Jonathan Hickman and Marvel Comics Retcon Iconic X-Men Character Moira MacTaggert
Jonathan Hickman was bound to stir things up for the X-Men but who would have thought it'd center around Moira MacTaggert of all people?
Jonathan Hickman doesn’t fail to impress with House of X and its latest twist.
**Warning Spoilers for Marvel’s House of X and Powers of X**
So, yeah, this going to have all kinds of spoilers in it. If you haven’t read House of X #1, or Powers of X #1, this is your chance to vacate the article. I mean it. Last chance. Ok, here we go…
Holy crap Moira MacTaggert is a mutant. Is and always has been. How did writer Jonathan Hickman pull that off? With a retcon, of course. But not like that clumsy Iceman-thing, or how Xavier was secretly married to Mystique. Nope. Hickman’s retcon is more of an expansion than anything else because it could easily have been the case the entire time. It works, without changing much of anything in the source material, which is exactly how a retcon is supposed to be used. Otherwise, you’re just making $%#% up for the heck of it. Come, let’s break down exactly what happened with dear old Mrs. M.
How does Moira’s mutant power work? From what I can gather, she is what I thought she was at the end of her scene with Xavier in last week’s PoX#1. Moira’s a time traveler, but not in the traditional way. Are you familiar with the classic cult TV show, Quantum Leap? In that show, the protagonist travels through time (forward or backward) taking over the body of someone that exists within the time he’s visiting. Moira does much of the same, but only with her consciousness and always into her own body in the past. The catch is, she has to die in the present. Upon which time she’s reborn at the beginning of her life (the womb)!
Moira’s mutant power goes beyond just “reincarnation.” She also has a measure of total recall. A near-perfect memory. The human brain is very much like a computer. However, it’s not designed to retain several lifetimes worth of memories, but I surmise her mutant powers help her manage the load. So, what does this all mean? Well, I’ll try to make it as plain as I can, though I believe Hickman and artist Silva do an amazing job at telling her story. I’ll just try to pull out some tidbits and points you may have missed or didn’t completely absorb.
Her life started out as normal as any other. She lived, got sick, got better, and went from there. Now, remember that illness-part, because it matters. The rest of her life was fairly unremarkable until she died of old age. That’s when she experienced the full effect of her mutant powers for the first time. Like many mutants, when her X-Gene activated it made her sick. Little did she know, that was the beginning of her simulated immortality. From that point on, she was a time traveler, cursed to relive the same life over and over. And she did, in fact, feel cursed. It’s why she worked to discover the X-Gene which helped her develop the mutant cure.
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It was that life and those experiences that changed everything for Moira. It ultimately attracted the attention of Destiny and the Brotherhood, who basically put her on notice. It made her reevaluate her lives and how she lived them. Destiny, having the ability to see the future, is the one that told Moira how her powers work and if she died before puberty (X-Gene activation), it would all end. Destiny even told her how many lives she had left. After receiving a painful lesson in consequences from the Brotherhood, she also had to digest that despite having many lives ahead of her still, she was still on borrowed time. If Destiny’s words were true Moira only had 10 or 11 lives to live (total) before a permanent death. Below is a quick breakdown of the lives she’s lived thus far;
Life One- First life, simple, very human, died of natural causes
Life Two- First reincarnation, experiments with manipulation of her world, dies in a plane crash
Life Three- Fully embraces ability, attempts to cure X-Gene, threatened & murdered by Brotherhood
Life Four- Marries Charles Xavier, establishes The Institute, dies in a Sentinel attack
Life Five- Runs away from home at 13, meets Xavier early, establishes mutant settlement “Faraway,” dies in a Sentinel attack
Life Six- ???
Life Seven- Joins the military, goes AWOL, eliminates Trask family tree, killed by Sentinel of new origin
Life Eight- Forms alliance with Magneto, takes over the U.S., defeated and dies in prison escape
Life Nine- Forms alliance with Apocalypse, kills Xavier and Magneto, dominates the world; conclusion unclear
Life Ten- (Main X-Men Universe) fakes death on Muir island using Shi’Ar golem, most likely in hiding
Like I said before, nothing has actually changed in the main X-Men/Marvel universe. All the alternate timelines that Moira experienced have passed (possibly accessible via the multiverse). The current Marvel Universe is part of her most recent life, her tenth and possible her last given Destiny’s warnings. Everything is fairly clear except what occurred during her sixth life and how her ninth life ended. Both are noticeably absent from the timeline graphic and book narration. During her fifth life, Moira is in a 1-year coma before her death. It could have some significance. What does it mean? Your guess is as good as mine at this point. Same with how her ninth life ended. Because it did end.
The only fishy part about all this is how she faked her death. I own and have read that book. My knowledge of how Shi’Ar golem’s work is iffy. The only way this entire incident makes sense is if there is a psionic link between the golem and the controller. I say this because Xavier was present for Moira’s death and almost went with her into the afterlife. She also exchanged information with him, so her mind and “spirit” had to be present during that time.
To be honest, it’s the only hitch in this entire retcon, which is amazing because most readers won’t even pick up on it (I ain’t like most readers). However, Powers of X #1 shows us the point where Moira and Xavier meet in her tenth life (the main universe). She allowed Xavier to read her mind. That means Xavier lived his life with full knowledge of Moira’s secret. He may have been in on it the whole time. Which makes Xavier a complete secret-keeping arsehole… again.
What could all this mean? Well, it explains how Matthew Rosenberg was able to turn his run of Uncanny X-Men into a snuff-book. I mean, it was a dope read, but I never thought a moment all those deaths (20 characters, including X-Men) were going to stick. This, the tenth iteration of the X-Men universe is going to be reset by the end of all this. All those weird covers populated with characters that were equally mauled by Rosenberg’s Uncanny X-Men and Marvel’s lackadaisical management of the X-Men franchise, now make more sense.
And you know what that means… they’re really going to undo Gambit and Rogue’s marriage.