Warning: SPOILERS for Powers of X #3
The X-Men have faced more than one version of the Horsemen of Apocalypse, but the latest four mutants given the role may be the most powerful yet. Because this time, it's the heroes who are serving Apocalypse... and bringing doomsday to the Marvel Universe.
It's only the latest unexpected twist delivered in Marvel's Powers of X, relaunching a brand new continuity for the X-Men comic universe along with the equally shocking House of X. Where that series has been concerned with changing the entire X-Men reality fans know from the past, Powers of X has revealed Marvel's future. A surprisingly bleak one, in which Earth falls to Sentinels (again) and Apocalypse leads the last Mutant survivors. Now, his chosen Horsemen have been officially revealed along with their final mission. Only they're not trying to save the future--they're trying to kill it.
The X-Men are The Final Horsemen?!
For X-Men fans who haven't kept up to date on Jonathan Hickman's relaunch, the idea of heroic Mutants working for their greatest supervillain alone will be a shock--and their selection as his last Horsemen of the Apocalypse a downright heresy. But that is just how dire things have gotten a century into the future of the House of X timeline. After humanity united to create Sentinels, and created an extinction war across planet Earth, both sides grew more and more extreme in their pursuit of success. Or in the case of Mutants, their very survival.
The answer, as was revealed in previous issues of the Powers of X series, was the creation of a Mutant breeding program led by Mister Sinister. The program created highly effective hybrid soldiers grown from several X-gene samples, before catastrophe--likely orchestrated by Sinister himself--saw the population implode. As a result, the few thousand Mutants who survived eventually left Earth for the stars, leaving only just TEN (get it?) behind on Asteroid K. With Apocalypse the First Mutant, it's only right that he should be last... but his final Four Horsemen aren't who fans will ever expect.
Wolverine, The Final War
In hindsight fans never should have doubted that Wolverine would live to see the final days of Mutantkind, but any question about his immortality is answered by his presence one century into the future. Even if his healing factor is maxed out by Apocalypse, he stands as a living representative of the core X-Men... all of which have presumably been killed, or abandoned Earth decades before.
Fans of Apocalypse will know that Wolverine previously served as the Horseman of Death for Apocalypse in his second version of the team, first in secret, then later unmasked by his former teammates. Wolverine's place is at Apocalypse's side in the Powers of X mission, as the only one he can trust to bring their vital information home (back to Asteroid K where the next stage of their plan can be executed). As Apocalypse opens the door for Wolverine to do just that, it's the new Horseman of Death that closes it behind him.
Xorn, The Final Death
The line between X-Men fans who know Xorn and those who don't is sure to be a straight one, since his visibility skyrocketed with his introduction... while his role in recent comics has been a minor one. That being said, the introduction of Kuan-Yin Xorn by Grant Morrison in the early 2000s instantly made him one of a kind. Technically he has a twin brother with his same powers, but only Kuan-Yin survived into this vision of the future. But his Mutant gift is actually a curse, with Xorn containing a star inside of his head--the metal skull mask that became his signature is designed to keep those powers in check.
The fact that his actual face and head have been burned away by the star means he certainly LOOKS the part to play Apocalypse's Horseman of Death, but the meaning goes much deeper. Since the star fuels Xorn's body, it's actually not possible for him to be killed through usual means (a fact made clear in this issue, as he openly welcomes a suicide mission). But even more fittingly, his star has the ability to collapse on itself, forming a cosmically destructive singularity. He literally is death for planet Earth... which ends up making him the final stroke of Apocalypse's master plan.
The Final Pestilence, Magneto's... Grandson?
When the green-armored Magneto made his debut, first in cover art for the Powers of X series, then later as one of the final surviving Mutants on Asteroid K, fans didn't overthink it. Sure, it would be... strange for Erik Lensherr to somehow survive the next century. And a change in color scheme is a bit more fashion-focused than most of Magneot's fans would expect him to be. But there was never any evidence to suggest the Mutant was actually a new character until the new Powers of X #3 reveals it in a single line of text.
Along with the team's final mission to kill the Sentinel leadership (and the future along with it) comes a single page officially designating the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse. This Magneto mimic listed as the new Horseman of Pestilence is named as "North [Dane/Frost]" and revealed to be one of the "Chimeras" bred in Mister Sinister's program. Presumably the name confirms he was created with the X-genes of both Lorna Dane a.k.a. Magneto's daughter and Emma Frost, the powerful psychic supervillain. Sadly, North only appears for a panel or two before being taken out first, but fans will surely debate the ramifications and meaning of his genealogy all the same.
The Final Famine, Krakoa/Cypher
The last and likely least-known Horseman was actually deduced by many fans online, when a Groot-like creature was shown among the survivors. Fans soon pointed to the House of X #1 scene in which Cypher of the New Mutants merges his own intelligence with that of the Mutant 'homeland' Krakoa, and concluded this true symbiosis must eventually result in a humanoid plant man. The issue confirms it, allowing Krakoa/Cypher to get the Four Horsemen and Apocalypse into and out of the Sentinel territory using the Krakoan organic portals. Like the rest of the team, Krakoa/Cypher's final job is what makes the mission the slightest bit possible.
With the Four Horsemen's mission to kill the Sentinels along with themselves completed, it now falls to Moira MacTaggert to save the future one last time. Here's hoping these "Last Horsemen of Apocalypse" didn't die in vain.
Powers of X #3 is now available at your local comic book shop, or direct from Marvel Comics.