WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Powers of X #6, by Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva, Pepe Larraz, Marte Gracia, David Curiel, VC's Clayton Cowles and Tom Muller, on sale now.
In 2003, three words redefined the moral alignment of the X-Men's world: "Magneto was right." That phrase first appeared on a t-shirt in Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's New X-Men #135, shortly after the complete destruction of the nation Genosha killed millions of mutants.
While Magneto had always stood as a contrast to Charles Xavier's dream of a peaceful co-existence between humans and mutants, Magneto's beliefs about mutant superiority, especially as a counter to mutant persecution, seemed especially salient in this era.
Although that time passed, that often-quoted phrase stuck around and found its way onto many more t-shirts in the Marvel Universe and the real world.
Over the past few months, House of X and Powers of X have fundamentally reshaped the X-Men by creating a new mutant homeland on Krakoa and developing a process to revive dead mutants. Even though those series leave the X-Men in a very different place than they were in the early 2000s, they both seem to embrace the idea that, for the most part, Magneto was right.
In Powers of X #6, Xavier effectively watches his dream die multiple times over. Before he formed the X-Men, Xavier saw lifetimes of memories from Moira MacTaggert, a mutant with reincarnation powers that allowed her to live through multiple timelines. Regardless of what she did, Moira always saw mutantkind wiped out by humans, their machines or some combination of the two.
While the idea of a dark future isn't alien to the X-Men, the complete hopelessness of the situation drove Moira to break down Xavier's idealism and quietly pushed him to take a more Magneto-esque stance. Subsequently, Moira, Xavier, Magneto and their partners quietly begin making preparations for Krakoa throughout X-Men history.
Powers of X spent most of its pages exploring this secret history while offering glimpses of Moira's previous lives. However, the seeds planted in Powers of X blossomed in House of X, which follows the ongoing establishment of the nation of Krakoa.
Even though Xavier is the builder and ostensible leader of the new mutant nation, it seems largely designed according to Magneto's ideals.
From his space stations on Asteroid M and Avalon to the island Genosha, Magneto has frequently tried to isolate mutants from the wider world, and he inspired Cyclops to do the same on the island, Utopia. The nation of Krakoa is just as isolated as any of those places, since its two islands are in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by water on all sides. Culturally, Krakoa is even more isolationist, with any non-mutants having to get explicit permission before stepping through one of its portals onto its soil.
To keep the rest of the world at bay, Xavier offered the rest of the world three Krakoan pharmaceutical drugs that could extend human lives or treat various ailments in exchange for diplomatic recognition. As Xavier says, he would've freely distributed the pills in another life. However, he's using them as the backbone of his Krakoa's aggressive diplomacy and a way to manage the threat that humanity poses here.
While that's driven by the same kind of thinking that usually drives Magneto, it's the kind of thing that the Master of Magnetism could never do himself. Magneto's efforts have always been constrained by his rage and his relatively limited vision. Magneto's hatred for what humanity could become has always driven him away from the kinds of pragmatic steps that could've made his efforts to create a mutant homeland more successful.
Although Magneto's rage can't guide Krakoa alone, it still has a place in the mutant nation. If Xavier's diplomatic overtures are a peace offering to the rest of the world, the immense raw power of Magneto and Krakoa's other mutants is the ultimate threat of retaliation. With more fallen mutants being revived every day, Krakoa's forces are only getting stronger and becoming a bigger deterrent.
Even though Magneto has been a hero for a good portion of his existence, he's still one of the most infamous villains in the Marvel Universe. Even if he had some valid points, his past always made him an imperfect representative for mutantkind as a whole.
However, Powers of X and House of X gave some major parts of Magneto's ideology another chance to bloom as they've been put into practice in Krakoa. While the future of the X-Men and the rest of Marvel's mutants is still very much unwritten, it looks like Magneto was right -- about a few things at least.