WARNING: This article contains spoilers for House of X #2, by Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz, Marte Gracia, VC's Clayton Cowles and Tom Muller, on sale now.
Marvel Comics dropped a bombshell revelation this week when longtime X-Men ally Moira MacTaggert was revealed to be a mutant. Introduced in 1975, the geneticist has always been portrayed as human, but that changed with this week's House of X #2, in which readers discover she has the mutant ability of reincarnation.
Once Moira dies, her life begins anew in her mother's womb, with a full recollection of her previous experiences. As the story progresses, we learn Moira has used that knowledge to alter the trajectory of mutants in the Marvel Universe, both positively and negatively. It's a pretty wild retcon, as writer Jonathan Hickman has potentially set up multiple years of X-Men stories.
An infographic at the back of the issue shows "The Many Lives of Moira X," with 10 timelines featured -- although one reality is mysteriously absent (we'll get to that later). For the most part, we get glimpses of the alternate realities, and how Moira's actions help to shape them, in the body of the comic, but the timeline highlights some of the bigger events to which readers should pay attention.
With that in mind, we're taking a magnifying glass to Moira's current and former lives to see if there are any clues to be uncovered, as well as speculate on what they may mean for House of X, Powers of X and Marvel's upcoming "Dawn of X" relaunch.
House of X #2 reveals Moira's mutant powers manifested at age 13, following an unnaturally high fever. That remains constant in every life going forward. Of course, no one, including Moira, knew at the time what she was experiencing was the birth of her mutation. Not realizing what she truly is, Moira lives a simple life, marrying a man named Kenneth Cowan and having three children: twin boys Callum and Dean, and a girl named Abigail.
Moira meets Charles Xavier in Year 17 of her first life, but he passes through without them forming a bond. Kenneth dies when Moira is 68 years old, and she passes away from congestive heart failure at age 74.
This life shows Moira with no family or children, but watching Charles Xavier announce himself as a mutant to the world made her realize she is one as well. Moira is determined to meet Xavier, so she boards a plane to the United States. However, the plane crashes before reaching its destination, killing Moira.
After living through one life with Kenneth and learning all his faults, she makes a point not to fall in love with him when they met again in Year 15. She enrolls at Oxford at age 16, becomes a biology professor at 20, founds the Muir Research Institute at 31, and dies in the plane crash at 44. Again, nothing out of the ordinary. However, Life 3 is when things really starts to pick up for Moira MacTaggert.
Moira dives into her third life by dedicating herself to the sciences. The way mutations work in the Marvel Universe, characters either embrace or despise them, and it largely depends on the type of abilities they gain. If a mutant can still pass as human, it's a lot easier for them to deal with being different. But if you become deformed -- or in Moira's case, stuck in a constant loop of life and death -- then being a mutant can seem like a curse.
When Moira seeks out Xavier while they're both attending Oxford, she becomes turned off by his arrogance and a thinly veiled god complex. So she instead devotes her life to finding a cure for mutation, which she compared to cancer. Moira still founds the Muir Research Institute, and in Year 36 she identifies the X-gene. Just when it appears Moira had rid herself of her reincarnation powers, Mystique and her Brotherhood of Evil Mutants attack the laboratory.
Destiny's ability to see the future leads the Brotherhood to Moira, intent on preventing her from using the mutant cure she created. The showdown between Moira and Destiny is pretty intense, with Destiny informing her they are now joined together, possibly teasing another confrontation down the road. Destiny tells Moira that if she goes down this path of mutant betrayal in another life, she will stop her again. Also, if Moira attempts to kill Destiny before she can kill Moira, Destiny will see her end coming and prevent it.
Destiny also says Moira isn't immortal, and only has 10, maybe 11 lives left. Another complication is if Moira dies before her powers manifest at 13, she won't reincarnate. Life 3 ends for Moira by being slowly burned alive by Pyro.
You can imagine dying by that grisly fate can leave a lasting impression. Moira throws herself into studying the human-mutant dilemma, which gives us the first quote Marvel used to tease the announcement that Hickman would be taking over the X-Men franchise: "When two aggressive species share the same environment, evolution demands either adaptation or dominance."
Moira goes on to fall in love with, and marry, Xavier, with the couple establishing the Xavier School for Gifted Children. At first glance, this reality is almost a mirror for the current Marvel Universe, with a page dedicated to looks at the first class of X-Men, the roster of Giant-Size X-Men #1 (Cyclops, Wolverine, Colossus, Storm and Nightcrawler) and the Phoenix Five from Avengers vs. X-Men (Cyclops, Emma Frost, Magik, Namor and Colossus). However, it all comes to an end in Year 55, when Moira dies during a Sentinel attack. That ultimately means Destiny was right, as she warned Moira that humans would always try to exterminate mutants.
Moira now chooses aggression as a response to the violent tendencies of humanity. She runs away from home at 13, which is when her powers first manifest, to encounter Xavier a full decade earlier than when they're supposed to meet. Not wasting any time, Moira opens her mind to Xavier so he can see how his dream fails in her past lives. The mind-reading radicalizes him, forcing the duo to form the mutant nation of Faraway instead of a school.
Faraway is a city protected by walls, and can be compared to other mutant societies like Asteroid M and Utopia. However, Boliver Trask's adaptive-learning Sentinels still make their way to there, and Moira is initially injured in an attack in Year 43. She dies a year later during a genocide.
As of House of X #2, Moira will live to see her 10th life, but there is one life that's unaccounted for. Our handy infographic skips Life 6 without offering any reason, making us wonder what could be the cause. An unknown narrator spends the majority of the issue recapping all of Moira's lives, but again, Life 6 is omitted. Because we know Moira opens her mind to Xavier in her current Life 10 (or X), he may be the narrator.
That still doesn't explain away Year 6. Of course, its absence can't be a coincidence or an error; Hickman has to have something planned for that reality.
With the knowledge that the Trask Family is responsible for creating the Sentinels, Moira spends her seventh life eradicating their bloodline. Bolivar, Donald, Gwyneth and Simon Trask are systematically murdered over the span of a decade, with Moira even taking out their children for good measure. If you've started to notice a pattern of these lives ending horribly, then you won't be surprised to learn the Sentinels still rise, even without a Trask behind their creation.
Artificial intelligence is constant. Like mutants, the machines simply emerge at a certain point during societal and environmental evolution. Any hope Moira had of stopping them dies, and the experience radicalizes her.
Life 8 and 9
These two lives involve Moira abandoning Xavier's peaceful dream for the necessary evils of the X-Men villains Magneto and Apocalypse. Perhaps the two most fascinating alternate realities, Life 8 and Life 9 depict Moira rejecting Xavier and seeking out the villains. Magneto's Life 8 has the duo conqueror America and establishing the House of M. Life 9 has Moira wake Apocalypse, with them killing their first opposition, Xavier and Magneto.
Both lives involve a war against humans and machines -- War of M and Apocalypse War, respectively -- although only Life 8 reveals Magneto perishing from it. Moira soon die herself from a failed prison escape. In Life 9, we never see what happens after the Apocalypse War begins, although that reality had to end with Moira's death as well, or else Life 10 wouldn't be possible.
So here we are in the current iteration of the Marvel Universe. After everything Moira has tried, she decides to attempt something revolutionary with what may very well be her final life. Moira decides she and Xavier will break all the rules, which is probably how we come to have the Powers of X future timeline. The reason we believe Life 10 to be the Marvel Universe is that it's the only one in which Moira marries Joseph MacTaggert and has a son, the mutant Proteus. We also see this life is the only one with "House of X" represented.
Other recognizable events include Moira's death in X-Men #108 (Year 49) and the genocide in Genosha in New X-Men #114 (Year 50). Hickman did clear up some confusion with those two dates following the release of House of X #2, revealing there is a typo, and the two dates were inversed in the infographic. We also learn Moira faked her death with a Shi'ar golem, meaning she's still alive and in hiding. The reason behind the subterfuge is a mystery for now.
Another date that stands out is Moira and Xavier's recruitment of Magneto in Year 43. Moira would have to remember how she failed working with Magneto in Life 8, and the trio had a schism four years later. So what was her plan in bringing the three of them together? Hickman's retcon of Moira's entire past brings up these types of questions, which is great for fan theories.
The biggest unanswered questions are the missing Life 6, Life 9 not ending, and Moira faking her death in Life 10. House of X #2 was spotlighted as being the first major issue of the House of X/Powers of X release schedule, and it definitely delivered by making Moira MacTaggert a focal point of the X-Men's past, present and future.