*Spoilers to House of X 02 – Turn back if you haven’t read it yet.
When it comes to the major runs on the X-Men books, those that have come to define the line in some way, a retcon that involves a character we either knew or didn’t know or a thing that happened behind the scenes that changes the way we see the group is common place. As Jonathan Hickman’s House of X and Powers of X are the latest to revolutionze the line, it seems fitting that they feature a pretty big and intrguing retcon of their own.
Formerly just a human ally of the X-Men that perished back in 2000 before the beginning of Morrison’s run, Doctor Moira MacTaggert turns out to be the most important X-character around and also not a human. She’s a mutnat.
Not just a mutant though, a mutant that has the power of reincarnation. Essentially she lives out a life till she dies in some fashion, and is rebooted back to a “save point” if you will that is within the womb of her mother. She then is born once again but does so with the full knowledged retained from the previous incarnation and any before that. Her power though comes with a limit (told her by Desinty, another returning character) of ten, maybe eleven lives total.
In this move, Hickman and crew take an important character that had mostly been forgotten in comics since her death, and reinvented her in a way that has deep implications for the past, present and future of the X-Men and all around them.
Hickman weaves such an intriguing tale of Moira’s life, as the issue focuses almost entirely on her along with different roles for many characters we know, that two pages of prose near the start are so engrossing they don’t even take you out of the mindset of this being a comic. Which makes sense because that has been the goal of all the supplemental content that has been in these issues, ways to further the reading experience alongside the beautiful art pages that populate the comic.
Speaking of beautiful art, Pepe Larraz and Marte Garcia continue to hum as an artistic team alongside letterer Clayton Cowles to bring all the varied lives of Moira to vibrant life. Every panel speaks to what is going on and has intricate detail that is just fantastic. Even in spots where they are repeating a panel, such as the ones with Moira spotting Xavier at Oxford, each time it is a new experience because of the emotions or posture or other aspects they showcase with Moira that fit with each of her different lives and all that she has been through.
Hickman’s scripted words put on the page by Cowles are powerful enough, but on the pages with Destiny and one of Moira’s deaths it is the art of Larraz and Garcia that truly makes Destiny (another oft forgotten about character since her death so many years ago) come off as truly creepy.
Charles Xavier has long been the character full of secrets and things he keeps from his students, often leading to the repeat of the famed Kitty cover with “Xavier is a jerk” feeling, but now through this issue we find that he wasn’t alone in the secrets kept and behind the scenes manipulations to get things to go certain ways. Moira was the true one that came with the knowledge of her lives and from being on all sides of the mutant/human/etc war that rages.
How that will play out and what that has to do with Xavier’s current choices with Krakoa and a mutnat nation are still to be seen.
House of X and Powers of X continue to dive deep into all things X-Men while giving them a new look, new coat of paint or just dusting them off in new ways and it’s working for the line. There is no telling what sort of big revelations are to come in the upcoming issues, but we can likely be certain this is just the tip of the iceberg for what is planned.