This year's X-Men vote is striking a different tone to previous campaigns.
Since the dawn of Marvel’s Krakoan Age, mutantkind has held an annual vote to induct the latest team of X-Men to be Krakoa’s public-facing representation to the world of superheroes at large. In the real world, fans have played a part by being able to vote for one member of the lineup, and it’s usually a bit of fun—but this year feels different.
This week Marvel kicked off the 2023 X-Men Vote, with six potential candidates—Jubilee, Juggernaut, Dazzler, Cannonball, Prodigy, and Frenzy—facing the public for a chance to become an X-Man (again, for several of them). As usual, each character’s own stans took to social media to support their fave by lambasting the competition, but in a strange twist... so did the candidates.
In the past few days Marvel has released a series of humorous attack-ad-style videos for each of the mutants up for vote, framed as hostile campaigns by their rivals. Jubilee was a vampire! Frenzy was on multiple villain teams! Dazzler’s a disco flop! Juggernaut is a nepo pick! It’s all fun and games, and it’s a fun mirror of the kinds of things the X-community was doing in past X-Men Votes.
But there’s something that feels different this year about it coming directly from Marvel itself. Not in the “large company co-opting fan culture” way, although there is a little of that to it. In previous years, Marvel did release similar videos for the X-Vote, but they weren’t attack ads—they were messages from the hopefuls pitching why they were the right choice for the X-Men, showcasing their strengths and skills, not denigrating their rivals. I will always love Siryn’s campaign message just being her screaming with her powers, for example:
This year’s shift in tone to something more divisive feels reflective of the current moment Krakoa finds itself. The mutant nation’s livelihood feels more threatened than ever lately, and the cracks are beginning to splinter in the surface of utopia. Whether it’s Sinister’s disastrous coup of the Quiet Council, or the fact that whoever wins this vote will be joining an X-Men team debuting in the ominous batch of titles called “Fall of X,” it’s hard not to feel like the sun is setting on the Krakoan dream in some way.
One of the biggest sea changes when House and Powers of X introduced this new normal for mutantkind was that Krakoa welcomed all mutants, regardless of their past, offering amnesty in exchange for solidarity. That’s still here in this year’s vote, with characters like Cain Marko and Joanna Cargill being nominated alongside dyed-in-the-wool X-heroes like Jubilee and Sam Guthrie. But giving the election a bit of bite this year, even mostly still in jest, feels reflective of the path Krakoa itself is heading down—and whoever wins, they and their fellow X-Men are going to have a hell of a time keeping their home in one piece.
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