We’re quickly coming up on a year since Jonathan Hickman began his tenure as the architect of the X-Men franchise – and in true Hickman form, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. There’s still entire areas of Krakoa that remain a mystery to us.

Good news folks. We got ourselves an answer for the use of at least one of those locales. In X-Men #7, we were formally introduced to the Arena. When I first read the name of the location last year, it wasn’t hard to imagine what went on there – mutants fighting.

X-Men: What is the Crucible?

***SPOILERS***

While I wasn’t exactly wrong – mutants do get down with the get-down, there – I did ultimately miss its true purpose. I can’t speak for anyone else, but since the onset of all this, I’ve oftentimes wondered what Krakoa was to do about those mutants that did not die, but lost their powers on M-Day.

So far, we’ve seen a number of these instances. Beak, Angel, and most of their children were recently shown in New Mutants as fully powered despite all members of that family, save one, having previously lost their powers. The same can be said about Protege – a de-powered former X-Man in training who’s set to be part of the new X-Factor title.

X-Men: What is the Crucible?

If you guessed it has something to do with the Resurrection Protocols (and not a horrible oversight in continuity), then you’d be 100% right. But what’s that you ask? “Don’t mutants have to die before they can be reborn?” Very astute observation. Enter the latest creepy ceremony of Krakoa; the Crucible.

What is it? Well, it’s definitely not for the faint of heart – I’ll tell you that much. Basically, it’s a public execution dressed-up as a right of passage. You see, de-mutants are not painlessly flash incinerated or given a pill that allows them to drift off into death’s sweet embrace. No. They have to reclaim their mutancy via combat.

X-Men: What is the Crucible?

X-Men #7 showed us the very first Crucible, so not even those in attendance really knew what to expect from it. Hickman’s X-Men book doesn’t appear to be bound by linear time. From what I gather, it jumps around fleshing out parts of the Dawn of X that need explaining. So I wouldn’t put much on the “when.” Not when “how” is much more interesting.

The subject wishing to regain their powers isn’t meant to win. They’re supposed to die. This is probably why Melody Gutherie aka Aero – the de-powered younger sister of X-Men Husk and Cannonball – was pit against the mighty Apocalypse of all people.

X-Men: What is the Crucible?

A lot of what occurred appeared to be purely ceremonial, procedural even. Apocalypse examined Aero. Taunted her verbally and dominated her physically until he delivered the final, inevitable blow. It was brutal. So much so, that her siblings had to be physically restrained, so as to not interfere.

Whether all candidates have to face-off against En Saba Nur or not has yet to be revealed. However, if the executioner has to be from the Quiet Council – the group of people that made this rule – I can’t imagine anyone outside of himself, or perhaps Exodus, and maybe Magneto, being up for the task.

X-Men: What is the Crucible?

Some may see it all as unnecessary and cruel. But I don’t look at it that way. While many may take this as another example of Krakoa’s corruption – I believe it’s the opposite. The Crucible is to ensure that whoever is asking to undergo resurrection doesn’t take it lightly. The gift of life must remain sacred.

Another point brought up during the issue is the wishes of those seeking to control their destiny upon resurrection. Nightcrawler and Cyclops discuss ‘wills.’ As expected there are some that want specific changes made – even going as far as requesting to inhabit a duplicate body of another person. Magneto’s form for instance.

X-Men: What is the Crucible?

The X-Men are fraught with challenges to overcome. Knowing how Hickman writes, chances are, most of these issues will come back to haunt them. What do you think about the Crucible? Too much? Does it make sense? Let us know below!

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