Charles Xavier, Magneto, and Moira MacTaggert’s dream for mutant civilisation in this reborn era of ascendance has always been predicated on something of a lie — a hopeful lie, perhaps a naïve one, but a powerful lie nonetheless. It’s been a lie well maintained ever since Powers and House of X revealed it to the audience three years ago. But times have changed, and with it, so must Krakoa as it enters a new destiny.
This week the latest major X-event, one teased since the earliest days of the Krakoan Age, Inferno — and the promise that Mystique would be willing to destroy Charles and Erik’s new paradise to get her wife, the precognitive mutant Irene Adler, better known as Destiny, back from the grave — came to an end. As Moira herself, long hidden away from the world beneath Krakoa, began to take direct action in the wake of Destiny’s return, the precog and a bitterly vengeful Mystique have laid the groundwork for a plan that would strike at the very heart of what was being hidden behind the honeyed words of paradise that has re-forged mutantkind into a bright new age.
Thanks to the changed allegiances of Emma Frost — who thought herself one of Charles and Erik’s most trusted allies, until the revelation of Moira’s existence broke her personal belief in the duo — Inferno #4, by Jonathan Hickman, Valerio Schiti, Stefano Caselli, David Curiel, Joe Sabino, and Tom Muller, has a stage set for some fundamental sea changes to the X-books’ status quo. Moira has been kidnapped by Mystique and Destiny, and Charles and Erik are on a wild goose chase that puts them directly in the path of the anti-mutant organisation behind the sinister Nimrod, Orchis. And with more and more people discovering the truth of Moira X — not some key ally to Charles and Erik but a mutant in turn, a fundamental building block of the Krakoan dream with the ruthlessness to kill those who would disrupt her plans — it’s not just outside forces that could lay the sovereign nation low. Everyone, whether it’s Mystique and Destiny, Charles and Erik, Moira, Orchis, or even chaotic elements like Doug Ramsey, is ready to play their final hand in Inferno’s inclusion… but not everything goes pretty much to anyone’s plan.
Inferno #4 largely plays out around Charles and Erik’s doomed battle with Omega Sentinel and Nimrod, after Mystique and Destiny lead them on a hunt for the captured Moira — one that ends with their temporary death. It’s symbolic of the wider machine-man-mutant threat that has formed the basis for Moira’s own long, winding mission across her many lives since House and Powers, with Charles and Erik’s brutal end reflective of that inevitable doom they’ve fought against since Moira let them in on her secret. But beyond that clash of wills, the issue mostly flashes back to the minutes and hours that lead up to it for the rest of Inferno’s major players, filling in the blanks of their plans as they all prepare to spring them. Mystique and Destiny reveal, for example, that while they fully intend to kill Moira as an act of revenge for her generations of manipulation, they first plan to preserve her “perfect” timeline by committing a horrifying act that Moira herself has craved for lives: blasting her with Forge’s forbidden x-gene erasing gun, acquired from Emma Frost, rendering her Moira Ten no more, but the human the rest of the world actually once thought she was.
Moira is only saved from a final death by the intervention of Doug, who, alongside his wife Bei and Warlock, springs his own plan, coming to Moira’s aid. It’s not out of kindness, but of bitter mercy — having previously discovered her existence himself thanks to Warlock’s symbiotic connection to all of Krakoa, as well as Moira’s desire to murder Destiny once and for all to maintain Charles and Erik’s current status quo, Doug simply defuses the situation and exiles Moira altogether — giving her one final gateway to flee through, never to return to the paradise she helped create. But even that’s not before the actual truth that changes the X-Men’s world forever coming into the Destiny of X emerges. A spiteful, bitter Moira lashes out at Mystique and Destiny to reveal that the darkest truth isn’t her existence behind the scenes with Charles and Erik, but the truth she told them to fight against in the first place: no matter how ascendant Krakoa looks in the here and now, mutantkind’s downfall is inevitable, and no matter how many times she had tried to change fate, they always lost.
Mystique, being Mystique, simply cannot keep this to herself, even as she and Destiny promise the fleeing Moira that one day they’ll come along and finish the job they’d started. It’s there that Inferno becomes most devastating. In the week it takes the Five to resurrect Charles and Erik after their loss to Nimrod and Omega Sentinel, their dream has changed quite radically — even if, on the surface, everything seems as it was. With Cerebro damaged in the attack, neither of them fully remember what led to their deaths, and echoing the very first pages of House of X #1, they awaken to the sight of Emma Frost, wearing the latest iteration of Cerebro, mockingly calling to her, her X-Men. Emma has all the power, as Charles once did in those past pages, but she reveals that she’s actually been somewhat democratic about it. Scornfully ruing Moira’s name, Emma reveals that it’s not just she, Doug, Mystique, and Destiny that know of Moira’s existence and her prophecized warning of mutantkind’s failure, but now the entire Quiet Council, touching on all corners of Krakoan society. Power on the council has now become a flat tier, as Charles and Erik no longer hold all the cards to themselves — and ascension to its ranks is to be cursed with the burden of the grimmest knowledge.
But the council still stands, and Inferno ends with all its hope burned to ash as Krakoa’s shepherds come together, maintaining the lie that keeps paradise ticking. What becomes of Professor X and Magneto’s dream without Moira? What becomes of it if their closest allies now can’t truly believe in it? What will it mean to be Immortal X-Men, in an era seemingly doomed to such a dire fate? Time will tell, as the months and weeks until the beginning of Destiny of X this April begin to count down.
Suffice to say, living forever has not been without some caveats for mutantkind’s best and brightest in the last few years — but now those caveats are slowly eroding the hope the Krakoan age was built on, the mutant Dream is trending towards a dire path indeed… if not a final end altogether.
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