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Jan 4

The Complete Moira: Part 1

Posted on Saturday, January 4, 2020 by Paul in Moira, x-axis

One of the big ideas of House of X and Powers of X is the massive retconning of Moira MacTaggert. Under Jonathan Hickman, Moira is no longer just the X-Men’s scientist friend; she’s actually a mutant with the power to start life over again, every time she dies, and with perfect recollection of her earlier lives. Plus, she has knowledge from those earlier lives of things like Nimrod, the Technarch and so on.

How well does any of this actually fit with the established history of Moira MacTaggert? On one level, it doesn’t really matter all that much. The idea that the Marvel Universe fits together seamlessly is a fiction; as long as it feels like it works, that’s probably good enough for most purposes. Which means it’s generally good enough to be consistent with the broad strokes, and with any details that the readers are likely to remember. It’s hardly a big problem if there’s an inconsistent line of dialogue in a long forgotten fill-in story.

Still – how does this retcon fit together with Moira’s established history? In this series of posts, I’m going to look back over every Moira MacTaggert appearance and see what emerges – both in terms of how it fits with Hickman, and in terms of whether it ever really fitted together in the first place. I’ve been working here mainly from the list of Moira MacTaggert appearances on the Marvel Chronology Project.

Basically, we’ll be running through Moira’s appearances in more-or-less chronological sequence, though I’ll skip her prior lives since they’re entirely documented in House of X and Powers of X, and I’ve written about that already. As it turns out, Moira’s back story is both quite detailed and full of enormous gaps, so it’s going to take us two posts just to get up to her first published appearance. This time round, we’ll follow her current life up to the formation of the X-Men. Since these are mostly appearances that were intended to flesh out her back story, there’s a lot to cover here; the pace will pick up in future chapters when we get to stories where she’s just hanging around in the supporting cast or explaining the plot. She does that a lot.

So we kick off with…

House of X #2 by Jonathan Hickman & Pepe Larraz (“The Uncanny Life of Moira X”, August 2019): A single page of Moira gestating.

Told you this was going to be comprehensive. But after that, we don’t get another appearance of Moira until she’s at university, and there’s remarkably little detail about anything she did before that. That’s helpful for Hickman, since he’s retconned her into an adult mind in a child’s body. The timeline in House of X #2 tells us that her powers emerge at age 13 (presumably with the same fever she had in earlier lives), and that she went to Oxford University at 16.

What else do we know? Well, her father Lord Kinross was a major landowner in the vicinity of Muir Isle (though Muir itself seems to have been an uninhabited rock until Moira set up her Research Centre there). He’s also a clan chieftain, a title that Moira inherits. There’s never any mention of her succeeding to a peerage, so presumably his title died with him – maybe it wasn’t a hereditary title, or maybe it only passed down the male line.

The stories aren’t consistent about where Muir Isle is, but they generally claim either that it’s near Stornoway, or that it’s near Cape Wrath (the furthest point northwest in Scotland). Claremont tries to square them in Classic X-Men #26, which, taken with X-Men vol 1 #122, shows Moira travelling from Edinburgh to Cape Wrath, then to Stornoway, and then by a private motor launch to Muir Isle. This doesn’t make much sense as a transport route, but he’s trying. At any rate, most of the evidence seems to point to Stornoway. (Excalibur vol 1 #93 claims that Kinross is the name of the nearest village to Muir Isle. In reality, Kinross is a real area of Scotland, but it’s at the wrong end of the country for Moira.)

Anyway… the only details we’re given about Moira’s childhood are quite convenient for Hickman’s “adult mind in a child’s body” retcon: young Moira really liked hanging out in the local pub, and when she was thirteen she got blitzed on dad’s whisky. That’s from Excalibur vol 1 #91, and yes, it is a Warren Ellis issue. This is also the issue that puts it beyond doubt that Moira’s childhood home is just across the water from Muir Isle, since they visit the pub.

With that, we join Moira at university.

Uncanny X-Men #389 by Chris Claremont & Salvador Larroca (“The Good Shepherd”, January 2001). This is the issue after Moira dies, and it contains an lengthy flashback in which Charles Xavier reminisces to himself about their time together at Oxford. The whole tone of this story poses big problems for the HoXPoX retcon, where Charles is supposed to be in on the scheme to fake her death – it’s an internal monologue, so he has no reason to lie. At any rate, he says here that he met Moira during a tutorial being given by a renowned geneticist, whose mind couldn’t be read. This doesn’t match the meeting shown in House of X #2, but you can square it on the basis that they meet here and have a proper conversation later.

Powers of X #1 and #6 and House of X #2. All of these issues feature versions of the same scene where Moira approaches Charles at a fair, and allows him to read her mind so that he can learn the truth about her history. According to House of X #2’s timeline, Moira is 17 when she meets him. That fits fine; according to Excalibur vol 3 #14, Charles is around the same age. X-Men vol 1 #117 says he’s working on his doctorate at this point. So, back to…

Uncanny X-Men #389 (continued). Autumn. Moira is already dating Joe MacTaggert, a lance corporal in the Marines. She invites Charles to join them for a motorbike trip to Devon. Joe dumps Charles and rides off with Moira. Joe crashes, Charles rescues them. At least according to Charles, this is the point where he and Moira fall in love, and she breaks up with Joe soon after. (Obviously, they get back together later on, since she goes on to marry him.)

This story was itself a retcon which massively brought forward the earliest meeting between Moira and Joe; previously, the implication was that either she met him after breaking up with Charles, or perhaps that he was the impetus for that break-up. This story inserts him much earlier and has him as the pre-existing boyfriend when Moira and Charles first meet. House of X implies that Moira marries Joe because she identifies him as a potential father of mutant children; that’s perhaps more understandable if she already knows him, and she’s dated him before. Though quite what Moira ever saw in Joe is never clear – in his handful of on-panel appearances, he’s depicted as an awful, overbearing boorish misogynist, and that’s on a good day. Claremont seems to think that she’s blown away by the dashing military man, but that doesn’t really work for Hickman given her centuries of life experience.

The flashback also mentions that Moira is already a clan chieftain – which implies that her father must have died by this point. That contradicts the earlier Marvel Graphic Novel #4 (also written by Claremont), which says that Moira is the heir and strongly implies that Lord Kinross is still around. Either way, we never see him.

Excalibur #79 by Scott Lobdell, Chris Cooper, Ken Lashley et al (“The Douglock Chronicles, Part II: Twisted Logic”, July 1994). This story includes a flashback to Moira and Charles visiting the French Riviera as students. It fits rather nicely with HoXPoX, since they’re discussing whether “humans and mutants face a common disaster”. On the other hand, it has Charles saying “I’m a mutant, you’re human”, when he’s supposed to know the truth, but let’s not get too worked up about stray lines of dialogue in stories by fill-in writers. (A bigger problem for Hickman is the whole storyline about Moira as the first human to be infected by the Legacy Virus, but we’ll get to that in a later post.) According to Excalibur #81, Moira and Charles also visit the Eiffel Tower during this holiday.

Powers of X #6 has a journal entry where Moira says that she recruited Charles to her cause months after first allowing him to read her mind, and that she didn’t allow him to read it again. That dovetails well enough with Uncanny #389, where Charles says that they “were the only ones who had a clue about the ultimate implications of genetic mutation, and we discussed them passionately.”

Moira and Charles become engaged, as mentioned for the first time in X-Men vol 1 #117, but never actually shown on panel. The back-up strip in Classic X-Men #36 has a photo of them as a couple.

First X-Men #1 by Neil Adams & Christos Gage (“Children of the Atom”, August 2012). This rather unnecessary continuity implant series features Logan forming a proto version of the X-Men years early. Logan visits Charles at Oxford University, and Moira has a brief cameo, discussing with Charles whether to invite Cain Marko to their wedding.

Excalibur vol 3 #14 by Chris Claremont, Aaron Lopresti et al (“The End of the World as we Know it!”, July 2005). The final issue of the Genoshan Excalibur series is ostensibly a House of M crossover, but actually consists of an extended sequence of Charles Xavier exploring his own memories with the aid of Dr Strange. The accuracy of the flashbacks is extremely debatable, partly because it’s all a bit surreal, and partly because the story tries to establish some extremely unlikely things, such as Charles serving in the military alongside Kitty Pryde’s father. But Claremont is undoubtedly trying to establish that the mystery telepath-proof lecturer from Uncanny #389 was Mr Sinister, who went on to be Moira’s thesis adviser. This subplot about Moira working with Sinister in her teens never went anywhere, but it could easily fit into Hickman’s mythos.

As for why Chris Claremont twice tried to get this new Moira MacTaggert subplot going, in stories published after she’d been killed off, and in books where he was on his way out of the door… your guess is as good as mine.

X-Men vol 1 #117 by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum & Terry Austin (“Psi War!”, January 1979). This is the issue where Charles Xavier reminisces about his first encounter with the Shadow King, but that flashback also has an opening montage that fills in some of the back story with him and Moira. Shortly before they were due to marry, Charles is drafted. (X-Men: Legacy #208 specifies that he fought in Korea, though thanks to sliding time it may now be the dreaded Sin-Cong Conflict, introduced in History of the Marvel Universe #2 as a general dumping ground for stories that were meant to take place in Korea or Vietnam. Even aside from the dubious use of a generic Asian nation, the whole idea is a continuity tail wagging the dog.) Around a month before he is due to be discharged anyway, Charles gets a letter from Moira breaking off their engagement without explanation, returning the ring that he gave her, and telling him not to come looking for her. Uncanny X-Men #389 (which expands on Charles’s reaction to the letter) mentions that Charles and Moira meet during several periods of shore leave, during which she nicknamed him the Good Shepherd for his search and rescue operations.

X-Men #117, published in the seventies, was the earliest flashback to really fill in any of Moira’s back story, and it was a retcon even then – in Moira’s earliest appearances, Claremont was plainly setting up a subplot that Charles had done something awful to her when they split up. This flashback casually ignores all that and reverses it. Claremont never directly explains why Moira dumps Charles, though the simplest explanation would be that she meets Joe (again). Only one pre-Hickman story addresses the point directly – Excalibur vol 1 #81, which pretty much has her claiming that she broke off the engagement because she was intimidated by how awesome Charles and his dream were. Obviously, that was a terrible idea, and it comes from a fill-in issue so we can all quietly ignore it.

Powers of X #6 has a couple more diary entries that must take place before the break-up – either before Charles’ military service, or during a period of leave. Moira writes that she believes her romance with Charles is stopping him from becoming the person he needs to be; and together, they come up with the idea of using a group of mutants including a reality-warper, prompting her to look for possible mates with whom they could parent such a mutant. This is presumably meant to suggest that Moira is both trying to steer Charles in the desired direction, and leaving him in order to pursue Joe and have a child… all of which is at least as good an explanation for Moira dumping Charles as we had before.

One way or the other, Moira reconciles with Joe and marries him. Nothing of their married life has ever been shown on panel, unless you count their wedding photo, which can be seen in the back-up strip in Classic X-Men #36. But we’ve been told quite a bit about it, none of it very pleasant.

According to House of X #2, Moira is 25 at the time of the marriage, which is presumably a few years after she split up with Charles. X-Men vol 1 #127 says that Moira and Joe split up around 20 years before that story, following an incident in New York where Joe puts Moira in hospital for a week, and also leaves her pregnant with the child who becomes Proteus. When that story was published, the Comics Code prohibited any suggestions of sexual violence, which explains why Claremont dances slightly around the topic, but the implication is perfectly obvious. Later stories, published after the Code was out of the way, are more direct on the point – again, the Classic X-Men #36 back-up is unambiguous. None of this is inconsistent with Hickman’s retcon, but it does make the conception of Proteus into an area where sensible writers will tread carefully.

Moira and Joe don’t divorce, but are separated from this point on. (Supposedly Joe refuses her a divorce, though that’s not how Scots divorce law actually worked, even when these stories came out. Let’s assume that it works differently in the Marvel Universe.)

Across several late-seventies stories, Chris Claremont also gives a time frame of roughly 20 years ago for Moira to move to Muir Isle and set up the Mutant Research Centre there (see in particular Marvel Team-Up vol 1 #69, X-Men vol 1 #133 and Fantastic Four vs X-Men #1), and for her to give birth to Kevin (see X-Men vol 1 #127-128). He never spells this out clearly in a single story, but he’s so consistent about the 20-year time frame that he clearly intends these things to fit together. So, after splitting from Joe, Moira moves to Muir Isle, and she and Kevin live alone there for at least several years. Fantastic Four vs X-Men is explicit that she comes to Muir Isle for the first time in order to establish the Centre. House of X #2 is broadly consistent with all this and says that the Centre was set up two years after she married Joe (making their married life pretty short).

Unfortunately, House of X #2’s timeline also has Proteus being born four years after Moira sets up the Muir Research Centre, which really doesn’t fit with the established timeline. That’s either a retcon or a continuity error, and for the moment I’m assuming the latter.

X-Men: Legacy #208 by Mike Carey, John Romita, Klaus Janson & others (“From Genesis to Revelations”, February 2008). This story has a brief flashback to Moira meeting Charles at a Scottish café, in what seems to be their first meeting since their break-up. (New Mutants vol 1 #27 says they don’t see each other for around 10 years after the break-up.) Charles is investigating mutants and asks Moira to share data; Moira says she has to keep her files confidential, and queries whether the godlike mutants will need his guidance anyway. This is the “Moira as sympathetic sceptic” interpretation which often comes up when writers want somebody to suggest that Charles is being a bit evangelical about his own role.

The flashback has to fit in here so that Charles can reunite with Moira while the Muir Isle Centre is still under construction. That helps to square New Mutants vol 1 #44, which claims that Muir Isle was “established as a companion facility to Xavier’s school” (something that works rather better under Hickman). But it’s also needed for Excalibur vol 1 #100, which reveals that Charles asked Moira to lay a “crypt room” in the foundations; this is the room where he ends up keeping hidden things like the Xavier Protocols that play a minor role in the Onslaught crossover. Presumably, post Hickman, it could feature all sorts of other dodgy hidden agenda stuff as well.

Having set up Muir Isle, Moira goes on to win a Nobel Prize, first mentioned in X-Men vol 1 #128. There’s a photo of her accepting it in Classic X-Men #36’s backup. House of X #2 says she won it a year after setting up Muir Isle, presumably for work she had done already.

New Mutants #11 by Nunzio Defilippis, Christina Weir, Carlo Barberi and Avalon Studios (“The Ties That Bind, Part 5 of 6”, February 2004). Fourteen years before the New Mutants are formed, Moira delivers Rahne Sinclair, whose mother dies in childbirth. Moira hands little Rahne over to Reverend Craig to raise (which is a very strange decision unless she knows that Craig is Rahne’s biological father). This is a very brief flashback which expands on a reference in Marvel Graphic Novel #4; we’ll get back to Moira and Rahne in a future post.

If you’re wondering about Moira’s maternal relationship with little Kevin… well, X-Men vol 1 #128 establishes that he gets shoved into a holding cell at age ten because his powers are so dangerous. His life before that is something of a blank; the only details are in an anecdote in Excalibur vol 1 #106 (from the start of the Ben Raab run) which talks about Moira and Kevin watching supply boats together from the balcony. That’s literally it. It’s another retcon-friendly blank slate. Keep this in mind, though, because we’ll see in future parts that Moira’s professed relationships with both Kevin and Rahne aren’t exactly backed up by as much on-panel evidence as you might expect.

Cable #-1 by James Robinson, Ladronn & Juan Vlasco (“The Devil’s Herald”, July 1997). This is the Flashback Month issue of Cable. Cable travels to the present day for the first time (from his point of view) and appears in Stornoway. Moira brings him to Muir Isle, and he learns English from her mind. Moira carries out some tests and learns about his techno-organics; then she puts him in touch with Charles Xavier.

This story is supposed to tie up a loose end about how Cable and Moira knew each other (which we’ll get to during the Muir Island Saga period). Regrettably, Cable #-1 is a bit of a train wreck. Moira’s claim she hasn’t spoken to Charles in several years is a bit weird but just about plausible, and besides, maybe she’s lying. Stornoway is depicted as a superstitious village (it actually has a population of several thousand). Moira discovers Cable’s techno-organics, which contradicts Cable #9, where she discovers them again (but maybe he wipes her memory). And the big one, Rahne is shown as Moira’s adoptive daughter as a young child (which is just nonsense). Fortunately she does nothing essential to the plot, so we can choose to just ignore her.

Next time, more prehistory, covering the formation of the X-Men through to Moira’s actual debut at the start of Chris Claremont’s run.

Bring on the comments

  1. Chris V says:

    This is a nice surprise. It was a fun read.

    Yeah, the Legacy Virus ret-con puts Moira in a really horrible light.
    She continued to lie for the sake of her agenda, even though it meant that humans started to hate mutants even more (yet again).

    Unless part of her agenda was to foment more human/mutant hatred, in order to convince Charles that his dream was unworkable….

  2. S says:

    If Cable learned English from Moira’s mind, shouldn’t he have a Scottish accent too?

  3. Rob says:

    Also, re Cable -1, didn’t Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix establish that Cable spoke English with Redd and Slym as a child? It was a suspicious activity that apocalypse’s forces commented on in issue #2, I think.

  4. CJ says:

    Wow, very cool. I can imagine this headache this retcon could cause.

    I saw the title and thought, “Oh man I missed an issue this week!?”

  5. YLu says:

    >(X-Men: Legacy #208 specifies that he fought in Korea, though thanks to sliding time it may now be the dreaded Sin-Cong Conflict

    According to Kurt Busiek, who invented the Siancong retcon, it isn’t.

  6. Michael says:

    I love a good deep dive into comics continuity and trivia, so this is making for an interesting read. 🙂

  7. Andrew says:

    That’s great Paul, thanks so much for this. A really interesting read.

    I always wondered if Claremont had further plans for Moira had his latter runs actually lasted for more than a handful of years. He was always a fan of laying the groundwork for really long-running things, and then simply abandoning them for years on end.

    And there was plenty of stuff in his 2000 run that, in hindsight, clearly never got developed – ie what the hell happened to Kitty after the NEO thing.

  8. Walter Lawson says:

    We do meet Moira’s father in the X-Men: True Friends mini while Shadowcat and Phoenix are time-traveling to the 1930s.

    Connecting Moira to Sinister may have been a way for Claremont to build up Sinister a bit more. Or it may have been a way to set up a resurrection for Moira sometime: Sinister could clone her.

  9. Paul says:

    I think X-Men: True Friends never specifies whether Lord Alasdhair Kinross from the 1930s is Moira’s father or her grandfather. The final issue says that he died in World War II, but at the time of publication (1999) that would still have worked with him being Moira’s father.

    However, the House of X #2 timeline says that Moira is now aged 52, which implies that she was born in 1967. This is a problem in Moira’s back story which has been opened up by sliding time, and the general solution is not to look at it too closely.

    The problem is that Moira’s back story pins her as a contemporary of Charles Xavier. Charles, in turn, is pinned to being a contemporary of Magneto. And Magneto’s back story is absolutely fixed to World War II. Magneto and Charles both have explanations for the discrepancy – Magneto’s de-aging in Defenders in the 1970s, and Xavier getting a new cloned body after the Brood storyline in the 1980s – but Moira doesn’t. And even Charles’ explanation is straining at the seams these days, since his new body would be dropping something like 40 years of age.

    The usual solution seems to be to avoid looking at all this too closely. At a push, in 2019 it’s probably easier to break the link between Charles and Magneto being direct contemporaries and simply have them share key experiences in later life, but there are understandable thematic reasons why writers prefer to steer clear of the whole can of worms.

  10. Nu-D says:

    Enjoyed this a lot, Paul. Thanks.

  11. Evilgus says:

    Also really enjoying this summary. Thanks!

    Interested if you establish any ‘through lines’ for Moira’s character in all her appearances. Eg, the point that she isn’t actually all that maternal based on what we see.

    My own understanding was that the horrible thing that Charles did to her was causing the death of ‘her’ squad of mutants in Deadly Genesis. (Probably one of the first good examples of using Moira’s blank slate past and her close ties to Xavier to have quite an impact).

    Also didn’t know Sinister was meant to be Moira’s tutor. I do think Claremont had a grand unifying theory of everything, when he was on top of his game.

  12. Paul says:

    Deadly Genesis can certainly be read as explaining away those references in her earliest appearances, but it’s pretty clearly a plot that Claremont dropped after a few issues in favour of a different version of her back story. It’s all just quietly forgotten about at an early stage.

  13. Thom H. says:

    What a treat! Thanks for your continued attention to Hickman’s new direction for the X-Men. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

    Also — and this might be obvious — but reading about Moira’s stories in chronological order makes it clear that there was never a clear and problem-free Moira continuity for Hickman to mess up. At worst, he was simply applying another continuity patch to her — just like apparently every other X-writer ever.

    Future installments might prove me wrong, but it sounds like her timeline was kind of a mess to begin with.

  14. Voord 99 says:

    Pursuant to Thom H.’s comment, it’s probably not the case that having a character live different lives over and over again is *consciously* intended as commentary on them already being a mess of different versions haphazardly thrown together by virtue of her being a secondary character attached to other characters’ narratives, but…

  15. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Thanks for the link to that tweet – it came as a surprise to me that Busiek invented the Sin-Cong Conflict, mainly because I thought Busiek didn’t have anything to do with the current Marvel.

    But then I remembered he has an upcoming miniseries, or a series of one-shots, I think – Marvel Snapshots, which is supposed to focus on different periods of history in every issue. I guess there’ll be a Sin-Cong Conflict issue somewhere in there.

  16. Mark Coale says:

    I thought Kurt said in those tweets that it was something he came up with while he was writing Iron Man.

  17. Mordechai Buxner says:

    Thanks for making this! This is exactly what I wished someone would make after the House of X retcon, but I didn’t think anyone would be crazy enough to actually do it.

  18. Chris V says:

    Mark Waid is listed as the creator of this debacle on the Marvel database web-site.

  19. CJ says:

    It’s completely tangential to Hickman’s retcon, but I’ve wondered whether or not Moira X’s alternate universe appearances would be affected. Do alternate Moiras die?

    The only one that immediately comes to mind is in Age of Apocalypse (discussed in an earlier thread with Chris V I believe), where Earth-295 ends more or less concurrently with the Human High Council getting nuked, and Moira is right there, believed to be a human.

    I’m ignoring the fact that Earth-295 continued to exist (maybe she survived). Maybe in a world where both Xavier and Apocalypse are dead, she had no real plan.

  20. Moo says:

    Damn. I’m conflicted here.

    On one hand, thank you very much for this, Paul. Great read. Really, thank you.

    On the other hand, I can’t help but wish the time spent on this could’ve gone back to the Uncanny X-Men index of yours that still has a Claremont-sized hole in it.

  21. Chris V says:

    CJ-There was a New Exiles story-arc where they met an alternate Moira who was a member of the X-Men, and she had some sort of energy blast powers.
    She went by the codename “Hypernova”. The story was written by Claremont.
    So, in at least one alternate world, she apparently had completely different mutant powers.

    With alternate universes, it is entirely possible that Moira wasn’t a mutant.

  22. Joe says:

    Good stuff as ever, Paul.

    “Moira has a brief cameo, discussing with Charles whether to invite Cain Marko to their wedding.”
    Great idea! I’m sure it’ll go smashingly.

  23. Chris says:

    The question of whether Moira has a mutant gene in another reality depends on when that reality branched.

  24. Paul says:

    Re True Friends: I should have added that Ellis’s Excalibur establishes that Moira’s father was still alive when she was 13. Therefore, the character in True Friends can’t be her father (since that would imply that Moira was born no later than 1932).

  25. Dazzler says:

    I do think there’s something interesting about doing such deep dives into the work, even if I think the work is unworthy. I’m more interested in Paul actually reviewing this stuff, but I know it’s not time yet.

    I will say that Moira’s entire run with Excalibur is totally incompatible with any of this Moira X stuff. So much sitting around doing nothing, though that run did make me appreciate the character. Obviously much of X-Men history is incompatible with the retcon. Not sure how beneficial it will be to dive deeper than Hickman did, but I’m interested in the eventual overall analysis.

    I will echo my friend Moo’s sentiment that I would rather see this effort put into the gap from the old X-Axis, but I understand if that doesn’t interest Paul.

  26. Médard says:

    Thanks for making this! Really insightful.

  27. Jason says:

    Wow, this is awesome. I’ve always liked Moira, but I’ve always been vague on how her backstory is meant to fit together. (Just reading this first entry in the series, it sounds like that was not entirely my fault.)

    I don’t particularly like the Hickman retcon, but I also don’t particularly care. Still, I’m definitely in for this blog series, just for the non-HoxPox-related character biography.

    Count this as another enthusiastic “thanks!”

  28. Bloodredcookie says:

    Maybe it’s because I’ve always wanted to see Lian Nieson play Cable, but I’ve always imagined him having a subtle Scottish accent.

    Just me? Ok then.

  29. Col_Fury says:

    Good stuff, Paul! Thanks.

    Am I the only one who thinks the Sin-Cong conflict thing is a good idea? It neatly explains and shoves aside so many things that just don’t work anymore. Flash Thompson was drafted? Sin-Cong. Frank Castle isn’t 70 years old? Sin-Cong. etc.

    I like it, anyway. 🙂

  30. Chris V says:

    From what I understand, they already ret-conned the Frank Castle thing so that he was involved in the Iraq War, instead of Vietnam.
    I’d say it works.
    It’s only in the MAX imprint that he was involved in Vietnam, and I believe that the MAX version of Castle is 70 years old, per Ennis.

    The only thing I don’t like about it is that the Marvel Universe was always a close approximation of our own world, only with superpowers.
    We had an entire generation greatly effected by the Vietnam War, and the Vietnam War was a major part of the Marvel Universe too.
    It wasn’t like DC.

    Will they try to make up some fictional events for the origin of Magneto eventually?
    I think that could be offensive.
    Eventually, they will have to explain it away, because even with the age regression, it will get to a point where Magneto would have to have died before that story in Defenders could ever have happened.

    Right now, it can work, if you ret-con some things about Xavier’s past.
    There’s no reason that Magnus couldn’t have been an older man than Xavier.
    That’s only for right now though.

    I like the suspension of disbelief.
    Yes, the Vietnam War started in the 1960s, yes it is now 2020, and yes a lot of characters’ back-stories involve Vietnam, which makes no sense, but let’s just ignore the logistics and pretend.

  31. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Well, generally speaking the choice was to ignore the logistics or invent the Sin-Cong conflict. Or move every Vietnam reference to Iraq/Afghanistan and paper over the cracks?

    The ‘close approximation of our world’ thing doesn’t really work either. Sure, the heroes are based in New York and a few other real-world cities instead of Gothams and Metropolises, but whole swaths of Central and South America, Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa and South East Asia have been completely fictional. It’s hard to argue for the close approximation when reading stories about Latverian-Symkarian border conflicts. (Not to mention the completely fictionalized depictions of real-world countries and politics, as mentioned on this blog multiple times regarding the Queen’s role in Marvel Comics).

    As for Magneto – I used to posit in the comments that his origin could be moved to another point in history (eg the Yugoslav Wars). Now I think the issue could be sidestepped completely with a small retcon to his powers. Just give him a vague increased lifespan, problem solved. Well, mostly. He wouldn’t be a contemporary of Xavier anymore, but that’s not much of an issue. But there would also be a need to explain why he waited so long before he took up supervillainy (and that coincides with the beginning of the X-Men).
    I guess he could have been secretly hunting Nazis for a few decades before settling down with Magda – and the death of their child could be what pushes him into supervillainy.

  32. Arrowhead says:

    “On one level, it doesn’t really matter all that much. The idea that the Marvel Universe fits together seamlessly is a fiction; as long as it feels like it works, that’s probably good enough for most purposes. Which means it’s generally good enough to be consistent with the broad strokes, and with any details that the readers are likely to remember. It’s hardly a big problem if there’s an inconsistent line of dialogue in a long forgotten fill-in story.”

    This perfectly sums up how I feel about shared universe superhero comics and continuity.

  33. Moo says:

    “I guess he could have been secretly hunting Nazis for a few decades before settling down with Magda – and the death of their child could be what pushes him into supervillainy.”

    I really think they should just do the Cap thing with him. Have him wind up in suspended animation (somehow) just shortly after WWII (or during even) for x number of decades. Solves the problem of having to explain what he’d been up to for decades up until Cape Citadel.

    Because if he’s conscious from WWII until the present day era, then it means that a guy with close to a century’s worth of practice and experience with a very impressive super-power gets foiled by a pack of inexperienced teenagers at their first meeting.

  34. Chris V says:

    Well, if he’s aging in normal time, then when he first fights the X-Men, he’s going to be a senior citizen. Based on his behaviour in the Silver Age, most likely he had dementia.
    That could explain it.

    They could also explain his past as that he moves to Israel and he tried to live a normal life, putting the horrors of the past behind him.
    When he sees the emergence of mutants and the fact that they are being persecuted by humans, it sets him over the edge.

  35. Voord 99 says:

    I think I can handle the original teenage X-Men defeating a Magneto who’d been a Nazi hunter for however many decades are necessary without finding it particularly implausible by comics standards.

    Especially since that story makes a point of Magneto being able to take on the US armed forces without a sweat — it’s pretty clear that the idea is that being able to defeat this unstoppable force in under 15 minutes (it’s timed) is supposed to show the reader just how amazing these kids are (and get you to buy the next issue).

    Mind you, UXM #1 is in massively poor taste if you think of the Magneto in it as a Jewish Holocaust survivor, so it’s probably best not to worry about it in any case.

  36. Moo says:

    “Well, if he’s aging in normal time, then when he first fights the X-Men, he’s going to be a senior citizen.”

    We’re going to arrive at a point where he couldn’t possibly be alive when the X-Men form.

  37. Jerry Ray says:

    I know I post something like this every time the topic comes up, but still…

    Somehow, I’m not bothered by the passage of time in comics. Jumping through complicated hoops like inventing fictional wars and transplanting origin stories into them doesn’t make for good stories and usually makes the characters worse.

    Why not just mentally say “time moves in funny ways in comic books” and leave the history alone?

    If you have to get all Gwenpool meta with it, say that in the fictional Marvel universe, time only passes for primary and secondary characters when they’re actually on panel or when a story explicitly references the passage of time. The world, and it’s corresponding “topical references,” progresses in the background, but time only passes for the characters in the way that the story requires. Done, let’s tell some new stories and stop trying to fix the old ones.

  38. Jerry Ray says:

    Sorry for the stupid grammar in that last post. No edit…

  39. ASV says:

    I’d love it if they explicitly brought the Franklin Richards sliding timeline explanation in.

  40. Moo says:

    “Why not just mentally say “time moves in funny ways in comic books” and leave the history alone?”

    You can’t. The fact that this conversation is taking place is proof of that. We’ve had it before. We likely will again. We’re not the only readers having it.

    Explanations. Cap has the suspended animation thing. Nick Fury had the … whatever the hell it was, I forget. Serum?

    Then there’s retcons. Tony Stark had his heart damaged in Afghanistan. Punisher is now a Gulf War vet. It used to be that the FF were trying to beat the Russians to the moon. Not anymore.

    Magneto hasn’t been dealt with yet. It’s gotta happen at some point. Why would be an exception?

  41. Jason says:

    ““Why not just mentally say “time moves in funny ways in comic books” and leave the history alone?”

    You can’t.”

    Or … CAN you?

  42. Voord 99 says:

    Somehow, I’m not bothered by the passage of time in comics. Jumping through complicated hoops like inventing fictional wars and transplanting origin stories into them doesn’t make for good stories and usually makes the characters worse.

    I mostly agree, and in a lot of cases it really doesn’t matter — one can just avoid mentioning it, instead of kludging in a supposed fix that offers no possibilities. It’s not like anyone worries about what Peter Parker was wearing around the time when Gwen Stacy died being implausible in a story that now “should” have taken place a few years ago.

    But I think with something like the Magneto Holocaust connection, it’s a little different. The event in question is both very much part of collective memory — everyone knows about it and when it happened — and is defining to the character (in his later version, but that has essentially completely erased the previous Magneto).

    So in that case it does affect the reading process, at least for me. Or will. Right now Magneto still works, but we’re not far off the point at which he won’t. But that’s not an element in Magneto that can easily be allowed to slip out of mind, like Reed Richards being in the OSS in WWII — it’s too significant for the character.

    The Sin-Cong War thing is just a bad idea, though. The problem of a character who is attached to a real event that has some special importance in our collective memory, but which is receding into the past — that problem is not in any way solved by creating a fictional event to replace the real one, because that fictional event can never *matter* to us in the way that the real one does.

    The Sin-Cong War is peculiarly unnecessary, because, sadly, real life has given us replacements for Vietnam that have already proven to be workable — Afghanistan and/or Iraq will work for Tony Stark and the Punisher for several years to come, and both characters arguably have been enhanced by being associated with recent history. So the Sin-Cong War is a bad version of a generally flawed idea.

    However, I do like the thing that our host Paul O’Brien pointed out, that it is now the case that The ‘Nam officially does not take place during the Vietnam War.

  43. Chris V says:

    Jason…he he he


    The problem is that there’s just nothing in history that works as well for Magneto’s back-story as the Holocaust.

    How many people even know exactly what happened in Yugoslavia?
    Is Magneto now going to be a Bosnian Muslim going forward?

    I just don’t see any recent historical event being able to resonate in the same way as the Holocaust.

    So, if they are forced to explain it away, I hope it won’t ret-con Magnus’ back-story.

  44. Chris V says:

    Voord-They need to rename The ‘Nam comic to The Cong!

  45. Voord 99 says:

    @Chris V: Or maybe it’s now The Nam..

    Soldiers in the Sin-Cong War were sitting around, saying, “You know what this reminds me of? My Uncle Jerry’s stories about Vietnam. Like, maybe this is our ‘Nam’… “ — does the scare quotes thing with their fingers — and it takes off, and for some reason that’s what everyone calls the Sin-Cong War, “the ‘Nam.’”

  46. Moo says:

    They don’t have to ditch the Holocaust backstory. They just either need to come up with an explanation for him not aging from that point forward, or ice him like they did with Cap.

    Alternatively, set a story in the late-50s where Magneto is still hunting Nazis and in one instance,he pursues some Nazi scientist through some sort of forward time-jump portal. Like a reverse Bishop.

  47. Col_Fury says:

    Nick Fury had the Infinity Formula to slow his aging. 🙂

    The other thing about Magneto… even though Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver aren’t his kids anymore (but now that the movie rights are back with Marvel, they might reverse that reverse, which was a retcon in the first place), everyone thought it was at least extremely possible that they were his. Not only that, but Magda was their mother, who was in the concentration camps with Magnus. A retcon was applied that had the High Evolutionary putting the kids into suspended animation to explain away their ages.

    And then there’s the whole Gabrielle Haller stuff, being experimented on by Baron Strucker… I’d have to look into it, but maybe that doesn’t have to be tied to WWII.

    But yeah, you can’t separate Magneto from the Holocaust.

  48. Moo says:


    I suggested Magneto could possibly pursue a Nazi forward in time through a time portal. Strucker could be that Nazi.

    Strucker gets away, meets a woman, gets married and they have the Strucker twins. Magneto meets and marries Magda and they have the Maximoff twins.

    Magda wouldn’t be a Holocaust survivor in this scenario but I don’t think that’s as crucially important as Magneto being one.

  49. Col_Fury says:

    Ah, there it is. Uncanny #161 says Gabrielle Haller (Legion’s mother) is a concentration camp survivor. Baron Strucker abducts her (once she’s revived from her coma that she’s been in since her time in Dachau) because her mind has been programmed with the location of hidden Nazi gold. Xavier revives her “20 years ago,” which would have been 1962 at the time.

    Excalibur #14 (2005) shows Mr. Sinister experimenting on Haller in a concentration camp. So now (as of then), Xavier would have revived Haller in… 1990? 1995? She’s been in a coma for 50 years, and yet looks like she’s 25? Yikes.

    Excalibur #14 also shows Mr. Sinister present when Wanda and Pietro are taken out of suspended animation by the High Evolutionary.

    Excalibur #14 also shows Mr. Sinister mentoring young Moira at Oxford. 🙂

  50. Col_Fury says:

    re: Moo
    Ah, but Magda has to be a concentration camp survivor. Check out Classic X-Men #12 and X-Factor Annual #4. 🙂

    My personal theory about Magneto’s age is every ten years or so from 1965/1975 to “20 years ago” he puts himself into a magnetic stasis coma (for an unspecified amount of time, maybe six months to a year?) which rejuvenates his health, slowing his aging process. Then, “20 years ago,” he meets Xavier in Israel.

    Total fanwank nonsense, but I like it as a theory. 🙂

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