Superhero comics, as a genre, tend to be full of bombast. Between the spandex, the capes, and the universe-ending perils that plague our favorite characters every month, being way over-the-top is just the name of the game. So, naturally, when a specific comic is promoted as having “the most important” or “most shocking” or “most impactful” scene in the history of any given character or team, it’s only natural to assume some level of hyperbole.
That is unless you happen to be talking about House of X #2, which was promoted as having “the most important scene in the history of the X-Men” which, as it turns out, was not hyperbolic in the least.
House of X has completely reframed the history of the Marvel universe in just a few lovingly rendered pages–at it all comes down to a relatively simple change made to one character.
Who is Moira MacTaggert anyway?
It’s easy to be an X-Men fan and have no idea who Moira MacTaggert is–it’s not that she’s unimportant in the mythos, but she’s not exactly a character who comes up all that frequently, especially for people who’ve relied on the movies and cartoons to get their mutant fix. She’s been in both live-action and animation but never as a major featured role, and that’s largely by design. Historically, Moira’s place in the X-Men canon has been as a sort of token human, one of the closest human allies Xavier himself has ever had, so it’s not exactly difficult to forget about her when she’s stood up next to people who can read minds, shapeshift, and are covered in bright blue fur.
That said, in the world of the X-Men, nothing stays normal for very long, so over the years, Moira’s role and position within the comics has grown and changed in–well, any number of ways. From “housekeeper” of the X-Mansion to magically-empowered ghost (don’t ask), Moira’s been through a lot and has found herself at the center of some major X-related conflicts. If it helps, she could almost be related to Jarvis on the Avengers side of things–human from the comics, not the AI from the movies–or perhaps even Alfred Pennyworth if you want to hop brands. She’s not a butler or a manservant, obviously, but she traditionally occupied a similar “elevated supporting role” niche in the mythology and narrative of her team.
At least, she did. And then House Of X #2 happened.
Meet Moira X
It turns out Moira MacTaggert is anything but a normal human–she’s actually been a mutant this entire time and keeping it very, very secret. And for good reason, because her mutation is actually a doozy.
Moira’s gift is that of reincarnation–not in the way that we typically see such things play out in comics, where a character will die and then come back after being born again into a new (or perhaps a regenerated) body–but in the way we usually see in video games. When Moira dies, she completely resets back to a fetus in her mother’s womb, with all the memories of her past lives completely intact, to be born again into the same world she’s already experienced as if she’s reloading into one very specific save point over and over.
It’s a sort of cosmic Groundhog’s Day scenario, except rather than having one day repeated over and over, Moira experiences one lifetime again and again as different timelines, where she’s able to use her knowledge from her past lives to affect change and modify the course of events.
Or, well, she can try to modify the course of events. As we learn in HoX #2, Moira’s lives have been a trial and error process in which she’s gone from wanting to “cure” mutantkind to trying desperately to save it–but she has yet to get it right. She’s gone through the process ten different times, and this might actually be her last if the visions of prophetic mutant Destiny are correct. Something may or may not be about to happen to Moira that makes it impossible for her to reincarnate, so it’s critically important that she gets it right this time.
So what does this mean for the Marvel Universe?
In short? A lot.
It’s not that Marvel is necessarily a strange to alternate timelines and reincarnating heroes–in fact, those two things happen to be a staple of X-Men stories, and part of the reason they’re so notoriously complicated–but the degree to which Moira’s ability is recontextualizing X-Men history is on an entirely new level.
There are questions to be asked now about where and how these new timelines intersect with the stories we’re familiar with, what exactly Moira has learned and shared over her ten lives, and how that knowledge will play out in a world populated by people who are able to do things like see the future and read minds. It’s a major story engine that can play out all over the metaphorical map, in both the future and the past, as the X-Books continue.
Also, it’s not without its own baked-in mysteries–like why, in all of Moira’s carefully documented lives, is Timeline #6 mysteriously absent? Are we actually viewing Moira’s tenth life through House of X and Powers of X, or is there another major revelation to come? Can Moira be even be trusted at all?
Not to mention the new potential for things like time travel and timeline hopping–two things the X-Men tend to do on a semi-regular basis–to explore the new Moira centric timelines positioned here in this story, and what sort of fallout may or may not come of that. After all, what happens if you change history for a person who’s history is a built-in part of their mutation?
With any luck, we’ll find the answers to these questions–and doubtlessly be given way, way more questions to ask–as the story continues with Powers of X #2 next week.