Marvel Comics’ weekly House of X/Powers of X series just keeps moving, plowing through X-Men continuity as it goes. But in this week’s Powers of X #3 (pronounced “Powers of Ten”), the series turns inward, making its first big reveal about its own storyline.
HoX/PoX, as it has come to be colloquially known, features four distinct X-Men time periods: Professor X’s early days of radicalization, the modern time period of the Marvel Universe, the human-mutant-machine war 100 years in the future, and a time one thousand years in the future in which a mutant-machine alliance is preparing to offer Earth up to the intergalactic Phalanx.
Powers of X #3 is all about that third period, 100 years in the future, that seems to be a dark potential future for mutantkind, just like legendary X-Men stories like Days of Future Past and Age of Apocalypse.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for Powers of X #3.]
This week’s issue confirms exactly where the human-mutant-machine war falls in the X-Men timeline — and it’s not in the potential future, but, in a strange way, the past.
Just a few weeks ago, House of X #2 made the biggest change to continuity yet, when it revealed that long-time X-Men ally Moira MacTaggert has secretly been a mutant all along. Her mutation? A twisted form of reincarnation.
Every time Moira dies, she gets to live her life over again with all of her old memories, and make any new choices about her path that she wants. House of X #2 even laid out a fantastic chart of Moira’s lives, which raised as many questions as it answered.
For example, the chart leaves the end of Moira’s penultimate life in the dark — that is, the life in which she attempted to ensure the future of mutantkind by allying herself with the mutant supremacist villain Apocalypse. It indicates that she lived for quite a while after the beginning of the Apocalypse War, but not what she did during it.
Powers of X #3 reveals that the human-mutant-machine war events it keeps showing us aren’t a potential X-Men future. They’re Moira’s ninth life, the one, according to House of X #2, that motivated Moira to “try something truly revolutionary” in her next life, to “break all the rules.”
What did Moira learn in the human-mutant-machine war to prompt that change? The secret of the human-mutant-machine war’s greatest villain. Powers of X #3 shows a brave band of future mutant operatives — including the original Wolverine and Xorn, who are still alive one thousand years in the future — lead by Apocalypse, the last-standing mutant leader of this timeline, as they mount a suicide mission to try to make a positive difference in their timeline.
Their goal is to break into the archives of the Machine Supremacy to recover all the information there is on the creation of Nimrod, the sadistic, upgraded Sentinel who rules Earth. If they can find out when Nimrod was brought online, and show that information to Moira — who Apocalypse placed in “stasis” for the past 16 years just for this — she can die. And then, in her next life, she can prevent it from ever happening.
This ties the human-mutant-machine war era directly into the current Marvel continuity. Scenes from that timeline have all tended to connect to one thing (other than the creation of an independent Mutant state), attempts by the X-Men and their allies to uncover the location of the Forge, a secret Sentinel-factory in close orbit around Earth’s sun.
Sentinels, the giant mutant-hunting robots, are built by an even bigger Sentinel-looking robot called a Master Mold. In last week’s Powers of X #2, the X-Men discovered the existence of the Mother Mold, an even BIGGER giant Sentinel that makes Master Molds, on the Forge. This is a problem, and not just because it heralds an oncoming wave of potentially upgraded and more powerful Sentinels.
Professor Xavier believes that they are approaching the point in their timeline when Nimrod will be created and achieve sentience — and that it will happen on the Forge. As he and Magneto explain to Cyclops, the Mother Mold must be destroyed.
We can expect to see that “frontal assault of an orbital station tens of millions of miles away, built by a secret organization whose sole purpose is the extinction of mutants” play out in the next two issues of House of X.
In the meantime, look at this way cool timeline: