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Jan 6

Inferno #4 annotations

Posted on Thursday, January 6, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

INFERNO vol 2 #4
“The Death of Moira X”

by Jonathan Hickman, Valerio Schiti, Stefano Caselli & David Curiel

COVER / PAGE 1. Mystique, changing into Destiny, stands over a gravestone. Nothing very much like this happens in the issue itself – it seems to be teasing that Destiny could die again, or perhaps that they both kill Moira. (It may be worth noting here that issue #3 had a cover of Professor X and Magneto fighting Nimrod, which doesn’t actually happen until this issue. That might suggest a bit of rewriting on the fly.)

PAGE 2. Opening quote from Omega Sentinel. This line comes from page 6, where it’s directed at Orchis. It could of course be read as a self-deprecating meta nod to this being Jonathan Hickman’s final issue, and the Krakoa status quo sailing on without him.

PAGE 3. Recap and credits. There’s so much to cover in this issue that it only gets one page!

PAGES 4-11. Nimrod and Omega Sentinel turn on Orchis, then fight Professor X and Magneto.

We’re picking up from the end of the previous issue, where Professor X and Magneto had been lured into a trap by following a tracker embedded in Moira’s arm, only to find that the arm had been cut off. At this point, Omega Sentinel and Nimrod show their hand. As foreshadowed in many previous issues of Hickman’s run, going back to House of X and Powers of X, this is a three-way conflict between humans, mutants and post-humans. Omega and Nimrod are post-humans – a cyborg and a robot animated by fragments of the personality of a human – so ultimately, their agenda does not align with Orchis.

Quite why they turn on Orchis now, rather than taking advantage of them as allies to defeat the Professor and Magneto, is less than clear. Orchis (including Omega and Nimrod) are vaguely aware of resurrection from the horde of X-Force attacks they’ve experienced, but they still seem to be working on the assumption that they were dealing with clones ro something of that sort, so apparently the post-humans still believe that Xavier and Magneto can be killed here.

Omega claims that they hate the ordinary humans as much as the mutants, which fits with her back story as a time traveller from a future where post-humans were nearly wiped out – as she explains, she draws no real distinction between mutants and humans. Nimrod, on the other hand, only really seemed to get on board with this agenda in the previous issue; he claims here to have “woken up”. In issue #2, Omega told Nimrod that she had been waiting for his personality to evolve to the point where he was ready to be told the truth.

Presumably it’s Magneto who tears Nimrod apart in the last panel of this scene, even though the art only shows Xavier…?

PAGES 12-15. Mystique and Destiny apparently kill Moira.

We’ve been told since Powers of X that Moira’s death would restart the universe along with her next life (though it’s never really been proved that her previous timelines are erased). The tease here is that Mystique is going to knowingly do just that, but as we’ll see, it’s misdirection. Mystique learned about Moira’s powers from Emma last issue.

The small print on what I take to be the story title reads “It is the end” and, oddly, “Krakoa QC”.

PAGES 16-17. Flashback: Emma gives Mystique and Destiny a Nullifier.

This continues the conversation shown in the previous issue.

In House of X #2, Destiny (in Moira’s third life) explained that Moira could die permanently if she was killed as a child, before her mutant powers manifested. This obviously implied that Moira could also die permanently if she was killed while her powers were not active, and that’s precisely the angle that Emma follows here. The device that Mystique and Emma talk about is the Neutralizer that Forge developed back in the 1980s, which was used to remove Storm’s powers in Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #185. Emma gives a similar device to Mystique here. So the plan is simple: remove Moira’s powers and kill her.

PAGES 18-19. Flashback: Mystique puts the plan into action.

This is a montage with the following elements. Mystique isn’t meant to be in mid transformation in these panels – the art is trying to indicate which character is secretly Mystique by adopting the device from old Spider-Man comics. I’m not sure it quite works, since it looks like she’s meant to be transforming.

  • Page 18 panel 1: Mystique changes into Sage to use Krakoa’s computers. This is from page 34 panel 1 of issue #2.
  • Page 18 panel 2: Moira is captured by two Orchis agents, one of whom is a disguised Mystique. This is page 22 panel 2 of issue #3.
  • Page 18 panel 3: Still as an Orchis agent, Mystique brings Moira back to their base. This is from just after page 22 of issue #3.
  • Page 18 panel 4: Having given Moira a gas mask, Mystique turns on the Orchis soldiers and releases gas. This is original.
  • Page 19 panel 1: The Orchis soldiers apparently all kill one another. This is original.
  • Page 19 panel 2: Posing as an Orchis agent, Mystique contacts Nimrod and Omega Sentinel. This is page 35 panel 5 of issue #3 – the “agent” is telling Omega and Nimrod that they’re under attack from mutants, that they’re going to escape through the translocator, and that they need help.
  • Page 19 panel 3: Mystique cuts off Moira’s left arm (with the tracking device in it). This is original, but the resulting scream is what Professor X picked up in page 27 panel 2 of issue #3.
  • Page 19 panel 4: They arrive back in Moira’s No-Place. This is original.

PAGE 20. Data page, with a quote from Mystique. The small print reads “Oracle, change from within” – and again, for some reason, “QC” appears twice.

PAGES 21-24. Mystique and Destiny confront Moira.

“I was so angry with Xavier and Magneto for the way they treated me.” Throughout the Hickman run, Mystique has been strung along with promises that Destiny would eventually be resurrected, while Moira was determined that shouldn’t happen.

“You shared who you really were with the White Queen and she – in turn – showed us you.” Last issue.

“We burned you in another life.” House of X #2. Specifically, it was Moira’s third life, where she had discovered a cure for mutants. In that life, Moira concluded that mutation was a disease to be cured. This is why Mystique refers to her as “hat[ing] what you were” – she rightly concludes that Moira’s attitude never really changed, or at least has come full circle. Fundamentally, Moira has tried repeatedly to find a world where the mutants come out on top; it never happens, and they always end up suffering horribly. Much better, then, never to be a mutant in the first place and simply be subsumed into the humans. Of course, the fundamental problem with this argument is that a variant could be made for all manner of groups who face oppression or prejudice, but Moira would argue that she’s seen enough timelines to know that it’s a merciful alternative. Destiny might well respond that she has seen many more timelines and possibilities than Moira has..

PAGES 25-34. Nimrod and Omega Sentinel kill Professor X and Magneto.

Professor X and Magneto are panicked because they assume that Moira’s death is imminent, and will reset the universe. Hence the desperation move of trying to make a deal with Nimrod. Ultimately, the conflict between the top two mutants and the post-humans plays out pretty much as Moira had warned.

Omega argues that humans and mutants are both alike in that they see AIs as simple tools, and try to destroy them if they get too advanced. This returns to Hickman’s theme of self-fulfilling prophecy, because this is indeed exactly what the X-Men have been doing throughout his run, in an attempt to avert the future as seen by Moira. The result is AIs who believe they are fighting for their own survival… and they have every reason to believe that.

Omega’s line, “did you honestly think we were going to sit around forever and just take it”, is a callback to House of X #1,  where Cyclops said the same thing to the Fantastic Four: “My family has spent out entire lives being hunted and hated. The world has told me that I was less when I knew I was more. Did you honestly think that we were going to sit around forever and just take it?”

Nimrod seems to be aware here that Magneto is speaking literally when he says they’ll meet again; if so, he and Omega may simply be sending a message to the mutants here.

PAGES 35-41. Cypher saves Moira’s life.

We established last issue that Cypher and Warlock have been secretly monitoring the No-Place all along. Cypher appears  here with Warlock posing as his cybernetic arm, as he did in the pre-X of Swords Krakoan issues. Cypher also suggests that both Bei and Krakoa are backing him up – his wife Bei makes sense, but it’s not obvious how Krakoa can be aware of what’s happening in the No-Place. Perhaps it’s just watching via Cypher’s bugs.

Essentially, Destiny verifies that unless Mystique is willing to sacrifice her again, the best option is just to let Moira go and consolidate power. The risk in going down this route is that, just like Storm, Moira might one day get her powers back. It’s a fairly obvious option if Marvel ever decide to go down the Crisis route, not that they’ve ever seen particularly attracted by it. And, as Moira realises, there’s ultimately nothing to stop Mystique from trying to hunt her down.

On the flipside, ultimately Mystique chooses her love for Destiny over the urge for revenge on Moira. So that’s nice. Destiny, in contrast, seems to leave the actual choice to Mystique – she sets out the options but expresses no real preference between them, even with her life (and Mystique’s) at stake.

PAGES 42-45. Professor X and Magneto are resurrected.

The first two pages are a repeat of the flash forward that opened issue #1, and also a callback to the opening of House of X #1, as Hickman’s run comes full circle.

In their absence, the Quiet Council have discussed Moira’s revelations and decided that it’s a burden that needs to be kept secret from the Krakoan public; apparently, even Sinister is on board with this, though you have to wonder if that’s just because it offers the possibility of leverage. He does seem to have generally kept Krakoan state secrets to date, to be fair.

Xavier’s Cerebro helmet is recast as a burden.

PAGES 46-50. Epilogue: The Quiet Council take their seats.

The closing image of Hickman’s run is the Council trapped in their role in the Krakoan status quo.

Most of the descriptions of the Council members are straightforward, but…

  • Professor X and Magneto are literally the nation’s founders, but also the leaders of the good and evil mutants going back to the Silver Age.
  • Nightcrawler and Storm are indeed the permanently loyal X-Men.
  • Colossus is billed as “trustworthy” but, as we’ve seen in X-Force, he’s actually being mind controlled on behalf of Mikhail Rasputin. No doubt we’ll get to that next season. For the moment, his description in this series as trustworthy is heavily ironic.
  • Cypher is also ironically billed as “innocent”; that’s his persona, but Mystique and Destiny know better now.
  • Emma Frost is a “broken keeper” of the innocent children in reference to her time as teacher of the Hellions and Generation X, and later of X-Men trainees more generally. The deaths of her pupils in Uncanny X-Men #281 and again in the Genoshan massacre are major influences on her life.
  • The rest are just what they claim to be.

PAGE 51. Trailer for Immortal X-Men, which is going to be a Quiet Council book.

 

Bring on the comments

  1. Icon_UK says:

    For a new interview with Hickman about some of what he was planning, and some diplomatic comments about dropped plotlines and ideas, check out Jay and Miles recent episodes.

    The first is their New Year special, where the second half is an interview with him about his general time on the X-Books;

    https://www.xplainthexmen.com/2022/01/358-giant-size-special-10/

    And a second one specifically about the events of Inferno #4

    https://www.xplainthexmen.com/2022/01/bonus-inferno/

  2. YLu says:

    @Josie

    “Check out Hickman’s own tweets in the year before HoxPox came out.”

    What about them?

  3. Allan M says:

    Hickman hinted on Twitter in the run-up to HOXPOX that he was working on a Big Two project, with X-Men, Eternals, New Gods and Legion of Super-Heroes being the four properties he’d hint at. Hickman really, really likes trolling people so bucket of salt applies.

    Don’t recall offhand if he said anything to say that his X-Men pitch and his Eternals pitch (if it existed) had anything in common.

  4. Mark Coale says:

    I’d like to eventually see Hickman write his Legion book, preferably with the classic cast. There’d be so much Interlac.

  5. Omar Karindu says:

    I wonder if the “Eternals pitch” rumor is in part because the Krakoan resurrection and unified mission for all mutants ideas are a bit like Neil Gaiman’s revision of the Eternals as perpetually resurrected guardians of the Celestials if you squint at them.

  6. Chris V says:

    Part of it was due to the house ad Marvel published as a teaser for Hickman writing X-Men.
    It read, “When two aggressive species share the same environment, evolution demands adaptation or dominance.”
    The speculation on the internet was that this must apply to either Eternals or X-Men.
    Then, when Hickman started writing House of X, there were a few similarities with the Eternals concept, ones that would fit better with the Eternals than anything we had seen with Marvel’s mutants.

    There was also a Mandela effect. I remembered reading Hickman writing that he turned in a pitch for Eternals which Marvel rejected, so he said his other choice was the X-Men.
    Such evidence no longer seems to exist on our Earth-Prime.

  7. Thom H. says:

    @Mark Coale: Seconded. The Legion lends itself to his intricate-plot-light-characterization style really well, I think. I say this with a lot of affection, but the Legionnaires average about one character trait apiece at the best of times. Under Bendis, they all seem to be sharing the same one (although they look fantastic), so I can’t imagine Hickman doing worse.

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