The X-Factor: A Perspective on Mutant Genetics
Written by magicalgirlwandamaximoff, introduction by magnetrx. Inspired by this post on wizard genetics.
First, a note on the canon explanation for X-Gene localization and transmission. In Astonishing X-Men Vol 3 #25, Hank McCoy says that the X-Gene is located on the 23rd, or sex, chromosome. Ororo Munroe posits in Black Panther Vol 4 #17 that the mother transmits the X-Gene. However, since male mutants have fathered mutant children with baseline human mothers, we can assume that Munroe instead meant that the X-Gene is an X-linked gene. This statement is corroborated by the fact that X-23 retained Wolverine’s powers, as she received one X chromosome from him and another from human Sarah Kinney.
However, Wolverine also passed the X-Gene on to his son Daken. The father can only pass the Y chromosome on to the son, so components of the “X-Gene” must exist on both the X and Y chromosomes. That, or the original stipulation that the X-Factor is a sex-linked trait is false. For the purposes of this post, we shall mostly ignore the rather self-contradictory explanations set forth in Earth-616.
Just thinking about wizard genetics got me thinking, if wizards got their powers from possibly multiple trinucleotides repeating, then it’s more than one mutation in, say, a Marvel-style mutant. This would explain the different powers, like say teleportation vs pyrokinesis. This also means that there is no “X-Gene” per se, but instead a series of vastly different mutations all across a mutant’s genome.
This also explains why some mutants with mutant relatives have similar physical appearances and powers, like Scott and Alex Summers’ concussive blasts, or Polaris and Magneto’s magnetism. This probably also bleeds into “normal” genetic stuff like appearance with mutants like Kurt Wagner, who inherited, his mother, Mystique’s blueness and, his father, Azazel’s powers and tail. Having things like mutation be spontaneous explains how they appeared so suddenly.
There probably were mutants in the olden days, since the dawn of man, but they were just written off as supernatural beings (including mutants with Wanda-styled hex powers as wixen (gender neutral term for wizard or witch)) or freaks. The X-Mutations (not Gene because they probably occur on multiple genes, with one possibly dictating the activation of the other mutations, which it is possible to carry without powers.) probably only became more prevalent as the human population increases, giving a greater chance of babies being born with X-Mutations. Coupled with other factors, like medical advancements leading to more children surviving to puberty (when the mutation activates) and the increased likelihood of a mother being exposed to mutagens while pregnant ( radiation, pollution, prescribed medication i.e. thalidomide), a mutant child is more likely to be born. This led to the twentieth century mutant “baby boom”.