Back in June, as the marketing blitz for Jonathan Hickman’s two X-Men miniseries House of X and Powers of X was heating up, Marvel Comics claimed that the two interwoven series contained “the most important scene in X-Men history.” Well, Marvel hasn’t officially revealed what that scene is yet, but there’s a very good chance it’s a paradigm-shifting moment from House of X #2 by writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Pepe Larraz that completely reframes the history of the X-Men and mutantkind as a whole.
**Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers for House of X #2 below.**
Last week’s Powers of X #1 took place largely in the future of mutantkind, but features a key scene in year one of the X-Men between Charles Xavier and a young Moira MacTaggert. In the scene, Moira suggested that she and Charles had known each for a long time, and invited him to read her mind. Xavier had an expression on his face of shocked understanding, but that issue never explained why.
House of X #2 is titled “The Many Lives of Moira X,” and by the time you’re done reading it, you might have the same expression on your face that Xavier did. The issue reveals that Moira is not a human scientist who’s been a friend and ally to Xavier and the X-Men for years. She is, in fact, a mutant, and her mutation is the ability to start her life over via reincarnation after she dies. Every time she dies she returns to the womb and is born again in the same year, but with a twist: Moira remembers, even as a baby, everything from her past lives. Her first life was a relatively ordinary one in which she got married, had a baby, and was never even aware of being a mutant. Her second life led everyone to believe she was extraordinarily gifted, because even as a toddler she had the memories of what it was like to walk, talk, and read.
Moira’s realization that she was a mutant led her science-minded brain to seek a way to “solve” the mutant problem. This began with designing a cure for mutation, which got her killed by mutant activists including the future-telling Destiny, who told her she had a total of 10, perhaps 11 lives. Later, she embraced a more aggressive approach to preserving mutantkind, teaming with Magneto and Apocalypse in different timelines, and each time death and destruction was the ultimate result. She even spent one lifetime trying to eliminate every member of the Trask family to put an end to Sentinels, and it still never quite worked.
So in Powers of X #1, during her 10th lifetime, she approached Xavier and let him see every possible outcome she’d tried in the previous lifetimes, let him see the trial and error she’d lived time after time in the pursuit of saving the mutant race. Armed with this knowledge and Moira’s friendship, Xavier went on to form the X-Men and pursue the mutant dream that ultimately led him to form a sovereign nation using the living island Krakoa, as he did in House of X #1.
This reveal does two immediate things. First of all, it reframes Moira entirely as a character, making her not just a helpful and influential human ally throughout the history of the X-Men, but the mutant mastermind behind it all. No matter how much she participated in X-history directly at various points in the Marvel 616 universe, it was her experience and vision that informed everything Charles Xavier has pursued up to this point, good and bad.
Second of all, the reveal reframes everything we thought we knew about Charles Xavier, a man who’s at times seemed everything from arrogant to naive to, as Kitty Pryde famously put it, a flat-out jerk. If House of X #2’s reveal holds, it shows us a Xavier who knew the end goal of all of his struggles even when it cost lives, even when it broke alliances, and even when it led to his own death. If he seemed cold or dismissive or even flat-out stupid at times, it was because he was after something bigger all along. Granted, Moira’s experience did not tell Charles everything he needed to know about building a better world for mutants, but it did tell him what to deliberately avoid, and that offers a fascinating insight into many of his decisions in the past.
And then there are all of the other implications, including Hickman’s timeline of each of Moira’s past lives and its revelation that Moira is not dead in the main Marvel Universe as we previously thought (her death back in 2001 was really a Shi’ar Golem), meaning she’s still around somewhere, helping Charles steer the new world he’s built. And what about those alternate timelines? Some of them bear strong resemblances to things like House of M and Age of Apocalypse, but others are a little more specific. Will we see more of those? Does Moira also have information she can pass on that would be helpful to the survival of, say, the Avengers or the Inhumans? There’s so much to unpack here, and that’s part of what makes Hickman’s ambitious new era for mutants so much fun. This is one of the most consequential moments in the history of the X-Men, and may just be the most important scene in their history … at least until next week, when Hickman and company change the game again.
The saga continues next week with Powers of X #2.