Warning: SPOILERS for Powers of X #6
Marvel's X-Men relaunch has finally come to a dramatic close, revealing the greatest secret of the mutant race. The conclusion that may come to define Jonathan Hickman's Powers of X series, as the secret fact driving the decisions and changes made with the entire event.
At the heart of Hickman's story is an unexpected retcon; that long-time friend of the X-Men Moira MacTaggert is secretly a mutant. She possesses the power of reincarnation, meaning every time Moira dies, the timeline resets around her and begins again at the moment of her birth. The infant Moira retains all the knowledge from her previous incarnations, free to repeat or alter history for a total of ten lives... and Moira's currently on her tenth.
Powers of X #6 finally reveals the most vital lesson Moira has learned through all her lifetimes: the mutant race is doomed. She has lived nine variations siding with Xavier, Magneto, and even Apocalypse. And every time it has ended in tragedy, because that is the nature of evolutionary change itself.
Mutantdom is the natural evolutionary successor to humanity, as Xavier always claimed. But as science and technology develops, humanity ceases to live in a natural environment. Instead, inevitably, humans use science to evolve into a post-human state. In every one of Moira's timelines, no matter how much the future may change. It's a fascinating twist, and one that turns the entire X-Men franchise on its head.
The X-Men have traditionally fought for peaceful coexistence between man and mutant, but Hickman suggests this was, is, and always will be impossible. If humanity is not replaced by mutants, it will be replaced by post-humans (a group named Homo novissima in the Powers of X future). That process has already started, with the emergence of science-based superheroes such as the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, and even Spider-Man. These post-humans are the future of the mutant race, and in a sense they're mutantdom's true evolutionary rivals.
Worse still, because Homo novissima is dependent on science to continue growing in numbers, the post-humans will inevitably create ever more sophisticated scientific constructs. That will inevitably lead to the rise of a third rival race, machine-based, with artificial intelligences like Ultron and Nimrod serving as precursors.
There is a feedback loop between the rise of Homo novissima and the creation of this third race; technological change makes a post-human leap possible, while the emergence of post-humans makes a machine race possible. So, as science continues to develop, the mutant race becomes just another evolutionary dead end. And the new mutant nation of Krakoa is Moira's attempt to change the rules of the game. She is recreating the entire mutant race on a living island, in a natural ecosystem where it can continue to evolve. Meanwhile, the X-Men attempt to control the feedback loop between Homo novissima and the rise of machine intelligences, launching surgical strikes to prevent the creation of the Nimrods.
If the X-Men are successful, then the mutant race will be the one that rises to dominance. But even Moira MacTaggert isn't convinced that it will work. As she has learned, the mutant race's biggest threat is their fate to always lose. How much can Magneto and Xavier change when they unite for a cause?
Powers of X #6 is on sale now from Marvel Comics.