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Feb 23

Rise of the Powers of X #2 annotations

Posted on Friday, February 23, 2024 by Paul in Annotations

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

“Out of Space”
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: RB Silva
Colour artist: David Curiel
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1. Rasputin IV in battle.

PAGE 2. Moira just before her powers emerged.

Not exactly a flashback, because this is narrated by Enigma, who is outside normal time. This is Moira MacTaggert in her tenth life, reliving childhood as she always has to, while waiting to be old enough to try her newest idea. Enigma is apparently going to offer her another option that she hasn’t thought of – possibly another way out of being stuck in a time loop. (Though note that Moira apparently never tries to end the loop by committing suicide before her powers emerge.) More of that later.

We don’t get a clear shot of Moira’s mother, but this is Lady Kinross. She has been seen on panel before – she can be seen from behind in some of Moira’s earlier lives in House of X #2 – but she’s never done anything significant.

PAGES 3-4. Enigma’s montage.

The panels shown here are:

  • Page 3 panel 1: The MacTaggert family home, as seen in House of X #2.
  • Page 3 panel 2: Jean Grey making contact with Phoenix at the climax of X-Men #100. Enigma reminds us again that Phoenix can defeat Dominions, something that was also mentioned last issue.
  • Page 3 panel 3: This is apparently meant to be young Scott Summers being thrown to safety by his parents when the Shi’ar attack, as seen in flashback in Uncanny X-Men #156. However, he really ought to be clutching his younger brother Alex. Enigma says that Scott’s parents are “gone forever, in every meaningful way” because he doesn’t reunite with his father Corsair until well into adulthood, and Corsair never returns to Earth. The “new parents” are presumably Mr Sinister (who secretly ran the orphanage where Scott grew up) and Professor X; Enigma doesn’t seem terribly impressed by either of them.
  • Page 3 panel 4: Cyclops awaits his trial in Fall of the House of X #1. Scott has been dreaming in that series that Jean will save him.
  • Page 3 panel 5: This seems to be M/Penance fighting Sentinels, presumably part of the fightback against Orchis in Fall of the House of X, and having little to do with Enigma’s narration. Jean is “dying along with the Phoenix” thanks to Mother Righteous’ botched attempt to use the Phoenix to ascend to Dominionhood, as seen in the Jean Grey miniseries and recent issues of Immortal X-Men.
  • Page 4 panel 1: The abortive timeline that we saw in the previous issue.
  • Page 4 panel 2: Young Charles Xavier squabbles with his stepbrother Cain Marko. The man in the background ignoring the whole thing is Cain’s father, Kurt Marko.
  • The remainder of the page sees Professor X escaping Enigma’s view by slipping into the No-Place where we saw him last issue.

An obvious point here is that although Enigma can apparently watch and hear all points in history, he apparently can’t read Professor X’s mind. If he could, he’d be able to find out where Professor X was going. So, apparently, Professor X could safely make plans with people before entering the No-Place as long as he did it telepathically.

PAGE 5. Recap and credits.

PAGES 6-7. Professor X tells his team that they’re moving on to plan B.

Plan A, which failed last issue, was to prevent Dr Stasis’ ascendancy and so prevent the event that brought Enigma into existence. We’ll come to plan B.

Last issue, a data page identified the No-Place crew as Professor X, Cypher (whose entry was partially redacted, and we’ll find out why soon), Rasputin IV and two others. The two others are Rachel Summers and Mother Righteous. We already knew about Rachel from Dead X-Men #1.

PAGE 8. Data page: a basically straight summary of the plot, though some of Mother Righteous’s information is redacted. Rachel, we’re told, can use her chronoskimming powers while in the No-Place to send mutants from the White Hot Room to alternate timelines (which is what she’s doing in Dead X-Men), but not to bring them back to Earth.

Mother Righteous mentioned in Immortal X-Men that she had not gone to the White Hot Room herself, but rather had sent a homunculus with simulated mutant powers in order to fool Hope. The idea is that since the real Mother Righteous and the homunculus are linked, they can be used to provide a communications link with the mutants in the White Hot Room.

The “Arachno Sentinels Web” is apparently an area between timelines (maybe?) which the mutants will have to pass through in order to reach young Moira.

Professor X has given conflicting accounts of his plans to Moira. He told Rasputin last issue that he planned to kill her. In Dead X-Men #1, Rachel was under the impression that Xavier just wanted information in order to talk to her. This data page makes very clear that the former is true.

Note that plan B (kill Moira), there’s also a redacted plan C. Professor X mentions this on page 16, claiming that it risks all of reality and might be worse than just letting Enigma win.

PAGES 9-10. The crew argue about their plans.

The idea that Cypher can read body language dates back to the Utopia era.

Why are the Dominion Arachno-Sentinels specifically guarding against attempts to reach Moira? Why she is a point of vulnerability? Rasputin has picked up on this point, but simply concludes that there must be a reason. Cypher raises the other possibility: Enigma is signalling it as a weakness because it’s a trap.

Cypher is unusually brutal in suggesting that they just kill Moira as a baby, and we’ll find out why shortly. But he surely has a good point. Why is Professor X going to the trouble of verifying that Moira really did gain her powers at age 13 simply in order to go back and kill her as a child? Once you’re going down that route, if you’re really not willing to run the risk that her powers emerged earlier, why not just go for the earliest possible point? Put another way, what’s so important about finding Moira immediately before her powers emerge?

Cypher also suggests that another option would be to go back to the 19th century and stop any of the Sinister clones from being created in the first place. That also seems like a good point (and again, we’ll see later why it’s interesting that he raises it)

PAGES 11-13. The White Hot Room.

That’s the Dead X-Men, freshly resurrected, in the background – we’re before Dead X-Men #1 here.

“[Hope] was worshipped where I’m from … through it was a strange religion.” This is Rasputin talking, so she’s referring to the Hope Summers cult that Exodus created in the Sins of Sinister timeline – having killed Hope herself to get her out of the way.

The White Hot Room is apparently in a state of collapse due to Mother Righteous’ attempt at ascension in Immortal X-Men. Jean Grey has yet to recover from her delirium, despite Elixir’s efforts to help her.

PAGE 14. The crew continue to argue.

Given the revelation about Cypher later in the issue, his behaviour towards Mother Righteous here is fascinating. It doesn’t seem likely that he’s faking to take the moral high ground – he seems genuinely angry with her, which implies either self-loathing or a complete lack of self-awareness.

PAGE 15. Enigma locates Professor X.

Apparently, page 15 panel 1 is a flash forward to a future point where Cypher and Rasputin are dead and Xavier has some sort of energy powers; all Enigma cares about is that this lets him discover the No-Place plan. Note that his Arachno-Sentinels all have Enigma’s logo on them, and appear to be techno-organic (at least in the legs).

PAGE 16. Professor X and Rasputin.

“Moira once told me, it’s not a dream if it’s real.” Powers of X #1.

Rasputin‘s back story involves her being manipulated by Sinister for centuries in the “Sins of Sinister” timeline into thinking that she was acting as a hero by serving him; then she fell for Mother Righteous’ manipulations as well. She is therefore very uncomfortable with deceiving Rachel.

PAGES 17-23. Rasputin IV fights the Arachno-Sentinels.

Apparently the Sentinels also come as regular Sentinels with skull faces.

Cypher turns out to be a disguised Mr Sinister in a cloned Cypher body – which means we still don’t know what happened to the real Cypher after Krakoa hid him away shortly before the Hellfire Gala. As Professor X points out, Rasputin will go ballistic if she finds out that she’s been manipulated into serving Sinister again.

Cypher’s true identity was foreshadowed last issue. Aside from the redacted entries on the data page, there’s also this exchange on page 31:

PROFESSOR X: Doug. How go the X-Men’s attacks against Orchis?

CYPHER/SINISTER: They’re hitting their primary targets. The S.W.O.R.D. station is deploying. Expect the A.I. to fight back and escalate… None of them realise what’s really happening. They’re fighting for tomorrow. We’re fighting for forever. And we can’t _____ up like this again, Rasputin! You were meant to be some kind of hero. You’re better than this!

PROFESSOR X: Doug. This isn’t like you. Krakoa is unwell, so I’m presuming it’s that… but treat Rasputin better.

CYPHER/SINISTER: You’re right. I’m… Sorry, Rasputin. I’m not myself.

Re-read Cypher’s dialogue throughout these two issues and it all sounds more like Sinister.

Dead X-Men #1-2 apparently takes place alongside this scene.

PAGES 24-25. Enigma approaches Moira.

We seem to be running ahead of Fall of the House of X here, though it’s hardly a massive spoiler that Orchis starts collapsing, given that we’ve already reached their central space station being destroyed. Nimrod is still confident of an AI victory, but Enigma approaches Moira to make a deal. Again, this begs the question: why? What can happen with Moira that’s capable of affecting Enigma?

PAGE 26. Trailers. The Krakoan reads FALL OF THE HOUSE OF X.

Bring on the comments

  1. Alexx Kay says:

    While it certainly *might* be “Sinister inside a cloned Cypher body”, it seems more likely that this is “Cypher with corruption by Mr. Sinister”, which I feel is a meaningful difference. That is, I think this is a similar setup to the start of Sins of Sinister, in which the various Sinister-ized members of the Council did fundamentally remain who they were, just with a Sinister inflection.

  2. Asteele says:

    I think the plan here is for Enigma to make it so her power never manifests in this timeline. (Maybe by changing her to a normal human). This lets you keep her around if people want to use her, while taking her death causing a timeline reset off the table.

  3. Moonstar Dynasty says:

    Sometimes I feel like I need to have a PhD to keep track of what is happening without these annotations. (Thanks again, Paul)

    @Alexx Kay: I’m inclined to roll with some version of “Sinister in Cypher’s body” in this case. His condemnation of Mother Righteous was, as Paul noted, uncharacteristically biting, which works both as a rejection of her ascension attempt on the surface (covering as Cypher) *and* Sinister’s total, utter disgust at the existence of his clone/deceased wife/sister/alter ego. I personally interpreted the scene as Xavier simply communicating with a manifestation of Sinister in his mind again–similar to what was revealed in the final issues of Immortal–but it’d be a really interesting wrinkle to find out that the real Cypher is still hidden away to wherever Krakoa stored him.

    This is leagues better than anything else going on with Fall of X, although I’m curious to see how the next issue of Resurrection of Magneto plays out.

  4. Daibhid C says:

    Again, as someone who is mostly following the story purely through these annotations I could be missing something, but if Enigma alters things so Moria’s powers never manifest, doesn’t that drastically change everything that follows? Not just during the Krakoa era but since her first appearance back in ’75?

    As I understand it, Hickman’s retcon is that everything she’s ever done in the X-books is specifically because she recalls what happened in her previous nine lives. Change the timeline so she was always a normal human and you get Life One, where she apparently never thought about mutants even slightly.

  5. Chris V says:

    By “offering Moira an option she never tried”, I thought Enigma simply meant align with an Essex. She aligned with Xavier, Magneto, Apocalypse, mutants, Orchis, the machines…she explicitly stated that she hated Sinister and continued that line of thinking in reference to Cable in a recent comic.
    The question does remain, however, as to why Enigma would still find Moira to be important.

    Wouldn’t it to be a true surprise if Essex/Enigma ends up being the solution to the recurring cycles? He has the knowledge of Sinister (mutants) and Stasis (post-humanity), plus he is now AI. Maybe instead of being the villain, Enigma is the one to reconcile the antagonisms.

  6. John Wyatt says:

    They mentioned enough times that depowered people can be repowered that I think it will play out in story, either as part of strategy or to undi someone’s neutralization,

  7. Michael says:

    So who do we think helped Xavier and Sinister construct Mother Righteous’s prison? The prison appears to be mystical, so it’s probably either Illyana or Maddie.
    I’m not sure if Xavier is supposed to have energy powers in the flash forward or there’s just energy near him.
    It seems like we’re moving towards some sort of redemption for Moira, as the solicits say that whether Enigma is stopped depends on someone making the right choice.The Fall of the House of X data pages we saw earlier were probably written by her.
    @Alexx Kay- “Cypher” says “that’d reveal what else I have loaded into this clone”. So this IS a clone of Doug with Sinister’s consciousness and it has powers other than Doug’s.

  8. Michael says:

    It does seem odd that Enigma can’t read Xavier’s mind. Enigma said in Immortal X-Men 18 that its goal is for all of the universe to become part of it- that implies it can absorb minds/memories. And the Dominions that Storm encountered in Resurrection of Magneto claimed to have read Magneto’s mind.
    @Asteele- that wouldn’t work. Remember, we’ve been told that Enigma needs the Moira Engine in order to come into existence.

  9. Evilgus says:

    Nice to see Rachel being used in a sensible way with her chromoskim powers. I also hope she gets some time with Nimrod and Omega, due to the parallels with Rachel’s own history. I suspect that because it hasn’t already been foregrounded in the story, we won’t!

    On Moira, I also think this will lead to some kind of redemption and cosmic reset. I’m confident Gillen can take us there. I really feel Moira was done dirty by the post Inferno plot!

  10. ylU says:

    “Page 4 panel 1: The abortive timeline that we saw in the previous issue.”

    Not that it makes much difference, but I think that’s supposed to be present day Shadowkat fighting Stark Sentinels in Duggan’s half of Fall of X. Like the previous two panels, it’s happening ‘now.’

    And I’m pretty sure that’s actually a miscolored Rachel and not Cypher dead in the flashforward panel that Enigma peaks at. Look at the distinctive shoulder pad and spinal neck brace.

  11. Nolan says:

    Did i miss the part where they explain how Moria gets a 10th life? Wasn’t she depowered in her 9th?

  12. Chris V says:

    Moira is currently in her 10th life. Her ninth life was the year 100 timeline in Powers of X where she aligned with Apocalypse and fought the mutants vs. Man-Machine Supremacy war, led by Nimord the Lesser. Wolverine killed her at the end of that life to reset the timeline and begin the current, tenth incarnation (Krakoan era).

  13. Dave says:

    Asked this in the issue 1 discussion, but it was very late…

    Why was Mother Righteous in the White Hot Room the thing that actually brought Enigma into existence? I (think I) know how it’s being presented: Her attempt was the one that happened earliest in its relevant timeline. BUT, the information from at least one other attempt, in Sins of Sinister, was already in the main/current timeline before that. Was that not enough? You can’t say that it needed information from all four attempts (though that’s what the end of Immortal X-Men seemed to suggest) because Sins of Sinister showed that classic/diamond Sinister had succeeded by himself, if not for the fact that Enigma blocked him. So either Enigma needs all 4 attempts, meaning classic Sinister should have failed without being blocked, or it only needs a ‘first’ attempt…which should still be classic Sinister…unless the data from Stasis or Stellaris got to the Moira engine first.

  14. Diana says:

    @Dave: Each individual Essex would have succeeded on their own, but Enigma wasn’t just collecting data – it also consumed the energies from every ascension attempt, presumably to increase its own power. That’s why it was waiting for all four to succeed.

  15. Thom H. says:

    Another gorgeous issue of sci-fi shenanigans. I especially liked the Sentinel fight/rescue of Rasputin. So weird.

    I also like that you get a clue to Cypher’s real identity on page 6. The vegetation tendrils behind him create a Sinister-cape pattern.

    Complicated time travel gives me a headache, but the data pages were really helpful.

    Is Enigma trying to recruit Moira because Enigma is partially made of Moira(s)? I’m not sure that question even makes sense in this story, but just a feeling I got.

  16. Dave says:

    “it also consumed the energies from every ascension attempt, presumably to increase its own power”.

    Is this actually on the page anywhere? And wouldn’t it be in Enigma’s own interest to come into existence at the earliest opportunity, when it was still vulnerable to causality before that? The end of Sins of Sinister, for certain, was before Mother Righteous’ attempt.

  17. Marek says:

    I think the idea that Moira will get a redemption and there’ll be a bit of a reset makes sense, especially given Destiny’s comment in HoX/PoX that she will have 10 lives or 11 if she makes the right choice

  18. Luis Dantas says:


    It is probably up for interpretation, as so much else in this fever dream under the guise of a storyline, but that was my reading of the last few panels of Immortal X-Men #18.

    Of course, that comes from a symbolic reading of what is ultimately just a set of five symbols lighting up on a ceiling, so it is hardly binding or very clear.

  19. Joseph S. says:

    Pretty sure that the reference for Rachel on page 7 is a photo of Rosalia as Asuka from Evangelion.

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