Writer Jonathan Hickman’s relaunch of the X-Men franchise continues in this week’s House of X #2, alongside artists Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia, and this chapter of the two-series saga (which alternates with issues of Powers of X) re-writes X-Men history in a potentially monumental way.
Read on to find out which longtime X-Men character undergoes a massive reinvention – and what the revelations that entails could mean for X-Men lore as a whole.
Spoilers ahead for House of X #2.
As revealed in House of X #2, longtime X-Men ally Moira MacTaggart is a mutant with a unique power – when she dies, she is reincarnated to live her life over again with all knowledge and memories of her previous lives intact. To that end, she’s lived nine previous lives, each in pursuit of a different outcome for mutantkind – but all with tragic outcomes resulting in the death of mutants and the rise of powerful Sentinel-based machines.
In many of her lives, she connected with Charles Xavier – in her most recent life, she approached him very early, resulting in the retroactive scene shown at the beginning of House of X #1 and apparently leading to the current mutant status quo. And this is where things get complicated.
Because Moira has lived multiple lives with different outcomes all involving the X-Men, this may mean that there are many different disparate timelines that exist as a result of her reincarnation powers, with each life lived creating a new timeline in which different events befall mutantkind. The exact mechanics of Moira’s powers remain to be seen, but given the timelines laid out in the book’s supplemental matter, this appears to be the implication.
And so that begs the question, what does this mean for the X-Men (and by extension the Marvel Universe at large)? Is the implication presented by House of X #2 that the main X-Men continuity - the 616 Marvel Universe - is meant to be just the tenth version of Moira’s life?
That seems to be the case – the timeline map provided in the issue seems to show most of the Moira-centric events we know taking place on the latest track, including small bits of X-Men history that leave room for potential wrinkles as the series goes on. But what’s also interesting is that Moira’s recounting of one of her past lives does incorporate what appear to be beats from well-known X-Men tales such as the "First Class" days, the Claremont years, AvX, and "Days of Future Past" – and the implications there could be monumental for X-Men lore.
Does that mean that the current, mainstream timeline mirrors that one with just a few key differences? Or are we now seeing a version of the X-Men that have already been quietly rebooted under our nose thanks to Moira's secret power?
Further could “The Many Lives of Moira X” be an explanation not just of how the X-Men got where they are now but also a way to loop in and explain the multiple, disparate dystopian futures that seem to center on the X-Men?
Some of the beats laid out in Moira’s timelines are definitely new ideas – and of course, some alternate timelines like "Age of Apocalypse" have other separate explanations that have already been defined. So even if Moira’s power does account for some things we’ve seen before, it’s not a be-all-end-all X-Men theory - though it does suggest there are aspects of X-Men lore that may transcend timelines.
There's also the question of her missing sixth life from the timeline graph shown in the book. What happened there - and how could the mystery inform the future of the X-Men and Hickman's meta-story?
But there’s a separate question at the heart of “The Many Lives of Moira X." The mutant seer Destiny tells Moira in one of her early lives that she’s destined to live and die 10 times – and in the current timeline, Moira is on her 10th go-round.
So is this the last, last chance for the X-Men? Or will Destiny's prophecy prove false?
More answers may arrive when the two-series saga continues in August 14’s Powers of X #2.
[Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the number of lives shown to have happened in this issue.]