This week’s Powers of X #1 from writer Jonathan Hickman and artists R.B. Silva and Marte Gracia zooms out on the mutant epic begun in House of X #1, showing a much larger picture of what’s at stake for the X-Men and mutantkind.
While the layers of clues and nuance that inform the mystery at the heart of Hickman’s relaunch permeate every panel of the issue, one of the series’ central questions – the identities of the mysterious mutants shown in promotional materials – have been revealed.
Here’s who they are, and what that means for the X-Men.
Spoilers ahead for Powers of X #1.
After rampant speculation and theorizing, the identities of the mysterious mutants with familiar traits seen in promotional materials for Powers of X #1 have been identified – and the truth of who they are is strange and tragic even by X-Men standards.
Powers of X #1 weaves a complex generational tale that views the X-Men from their inception all the way through thousands of years in the future. Through that saga, the action is centered around Cardinal and Rasputin – the two mysterious mutants who seem to have ties to Colossus his sister Magik, and Nightcrawler and his father Azazel, respectively -as they try to escape extremely advanced Sentinels that capture a third mutant, Cylobel, 100 years in the future.
As it turns out, Cardinal, Rasputin, and Cylobel are all genetically engineered super-mutants – genetic distillations of mutant genomes that possess multiple mutant power sets and are bred for specific purposes. Rasputin is the last of her line – derived from the Rasputin bloodline – while Cardinal is the last of a pacifist breed of mutants.
Rasputin, Cardinal, and their ilk (all now long dead) were created by Mister Sinister working on behalf of Professor X on Krakoa – a conspiracy revealed in Powers of X #1’s text material, which also shows that at some point in the future, the breeding program will go awry when Sinister inevitably betrays mutantkind of his own end.
According to Powers of X #1, Sinister’s betrayal will lead to the downfall of Krakoa and the X-Men, and will result in an apocalyptic future where humanity is all but extinct and mutants and machines are at war.
Fortunately, back in their own year, Rasputin and Cardinal have allies that seem to resemble Xorn, Magneto, and oddly, Groot - and someone who may be the original Wolverine.
The mystery, which seems to tie Rasputin and Cardinal all the way back to the early days of the X-Men through yet-to-be-revealed circumstances, will continue to unfold in August 7’s House of X #2.