Marvel’s House of X/Powers of X series is all about blowing up the fundamentals. And that’s still true for Powers of X #6.
It seems like every time we think we know the rules of Hox/Pox, it’s revealed that we don’t. A Days of Future Past-like Man-Machine-Mutant war with Apocalypse and Nimrod turned out to not be the future at all, but one of Moira’s past lives. All the X-Men dying on a space station? Turns out that was the plan all along.
So it should come as no surprise that the final issue of the miniseries would have some big reveals in it.
[Ed. note: This post contains big spoilers for Powers of X #6.]
Powers of X #6 is all about Moira MacTaggert, now known to be a reincarnating mutant. She’s been conspicuously absent from the series for several issues now, and PoX #6 doesn’t merely bring her back, but also delves into one of the series’ most glaring mysteries: Moira’s missing sixth life.
The issue confirms that X³ — the roughly 1,000-years-in-the-future time period in which Earth is run by blue-skinned humanoids who are trying to merge with the Phalanx — is not a potential future. Just like X², all of those scenes actually take place in Moira’s previous incarnations. X³ is her missing sixth life. And just like X², she was there to discover a revelation about mutant potential, die, and use that revelation in a future life.
And that revelation appears to invalidate one of the foundational assumptions of the mutant cause.
The X-Men are not the final stage of human evolution
In Powers of X #6, the Librarian visits the mutant zoo and reveals to Moira and Wolverine (who is still alive, because of course he is), that what mutants have been fighting all this time is not humanity, but the birth of a new offshoot of it. As they are Homo superior, the Librarian is a member of Homo novissima, a branch of humanity that has seized its own genetic destiny with the aid of technology.
As the Librarian puts it: “Mutants are an evolutionary response to an environment. You are naturally occurring [...] But what happens when humanity stops being beholden to its environment? When man controls the building blocks of biology and technology, evolution is no match for genetic engineering.
“What good was one mutant adapting to its environment,” the blue-skinned figure concludes, “when we could make ten super men?”
That’s the achievement of Moira’s sixth life: Figuring out who the true enemy is.
We know what Moira does with the knowledge
The progression of Moira’s lives was laid out in House of X #2, the third issue of the miniseries. In her first, she was, naturally, unaware the she was a mutant. In her second life and her first reincarnation, she died in a plane crash shortly after realizing that she was a mutant.
She dedicated her third life to finding a cure for mutation, but was captured by the precognitive mutant Destiny, who convinced her to try to help her fellow mutants instead of eradicating them (by threatening to kill her in any of her future lives should she betray them again.)
In her fourth life, Moira allied herself with Charles Xavier, was at his side for seemingly most of the familiar X-Men history that we know, until the mutant race was eradicated by Sentinels. In her fifth life, she radicalized Charles into building an army instead of a school, and saw mutants eradicated by Sentinels.
In her sixth, we now know, Moira lived for over 1,000 years, and discovered that neither man nor machine is the enemy, but man’s ability to control its own evolution. We can see the fallout from that in the rest of Moira’s lives.
In her seventh, she attempted to eradicate the inventors of Sentinels before they could create the killer robots, only to discover that hostile AI is an inevitable byproduct of societal evolution. “Like mutants,” says the narration in House of X #2, “the machines simply emerge at a certain point during societal and environmental evolution.”
In her eighth life, she allied with Magneto, only to see him defeated by the combined forces of the Avengers and the X-Men. In her ninth life she allied with Apocalypse, whose doctrine for mutants is famously oriented around pushing them to evolve more efficiently by facing greater and greater challenges. It seems significant that Moira’s ninth life was characterized by extreme mutant genetic experimentation — but was also her second longest-lived incarnation, one where she did not allow herself to die until she found the secret of Nimrod’s activation.
Her tenth life is X-Men continuity past, present, and future (Marvel editorial has confirmed that Hickman’s storyline does not take place in a parallel universe, a dream, or an alternate timeline), the one where Professor X and Magneto are now building a mutant state on the sentient island of Krakoa.
We’ve already seen the X-Men take radical action against the machine threat by destroying the Mother Mold near the sun. The question is, how does the rest of this lead to mutants winning out over the oncoming birth of Homo novissima?
It’s clear, from Powers of X #6, that there are things about their plan that Moira, Professor X, and Magneto wish to hide from mutantkind at large. Moira is emphatic that precognitive mutants, like Destiny, cannot be allowed on Krakoa. Mutants cannot learn the truth: That despite all her striving, over thousands of years, in six different lifetimes, they have always lost.
Professor X and Magneto, however, maintain that this time will be different, which is certainly an accurate description of where House of X and Powers of X have situated the X-Men setting. How different will the line be, as it shifts out of a wide-ranging, tightly orchestrated miniseries and into separate books? We’ll get our first taste with next week’s X-Men #1.