Year 1 – Xavier and Magneto’s Alliance
Last week’s House of X #2 dropped one of the biggest twists in X-Men history, as we learned Moira MacTaggert is a mutant with the power to die and start her life over with all her previous memories intact. After numerous failed attempts at steering the mutant race toward a brighter future, Moira has thrown caution to the wind and allowed Charles Xavier to enter her mind and witness all ten of her lives for himself. By revealing the future to Professor X before he’s even had a chance to form the X-Men, Moira has just changed the entire course of Marvel history.
This issue offers an early taste of just how drastically X-Men continuity has been affected. Ten years in the past, Xavier and Moira pay a visit to Magneto on Island M (the precursor to Magneto’s Asteroid M base). Magneto is convinced that he and his old friend are destined to become bitter rivals, but Xavier feels otherwise. He shows Magneto what Moira revealed to him, a vision which profoundly alters Magneto’s worldview. The oldest rivalry in the X-Men franchise is suddenly and completely wiped out of existence. In this new timeline, Magneto has been an ally to the X-Men from the very beginning.
Year 10 – Nimrod Is Born
Xavier warns his friend that Moira’s plans are far-reaching and will require years of planning and dedication. From there, the story jumps forward ten years to the aftermath of Mystique’s data theft from House of X #1. The reason Xavier ordered the Brotherhood of Mutants to steal valuable blueprints from Damage Control is that he wants to keep tabs on humanity’s anti-mutant technology. Thanks to the stolen data, Xavier and Magneto first become aware of Orchis, the secretive anti-mutant organization formed from ex-SHIELD, AIM and Hydra scientists.
Studying the blueprints, Xavier discovers Orchis is building a Mother Mold, a massive factory capable of producing countless Master Mold Sentinels. The data also confirms Xavier’s worst fear – humanity is on the verge of creating the ultimate mutant hunter, Nimrod. Cyclops volunteers to lead a team to destroy the Mother Mold and stop an existential threat in its tracks.
Year 100 – The X-Men’s New Master
The story then jumps forward to Year 100, casting doubt on whether the X-Men will ultimately succeed in their mission. Hybrid mutants Rasputin and Cardinal have just returned from their own high-stakes mission, recovering a trove of data from Nimrod’s fortress. Here readers learn the identity of “the old man” who now leads the X-Men in this dystopian future. That mystery mutant is none other than Apocalypse. In this timeline, even he is committed to carrying out Xavier and Moira’s vision.
Apocalypse is pleased with the information Rasputin and Cardinal were able to steal, even though the death of Percival means Asteroid K is no longer invisible to Nimrod. Apocalypse also muses on the true mystery of the Sentinels. Why, in every timeline, is the mutant race always locked in a battle to the death against machines? Answering that question seems to be one of the fundamental goals of House of X and Powers of X.
Year 1000 – The Phalanx Return
Once again, Powers of X wraps up 1000 years into the future. This final section reveals that the utopian world where mutantkind thrives isn’t Earth, but a living, thinking planet called Nimbus. In fact, Nimbus is a Worldmind, similar to the super-intelligent planet that empowers the Nova Corps.
It’s here where we learn the true significance behind the title “Powers of X.” It doesn’t just refer to the exponential passage of time in the series, but also a system of measuring species intelligence. This scale ranges from SI:1 (a single machine) to SI:10 (a hive mind) to SI:100-10,000 (an amalgamated being like the Kree Supreme Intelligence) to SI:10,000 (a Technarch) to SI:100,000 (a Worldmind) and finally SI:1,000,000 (the Phalanx). In this future, the Phalanx have evolved to their purest form, becoming a Galactus-like monster devouring entire civilizations in order to increase their collective intelligence.
In a story centered around the conflict between mutants and machines, it makes sense the Phalanx would be the final challenge awaiting the X-Men in the far future. However, this issue makes another unexpected swerve when it’s revealed that the Librarian actually wants the Phalanx to assimilate Nimbus. He views this as the key to the final ascension of mutantkind. After 1000 years of war, mutants and machines seem ultimately destined to evolve together.
For more on House of X and Powers of X, find out how to read Marvel’s X-Men relaunch, then brush up on the major twists in Powers of X #1 and House of X #2. And then find out how this story could inspire the X-Men’s introduction in the MCU.
Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.