The ending of Inferno — Jonathan Hickman’s farewell to direct writing involvement in the Krakoan age of X-Books — upended the secret status quo of the way the sovereign nation of Krakoa was governed by, well… making it not so secret. You might have thought the books might take a little break from all the headspinning as we wait for Destiny of X to reveal itself, but instead we’re diving right into the bloody fallout of Krakoa’s latest sea change.
Much like House and Powers of X before it, the bi-weekly intertwined release of X Deaths and X Lives of Wolverine has let the X-line’s latest “event” — in so much of it being more of a continuation of an event, really — dive right into what happened after Inferno promptly blew apart the private little world Professor X and Magneto had been building since the very beginning of their plans for Krakoa. Well, their plans and those of their secretive accomplice, Moira MacTaggert, aka the many-lived rebirthing mutant Moira X, aka post-Inferno as “just plain old human Moira MacTaggert but missing an arm and being hunted by a very, very vengeful bisexual at the behest of her precognitive wife, hoping to kill her for the 11th and final time.”
Like we said, it’s a lot. Mystique and Destiny’s quest for revenge against Krakoa’s secret architect, as well as the revelation to Emma Frost and the rest of the Quiet Council that Charles and Erik had been keeping Moira — and her inevitable belief that Mutantkind is doomed to fail in its future conflict with machinekind and post-humanity — a secret to all Krakoans, set the stage in the climax of Inferno to build a tense new era for the X-Men in a few months. But we’re not having to wait to see some of the wildest elements of House and Powers’ stories smash straight into this nightmare of a new status quo, and X Deaths and X Lives is eager to show just what an absolute mess mutantdom’s whole deal is at the minute.
The dual series — written by Wolverine scribe Ben Percy, and featuring art from Frederico Vincentini and Dijjo Lima on Deaths, Joshua Cassara and Frank Martin on Lives, and letters by Cory Petit for both — have interwoven a personal story for Logan into the current goings-on in Moira MacTaggert’s fight for her final life. Admittedly, the Logan side of things is perhaps less interesting at the moment, largely separated from the drama of Moira’s showdown with fate as it is. Sent back into his many long attempts at forging a life for himself over the centuries in an attempt to stop a time-travelling Omega Red from killing Professor X, that side of the series playing out in Lives has seen Logan attempt to confront the many people he’s been over the years, and grapple with the traumas that have come to define him. It’s a much more personal and contemplative contrast, even with the aforementioned time-hopping, body-warping Omega Red making this quite miserable for him.
It’s the story in X Deaths however that is heating up in some bonkers ways. Following the now de-powered Moira as she races off-grid in an attempt to survive Mystique’s murderous pursuit — unwilling to leave the job she had in Inferno unfinished — the former 10-lived mutant discovers another ticking time bomb: she’s not just being hunted by one of mutantkind’s most deadly assassins, she’s slowly dying of cancer as well. In this week’s second issue, Moira, with the help of Jane Foster, discovered an incredibly dark twist to her already dark fate, in that her cancer has floronic matter woven into it, parts of Krakoa’s biomass as part of the malignant cells. Moira quickly surmises that the abnormal “no-place” biome that was forged to keep her presence on the island a secret is the cause of her disease, and now seemingly certain death, blaming Charles and Erik for her dire circumstances again. But there’s an incredible possibility that this is the fallout of a lingering tease hidden all the way back in 2019’s House of X #2.
In that series, when Mystique and Destiny had Moira killed for the first time after she — then in her third life — was researching a cure for the x-gene, Destiny left Moira with a fascinating prophecy to take into her next life cycle. Telling her that she would only be reborn 10 times before losing her ability to re-incarnate, Destiny added that if Moira made the right choice at the right time, she might make it to 11 lives instead. It seems we’re now seeing the fallout of Moira making the wrong choices, denying her that 11th life. The decision to maintain her secrecy in the no-place biome is now hanging like the sword of Damocles above her head thanks to her cancer diagnosis — and that same secrecy leading to the Krakoan resurrection protocol of not reviving any precognitive mutants, Destiny included until Mystique went rogue, is what is now tearing apart both Moira’s last life and the Quiet Council’s sense of peace.
But Destiny’s dire diatribe is not the only HoXPoX element that seemingly comes to play in X Deaths #2 this week. Not content with just being hunted by Mystique — who perishes in a trap set by Moira in a hotel room, having severed the Warlock arm granted to her in Inferno as a replacement limb (Moira now goes through arms like she went through lives, it seems) — Moira finds herself hunted by another familiar face. It’s a familiar face with a twist though: a version of Wolverine, quite unlike the one working through his past lives with Jean and Charles in X Lives, who seems to be a fully integrated part of the techno-organic entity Phalanx. The Phalanx, and post-humanity’s seeming destiny to be ascended to a higher evolutionary state through merging with it, played a major part in Powers of X, ultimately proving Moira with the knowledge of mutantkind’s inevitable failure in ascending as the true Homo Superior in the first place.
It showing up here, many lives after Moira seemingly managed to avoid witnessing its final union with humanity against mutantdom, just makes Inferno’s fallout all the messier — and largely in part to Moira’s own doing. Just as Moira’s escaped one relentless pursuer from a past life, she has seemingly found herself hunted by another. For a woman whose time is running out for the last time, it seems that Moira MacTaggert can just never catch a break.
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