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Feb 8

The Complete Moira, Part 6

Posted on Saturday, February 8, 2020 by Paul in Moira, Uncategorized

For previous chapters, see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.

This time round, we’ll cover Moira’s early 90s, where she… well, gets passed around various books for a while, then lands in a title that barely has a regular writer. Despite that, these issues set the course for Moira’s remaining stories.

X-Men vol 2 #1-3 by Chris Claremont, Jim Lee & Scott Williams (“Rubicon”, “Firestorm” and “Fallout”, October to December 1991). The last Chris Claremont story (for now, at least). Magneto’s manipulative new aide Fabian Cortez provokes him into taking up villainy again, and tells him that he has been subjected to genetic engineering. Magneto works out that it must be something Moira did to him during the period when he had been turned into an infant, and he was under her care. So he abducts Moira (and Professor X) to Asteroid M in order to yell at her. Moira confirms that her tests suggested that his body couldn’t handle the energy being processed by his powers, and so she modified his DNA to remove the instability, hoping that the same process could be used to cure Proteus. Magneto is outraged by what he sees as an interference in his free will. The rest of the story sees Magneto force Moira to use the same process to alter the personalities of half the X-Men so that the team can kick off their new series by fighting one another – but it turns out that the process quickly wears off when mutants use their powers. Magneto ends up sending the X-Men and Moira home, and seemingly dies aboard his exploding satellite.

Frankly, this story is a mess. The idea of Moira using scientific means to alter peoples’ personalities comes from X-Men #104, the first appearance of Muir Isle. So does Moira’s hope that the process could be applied to Proteus. But the idea hadn’t been mentioned since. The plot logic is wonky too – even in comic book logic, there’s a huge gap from “removing an instability in Magneto’s powers” to “mind-controlling the X-Men to join the Acolytes”, but apparently the same procedure can do both. What’s more, the plot wants us to believe that the process doesn’t work on mutants because “the structures of mind and body have to be aligned a certain specific way for those powers to operate”, so that every time they use their powers, their minds revert to normal. How on earth that’s meant to work for Beast or Psylocke, I have no idea.

Moira is already in tears about the whole thing before Magneto confronts her over it, for no apparent reason. Nor it is clear if she already knew that the process didn’t work. The plot works better if she didn’t – otherwise she’s artificially holding back information to let the plot work – but Magneto was a villain for 50 issues or so after being reverted to adulthood, so how could she ever have thought that it had worked?

At any rate, Moira goes into a histrionic emotional tailspin over all this (even by the standards of a histrionic era), presumably because she’s confronted with something she now recognises as ethically unacceptable, or at least hopelessly counterproductive.

(There’s also a line of dialogue where Moira offers to let Charles read her mind and he says he’s never done that and never will – which obviously doesn’t quite fit with House of X. But Moira did refuse to let him read her mind after their first contact, so they could be referring to that.

Moira has a diary entry in Powers of X #6 about losing Magneto: “We have lost Magneto. I had hoped – given the opportunity – to help make him a better man. Instead all we have made is an enemy.” Presumably that refers to the story above. If so, the emphasis shifts to Moira being upset about her alliance falling apart – but that actually works better as an explanation for her reaction.

X-Men vol 2 #4 by Jim Lee, John Byrne & Scott Williams (“The Resurrection and the Flesh”, January 1992). A melodramatically miserable Moira decides to leave the X-Men and spend some time alone, leaving poor Sean behind.

There’s some botched plotting here. The idea seems to have been for Moira to go off on her own, and Sean to go after her. But in fact Moira shows up at Muir Isle almost immediately, and remains in regular contact with the X-Men… while poor Sean just vanishes.

X-Factor vol 1 #75 by Peter David, Larry Stroman & Al Milgrom (“The Nasty Boys”, February 1992). X-Factor need to know the plot of Fallen Angels, so Moira helpfully recaps it for them.

X-Men vol 2 #14-15, Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #295-296, X-Force vol 1 #17 & X-Factor vol 1 #86 by various creators (November 1992 to January 1993). These are all chapters of the “X-Cutioner’s Song” crossover. When Stryfe shoots Professor X and infects him with a techno-organic virus, Moira gets to spend several issues discussing treatment options with Beast over a videolink. For what it’s worth, this story has Moira’s first on-page interaction with Apocalypse (who eventually cures the Professor).

Moira doesn’t appear in Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #297 (the epilogue issue) but several of her medical diagnoses are reported to us.

X-Factor vol 1 #88-90 by Peter David, Scott Lobdell, Joe Quesada & Al Milgrom (“Random Violence”, “Dark Homecoming” and “A Green and Tender Place”, March to May 1993). After the X-Men toppled the Genoshan government (in “X-Tinction Agenda”), the formerly-enslaved mutates have started dying of a mystery affliction. Moira travels to Genosha to help investigate. This is an abortive storyline, introduced at the very end of the Peter David run and swiftly folded into the Legacy Virus plot (but we’ll get to that).

X-Factor visit the island, including Moira’s ward Rahne. Rahne’s current subplot involves her becoming uncharacteristically obsessed with men, and she asks Moira for advice about these irrational urges. Moira runs some tests and blames it on a combination of (a) the mating instincts of Rahne’s wolf form, and (b) a master-slave relationship with Havok that was imprinted on her during her brief period as a mutate. Understandably, Rahne finds this extremely distressing news and demands to be cured, but Moira is far more concerned about the bigger problem of curing the mutates. She’s played here as remarkably dispassionate, and frankly dismissive about Rahne’s plea for emotional support.

This is arguably the single most Hickmanesque depiction of Moira prior to House of X. If you’re looking for support for the view that Moira’s relationship with Rahne is a very low priority for her, and gets shouldered aside by other concerns very easily, then there’s plenty of ammunition here – and Rahne herself seems to be coming round to that view by the end of these issues. (JM DeMatteis will try to tie up this loose end in issue #102, when Moira apologises to Rahne.)

Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #300 by Scott Lobdell, John Romita Jr & Dan Green (“Legacies”, May 1993). Fabian Cortez has Moira kidnapped so that her mind-control procedure can be used to enlist new converts to the Acolytes. Yes, this is the mind-control procedure from X-Men vol 2 #1-3. The one that we already established doesn’t work. Cortez claims (without explanation) that it didn’t work on the X-Men because of their strength of will, but it should be just fine with the routine Acolytes. That doesn’t fit with the earlier story at all, so either he’s wasting his time or it’s a retcon.

Either way, the X-Men rescue Moira. Later, back at the Mansion, Moira and Charles Xavier compare notes on the Genoshan mutates and other victims that Charles has found, and identify the cause as Stryfe’s Legacy Virus.

From this point on, Moira will be searching for a cure for the Legacy Virus – yes, right up to her death in 2001, eight years later. During that time, she will make pretty much no progress whatsoever, until right at the end when it’s finally time to get the Legacy Virus off the board. The simple reason is that the Legacy Virus isn’t a story – it’s just part of the 90s status quo. Unfortunately for Moira, a large part of her role from here on is to pop up periodically and try to make it look like it’s going somewhere.

Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #301 by Scott Lobdell, John Romita Jr & Dan Green (“Dominion!”, June 1993). Moira and Charles discuss Illyana Rasputin’s infection with the Legacy Virus. Charles is in denial about it, and Moira is trying to get him to see sense.

Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #303 by Scott Lobdell, Richard Bennett & Dan Green (“Going Through the Motions”, August 1993). Illyana Rasputin dies from the Legacy Virus, despite the best efforts of Moira and others.

X-Men vol 2 #24 by Fabian Nicieza & Andy Kubert (“Digging Deeper, Between Hope and Sorrow”, September 1993). Sean Cassidy returns to the Mansion, having apparently wasted several months looking for Moira (who has been in contact with the X-Men and X-Factor all along). Sean ventures the opinion that Moira was upset by the Magneto incident because she doesn’t like being reminded of her own fallibility, which is fairly in line with Hickman. Moira talks about her feelings of survivor’s guilt, which was originally a Proteus reference, but works very well with Hickman too. Anyway, Moira and Sean are seemingly back together again. But their relationship never really picks up again on panel in any significant way, and fades out again when Sean moves to Massachusetts to join the cast of Generation X (after the Phalanx Covenant crossover, which we’ll get to below).

X-Men Unlimited vol 1 #2 by Fabian Nicieza, Jan Duursema and various (“Point Blank”, September 1993). Moira agrees to help Gabrielle Haller find ways to “neutralise” Magneto. She gives Haller biological data on Magneto, which Mossad uses to create special armour that can be used to sneak up on him. The story involves the wearer of the armour deciding not to go through with it; for some reason the armour itself never comes up again.

X-Men vol 2 #25 and Wolverine vol 2 #75 by various creators (“Fatal Attractions”, October & November 1993). This is the crossover where Magneto tears out Wolverine’s adamantium. Moira appears to offer her scientific thoughts on it all.

Excalibur vol 1 #71 by Scott Lobdell and various artists (“Fatal Attractions”, November 1993). Officially, this is also part of the same crossover, but in fact it’s only tenuously related. A bit of context here: Alan Davis’s run on Excalibur ended with issue #67; it’s followed by a year with no stable creative team, mostly working from plots by Scott Lobdell.

At any rate, this issue shows Muir Isle operating a secure psychiatric ward – apparently legally, since in this and following issues we see visiting medics from the mainland, and Muir is openly dealing with the likes of Rory Campbell, who comes from a mainstream university. Issue #102 will later claim that there are 11 prisoners on the island, but for some reason stories focus entirely on Spoor, a Z-list member of the Acolytes. Moira also stresses here that she’s now treating the patients with conventional therapy (presumably with the aid of the visiting medics, unless she’s picked up some psychiatric qualifications somewhere).

Magneto’s EMP pulse from X-Men #25 has knocked out the security systems, so Moira enlists Psylocke to round up the criminals. Then she helps in a scheme to try and win Colossus back after his defection to the Acolytes, which results in Moira sorting out his head injury, but him going back to the Acolytes anyway. At the end, Excalibur – at this point reduced to a rump of Nightcrawler, Shadowcat and Phoenix, plus a sick Meggan – agree to remain on Muir Isle, and Moira joins their supporting cast.

X-Men Annual vol 2 #2 by Fabian Nicieza, Aron Wiesenfeld & various inkers (“A Bluer Slice of Heaven”, 1993). Moira is still studying the Legacy Virus.

Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #308 by Scott Lobdell, John Romita Jr & Dan Green (“Mixed Blessings”, January 1994). A number of supporting characters show up for Thanksgiving at the X-Men Mansion, including Moira and Sean.

X-Men vol 2 #28 by Fabian Nicieza, Andy Kubert & Matt Ryan (“Devil in the House”, January 1994). Since she’s in town, Moira offers some thoughts on how to treat the captive Sabretooth.

Excalibur vol 1 #72-74 by Richard Ashford and various artists (“Ooohhh… Siena!”, “Memories are Made of This” and “In the Name of Love”, December 1993 to February 1994). Moira has got used to living alone, and is adjusting to having Excalibur around. Rory Campbell of Strathclyde University joins the supporting cast, as he arrives on the island to help treat the patients. Rory’s storyline will involve him discovering that he’s Ahab (the evil hound-master cyborg from Rachel Summers’ timeline), and trying to change his fate.

Siena Blaze of the Upstarts attacks Muir Isle with, confusingly, two completely unrelated agendas. First, the Upstarts’ Gamesmaster will give her points for killing Moira (interestingly, the omniscient Gamesmaster describes her as a “potential mutant”, ostensibly on the basis of her being Proteus’ mother). Second, Mr Sinister wants her to steal the record of Proteus’ DNA that she kept back in Classic X-Men #36. Moira gets to bravely confront Siena and hold her at bay until Excalibur drive her off. Also in these issues, Meggan emerges from her coma and Moira gets to deliver some exposition about that.

Cable vol 1 #9 by Fabian Nicieza, MC Wyman & Jason Gorder (“The Killing Field: In Humanity”, March 1994). Cable visits Muir Isle to talk with Rachel Summers about family stuff, and Moira takes the opportunity to run some tests on him. Moira discovers that Cable’s bionic parts are techno-organic (later contradicted in Cable #-1, but we covered that in part 1).

X-Men vol 2 #30 by Fabian Nicieza, Andy Kubert & Matt Ryan (“The Ties That Bind”, March 1994). Moira cameos as one of the guests at Scott and Jean’s wedding.

X-Factor vol 1 #101-102 by J M DeMatteis, Jan Duursema & Al Milgrom (“Afterlives” and “The Polaris Plot!”, April and May 1994). Moira attends the funeral of Jamie Madrox. Moira laments to Charles that she spent so little time in touch with someone she now claims to have thought of as a son – which seems very over the top in terms of how their relationship was shown. Of course, unlike Rahne, Jamie was an adult by the time Moira met him. Still, this apparently prompts Moira to smooth things over with Rahne, so they have a heart-to-heart and reconcile after their fight in issue #90. They declare their love for each other and then Moira, being Moira, leaves to go straight back to Muir Island. She is, after all, very busy on the Legacy Virus – and in fairness, Rahne will come to stay very soon.

Excalibur vol 1 #75 by Scott Lobdell, Ken Lashley & Randy Elliott (“Hello, I Must Be Going!”, March 1994). Back on Muir Isle, Moira offers her scientific thoughts on how Meggan’s powers work.

Wolverine vol 2 #81-82 by Larry Hama, Adam Kubert, Mike Sellers & Mark Farmer (“Storm Warning!”, May 1994). Moira plays her usual scientist role, while Excalibur subdue a drugged-up Wolverine and capture Cyber. Later, she offers some exposition about Wolverine’s health.

Excalibur vol 1 #79-80 by Scott Lobdell, Chris Cooper and various artists (“The Douglock Chronicles, parts 2 and 3”, July & August 1994). While Excalibur are off in the main plot (and we’ll talk about Douglock next time), Moira and Charles keep on researching the Legacy Virus. Moira tells him not to give up hope and then reveals that the Legacy Virus has spread to a human subject – specifically, her.

This storyline is… a problem for the Hickman retcon, since Xavier’s reaction to all this really makes no sense if he knows Moira is a mutant. In fairness, Hickman’s retcon does make sense of the oddity of Moira being the only non-mutant to be infected by the virus, which was never adequately explained. But there’s no getting round it: Xavier’s reaction in these issues, with nobody else in the room, is very hard to reconcile with HoXPoX.

Excalibur vol 1 #81 by Scott Lobdell, Chris Cooper and various artists (“Beginnings, Middles & Endings”, September 1994). Charles and Moira go on holiday to France and reminisce about visiting the country as students. You might think that taking a plague carrier from an isolated lab to a capital city was a bad idea, but you’re not a Excellent Scientist like Charles and Moira, so hush.

This is an issue of Charles trying to cheer Moira up and rekindling their romantic relationship with a bit of flirting. It’s also the issue where Moira claims that she called off their relationship because she was scared by the intensity of his dream, and it has some rather dated and random stuff about Moira lacking confidence in her own attractiveness.

X-Factor vol 1 #106 and X-Force vol 1 #38 by various creators (“The Phalanx Covenant: Life Signs, Parts 1 and 2”, September 1994). The Phalanx attack Muir isle, but Professor X, Excalibur and Moira escape and call for help. Moira helps locate the Phalanx and then takes a back seat. (As such, she skips the Excalibur issue of the crossover, even though it’s her home book.)

Excalibur Annual #2 by Richard Ashford and others (“The Interpretation of Dreams”, 1994). Psylocke and Britanic – which is what Brian Braddock was calling himself at that point – try to wake Jamie Braddock from his coma. Moira offers exposition.

Excalibur vol 1 #83-85 by Warren Ellis, Terry Dodson & WC Carani (“The Soulsword Trilogy”, November 1994 to January 1995). Behold, the light at the end of the tunnel. This is from an idea by Scott Lobdell, so not quite the start of the Ellis run proper… but in effect, this is where Moira falls into the hands of a regular writer again.

This story isn’t about Moira, and her role is largely to advance the plot – aside from a weird scene which reveals that she still keeps Joe MacTaggert’s clothes in her wardrobe. That somewhat fits with the “survivor’s guilt” interpretation of Moira, but mainly feels as though Ellis wasn’t aware of the details of their history.

Next time, Ellis’s Excalibur.

Bring on the comments

  1. Chris V says:

    The Legacy Virus issue is even worse in the context that Xavier and Moira realized it was going to create more hatred towards mutants.

  2. Moo says:

    “This time round, we’ll cover Moira’s early 90s, where she… well, gets passed around ”

    That certainly got my attention.

  3. Dazzler says:

    Good point, Chris V.

    Hey, among people who are super pumped about this status quo, do you think the retcon is necessary or enhances the story? Personally I think I’d be so much less averse to ask of this if it was just a new idea rather than some plan that’s obviously not actually been brewing all along.

  4. Dazzler says:

    Much less averse to *all of this.

  5. Joseph S. says:

    As I’ve said a few times now, I like the new status quo for Moira, I think the role works symbolically, in terms of her new position in the line as a balance to Xavier/the Father/male hubris. And I’m also happy to have her back in play. While obviously every detail won’t be squared by this retcon (or nearly any retcon) her backstory has enough incongruous moments that it resolves more problems than it creates, in my view.

    As for the scene with Charles and the Legacy Virus, my No Prize explanation would be that, knowing that he’s been restored from Back-up at least once, we’ll learn that one of those restores erased or blocked his memory of Moira’s plan and her true nature. I believe we’ve already scene Charles do just this to Sinister in PoX so why not on himself?

  6. Dazzler says:

    Okay, I’ll bite. What inconsistencies were so bad that this massive, sweeping reinvention of the character (and in fact the entire mission of the X-Men) makes more sense in the big picture?

  7. Taibak says:

    I realize this is tangential, but what the hell was going on with Excalibur at that point? Were sales strong enough to keep it going even though nobody had any idea what to do with the title?

    And who thought it was a good idea to write out two main characters off panel with no explanation?

  8. Joseph S. says:

    Look, I enjoy Hickman’s creator owned books, I enjoyed HoX/PoX but I’m not blind to his faults either. I think it’s best to approach this era as something of a soft reboot, as with other major transitions. I’m sure I’m repeating myself here but….

    So there are two separate issues. The big picture is of course the direction of the X-line in general, the other is the matter at hand, Moira. And of course, Hickman’s retcon links the two. There were no doubt other options.

    The big picture first. There seems to be a general consensus that the line has been floundering since M-Day. Morrison was onto something with the mutant subculture, which was dependent, at least in part, on the mutant population being significantly larger than it had been in the 90s. But this created a problem for Marvel. Even with Stan, mutants has simply been a way to hand-wave the need for origin stories. But a world with tens of millions of Mutants is too far from the world outside your window. So No More Mutants. But the books were rudderless since then, going in circles. Mansion to Island to Mansion and back.

    Moira didn’t need any sweeping reinvention. Her character has been dead for the better part of twenty years. She could have just stayed dead. Dead wasn’t affected the story at all. The inconsistency in her back story and characterization and motivations didn’t matter because she was dead. But as Paul has been detailing, many of those inconsistencies can know be explained away, or at least squinted away. Not that it matters. The story doesn’t hinge on going back to a story from 1979 and saying a yes, no wonder she was such a good shot and cold hearted killer. Just look through how many times in these 6 columns Paul has written “this makes more sense with Hickman’s retcon” compared to the relatively few “this one is difficult to square away.” But let’s wait until Paul finishes them all and see what the final verdict may be.

    But the line was also broken by Deadly Genesis’ take on Xavier. It certainly didn’t come out of the blue. The hidden dead team aside, it was the result of a 21st century sensibility reassessing the wisdom of a man manipulating a bunch of teenagers into child soldiers. Brubaker just held Charles accountable for that by giving the characters a suitable reason to finally pass judgment on him. But that left a void in the line as well, and since Cyclops himself tried to fill it and slid into villainy, or at least came to be nearly indistinguishable from Magneto, the line still felt like it lacked direction.

    It’s still very possible Hickman’s story will crash out of control. But putting Moira in the Mother role, symbolically opposite and above Xavier, works for me just fine. The Krakoa story didn’t need her at all, but I think it’s better for it because it gives the story scalability, augmenting the themes of evolution and post-humanity. It also sets her up as a kind of inevitable antagonist, but not the kind that you have to punch. I think that seems like a fine story idea. And maybe the story will be a critique of ethno-nationalism and the futility of the fantasy of retreat. Maybe capitalism was the answer to their problems all along. Or maybe the X-Men will finally realize “we’re going to have to be the parents” and say goodbye to both daddy and mommy. I don’t know, for now I’m happy to read and find out.

  9. Nu-D says:

    “Ok, I’ll bite,” he says, after inviting the discussion.

    I do think the Krakoa story is needlessly linked to this massive retcon. I think I would have written it that 616 was Moira IV, and she died as we saw. She was using her knowledge from lives 1-3 to try to make Xavier’s dream happen. Then, after death, she lived these other lives off screen. Finally, Moira X finds a way to come back to 616, concluding this timeline/life has the most promise, and she and Charles hatch the Krakoa plan from there.

  10. Luis Dantas says:

    @Taibak: It is not so much Excalibur as it is Marvel circa 1993.

    This is the time around the speculator crash, when Marvel was determined to flood the market with so many books every week that consumers would not have enough spending money left to buy from other publishers. It was not at all unusual to see titles that had not succeeded in years keep being published in order to further that ethically-challenged goal.

    The Power of the Bloat was strong in Marvel at that time, coincidentally matching the uuterly ridiculous aesthetics of the pencils that prevailed. They would soon enough actually attempt to keep five symultaneous Editors-in-Chief in what was still very much a shared universe, and file for Chapter 11 bankrupcy in late 1996.

    You would not believe how insane Marvel was in those days.

  11. Luis Dantas says:

    As for matters of consistency and continuity… I just don’t think that we can find any way of finding true solutions to those. After decades of real world time, perhaps a couple hundred of editors and writers, and well over seven thousand published issues, that is just not something that can actually be achieved.

    Ultimately, we are just having fun with the exercise. These are not even particularly glaring narrative tensions among the many that have accumulated since the 1960s. We could for instance consider that for all intents and purposes Onslaught is now a head of state and no one seems to have made much of it.

    Myself, I am disappointed that the truly interesting plots from HoxPoX seem to have been quietly dropped, Moira herself among them.

    For all we know, immediately after Powers of X #6 she may have found the hole-in-reality that brought Howard the Duck to Earth-616 back in the day and fallen through it and Charles and Magneto did not notice it yet. That is unsettling, after so much sudden spotlight on her in that series.

    I feel a bit of a whiplash. HoXPoX _achieved_ a sort-of-soft reboot, and most of the current books weakly acknowledge it, but there was an actual plot that I want to see followed through. Apparently that will require its own sweet time.

    Who knows when, if at all, I will learn how Krakoa actually manages to keep so many mutants fed and satisfied when there are hardly any hints of an actual economy beyond smuggling and selling of exotic drugs with something that approaches blackmail, no indication whatsoever of an actual Krakoan currency of any kind, and apparently no Krakoan jobs that are not directly answerable to the Quiet Council. Krakoan society makes Argentina’s appear economically sound and sober by comparison.

  12. Thom H. says:

    A few points:

    — Couldn’t agree with Joseph S. more. I move that his explanation about why some of us are excited about this story stand as the official explanation whenever this question is asked. All in favor?

    — I assume that Krakoa provides all basic necessities for the mutants. Food, shelter, waste disposal…I mean, what can Krakoa — as a self-contained land mass/biological entity — not do in that regard? There are apparently even indigenous fauna on it/him. Who needs currency when everything is free?

    — Finally, I initially felt that same whiplash (good description) from HoXPoX to DoX, but now I’m just glad I don’t have to spend my money on 1100 spin-offs to continue the story. Waiting for the next Hickman-written chapter is easy when you’ve got amazing recaps and supplemental materials to read online. Just my two cents.

  13. Joseph S. says:

    The abolition of money is a recurrent trope in utopian fiction (from Sir Thomas More and Campanella through the 20th century). So it wouldn’t be surprising if Krakoa has no currency and simply uses US$ for foreign trade and for goods purchased while abroad. (As we saw with Boom Boom or Masque). This would also be another hint that things aren’t going to end well (utopia always having dystopia already within it).

    As far as the bloat of the early 90s, there were SO MANY mini series as well. They really were just cranking books out. I’m glad I discovered Vertigo by the late 90s. I actually dropped the x-titles around when Gen X and the other titles ended, came back a few years later as Morrison was ending to catch up, and was horrified by Austin, and how many characters had been killed off (Moira, Psylocke, Colossus, Jean, etc). I kept up with the titles since then but happily diversified. Especially since 2010, there are just so many superior creator owned titles out there.

  14. Arrowhead says:

    “Rahne’s current subplot involves her becoming uncharacteristically obsessed with men, and she asks Moira for advice about these irrational urges. Moira runs some tests and blames it on a combination of (a) the mating instincts of Rahne’s wolf form, and (b) a master-slave relationship with Havok that was imprinted on her during her brief period as a mutate.”

    …Jesus Christ.

  15. Rhett says:

    I’ve heard the sentiment that the line has been floundering since Morrison and I want to stick up an era that I think is pretty fantastic: Utopia through Avengers vs. X-Men gave us Cyclops’ slow, very well-motivated heel turn, and a genuinely new status quo which had its limits but did open up a whole bunch of new stories that wouldn’t have worked in Westchester. This period had Gillen’s run on “Uncanny” (with his revamp of Sinister), Carey’s “Legacy”, and Remender’s “Uncanny X-Force”. In my opinion it was one of the great eras of X-Men.

  16. Moo says:

    Agree to disagree. I’m pro-Westchester and I don’t understand that this periodic fascination writers seem to have with sending the X-Men away to islands. Utopia, Krakoa and…. was the other one? That really big one that Claremont sent them to. Oh, yes… Australia.

  17. Andrew says:

    Marvel in the 90s was a really weird place where some incredibly questionable decisions were made.

    Excalibur is a strange one because, outside of The Ellis run (and even that wasn’t his best stuff, he understandably was throwing all of his good stuff at StormWatch through the late 90s), very little of it is any good or goes anywhere in particular.

    And of course as soon as it ended they simply took the three X-men characters and folded them straight back into the main book.

    But such was life during the disastrous Kelly/Seagle era.

    I like both the writers, they’ve both done good stuff but their era is obviously the peak of the editorial office dictating what they wanted and intervening repeatedly. Virtually none of their stories end up going anywhere at all and are knee-deep in hits and foreshadowing of things that never come to pass.

  18. SanityOrMadness says:


    Is it better or worse that PAD intended it to be purely related to her (wolf side) being in heat, and the other thing ws editorial nit wanting to let that be?

  19. Dazzler says:

    @Nu-D: Despite the blatant and unwarranted disrespect of your opening salvo, I agree with you 100% that Moira should have lived out these extra lives and found a way to come back to this reality. That would be a thousand times better than trying to say that it’s all been leading up to this, which it clearly and demonstrably hasn’t. I forgive you for the jab, btw. Still friends.

    @Joseph S: Tallying Paul’s instances of “this kind of makes extra sense since the retcon” and “this doesn’t quite fit” is a very, very poor barometer for how well everything actually fits. Here’s why…

    For one thing, Paul is very invested in the X-Men and this blog. He’s committed to reading and reviewing everything. His decision alone to go back and recap all of her appearances demonstrates the commitment. Meaning I consider him to be about as biased as it gets when it comes to trying to squint really hard to hope the puzzle fits and to try to shrug off things like Xavier having a complete fit that makes no sense for the benefit of nobody. Much of what I’ve read here, my reaction is that he’s being way too generous, but of course I’m biased too.

    Heck, I’m guessing the vast majority of people who frequent this blog are predispositioned to forgive the sins of this retcon. I don’t think too many people hate this direction as much as I do but love them enough to still frequent this blog and get tomatoes thrown at me.

    I’ll also add that virtually all of the stuff that goes in the “makes more sense” column is minor and could easily be explained away, while there’s a litany of things that are basically impossible to square away if Moira is the most important person in the universe on the most important mission in the universe.

  20. Dimitri says:

    Wow, someone’s itching to start a fight. That’s multiple attempts to antagonize on the same thread in just a few days.

    It’s too bad, too, since he was behaving relatively well just a week before.

    Oh, well. I really was rooting for the guy.

  21. Joseph S. says:

    @dazzler meh. Fair enough. Again, agree to disagree. I don’t think any comics or story serialized for this long ever truly has a sense of its all been building to this. That’s why comics and soap operas etc get repetitive. Like Paul I’m of the opinion that more stories should just end. But corporate IP and all that. So again, soft reboot and enjoy the ride. But I have come to prefer creator owned titles and limited runs on corporate IP (your Hawkeyes and Squirrel-Girls and Silver Surfers and She-Hulks and so on. Stories that aren’t dependent on knowing or squinting at the decades of incongruities.

    @rhett There have definitely been some high points and I do think you’ve pointed to them. Carey’s run was great, as was Spurrier’s Legion story. Remender’s run had some less successful parts (Otherworld, splitting Fantomex in three) but overall was great, drew on continuity while still allowing him to go wild. Mostly great art too. And Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men was good fun. X-Factor investigations and All-New Wolverine being another highlight. That said, these examples all worked because they were off doing their own thing, with one writer being allowed to tell a complete story and then leaving. There was no real overarching direction to the line. And maybe that’s fine, I just think it was time for a refoundation.

    And in fact I grew up in Westchester (though closer to the Bronx than up north where the mansion was said to be). I’m kind of ambivalent about it. I didn’t like the Central Park move at all. I’m sure the status quo will return them to Salem Center eventually and we can get back to basics. If it were up to me, the line would be more diversified. Your core team book, some genre books running around on the fringes, and there’d be a school book that ran as an anthology running serialized stories with back ups from other creators. Maybe reopen the Massachusetts Academy

  22. Dazzler says:

    Clearly not starting a fight and the guy I was actually addressing agreed to disagree. Sorry to disappoint you, Dimitri.

  23. Allan M says:

    The frustrating thing for me is that New Mutants is a book which is perfectly positioned to answer some reader complaints about DoX (including mine) – the lack of a traditional trainee/school book and a general dearth of detail about what people do on Krakoa besides party. Hickman even drew a diagram showing what the factions/houses/teachers? are. And then both stories instantly go on road trips to sell other characters on why they should move to Krakoa, without first establishing why Krakoa’s a good place to live.

    That said, it could be a lot worse. As this recap reminds us, the Legacy Virus was a status quo which lasted for eight goddamn years with precisely three beats – minor character dies and the X-Men are sad, or Beast and/or Moira look at monitors and are very concerned. Plus the brief defection of Colossus. Eight years of this, over and over. And for all that, I’d take the Legacy Virus as status quo over Decimation any day of the week. When Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Kieron Gillen can’t wring a good story out of your status quo, maybe the status quo is fundamentally a terrible idea.

  24. Arrowhead says:

    At this point I 100% agree that the failure to show civilian life in Krakoa is a massive, glaring, even slightly baffling problem with the new status quo. Six months in, all we know is…

    1) Lots of partying
    2) Some people have trouble adjusting to the resurrections, but most are overjoyed to be reunited with their loved ones
    3) It’s tricky to import goods and tech from the outside for reasons that are never explained
    4) There seems to be some kind of post-scarcity economy
    5) MAMMOMAX is BACK, bitches

    Overall I’m enjoying the Hickman era but this is a huge failure of storytelling. Part of Xavier’s pitch for Krakoa was “now that we don’t have to hide and fight constantly, we can create our own culture.” Part of Hickman’s approach is world-building and exploring societal evolution. I was genuinely hoping for something with the ambition of Alan Moore’s Miracleman: The Golden Age and the subsequent Neil Gaiman run… how do people cope, psychologically, in a world where everyone is exceptional, where you don’t need a job to get by, where superpowers are applied to create new kinds of art and improve quality of life?

    Of course, Moore only touched on this in his last few issues of Miracleman, and Gaiman’s run is famously unfinished. But I was thrilled by the promise of Hickman exploring these ideas, using characters I already love. I still think Hickman is capable of writing that story, but I’m losing hope he’ll deliver, and I can’t help but be disappointed.

  25. Taibak says:

    Out of curiosity, how many mutant artists have we actually seen? There’s Colossus, but his powers have nothing to do with his painting. Dazzler, but her singing career really isn’t that interesting in party central. Jumbo Carnation, but he’s still basically just a one-note background character.

    Then there’s Wither. Whose powers let him create award-winning art, but also make him a danger to everyone and everything around him.

  26. Dimitri says:

    The only other mutant artists I can think of are:

    -Lila Cheney, interstellar pop star,
    -Sketch, that woman who can reshape reality with her drawings in Claremont’s short-lived “Revolution” run

    Do the cast of X-Statix count? I mean, they’re entertainers. I presume Doop would have a degree in cinematography.

  27. Nu-D says:

    Well, someone’s designing those costumes. My bet’s on Logan.

  28. Nu-D says:

    Seriously, though,

    Kitty is a dancer.
    Hank complains that after his paws mutated he can’t play piano anymore.
    Jean designed costumes for the O5.

  29. Moo says:

    Could Masque be considered a sculptor?

  30. Chris V says:

    Pyro apparently wrote a novel, as per Claremont.
    I’d love to see a story where Pyro gets the chance to become a famous published author thanks to Krakoa.

    Instead, he hangs out on a boat and gets a horrendous facial tattoo.

  31. Arrowhead says:

    There’s Zero from Generation Hope. I found him very entertaining, and it would be fun to see a postmodern nihilist with body horror powers try to make sense of being resurrected in mutant utopia.

    @Chris V
    Per the Marvel Fandom wiki: “Pyro was a successful writer of Gothic romance novels and journalist prior to turning to crime.” Okay, now I really, really need an excerpt of Pyro’s pretentious, sub-Ann Rice drivel. C’mon, put those text pages to good use!

  32. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Zero doesn’t need resurrecting, he came back in Storm’s ongoing a couple years ago. The Greg Pak book. I’m pretty sure he was alive at the end of the story.

  33. Benji says:

    StJohn (pronounced Sinjin) is Pyro’s first name and also a sort-of love interest in Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ which is where the author bit comes from. I’m pretty sure St.John got horribly burnt in the novel too.

    Claremont’s naming conventions are a bit odd / lazy. Like Scrambler’s name is Kim Il Sung because … why not name the only Korean character after the dictator?

  34. neutrino says:

    Kitty’s friend Larry Bodine was able to create holographic constructs that dissolved when touched.

    A woman in Claremont’s Decimation special was saying that her daughter’s former power let her create beauty, probably like Larry’s.

    One shot Iron Man villain the Termite used his matter dissolving powers to create sculptures.

  35. SanityOrMadness says:

    There was also a Daredevil story (of all places) where Bushwacker was going around killing supposed-genius mutant artists, and Wolverine was very unhappy about it.


    Daredevil #248-249. Young female dancer (SUMMERS, A), musician called Gerhart, artists called Vanna Herald, a ballerina (female, unnamed) and others off-camera.

  36. Arrowhead says:

    Re: Possible forms of mutant culture…
    – Telepathic simulations/art installations/video games
    – Ballet performed by teleporters/animalistic mutants
    – Alternatively, new types of ballet or circuses where telekinetics lift and support the performers
    – Mutants with matter-control powers as architects
    – Mutants with matter-control powers as chefs or brewers
    – Forge designing machines with the express purpose of “being beautiful”
    – New sports or athletic competitions

    These aren’t even necessarily good or interesting ideas. But it took me 10 minutes to make that list. This stuff isn’t difficult to come up with. The fact that literally the only mutant “culture” we see is one panel of a Siren/Dazzler concert is beyond disappointing, it’s absolutely baffling.

    Mutant culture/national identity is something that HoX explicitly promised, and it could be effortlessly included just by putting a performance or exhibition in the background while the characters talk.

    Marauders is doing some interesting stuff with the politics and economics of Krakoa, but otherwise we’re getting standard X-Men stories where the only difference is that the background is a biomechanical jungle instead of a school. Not even bad X-Men comics, necessarily – but at this point, I’m entirely comfortable stepping back and waiting for trades.

  37. Dazzler says:

    Obviously I’m with Arrowhead on the mutant culture BS. “Mutant culture” was something Grant Morrison promised 20 years ago and he proceeded to give us one dumb clothing designer and name-dropped a band called Juggernaut. That was it. Now we’ve gone all-in on mutant identity but still nothing in terms of an identifiable culture.

    They treat superhero costumes like they’re “mutant fashion” or whatever, but the style is totally co-opted from superheroes (Professor X even said he had the X-Men dress that way intentionally). There’s nothing about it that’s unique to mutants. There’s nothing about mutants that’s even unique to mutants.

    I think they really need(ed) to establish what it means to be a mutant or stop pretending there’s a true sense of identity that unifies them. Lazy writing is much more acceptable when it’s not pretending to say something significant.

  38. Chris V says:

    It doesn’t sound like you are in agreement with Arrowhead about mutant culture.
    You are claiming that, somehow, mutant culture is impossible within a fictional setting…
    While Arrowhead is complaining about the missed opportunities to use these comics to show us mutant culture.

    There certainly seems to be something that is unique about mutants in that normal humans have such a hatred of them.

    What drives mutants towards a sense of shared identity is the fact that they are rejected and hated by the wider culture.

    As Arrowhead points out, it’s a simple matter to create and define mutant culture, if the writers were just interested in telling the story potential opened up by the Krakoa status quo, instead of being bogged down trying to continue telling the same X-Men stories, even within such a vastly different status quo.

  39. Dimitri says:

    I too would like to see some books explore Krakoan culture more concretely, and I’d like to see them sooner than later before Hickman finishes his run and Marvel inevitably decides to put all the toys back in the box.

    I’m reminded of Morrison’s run, my favorite aspect of which was the odd assortment of satellite books it inspired at the time.

    Incidentally, two of those books, X-Statix and District X, did, in fact, explore mutant culture as a central part of their premise, so it’s not that creators weren’t interested in fleshing out the concept.

    It seems to me the real problem lied in Marvel’s bemusing decision at the time to drop the creative momentum of that era to immediately go back to X-Men Classic.

    Hard to continue exploring mutant culture when you’re hard at work walking back the context that allowed for it in the first place, through Decimation and the likes…

  40. Dazzler says:

    The area where Arrowhead and I agree is that the creators have failed abjectly to establish what mutant culture is and/or should be, and they’ve had decades to think about it and put it on the page.

    We don’t agree on every aspect of the conversation, but the failure to establish an identifiable culture is a huge problem when you have the entire status quo revolve around mutant identity and nationality. Even though I believe there’s nothing meaningful that unifies these mutants, Marvel could at least have tried to establish what mutant culture is meant to be. Even if I didn’t find it compelling or convincing, I would appreciate some effort when it’s such a big story point.

  41. […] For previous chapters, see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6. […]

  42. Arrowhead says:

    Gotta disagree that mutants don’t have enough in common to build a national identity. A shared sense of persecution by another group, combined with a sense of being exceptional, are more then enough to activate the “tribalism” circuits in our primate brains. Our current political climate provides ample evidence of that.

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