When a comic book character is so weird that it makes the Necronomicon seem fairly straight-forward, you know you have some explaining to do. A sentient mutant island? That ain’t straight-forward. So, we have some explaining to do.
Big picture: Krakoa is an island. That’s sentient. And a mutant. But the full story of the Marvel Comics character is wilder than even that, as is true with most characters that have multiple decades worth of stories from multiple creators.
Krakoa was created by Len Wein and Dave Cockram for Giant-Size X-Men #1 in 1975, the seminal comic book issue that passed the X-Men torch from the original 5–Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Iceman, and Angel–to a new team of X-Men that consisted of Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, and others.
The story goes that Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos were witnesses to an atomic bomb drop in 1945 that irradiated and mutated the tiny island’s ecosystem, giving it intelligence. Professor Charles Xavier detected Krakoa in the middle of the pacific using Cerebro and dispatched the O5 X-Men to investigate.
But something strange happened on Krakoa and Cyclops awoke inside the Blackbird without his powers; auto-pilot taking him back to the X-Men mansion New York. With the majority of the original X-Men team unaccounted for, Xavier called upon the New Mutants for help.
With Cyclops leading the rescue, the X-Men face resistance like a living tree or living avalanche, hinting at Krakoa’s sentience and self preservative nature. Overcoming their obstacles, they arrive at an old temple in the middle of the island where they find the rest of the original X-Men team bound by strange roots.
They realize that the island of Krakoa is alive, and that it wants to capture them all in order to drain them of their mutant energy and feed itself. Hence, Krakoa was established as a sentient island that was an enemy of the X-Men.
Krakoa: The Retcon
But Marvel loves to retell origin stories and tell new stories that make us think that things didn’t go as we originally understood them; few more controversial than X-Men: Deadly Genesis, which retold the story of Giant Size X-Men #1.
But honestly? X-Men: Deadly Genesis was stupid and the less said of it the better. So catch up on that if you want to, while we bullet point the middle years of Krakoa:
- Krakoa was lifted into orbit by Polaris, the mistress of magnetism, who is pretty great as a character.
- But before it was launched into outer space, Krakoa released spores to plague the X-Men in the pages of the excellent old school Excalibur title.
- Krakoa then shows up in the pages of Quasar, where it is learned that Krakoa was apparently found and captured for study by the cosmic entity known as The Stranger, adding to the mythos of a sentient island turned space lab.
- The events of Schism divided Cyclops and Wolverine, who decided to re-establish Xavier’s school. Kid Omega reached Krakoa’s gentle nature and convinced it to join the School as one of its students, Krakoa literally becoming the ground beneath the other students’ feet and the school’s defense system.
Krakoa: Character Growth
I want to be careful here as Krakoa’s current storylines will produce massive spoilers for modern take on the X-Men, House of X and Powers of X (HOXPOX).
HOXPOX released the summer of 2019 and has been an incredibly imaginative take on the X-Men, featuring Krakoa as a central character in the mythos. Rather than spoil the incredible storyline for you, I’ll just share broad developments in the hopes you’ll grab HOXPOX and devour it.
First, using the mutant abilities of Cypher, the X-Men can now communicate with Krakoa and understand more of its hopes, desires, and…relationships!?!?
Second, HOXPOX introduced an ability of Krakoa’s, which is that it can create flowers that have special properties, such as curing mental illness or extending human life. Needless to say, this has opened up a world of possibilities for future storylines featuring Krakoa.
Speaking of opening things up, Krakoa can create portals…but I’ve said too much! There are wonderful mysteries that are being explored around Krakoa right now in the pages of X-Men comics. Seriously, get the hardcover.
But for now, that’s all the detail you get. Knowing that there is a sentient mutant island at the center of the X-men stories should be mystery enough to entice you to learn more about this funky Marvel comic book character.