At this point, I believe it’s fair to say that Jonathan Hickman’s pair of X-Men event books haven’t exactly been easy reading. The man is telling the story of four timelines between two separate weekly books, yet all the timelines still directly affect each other in major and minor ways. Now, I’m not that smartest guy in the world, but as challenging as Powers of X and House of X has been- I’ve got a pretty solid grip on what’s gone down thus far.
Predicting what’s to come has been impossible, but understanding what’s transpired has at least been digestible. What I don’t understand is how many people, including pro comic reviewers, are completely missing the mark on some of the finer and broader points. And I mean, consistently (some more than others). Not just the more nuanced stuff that I’m probably missing too, but simple, obvious, facts and plot points. Stuff I’m more than glad to chat with you about. Here’s what we know, and what we don’t know.
What We Know- The Mutant Nation is a World Power
At some point following the collapse of the Age of X-Man, and the conclusion of the events of Uncanny X-Men, things changed for Marvel’s Merry Mutants. But oddly, and drastically for the better. After seemingly taming the giant living mutant island known as Krakoa, the X-Men, or better said, Professor Xavier, carried out three tasks. First, the development of drugs to greatly improve human quality of life. In exchange for the miracle drugs, the new mutant nation was left in peace. Krakoa was allowed to grow into a small continent, located in the Pacific, not far from Australia. They also leveraged their offerings into gaining political powers such as being able to grant amnesty to their more dubious members.
They created their own language, renamed the mutant race Krakoan and developed a means of instantaneous travel using what they call “Krakoa seeds.” This allowed them to move freely between key points on Earth, as well as the Blue Area of the Moon and Mars. This was an understandable cause for concern among the other world powers, but there isn’t much they can do about it… Right?
What We Don’t Know- The degree of involvement the world’s government has with Orchis
As mutant-kind rises, so does a response from mankind. Every time mutants of Earth have begun to flourish or even displayed signs of progress, the machines have descended from the heavens to snuff it out. It’s a pattern observed personally through the eyes of Moira MacTaggert throughout her many lives. Genocide’s latest form is that of an international group created from bits and pieces of other organizations, both malevolent and benevolent such as S.H.I.E.L.D., A.I.M., S.W.O.R.D., and Hydra called, Orchis.
Being able to maintain an orbit above the Sun and actively mine ore on Mercury to build a horde of Master Molds that can each create just as many Sentinels- it’s hard to imagine such a feat is possible without massive amounts of terrestrial support. As the conflict between Humans and Krakoans escalates, hate would require sustenance to continue thriving 100 years later when only a handful of mutants remain in the solar system.
What We Know- Moira MacTaggert’s Mutant Ability
Are you a fan of the movies Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow, Before I Fall, or Happy Death Day? All of these have the protagonist stuck in some sort of time loop. Time is reset after a certain time of the day, following a specific action, or upon death. In any case, the day is reset with the character retaining a full recollection of what occurred prior. It’s just typically that. A day. Rarely more than a solid 24-hour period, barring a quick, untimely, death.
Moira MacTaggert is a bit different. While death is the trigger that resets her clock, she doesn’t go back a day, week, month, or even a year. As long as she dies after her X-Gene activates, Moira returns to her mother’s womb. So, no, she’s not being reincarnated into a different person. Same mother, same womb, same body, same time. Having to go through this process more than once sort of drove Moira to hate her situation, and understandably sought a way out. That is when she ran into trouble. (Related: Jonathan Hickman and Marvel Comics Retcon Iconic X-Men Character Moira MacTaggert)
After years of dedicated research, she created a cure for mutants. However, she didn’t, or perhaps, couldn’t see past her own situation. Luckily, the Brotherhood of Mutants, led by Destiny, helped her expand her vision. Destiny explained how such a “cure” could be weaponized. Being able to see into possible futures, she also informed Moira that her cycle of life and death wouldn’t go on forever. There was an end, and if she ever decided to repeat her work, they’d visit her and hasten her end’s approach, every time. Destiny also told her she would live 10 or maybe 11 lives in total. Moira is currently on life 10 of that estimate.
What We Don’t Know- What happened in her 6th life?
Hickman hasn’t laid out everything for us, but he and his graphic artist have come through quite a bit to ensure we’re not lost. Between the pages, we’re given dossier-style explanations of what’s happened in one of the specific timelines being covered. In House of X #2, he also included a timeline showing us all of Moira’s lives thus far. Save for one. Eagle-eyed readers will notice that the graph skips from her 5th life to her 7th. Maybe it has something to do with how she was able to “fake her death” in the main timeline using Shi’Air tech. It would lend itself nicely to how mutant-kind was able to broker a deal with the empire later down the line.
That’s probably going to remain a mystery for a little while longer. However, as of Powers of X #3, we have learned that Year 100 is, in fact, her 9th life on that graph. If the number 9 still comes before 10, and 10 is supposed to be the present or main timeline (represented by Year 10), then whatever information about Nimrod she took with her from her 9th life is directly influencing the X-Men now, in the 10th! Did any of that make sense?
What We Know- The Identities and Origins of the Unknown Mutants
From the moment we first got word of Hickman’s event, our screens were engulfed with RB Silva’s beautiful artwork of both familiar X-Men and brand-new characters we’d never seen before. Sort of. I say ‘sort of’ because, while new, they weren’t all that unfamiliar. Take the character, Rasputin, for instance. On first impression, I assumed she was the future result of a Kitty/ Colossus union. I even fantasized that she’d inherited her sword from her Auntie ‘Yana. I was wrong, of course, but not too far off from the truth.
In reality, Rasputin, and the other mutant that looked an awful lot like Nightcrawler (Cardinal), were the 2nd generation of clones created by Mister Sinister called Chimera. According to a section of the dossier, the ruling party of the mutants (presumably Apocalypse, Moira, and his horsemen) commissioned them from the mad scientist. The first generation, for the most part, were carbon copies of their progenitors. The following generations, possessed several powersets, instead of just one. The final batch, considered omega-level mutants proved to be the undoing of Sinister’s breeding pits and the Mars-base itself.
Mister Sinister betrayed his employers. He baked in a flaw which caused his subjects to self-destruct, taking the base and much of their forces with them. After the incident, the mutant race made an exodus for Shi’Ar Space. Some settled on a derelict space station, while others were absorbed into the empire’s fighting forces as part of the agreement for using the station. Only a handful of mutants stayed close to Earth- namely Apocalypse and his Horsemen; Wolverine (War), North (Pestilence), Xorn (Death), and a Krakoa/Cypher hybrid-being (Famine). Wolverine and Xorn were the original two we’ve come to know. North, however, was a 2nd generation Chimera.
What We Don’t Know- Why did Mister Sinister Betray His Creations?
Everything blew up in the faces of Apocalypse and the mutants when Mister Sinister betrayed them and defected to the humans. They ultimately executed him for all his troubles, but the reasons for his actions have yet to be revealed. Since the debut of the character, he’s wanted to do nothing more than to freely experiment, especially using the genes of what he considered to be the best of what mutant-kind had to offer. That often meant the X-Men and their ilk.
But he didn’t just screw over mutant-kind and the X-Men, he, once again, betrayed Apocalypse and expected to survive. What could he possibly have in his back-pocket worth going through all that? There’s also the subject of all the de-aged characters (namely Storm & Havok) sprinkled throughout the PoX and HoX covers. That may have something to do with why Kitty looks like she’s fifteen on the cover of Mauraders #1. (Related: 5 Things That Have to Happen to the X-Men in Marvel’s Dawn of X)
What We Know- The Phalanx will Play a Big Role in the Future
1000 years into the future mankind has abandoned the idea of depending on biological means of bettering themselves, namely evolution. By the Year 100 era, a movement had grown to such heights, it was recognized as a church by even Nimrod and his machine forces. To attract the attention of the Phalanx, they created a world-mind, (a planetoid-sized hive mind made simply to amass knowledge) and allowed them to consume it. This, at least, proved that humanity was on a level worthy of conversing with, opposed to reducing down to recyclable elements for their servants, the Technarch, to process. (Related: Jonathan Hickman Makes Huge Change to Classic X-Men Antagonist in Powers of X)
What We Don’t Know- Why Did Humans Abandon Humanity?
Whether it was due to their experiences following the mutant-human wars or just a gradual change in philosophy, is currently unknown. We do know that during the Year-100 era there was already a movement heralding such a change. When humanity is finally approached by Phalanx’s representatives, humans had long ago begun to integrate machines into their very bodies and worship the synthetic as gods. Becoming one with the Phalanx was looked at as a kind of ascension to a higher state of consciousness.
As much as we’ve been spun around this Summer, Hickman has shown us how everything he’s written is all connected as disjointed as it appeared in the beginning. PoX#3 showed us that the Year 100 era was telling the story of the end of Moira’s 9th life. If I’m interpreting this correctly (emphasis on the ‘if’), then Year 1 is what leads to Year 10, obviously, but both of those are proceeded by the events of Year 100. It’s challenging sure, but this is some of the best writing the X-Men have seen in decades. Hang in there, True Believers. The rides not finished yet. Something tells me, whatever happened in Moira’s 6th life is going to be crucial to how this all turns out. Meet back here in a couple of weeks for part two of our discussion. I’m sure we’ll be suitably confused again by then.