WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Secret X-Men #1 on sale by Marvel Comics now.
In Secret X-Men #1 (by Tini Howard, Francesco Mobili, Jesus Aburtov, VC’s Clayton Cowles, and Tom Muller), the X-Men help their long-time allies, Empress Xandra and the Shi’ar. Using a motley collection of X-Men, this appears to be the start of their own Secret Wars. The implications of becoming involved further with the Shi’ar, who consider the X-Men the conquerors of Earth and Mars, might provide them an advantage when the Avengers vs. X-Men vs. Eternals battle begins.
Nearly absent from the Krakoan Age of the X-Men have been their long-time allies, the Shi’ar (sans a brief visit at the Hellfire Gala). That absence has been entirely intentional and Secret X-Men reveals that the Shi’ar have been working with the X-Men behind the scenes. Representing different factions within the galactic empire, the runners-up to the X-Men election from the Hellfire Gala, led by Sunspot, are contacted by both Gladiator and Deathbird with the same mission: find the missing empress, Xandra. Deathbird insists that the mission must be carried out “under utmost secrecy.”
The team assembled is a collection of powerful, disparate X-Men: Sunspot, Cannonball, Banshee, Forge, Boom-Boom, Armor, Tempo, Marrow, and Strong Guy. The issue is full of spectacle with the team having a new line of costumes suited for the Secret X-Men team. While Sunspot boasts he chose the team, Xandra acknowledges that his selection was influenced by her. Feeling confident in their maturity and ability to focus on the end goal over their individual egos, she hand-picked each individual for her Secret X-Men.
Soon, we discover the entire operation has been led by Xandra herself, who is exhibiting more and more of her father’s mutant gifts. Xandra is the daughter of Professor Xavier and Lilandra (as revealed in Mr and Mrs X by Kelly Thompson, Oscar Bazaldua, and Javier Pina). Both of her parents are powerful telepaths, an ability she has acquired.
Everything about this new team is meant to be done in secret. Xandra calls them her X-Men, assembling them under her father’s nose without his knowledge. Even as they’re returned to Krakoa, their memories are erased so they aren’t aware of the totality of their adventures—in particular, the disappearance of Deathbird. Xandra and her advisors determine that even the Secret X-Men can’t have access to the Shi’ar secrets. It’s nearly guaranteed that there will be more secrets to be revealed in upcoming issues.
Tying the bonds between the Shi’ar and mutantkind has a potentially significant impact on upcoming events. With the looming war between the Avengers, the X-Men, and the Eternals on the horizon, the X-Men having the support of the entire Shi’ar empire gives them a secret advantage. What remains to be seen is whether Xandra will give up her advantage and reveal her connection with the Secret X-Men.
Xandra’s final words of the issue are: “My X-Men must be my secret.” This is a team that she is keeping for her own purposes. As well, Xandra’s efforts in developing her team, without the knowledge of anyone on the Quiet Council, give her eyes and ears deep within Krakoa. As well, it gives her far more influence on the overall direction of the fledgling nation. Xandra demonstrates the wisdom of the empress and reminds them that their “cautious secrets has bred distrust among important alliances.” Secret teams and secret wars often have huge consequences within the Marvel universe, and this is likely to be no different.
Xandra having full control of her own team of X-Men could also embroil the X-Men in intergalactic conflicts outside of their knowledge. Already positioned as the official representatives of the Sol system after their terraforming of Mars, the mutant nation now runs the risks of their own agents operating in the vastness of space in ways that could create unforeseen challenges for the nation as they seek to become a true power in the galaxy.
Xandra’s power and her team are certain to cause difficulties in nearly every area they come into play—and it's likely she could even pose a challenge to her own father and his long-term plans. Secrets within secrets is a game Xavier plays and it may be one his daughter has learned to play better than he has.