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Feb 22

The Complete Moira, Part 8

Posted on Saturday, February 22, 2020 by Paul in Moira

Welcome to the final part of our Moira MacTaggert read-through. For the previous chapters see here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7.

When we left off, Excalibur had just been cancelled, leaving Moira without a regular title to appear in. But she’s still around, still hunting for the Legacy Virus, and still supposedly in declining health. The final years of Moira’s (original) published life turn out to be big on pointless cameos and appearances where she does little more than explain the plot.

X-Men Unlimited vol 1 #21 by Todd DeZago, Andy Smith & Andrew Hennessy (“Devil’s Haircut”, December 1998). Strong Guy phones Muir Isle to ask Wolfsbane and Madrox for help with a possible alien invasion. Moira is there, and she’s back to working on the Legacy Virus.

Gambit vol 3 #2 by Fabian Nicieza, Steve Skroce & Rob Hunter (“Stormbringers”, March 1999). Gambit visits Muir Isle so that Moira can run some tests on him. Excalibur have now left, and Moira is working full time on the cure (pretty much alone). Naturally, Gambit tries to steal some files, and sets off a ridiculously elaborate failsafe mechanism that he manages to stop before it wipes all her data.

Feb 15

The Complete Moira, Part 7

Posted on Saturday, February 15, 2020 by Paul in Moira

For previous chapters, see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6.

In our penultimate post, we’ll cover Moira’s time in Excalibur under Warren Ellis and Ben Raab.

Excalibur vol 1 #86 by Warren Ellis, Ken Lashley & Tom Wegrzyn (“Back to Life”, February 1995). This is the first issue of the Ellis run proper, although it’s almost immediately interrupted for four months by the Age of Apocalypse crossover. Moira fits quite nicely into Ellis’s style, and instantly starts to become stroppier and grumpier. Ellis also introduces a running joke about her awful coffee. Be advised, though, that Moira doesn’t actually do all that much in the Ellis run, aside from providing colour while the team are at home on Muir Isle. In this issue, Pete Wisdom joins the cast. Nightcrawler works out that Moira has the Legacy Virus, but she insists that they go on their important mission anyway.

X-Men Prime by various creators (“Racing the Night”, July 1995). This is the one-shot that sets up the resuming X-Men titles after the “Age of Apocalypse”. In the bit that’s relevant to Moira, Trish Tilby reveals to the public that the Legacy Virus has spread to the human race, with Moira as the first human victim; Moira and Rory watch on TV. This is meant to lead in to a storyline about who leaked the data, but as we’ll see it all peters out quite quickly. I’m not sure it was ever resolved, but it certainly doesn’t happen in any of Moira’s stories.

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.

Feb 1

The Complete Moira, part 5

Posted on Saturday, February 1, 2020 by Paul in Moira

For previous posts, see part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4.

We left Moira just after the first Legion storyline. This time, we’ll be covering the rest of Chris Claremont’s first run on Uncanny X-Men. Frankly, this is all quite scattershot – Moira gets tied up in various storylines during this period but very few of them are really about her.

New Mutants vol 1 #44 by Chris Claremont, Jackson Guice & Kyle Baker (“Runaway!”, October 1986). Legion’s alternate personalities are causing trouble again. The New Mutants deal with it. Not much to see here, Moira-wise.

New Mutants vol 1 #46-47 and Uncanny X-Men #212-213 by Chris Claremont and various (December 1986 and January 1987). These are issues from the Mutant Massacre crossover, in which the Marauders slaughter the Morlocks. Magik teleports Moira to the X-Men Mansion so that she can co-ordinate the medical treatment of the survivors. This continues a tendency to treat Moira as a doctor even though she’s meant to be a scientist (and even though trained nurse Sharon Friedlander is right there with her). Storm also puts Moira in charge of the New Mutants during the crisis, but being the New Mutants, they promptly wander off to have an unrelated adventure with the Magus. New Mutants vol 1 #47 isn’t technically part of the crossover, but it has a subplot scene of Moira worrying about the missing New Mutants and discussing the situation with Magneto – their first on-panel discussion since he reformed. There’s not much to it, though.

Jan 25

The Complete Moira: Part 4

Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2020 by Paul in Moira

For part 1, see here. For part 2, see here. For part 3, see here.

With the Proteus arc over, Moira… well, drifts for a bit. This is the period where she becomes the X-Men’s scientist friend who pops up regularly to explain the plot.

X-Men vol 1 #133 and #135 by Chris Claremont, John Byrne & Terry Austin (“The Dark Phoenix Saga”, May and July 1980). Moira reviews some scans of Phoenix and confirms that it’s all looking very bad. Beyond that, she doesn’t get involved. Surprisingly, she doesn’t seem to be at Phoenix’s funeral in issue #138.

X-Men vol 1 #141 and Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #142 by Chris Claremont, John Byrne & Terry Austin (“Days of Futures Past”, January and February 1981). Moira and Charles Xavier testify before Robert Kelly’s senate committee on mutants. As you’d expect, Charles is keen to promote peace and tolerance, while Moira is mutteringly darkly about gas chambers – something that fits perfectly well with Hickman’s Moira.

Read moreW
Jan 18

The Complete Moira: Part 3

Posted on Saturday, January 18, 2020 by Paul in Moira, Uncategorized

Three posts into the series, we finally reach Moira’s first published appearance! (For part 1, see here; for part 2, see here.)

X-Men vol 1 #96 by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum and Sam Grainger (“Night of the Demon”, December 1975). And here we are. Moira shows up at the X-Men’s Mansion, responding to the invitation from Professor X (which we saw her receive in Classic X-Men #2). This is the point where she gets introduced to the X-Men, who at this point consist of Cyclops, Banshee, Storm, Colossus, Wolverine and Nightcrawler. Later retcons will establish that Moira has met Cyclops and Wolverine already, but neither of them remember it. Sean is immediately taken with Moira, kicking off their romantic subplot which will later settle into a long-term status quo.

Moira and Charles both tell the X-Men that she has been hired as the new housekeeper, to look after the house and the X-Men while he’s away. At that point, the demon Kierrok attacks, and Moira promptly gets a machine gun from the armoury to fight it – though Banshee actually bundles her to safety before she has the chance to use it, and the X-Men defeat Kierrok without her. This story is reprinted in Classic X-Men #4, which adds a page of Moira and Charles having a private conversation where they reminisce about their past relationship.

Jan 11

The Complete Moira: Part 2

Posted on Saturday, January 11, 2020 by Paul in Moira

Last time we covered Moira’s history before the recruitment of the X-Men. This time, I’m going to go through her appearances from there through to her first published appearance, near the start of the Claremont run. This is, if anything, even more piecemeal than part 1 – that’s largely because these are mostly one-off stories published in no particular order. It settles down once we get to her debut.

Classic X-Men #43 (back-up) by Chris Claremont, Mike Collins & Joe Rubinstein (“Flights of Angels”, January 1990). This is the back-up strip which appeared alongside the reprint of X-Men #137, the climax of the Dark Phoenix Saga. The first page has a montage of flashbacks to the life of Jean Grey. They include an unexplained panel of young Jean Grey protecting Charles Xavier from an unseen attacker, while Moira bundles him to safety.

This ties into the vexed question of what on earth Charles and Jean were doing together before Jean joined the X-Men. X-Men #1 (1963) shows Jean arriving at the school with the rest of the team already formed, and seemingly not knowing much about it. Claremont established a back story where Xavier actually met her first, long before the other X-Men, and helped her to control her powers. What he didn’t establish was any good reason for the two of them to conceal that fact from the rest of the team. But occasionally he hinted at some sort of secret pre-X-Men adventuring career for Charles and Jean, which presumably contains the answer – and this flashback seems to be part of that. The most explicit reference is in Uncanny X-Men #381 (2000), where Jean talks about finding a secret cave full of treasure “before the founding of the X-Men, during a period when Charles Xavier and I worked alone.” It remains an undeveloped part of continuity, but apparently Moira’s involved in it somewhere.

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…