Moira MacTaggert’s fall from grace in the Krakoan Age of the X-Men has been as rapid as it has been brutal. In a matter of months since the Inferno event that saw Jonathan Hickman bid adieu to the X-line, Moira has gone from the long-lived savior of the Mutant dream to a bitter, vengeful force that could undo it forever—and it’s fascinating to watch unfold.
X Lives and X Deaths of Wolverine—written by Ben Percy, and featuring art from Frederico Vincentini and Dijjo Lima on Deaths, Joshua Cassara and Frank Martin on Lives, and letters by Cory Petit for both—and the latter of the two interwoven series in particular, has plunged deep into both Moira’s psyche in the wake of Inferno, which saw her exposed, de-powered, and cast out of Krakoa by Mystique and Destiny, as well as showed us just how far she’s now willing to go to survive after generations of death and rebirth. Hunted by the likes of Mystique and a Phalanx-infused Wolverine from the future (it’s a long story, with connections to the earliest days of House and Powers of X), and slowly dying of a Krakoan cancer that gives Moira’s choice to hide herself behind the shadows of Charles Xavier and Magneto all the more of a tragically poignant twist, Moira has truly come into her element in the X-books recently.
It turns out, however, that element is completely petrifying. In her secretive capacity as the real power behind Krakoa when she was Moira X—named such for this being her 10th life, her 10th attempt at saving what was once her own kind from future machine extinction—Moira could always be something of a cold and manipulative figure, ever fearful of things that could disrupt the grand plans she has built over her many lives. But with that ability to resurrect with all her memories and knowledges robbed from her, and now with time running out as she succumbs to terminal cancer, Moira has transformed into a roiling, fury-laden agent of chaos, an enemy of the mutant state that not only knows all of its dirty secrets, but is unwilling to let anything stop her.
This week’s X Deaths #4, by the aforementioned team of Percy, Vincentini, Lima, and Petit, showcases both just how far Moira has gone and how scary she can be in an age where mutantkind, regardless of past internal conflict, has stood fairly united on Krakoa. After it’s revealed that the Phalanx-Wolverine chasing her is actually from an alternate timeline where Moira has turned on mutantkind and sent armies of Sentinels to lay waste to Krakoa, X Deaths sees Moira decide to stop running from all the things hounding her for the past several issues, and instead stage a counterattack of her own. Striking back at Krakoa directly, we get to see just how dangerous Moira is when she feels like she has nothing to lose—and it’s easy to see why Phalanx-Wolverine might come from a timeline where she’s already stomped over the future Mutantkind made for itself in vengeance.
From the fact that she sneaks back to Krakoa by literally wearing the skin of her former boyfriend, Banshee, to her relentless charge through Forge’s Krakoan labs, blasting away with the same power-nullifying gun that robbed her of her own X-Gene, the Moira we see in X Deaths #4 is unlike any X-Villain of late. Even “unpowered,” Moira’s cold, calculating intellect and her steadfast desire for vengeance against what Krakoa has become forges her into this unstoppable object, a fascinating contrast to when we got to see her on the run from the likes of Mystique and the Phalanx-Wolverine in earlier issues. She knows every trick, every weakness, every detail about Krakoa’s seemingly secure paradise, because she helped build it in the first place. And now that she wants to tear it all down with her, she very easily can—and might be very close to doing so.
When her assault is temporarily stopped by the arrival of the Phalanx-Wolverine, Moira immediately and without any care for the consequence blasts him with Forge’s power-nullifier. Not because she, as when she attacked Forge, wants someone to feel the hurt she felt losing her own X-Gene, but because she knows what that will mean for the techno-organic Logan: the Phalanx in his body won’t be held back by his healing factor, and it will immediately transform him into a machine vanguard of its will. Which promptly happens, and suddenly Krakoa has an even bigger problem than an angry Moira MacTaggert to deal with. The machine extinction it had been created to avoid might already be here, thanks to the unflinching help of the woman who helped build paradise.
It’s a hell of a turn for Moira, and as we get closer to X Lives and X Deaths’ conclusion—knowing that at least in some capacity Krakoa will live on for the “Destiny of X” line-wide reshuffle—it’s going to be fascinating to see just how this sheer sense of indignance and determination is going to take her. Where it’s already taken her, at least, is into the annals of one of the X-Men’s most powerful, personal, and horrifying foes in a long time.
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