Moira lays down the cybernetic gauntlet. Heavy spoilers follow.
X Deaths continues to excel and compel in ways that X Lives has yet to achieve, but I’m also less interested in Logan’s many pasts and all in for being at the edge of now, looking to mutantkind’s future. And it looks rockier than at any time since HOX/POX. It’s clear at this point that the current two-series-that-are-one will end in a way that shapes the course of Destiny of X, at least until the next epoch-defining event.
Previously in X Deaths, it seemed clear to most readers that the T-O Wolverine from the future must have been sent back in time by the Phalanx or Technarchy. Now it’s clear that was a premature assumption, as Mr. Percy cleverly flips the script once again.
Even more clever—and refreshing—this chapter opens with pure Gabby Kinney innocence, Laura’s sis stalking after her with endless questions like any younger sib, against a lush Krakoan backdrop (gorgeously realized by the continually evolving Federico Vicentini and amazing new Marvel colorist Dijjo Lima). And Scout just happens to be there when Xavier, via astral projection (or whatever), recruits Laura to track down the T-O Wolvie enigma—and now declares herself the third Wolverine!
More Gabby is the best Gabby! Let Gabby be all the Wolverine she can be! Granted, Logan’s “kids” aren’t really the spotlight in this chapter, but there is a bittersweet moment toward the end between them and whatever version of the old man it is that they’ve tracked down.
(This might be a small thing to some readers, but I really appreciate Vicentini’s skill in dynamically sketching out individualized expressions and styles even in a panicked crowd scene full of “extras.”)
But the red meat here is Moira, Moira, Moira. Woo. She has gone full evil. And it is a dark delight. I mean, so many fans have been worried the mutants no longer had any worthwhile foes.
Try this: Moira MacTaggert is the most diabolical X-Men villain of all time! X Deaths #3 clinches it. At least it’s clear now that she is at the start of something vast and deadly. And of course, she is totally unhinged—right in line with classic-villain best practices, just like her ironclad belief in predestination.
Moira’s deep-seated antimutant conviction is as indelibly articulated by her narration as it is expressed by grim glare into the future. But the depth of her narcissistic delusion here is stunning, quite unlike Inferno, where she just came across as pathetic. I prefer this version, as despicable as she now is:
“The mutants have failed every time—against the humans, against A.I.—and every time, I’ve bailed them out. But something has changed. I’m no longer their savior. I’m their Judas.
“They’ve sent an assassin from the future to end me, which must mean I’m responsible for ending them. Maybe this sounds crazy, but it gives me hope.”
Don’t forget, her name means “fate.” But her opposite number, Destiny, whose new era is about to dawn, has already proven the wiser interpreter of futurity, which is never a done deal before we in the present make our choices.
And Moira is clearly in the process of making a lot of bad choices, for everyone—not just rando tech mogul Arnab Chakladar. If there is one odd thing about this issue, it’s the way he so quickly falls in line and even appears quite taken with his intensely militant captor. Stockholm syndrome kicked in real quick there!
The biggest question here is how he got on board with designing technology that would allow Moira to upload her consciousness in a way that would ensure her eleventh life. So many questions! And Arnab just looks quietly smitten and earnest.
As deterministic as Moira herself, however, is our T-O Wolvie from a thousand years into the future (definitiely not Moira’s Year 1000 from Life VI).
We should all grant that Krakoan resurrection will prove a temporary phenomenon in the comics, but alas, let’s hope this broken man’s particular future doesn’t come to pass.
Because that future may be ruled by Homo novissima, as in Powers of X, but in this scenario, there’s something they will have overlooked. Don’t overlook the T-O patterning where Moira’s new prosthetic joins her previously cauterized stump—apparently not cleansed of Warlock’s substance. (Here, she’s musing on real-world proto-feminist icon Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), today regarded as the first programmer considering her mathematical work intensively elaborating Charles Babbage’s theoretical Analytical Engine, for which she wrote the world’s first algorithm. Now, she’s a villainous inspiration 😉.)
So, Moira’s self-loathing and species-level vindictiveness are the ground zero of the cybernetic posthuman, perhaps of the Church of Ascendancy, as seen in Year 100 in Moira’s Ninth Life (Powers of X #1). There, however, the grimly barbarous techno-priests likely weren’t privy to the omega state of that ascendancy, merely desiring the shuffling off of their mortal coil’s fleshliness. Moira’s vision here might very well encompass forever—a Titan-class singularity.
Who’s the real Terminator now? And she’s really her own boss now—no Charles in charge.
The issue ends with the death of a really old man Logan, a tragic and perverse revision of the end of Moira’s Sixth Life. But apparently he resurrected, strangely, as T-O Wolvie—and came back in time to hunt his and mutantkind’s killer. As he tells his family, “That was the end of one story. But the beginning of another.”
It’s not clear yet what beginning T-O Wolvie has brought to the present day, but ironically, Moira, who detested her mutant nature, is ironically now driving toward the opposite extreme, disavowing even mundane humanity in favor of a weaponized cyberneticism that she clearly intends to be wholly destructive in a way that the vast majority mutants will find inconceivable—indeed, existentially horrific.
Forget Judas; Moira may prove worthy of the darkest, most tortured aspects of Milton’s Satan. And she’s now readying the groundwork for her parliament of narrow-minded devils (or Church of Ascendancy, ironically named).
In the last scene, then, we have techno-goth Moira infiltrating the false, zoolike Eden to slay the last surviving example of “natural” evolution (at least as far as that’s possible in the Marvel universe). But since she seems like she’s snuck in here, what’s her relationship with the general run of Homo novissima? And are they substantially different from what we saw of the end of her sixth life? Why is it otherwise all so similar looking?
We’re still missing an actual Moira X solo series that would be a rich opportunity for exploring not just Moira’s many lives and deaths but the future of her tenth life, as well.
PS: If you’ve read this week’s Life of Wolverine Infinity Comic #5, then you’ve read all the WWII material on Wolvie that you’ll ever need. At least, that’s this jaded reader’s view; Jim Zub has done a great job recapping Logan’s overconvoluted “Life Five.” As mentioned in my last X Lives piece, Uncanny #268 featuring Logan, Cap, and a young Natasha Romanova in 1941 Madripoor is the only comic from this era that is truly worth a revisit—classic (but nowhere near peak) Claremont.
NEXT: X Lives #4 – “War Stories”; and then, apparently, X Deaths #4 sees antimutant cybernetic mayhem brought home to Krakoa for the big how-many-sided showdown