SPOILER WARING: The following article contains major spoilers for Powers of X #1, by Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva, Adriano di Benedetto, Marte Gracia, VC's Clayton Cowles and Tom Muller, on sale now.
The X-Men almost never get a happy ending in any of Marvel's possible futures. Outside of relatively short periods of peace and stability, the X-Men seem destined to be hunted and exterminated in dark timelines like "Days of Future Past" or the worlds of time-travelers like Cable and Bishop.
After last week's House of X established a new present-day status quo, Powers of X #1 takes a broad look at where mutants will be 100 years and 1,000 years after the formation of the X-Men. Although these futures offer a glimmer of hope for mutantkind, the X-Men still seem doomed.
However, the scattered details of these futures are revealed through data charts, key points in footnotes and off-hand comments. Taken together, they seem to suggest a millennium of intense trials.
After flashing back to a meeting between Professor Xavier and a mystery woman who could be Moira MacTaggert, this issue begins in the present day, where Xavier has established Krakoa as an independent mutant nation. Outside of the main Krakoan island in the Pacific, outposts offer transportation around the world and on Mars.
At some point in the next few decades, the mutant race loses its way after the "almost universal death or disappearance of senior leaders." While Powers of X, doesn't reveal anything else about that event, it leads to a period of "lost years" of mutant leadership that may have been the work of the villain Mister Sinister. Eventually, mutants are pushed to a crisis point where they can't naturally sustain themselves after years of fighting, hiding and relocating.
One of the main reasons the mutant population appears to be in shambles is the Man-Machine Ascendancy, an alliance between the next generation of Sentinels and humans. The Ascendancy breeds Hounds, obedient mutants who possess tracking abilities used to hunt other mutants.
To respond to that threat, mutants turn to Mister Sinister, who uses his twisted genetic expertise to create new breeds of mutant with multiple aggressive, militaristic powers. From the Sinister Breeding Pits on Mars, he creates two generations of Chimeras, each of whom possesses the powers, or X-genes, of two to five regular mutants.
The fourth generation of Sinister's Chimeras is bred to have ultra-strong Omega-level mutant powers. These mutants share a corrupted hive mind that leads to the death of 40 percent of all remaining mutants and the destruction of Krakoa roughly 30 years after Sinister's experiments began. These Omega Chimeras ultimately kill themselves, destroying Sinister's breeding pits and the X-Men's presence on Mars in the process.
Shortly before all of this, Mister Sinister tries to defect to the renamed Man-Machine Supremacy but is quickly executed. The Man-Machine Supremacy's efforts to create Hounds also end about 90 years after the X-Men were formed.
By the 100th year of the X-Men's existence, the Man-Machine Supremacy seemingly rules the world. Evolved, self-reflective machines like Nimrod and Omega Sentinel are members of the apparent ruling class and have turned their attention to capturing and studying mutants.
At this point, there are approximately 10,000 mutants alive in the universe. After two are killed by the Supremacy in this issue, only eight mutants are left alive in the Solar System. Based on Asteroid K, someone who looks like an older Wolverine leads a small X-Men team that apparently includes Magneto, Xorn and a few Chimeras from what appears to be the remains of Krakoa orbiting Earth.
The rest of the mutants are living in the alien Shi'ar Empire, ruled by Professor X's half-alien daughter, Empress Xandra. Roughly 8,000 mutants live on Benevolence, a colony on the edge of Shi'ar space and territory controlled by the feral Brood.
Roughly 2,000 more live in a colony on Chandilar, the Shi'ar homeworld. These mutants are apparently "warrior stock" that could be used to fill out the Imperial Guard, the ultimate Shi'ar superteam and military force. Xandra supposedly has plans to add Earth and the Solar System to the Shi'ar Empire, and Powers of X suggests that she could plan to use mutant forces as familiar, relatively friendly conquerors who could repopulate the region after the interstellar war.
At some point over the next 900 years, tensions boil over into the Human-Machine-Mutant War. As a now-reformed Nimrod and a blue-skinned character with a device that looks like Cerebro discuss roughly 1,000 years after the X-Men were formed, that war came to a surprising end that apparently led to the fall of humanity.
However, at least two humans are still alive in the Preserve, where they're apparently regarded as "dinosaurs" from a bygone era.
While the other results of that war are not revealed, the presence of a massive "Mutant Library" in a city with distinctly Shi'ar architecture suggests that the Shi'ar may have used mutants to conquer Earth and the Solar System after all.
While the details of the previous millennium of mutant history will probably be filled in by House of X and Powers of X, it seems like mutants are on track to become Earth's dominant species, and soldiers of the Shi'ar Empire, in about 990 years. Until then, it seems like the X-Men, and mutants as a whole, are doomed to live on at least one world that hates and fears them.