Warning: SPOILERS for Powers of X #3
X-Men fans knew that Marvel's current relaunch would be a story for the ages, but they probably didn't expect it to be so... confusing. Thankfully, the biggest secret is out. There may still be twists and turns coming, but the question of how the House of X and Powers of X comics and timelines connect has finally been explained.
With Jonathan Hickman crafting the latest Marvel event series, some confusion or complicated timeline/time loop logic isn't too much of a surprise. But with the House of X changing the status quo for Marvel's Mutants--giving the X-Men a new homeland, Krakoa--and the parallel Powers of X telling the story of not one, but TWO future timelines, it's safe to say plenty of interested readers have likely jumped ship. At least until the story revealed enough for them to follow, or start making some sense. The latest twist in Powers of X #3 has done just that, delivering the series' biggest shocker yet. Needless to say, SPOILERS ahead.
The Many Timelines of This X-Men Relaunch
To clarify exactly what question has been answered, a quick reminder that Hickman's joint House and Powers series have established four different time periods being revealed concurrently. The first, beginning with 'the most important scene in Marvel history,' in which Moira MacTaggert meets Charles Xavier... and instructs him to read her mind to see that she is now an immortal, time-looping Mutant. Jump forward a decade or so to the present day Marvel Universe, and Charles has partnered with Magneto (and seemingly all Mutants) to turn the sapient island Krakoa into a sprawling homeland.
Meanwhile, this bright future has been drowned in darkness with the X-Men's entire future seemingly revealed in Powers of X. A future in which Sentinels rose against Mutants and Mankind (stop us if you've heard this one) and the war has all but erased Mutants from the solar system. The X-Men who remain are struggling to win despite being vastly outnumbered, a century removed from the present day. Oh, and throw in a glimpse of Earth 1,000 years into the future when none of it mattered because aliens took over anyway. All caught up? Good. Now, let's get to the latest twist.
The X-Men's Suicide Mission Revealed
Confusing or inherently bleak as it seems, the story of the last X-Men being led by Apocalypse has been an entertaining one--due in no small part to Rasputin, the unmistakable hybrid Mutant soldier appearing on many of the early comic covers. When the story first jumped forward to this timeline the Mutants were revealed to be a small, desperate, guerrilla resistance. But they were also successful in their latest mission on Earth: infiltrating the human and Sentinel forces led by Nimrod, head of the 'Man-Machine Ascendancy' and steal key intel.
What they stole wasn't actually information, but the location of the information they needed to access and acquire (Sentinel history and archives being almost infinite in size and scope). In Powers of X #3 the X-Men are led by Apocalypse on this life or death mission--perhaps better described as an explicit suicide mission. Once Nimrod the Sentinel overlord realizes that the information they seek is the exact date he was turned online, he intervenes. As the final team of Mutants drop one after another, Nimrod can't help but laugh at the pointlessness of their sacrifice. After all... what good does it do them to learn a secret in the past?
Wolverine Reveals 'The Powers of X' Twist
As Apocalypse is captured and broken by the Sentinels, and Rasputin and Xorn trigger his singularity (potentially killing all of planet Earth), Wolverine teleports back to their base of operations with the information they collected. It's only upon his return with the archived data of Nimrod's inception date--the day that the Sentinels took their first step towards their takeover--is the secret dropped: Moira MacTaggert is alive.
Prior to this reveal, even the Sentinels believed that the only surviving Mutants were those involved in the suicide mission. All other Mutants had left Earth years ago for space, either not knowing or not caring that Apocalypse had managed to suspend Moira in stasis, allowing her to live the century it took for them to find an answer. Wolverine removes Moira from stasis upon his arrival, and 'infuses' the retrieved data into her conscious memory (thanks to some Apocalypse Mutant magic). Now that she has the exact day Nimrod doomed Man and Mutant, there's only one thing left to do.
Wolverine Kills Moira, And Her Ninth Life
Yes, it's the moment fans have been waiting for! Well not explicitly, but a chance for Wolverine to prove himself vital to the fate of Mutantkind was bound to happen eventually. What fans didn't expect was for him to pass the knowledge on to Moira so that she might change this future on her next incarnation... before blasting one of his adamantium claws through her torso, killing her almost instantly. It's a lot messier than a standard time loop or time travel mechanic, but the rules are the rules for Moira's death and reincarnation. And as she says herself, "this is what you do."
And so this dark timeline finally makes sense: the Powers of X future is the final example of Moira's doomed attempts to save Earth and Mutants from ruin. Another failure thanks to the natural emergence of artificial intelligence, and the apparent inevitability of a Mutant/Man War. However, the twist also means that the present day story being told in House of X doesn't lead directly to the Powers of X future after all. In fact, it does the exact opposite.
House of X is Moira's Next, Tenth Life
At long last, most of the questions pertaining to Moira, Charles, the X-Men, Krakoa, and the other events of House of X have been answered. As the chart of Moira's lives reveals in the issues final page, the doomed future in which Wolverine kills Moira leads directly into her next life. A life currently being lived in the House of X present day. As a result, the aforementioned scene between Moira and Charles is no longer mysterious in the slightest. Moira's tarot card references to both Rasputin and Cardinal are explicit, not symbolic. And the future she shows to Charles is at least partially the one readers watched unfold (and collapse) in Powers of X.
Since then Moira has been working with Charles and Erik to prevent that future from happening, which Krakoa seems to be paramount to making possible. So as covert human alliances travel to a Sentinel factory near Earth's sun, and Xavier commands Cyclops to assault that very base, it appears the hour is at hand. The date, more accurately--the one Moira was given by Wolverine to help her prevent the Sentinels from dooming everything to ruin.
It appears that this House of X storyline, set after Powers of X and in Moira's tenth life, is the current incarnation of the Marvel Universe. But with the future once again a complete unknown, and with an earlier tease that Moira may have another life if she makes the right choice, fans may be set for yet another brain-busting bombshell. At least now they know enough to enjoy the story from now until then.
Powers of X #3 is available now at your local comic book shop, or direct from Marvel Comics. The story will continue in House of X #3 on August 28th.