Warning: SPOILERS for Powers of X & House of X
The relaunch of the X-Men had only just begun with the release of House of X #1, but Marvel has just thrown fans into the deep end with more answers than they ever expected. Forget showing readers the Mutant/Sentinel War that's coming... thanks to Powers of X #1 fans now know exactly how the War will begin, how Mutant soldiers will be created to fight it, who will win, and which society will replace both sides 1,000 years into the future. Needless to say, SPOILERS ahead.
The idea of a war between Mutants, humans, and their Sentinel robots is nothing too shocking, so perhaps that's the reason why Marvel and writer Jonathan Hickman decided to throw X-Men fan expectations out the window. Still, it's one thing to admit that this will be the greatest war Mutantkind, or Earth has ever faced--and quite another to show that the battle and its winner won't actually matter. Neither seems to be master of Earth's destiny after a few centuries. But the path that Marvel's future will take is one fans will want to know everything about. Fortunately, Powers of X has revealed each step along the way: the rise of the Mutant Army on Mars, the alliance of the Man-Machine Supremacy, and the total collapse of them both. Strap in, X-Men fans, you're in for a ride.
The X-Men Are Saved... By Mister Sinister?!
MUTANT BREEDING PROGRAM: Under the expert hand of chief mutant geneticist Mister Sinister, this strategy mirrored the earth-based Sentinel HOUND program, but instead of focusing on the interbreeding of mutants with powers that lent themselves to detection, pursuit and deception, the Sinister strategy focused on mutants with power sets that had more aggressive militaristic traits.
The narrative structure of Powers of X #1 finally demonstrates the meaning of the "Powers of Ten" title, by telling parallel storylines set in the first year Xavier had the idea for the Xavier School and X-Men, ten years later when Mutants create their homeland in House of X, one hundred years into the future when the Mutant-Man-Machine War has already gone completely off the rails, and finally 1,000 years into the future when the dust has more than settled. And as no Marvel Comic fan will be surprised to hear, the devious Mister Sinister plays a massive role in Mutant fate.
With humans obviously going to some extreme Doomsday scenarios in response to the increase in Mutant population (as teased in House of X), the Mutants decide they must finall shore up their numbers with an army of their own. That army is soon grown, rather than recruited, using the DNA and genetic brilliance of Mister Sinister (a truly brilliant, but truly evil man). For the record, the text files accompanying the actual comic panels in Powers of X suggest that Mutant leadership disappears before this all takes place. Since that leadership--Xavier, Magneto, etc.--are all the Mutants who would know Sinister can't be trusted, there's clearly a twist we've yet to see take place. But back to Earth, a century into the future.
The Sentinels Evolve & Take Over Earth
SENTINEL MUTANT BREEDING CAMPS: The SalCen Khennil was built to be the pinnacle of the Man-Machine Ascendancy's breeding program to produce HOUNDS. Hounds, which were mutants bred in captivity to hunt other mutants, were originally designed to present as a subspecies with dehumanizing affectations. There were meant to generate fear and sympathy in their intended targets, but these designs were quickly abandoned after several generations because -- being broken and dependent -- they were ineffective hunters of their own kind.
The action of the issue dives headlong into the world 100 years from the present day. For those fans who are already sensing the parallels between this grim future and that of the "Days of Future Past" timeline, you'll be pleased to know that Nimrod, leader of the Sentinels, once again appears to unite the Machines. This time around the Sentinels have subjugated mankind, but are co-existing, even as they regret their mistakes in trying to produce 'Hounds.' Mutants engineered by them to infiltrate and undermine their Mutant enemies. So yes, this war gets ugly. But the Mutants do their share of monstrous science, too.
The Mutants Breed Their 'Chimera' Army
CHIMERA: The second and third generations of Sinister mutants were referred to as "Chimera" class. The second "Chimera" generation produced mutants that had DNA composed of two separate X-genes, resulting in a mutant with the 'mostly' predictable combined power set of the source mutants. The third "Chimera" generation produced mutants with an amalgamated DNA featuring up to five X-genes. Outside of a predictable failure rate... this third generation of Chimeras was universally successful against the Man-Machine Supremacy, and many believed that this would be the turning point in the war.
The master plan hatched by Sinister is on one hand a nightmare of genetic science, turning the Mutant race into animals, to be grown, trained, and unleashed upon their enemies on the field of battle. But on the other hand... it's an inherently cool story for X-Men fans to consider. Especially since the first wave of Mutant soldiers grown in breeding pits on the planet Mars (boy does Sinister know how to run a villainous program or what?) soon give way to an even more ambitious plan. One that every comic book fan has hatched in private, or discussing with friends.
We're referring to the creation of the "Chimera" soldiers, created by splicing together the X-genes (read: superpower mutations) of a variety of aggressive, or dangerous Mutants. The third generation, the one which created 'Rasputin,' the woman seen above, was hailed as the force that would finally allow Mutants to claim victory, once and for all. Just 100 years into the future, and Sinister's real plan is finally launched...
Marvel's Mutants Annihilate Themselves
The fourth generation of Sinister mutants suffered a systemic failure. the entire batch of these Omega-based, Chimera mutants was produced with a corrupted hive mind that was only discovered to be defective after they had destroyed 40 percent of the remaining mutant population and caused the fall of Krakoa itself. They eventually committed mass suicide, collapsing Mars, the Sinister pits and themselves into a self-singularity.
This chapter of the story is a little unclear, and will surely be explored in later issues. All that's offered for now are the reports citing the fourth generation of "Chimera" soldiers as a total disaster, slaughtering their own kind, and committing a mass suicide that ending the Mars programs, and wiped out most of the Mutants left on Earth. It's suggested in several reports that Mister Sinister must have planned this 'accident,' just like all the others. But even for him, Mutant genocide is something unique. Consider this a potential key to the entire House of X/Powers of X relaunch.
The X-Men Universe 1,000 Years in The Future
TOTAL MUTANT POPULATION UNDER THE MAN-MACHINE SUPREMACY: The current estimated number of surviving Homo sapiens superior is currently believed to be less than 10,000. The vast majority of these mutants are transplants/refugees no longer living on Earth or in their native Solar system.
SOL MUTANTS: All living mutants in the Sol system are currently citizens of Asteroid K. After recent deaths... the current population of Asteroid K is 8.
As we promised above, the comic's final pages leap forward 1,000 years into the future, for a portion of the story referred to in the first panels as "Ascension." Hickman saves his most cryptic moments and exchanges for this strand of the story, and understandably so. As a blue-skinned humanoid converses with the floating Nimrod housing what's left of the Sentinel leader, readers won't be sure if they're looking at a future Mutant, or one of an alien race that has taken over Earth in the absence of Mutant, Man, or Machines. Only a single line of dialogue references "the surprising end of the human-machine-mutant war," adding one more, all-encompassing layer of mystery to the entire millennium previous.
Will Mutants eventually become the dominant species on Earth, through some unknown event? Will Mutants be destroyed alongside humans and Sentinels, and replaced (confirming this ages-old feud didn't matter at all)? And most improtantly, what could Hickman still have in store if he's giving up Marvel's future before readers even knew to ask for it? Those question will hopefully be addressed in the next issue... or be replaced by even more shocking answers. Either way, we'll be counting the days.
Powers of X #1 is available at your local comic book shop, or direct from Marvel Comics. The story continues in House of X #2 when it is released on August 7th, 2019.