The X-Men comics were in a rut for much of the 2010s. There was a lot of rehashing of the same old stories, which left the line a little directionless. (Or perhaps intentionally non-ambitious due to mandate from higher powers – if you believe the conspiracy theories.) However, this all changed in 2019 when celebrated writer Jonathan Hickman created a blueprint for the X-Men comics that shook up the franchise’s foundations in ways that hadn’t been seen before. This was known as the Krakoa Era.
The Krakoa Era has been well-received by fans, who applaud it for its ambition and fresh ideas. It reenergized existing readers’ interest in X-Men, brought back lapsed readers into the fold, and gave new readers an entry point.
This era of X-Men comics is now winding down, with the final comics to be published in mid-2024, leaving readers with hundreds of comics to enjoy. That volume can be intimidating for those coming to the Krakoa Era late.
This guide will help you start reading the Krakoa Era of X-Men comics. It details where to start, the different phases, and how to approach reading it. Soon, you’ll be able to jump in and enjoy the bold ideas that it offers.
What is the Krakoa Era? How does it differ from other X-Men comics?
Blueprinted by writer Jonathan Hickman, under the guidance of Senior Editor Jordan D. White, and expanded upon by several writers, this period of X-Men comics is a radical shift from anything that has come before.
Without giving too much away, Charles Xavier created a mutant utopia on the sentient island of Krakoa – hence why this period is referred to as the “Krakoa Era” – and declared themselves a sovereign nation. Some may argue that the idea of a mutant nation has been done before. Where the radical changes are reflected in how it’s presented, what it represents, and the new concepts introduced. These include mutant resurrection, mutant governance, the reveal that a long-term character is a mutant with game-changing powers, villain redemption, chimera mutants, post-humanism, Orchis, and godly hiveminds, to name a few.
Establishing these ideas has opened the door to new storytelling opportunities. Some of these ideas are brand new concepts to the franchise, exploring specific ideas and corners of Krakoa – such as Way of X exploring mutant religion and culture. Others recontextualise classic series through this new lens. For instance, X-Force has become the C.I.A. of Krakoa.
Like other eras of X-Men comics, the mutant metaphor continues to be explored. However, it’s done through the context of the nation of Krakoa, which is loved by some and feared by others for what it represents.
Starting point for the Krakoa Era of X-Men comics
The Krakoa Era begins with two complementary miniseries – House of X and Powers of X. The two six-part limited series create the foundation for the era, introducing many exciting new concepts.
These ideas are introduced by exploring the past, present, and far-flung future. Along the way, they reveal surprising details about characters, introduce new threats, and plant seeds to stories that will be explored for years to come.
House of X and Powers of X intertwine, acting as two sides of the same coin. As a result, there’s a recommended reading order for these that’s advisable to read it in. This is because the sequences of events create a larger context.
It’s worth noting that Marvel has released a Chronological Edition of House of X and Powers X on Marvel Unlimited. I wouldn’t recommend reading this edition if you haven’t read House of X and Powers of X before. As mentioned in the introduction by editor Jordan D. White, it’s an experiment (inspired by a Blu-Ray extra for the film Memento) that should be treated as more of a curiosity for existing readers than a clean entry point for the Krakoa Era. I agree with this, as changing sequences gives less context to readers, making it only worth checking out on a reread.
Do I need to do any background reading?
The Krakoa Era is a fantastic place to start reading X-Men comics. It’s a radical shift in direction, which breaks away from recent events of the franchise to create a clean start. There’s a concerted effort to look forward with these comics, focusing on new ideas and reinvention instead of looking backwards with nostalgia. That’s not to say that there’s no history at all. It just happens to be used in a manner that new readers are not required to have encyclopedic knowledge to understand.
You’ll be good as long as you start with House of X and Powers of X.
What to read next
House of X and Powers of X establish the Krakoa Era of X-Men comics. But what do you read next?
After the conclusion of the two miniseries, the X-Men line expanded into a range of ongoing and limited series. Each of these takes a concept established in the House of X and Powers of X and explores it in several ways. Over time, these ideas evolve and expand in different directions to tell some very cool stories. This phase in the Krakoa Era is referred to as Dawn of X.
You can find out more about Dawn of X phase and the phases that follow it in the next section.
How is the Krakoa Era structured?
The Krakoa Era is structured in phases. While some of it’ i’s marketing, giving a banner for the comics to live under, there are some shifts in storytelling and status quos as well that give that phase its own feel and direction. These are:
- House of X/Powers of X
- Dawn of X
- Reign of X
- Destiny of X
- Fall of X
- Fall of the House of X/Rise of the Powers of X
Learn more about each of these below.
House of X and Powers of X
As mentioned already, House of X and Powers of X (pounced “Powers of Ten“) are duel miniseries that intertwine to establish the Krakoa and many of its concepts.
Both miniseries are written by Jonathan Hickman, with art by Pepe Larraz (House of X) and R.B Silva (Powers of X).
You can find out more about how to read these comics in this reading order.
Dawn of X
Dawn of X is the next phase of the X-Men comics in the Krakoa Era. This is where the franchise expands to explore the different facets of Krakoa and concepts introduced in House of X and Powers of X. The establishing concepts are fleshed out in the various ongoing and limited series and begin to progress them further. Readers learn more about mutant culture, the potential limits of mutant resurrection, the different spaces of the living island of Krakoa, and much more.
Some of the comics that were published in this era include X-Men (2019 series), New Mutants (2019 series), Excalibur (2019 series), X-Force (2019 series), Fallen Angels (2019 series), and Wolverine (2020 series), among others.
A small handful of comics linked to the larger Marvel Universe, exploring other heroes and figures’ reactions to the new mutant status quo. These include the X-Men/Fantastic Four miniseries and a tie-in to the Empyre event.
The Dawn of X era concludes with the X of Swords crossover.
Check out How To Love Comics’ Dawn of X guide to find out more about this phase.
Reign of X
Picking up after the X of Swords crossover event, Reign of X is the next phase in the Krakoa Era. Many of the ongoing series that began in Dawn of X continue through this period. Marvel also introduced several new series this time, including a relaunched X-Men series (with Gerry Duggan taking over writing duties from Jonathan Hickman) and limited series like Way of X, X-Corp, Children of the Atom, and The Trial of Magneto.
One of the most notable stories of this phase is the Hellfire Gala. This mutant-hosted gala ball/state dinner was not just an excuse for high-fashion and celebrity guests. It also included a massive revelation, which opens the door to new comic series and storytelling possibilities.
The Reign of X phase ends with the conclusion of the Inferno miniseries (which was also Jonathan Hickman’s final contribution to the Krakoa Era) and the X Lives of Wolverine/X Deaths of Wolverine event. It also concludes a handful of ongoing series. Some of these will be relaunched with new creative teams and others receive spiritual sequels.
Check out How To Love Comics’ Reign of X guide to find out more about this phase.
Destiny of X
Destiny of X is the first post-Hickman phase of the Krakoa Era. During this period, X-Men (2021 series) and Immortal X-Men (a comic about the ruling council of Krakoa) became the two core series of the line.
Some new series launched during this period include Marauders (2022 series), X-Men Red (2022 series), Knights of X, X-Terminators, Bishop: War College, and Sabretooth & the Exiles.
There are several comic book events published during the Destiny of X period. These include A.X.E: Judgment Day, an event that crosses over with Avengers and The Eternals; Sins of Sinister, a dystopian future that ties into the events happening in Immortal X-Men; and a tie-in with the Spider-Man event Dark Web.
Check out How To Love Comics’ Destiny of X guide to find out more about this phase.
Fall of X
The Krakoa Era reaches its darkest hour in the Fall of X phase. Orchis, a villainous science organisation, has been plotting against the mutants of Krakoa since House of X/Powers of X. They finally execute their attack at the 2023 edition of the Hellfire Gala, which results in the bad things for Krakoa and the mutants being separated throughout the world and hunted.
Fall of X introduces a range of different short-lived comics. Some of these explore the aftermath of the Hellfire Gala, while others wind up dangling plot threads.
Check out How To Love Comics’ Fall of X guide to find out more about this phase.
Fall of the House of X and Rise of the Powers of X
Building on from the events of Fall of X, Fall of the House of X, Rise of the Powers of X, and their tie-ins explore the X-Men’s final confrontation with Orchis. This is also the final phase of the Krakoa Era, bringing it to a close in mid-2024.
Check out the Fall of the House of X and Rise of the Powers of X reading order to discover how to read these comics and their tie-ins.
Do I have to read everything?
There are a lot of comics in the Krakoa Era – 550 or so in five years. Some hardcore X-Men fans will tell you that you need to read everything. That’s not true. Not every comic is essential reading.
For much of the Krakoa Era, the X-Men line took a siloed approach to many comics. Each title would explore a specific concept of Krakoa and the mutant status quo. This doesn’t mean there aren’t connections to other comics in the line. They’re mostly done in a way that doesn’t specifically crossover. For instance, an event of one title might be mentioned in another.
There are also a handful of titles that get sequels. For example, Excalibur was followed up with Knights of X, followed by Betsy Braddock: Captain Britain. In this case, reading the previous series may give you more context. However, you should be able to follow it as each series starts a new story and direction for the cast of characters.
However, there are a few comics that I would consider essential when reading the Krakoa Era. These include:
- House of X #1-6 and Powers of X #1-6: For the reasons explained earlier in this guide.
- X of Swords event: This is a crossover that brings together most of X-Men line at the time. To get the full story you will need to read every chapter. Find out how to read it in this reading order.
- The first Hellfire Gala: This is told over a few titles and a special that’s appropriately titled “Planet-Sized X-Men“. This sets up the Reign of X phase of the Krakoa Era and many of its early stories. See how to read the first Hellfire Gala in the Dawn of X guide.
- Inferno: This four-part miniseries concludes a bunch of stories that Jonathan Hickman established in House of X, Powers of X, and the X-Men (2019 series). The conclusion helps to set up the Destiny of X phase.
- Second Hellfire Gala: Less influential than the previous one. This does help set up some new stories – especially X-Men (2021 series).
- Third Hellfire Gala: This special sets up the Fall of X phase.
- Fall of the House of X and Rise of the Powers of X: These are the final stories of the Krakoa Era.
Check out the guides for the individual phases (links in the “How is the Krakoa Era structured?” section) to see how each of these stories fit in.
Beyond that, it’s totally up to you as to which comics you read in the Krakoa Era. I suggest reading the ones that appeal to you the most based on story concepts, creators involved, or characters featured.
Where to find Krakoa Era comics?
The comics of the Krakoa Era were first released in single issue format in print and digital. They have since been released in trade paperback and select hardcover editions. These can be found at all good comic book shops, online retailers, eBay, Amazon/Kindle, and Marvel Unlimited.
Your local library may also have some of the collections available for loan.
You can find out more about where to find and buy comics in this extensive guide.