-Men lost their home was in 1982, in Uncanny X-Men #154. The building had sustained damage before that, of course, but its was the first time the mansion was completely destroyed. Despite that, the event was perhaps not given the gravitas it deserved, but to writer Chris Claremont’s credit, it did take nearly 10 issues to begin rebuilding, which was a long time in 1982. In the issue, Corsair -- space-pirate father of Cyclops and Havok -- returns to Earth pursued by Sidrian hunters, his ship crashes into the mansion’s pond, explodes, and in the ensuing battle, the entire school is leveled.
The building is finally repaired in Issue 164, and thankfully would stand for another 79 issues, until 1989’s Uncanny X-Men #243, when the “Inferno” event was sweeping through the Marvel Universe. The mansion wasn’t being used by the X-Men at the time, but Mr. Sinister had set a trap for the team (and X-Factor) at their former school. As they all argued, the school around them suddenly exploded, and Mr. Sinister was free to pick at the wreckage. Despite the trope being potentially overused at that point, the moment was a legitimate surprise and was used to heighten the threat of Sinister and the importance of "Inferno."