“Sins of Sinister” Part 6: Immoral X-Men #2—in Review!

“Four-Letter Words”

Credits: Kieron Gillen writes; Andrea Di Vito draws; Jim Charalampidis colors; Clayton Cowles letters; cover by Leinil Francis Yu and Jesus Aburtov


A hundred years into the Sinister Era, the Quiet Council has brought its war against neighboring empires nearly to its conclusion—at the edge of Pax, as in Pax Britannica, “peace under British imperial rule,” or Roman, or Sinister and his EsseX factors!

And of course, the role of the Council’s martial command is filled by Hope, who is looking increasingly like her father, the now Xilo-esque Cable. Her mission log offhandedly mentions having killed Mystique, but we’ll have to wait till Ewing’s entry up next to find out whether that’s true (If so, it would sure upend Destiny’s whole reason for wanting to be in this timeline!). She’s forged a chimeric planet-buster to destroy interstellar empires, and it’s hard to imagine a mutant WMD that could top her L-bomb, combining astronomical teleportation from Lila Cheney, nuclear fission from Firestar, mass manipulation from Harry Leland and size alteration from Micromax.

Hope’s starship crew are likely run-of-the-mill chimerae who don’t have to worry about upstaging their messiah captain. (For a deep Easter egg, note that Gillen’s first Generation Hope story arc–way back in 2010!–was titled “The Future Is a Four-Letter Word;” he’s got a soft spot for the character whom he did so much to define.)

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But we do see an exciting new chimera who will upstage all the Sinisters—Rasputin IV!

Unfortunately, this is not the same Rasputin IV we gushed over in Hickman’s 2019 Powers of X. Fortunately, the Sinister future’s first stable five-gift chimera* is still a kick-ass character, and moreover Gillen delves much more into Rasputin IV’s chimeric nature than we saw previously (After all, she was much more a mystery than anything clearly defined on the page, before she was eaten by a black hole). So, fourth time the charm (as in four generations of the Rasputin chimera) and four letters—the G, T, C and A of DNA. And hey, there are four Sinisters, or there were, although indeed, we know who the real one is if we’ve read our Further Adventures of Cyclops & Phoenix (Peter Milligan and John Paul Leon, 1996—where Nathaniel Essex, not a clone, receives his modern form from Apocalypse). We see Super-Skrull’s last stand with four Ronan hammers, as well. Is that all the fours here accounted for?

No, wait! The future is a four-letter word—and it’s Rasputin IV! Er. What I mean to say is, she is the hope of the future! …Or at least, Sinister’s future. Well, let’s hope she gets to be more than that. You bet she will.

Unlike Sinister’s four-letter science, Mother’s magic makes use of the whole alphabet. Another sly dad pun from Kieron 😉 (As for the best visual gag here, we have Sinister Xavier looking very much like the fascist Nick Fury/Cap villain, Baron von Strucker, directly comping the Red Diamond empire with Hydra).

*The four-gift chimerae, like the L-bombs, were always unstable, we’re told. Indeed, they were hopeless! Sinister has outdone himself with a five-gifter. And the rest of the Council thinks so too: They believe that he’s reached his final limit in further progress with chimera engineering. He knows the ax is about to fall.

Mother’s surprise visit indicates the further cross-pollination between the three event minis, which we should expect more of from here on out, but even more than the Council’s threats, perhaps, Mother puts him on notice. This is her first ever to the Red Diamond Sinister, who does have the human Essex’s memories from well before he created four divergent clones of himself, indeed pre-dating his encounter with Apocalypse, also (from whom he got his posthuman powers to begin with). The result, though, is that he’s now as clued-in to the reality of the situation as his remaining “siblings,” which gives him a leg up compared to literally everyone else.

Returning to Rasputin IV, her five gifts come from Colossus, Kate Pryde (“a stable pair”—what a hoot that is!), Unus the Untouchable, Quentin Quire (instead of Jean Grey) and Wolverine Laura. Quire’s omega telepathy is indeed sensible, since we do know what’s wrong that Grey strain—which Hope mentions earlier in the issue. Like Jean, she “doesn’t clone well.” As revealed in Claremont “Inferno” classic Uncanny X-Men #241 (1989), Jean clone Madelyne Pryor’s X genes weren’t activated until the Phoenix Force paid her a visit (the flashback there is chronologically before her Uncanny #168 debut).

That vat of Hope parts in the Reliquary Arbor—yeesh! Btw, what is it with Sinisters and Reliquaries these days…?

What Gillen also leaves tantalizingly unclear is whether the difficulty with cloning and resurrecting Hope has to do with the Phoenix, as well. After all, per another classic Gillen comic from way back, Uncanny X-Men vol 2 #10 (2012), Hope’s future involves becoming an avatar for the Phoenix. That was over a decade ago, publication-wise, so who knows—and since 2012’s AvX, such avatars no longer seem so uniquely destined; they’re just your favorite comic book characters amped up with cosmic powers. This mystery, however, is of course beyond the purview of the present event!

I think Gillen is just having fun writing another Hope-centric comic, with little Easter eggs and references to his earlier work—as with the first villain Hope shot (Sinister) as an X-Man; see Uncanny X-Men vol 2 #2, part 2 of “Everything Is Sinister!”

But that doesn’t mean he can’t kill his darlings! Surprisingly, Sinister Exodus bumps off the gloating messiah easily enough—having realized that he is the church and a messiah’s death only strengths that foundation of belief. So, in a sense, all those zombified chimerae among her starship crew do upstage Hope, after all! Recall, too, that Hope’s body parts are sufficient to allow the resurrections to continue.

Speaking of zombified crew, those on the little starship Rasputin IV commandeers after Sinister frees her from his “genetic chains” and begs her to “Save us from my sins.” We’ve never seen Essex so camp-free, but really he’s hamming it up admirably for his simple saint-like heroine.

Immoral X-Men #2 is equally a Rasputin-IV-centric comic, where she is, again, the true hope…

Just as Wagnerine will prove Mother’s ultimate archnemesis, at least in this alt reality, Sinister may end up on the wrong side of Rasputin IV’s Soulsword (and where he got that for her I’d like to know!)—but so far, their master-servant relationship is much less tragic.

Let’s see how the next five—er, I mean, 900 years go! (After a few centuries on that little starship, they’re going to eventually need some space from each other.)

Art-wise, Andrea Di Vito’s entries are my favorite so far, and his consistency these past two issues bodes well for what’s…

NEXT: Storm & the Brotherhood of Mutants #3—Storm lives!

David Bowen: In his early days, young Davey was accepted *twice* to the Joe Kubert School of Cartooning. Alas, what might have been! Now a finicky freelancing wordsmith and (blessedly) former academic, Prof Bowen hopes to share his lifelong love of comics and sci-fi/fantasy through the lens of deep visual reading and hopefully something of his experience as an enthusiastic teacher of literacy across all media. You can find him confused about social media on Twitter at @VorkosiganCadet (Honoring the inimitable--Lois McMaster Bujold!)
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