Jonathan Hickman’s final contribution to the X-Men (for now) reaches its end in Inferno #4, and some make it out better than others.
Xavier and Magneto prepare for battle with Orchis, who have them greatly outnumbered. They demand to know where Moira is being held hostage, but they are unaware that Orchis is not involved with her capture. The fight leads to a stalemate: Nimrod has Xavier; Magneto has Omega Sentinel. Nimrod says he’ll release Xavier if Magneto releases Omega Sentinel. Xavier uses his powers to sense that Orchis doesn’t have Moira and orders Magneto to release Omega Sentinel. This backfires and Nimrod kills Xavier anyway. Before Magneto can retaliate, Omega Sentinel uses a power dampener on him and seizes the opportunity to kill him–but not before officially declaring war on Krakoa and mutantkind.
Elsewhere, Mystique and Destiny have Moira prone in the No-Place and prepare to kill her. Although Moira quickly reminds them that she cannot be killed due to the nature of her power, Mystique retorts that she disagrees and fires a gun. The panels fade to white, and then a two-page spread reveals the following words:
THE DEATH OF MOIRA X
In the recent past, Mystique and Destiny conferred with Emma Frost on how they could solve a problem like Moira. Emma points out that while Xavier’s telepathy focuses on a person’s strengths, hers focus on their weaknesses. She then points out that killing Moira is not a viable option as long as she’s still a mutant. This reminds Mystique of a weapon once built by Forge that could completely depower a mutant and make them human, giving her an idea.
Back in the present, Moira realizes that she’s been turned human. Destiny notes that Moira’s depowering is a major nexus event that has created a multitude of new potential timelines. Moira reaffirms that nothing they do can save mutantkind; Mystique defies the claim and accuses Moira of wanting to cure mutants, not save them. Moira tearfully concedes this to be the truth. Before Mystique can kill Moira once and for all, they’re interrupted by an unexpected voice: Cypher. Mystique threatens him to go away, but Destiny warns that his presence has introduced new variables of catastrophic implications. Cypher reminds Mystique that murder is against the law of Krakoa. She once again threatens him; he reveals Bei, Warlock, and Krakoa itself are on his side. Before a fight breaks out, Destiny informs Mystique that this moment will produce three possible timelines:
- If Mystique kills Moira, they will be removed from the Quiet Council; Mystique will be exiled and Destiny will die within six months without the chance to be reborn again.
- If Mystique tries to kill Cypher, she will die and have an unlikely (but not impossible) chance of being reborn three years later; Destiny will remain on the Council.
- If they keep Moira alive and don’t fight Cypher, they will both remain on the Council.
Accepting the circumstances, Mystique begrudgingly lets Moira go free, but she warns her that she will never be completely safe from them as a human.
A week later, Xavier and Magneto are reborn on Krakoa. She reveals that, while the two of them were out, she had informed the rest of the Council of their various secrets–mainly the ones involving Moira. They all agreed that they weren’t wrong to keep their secrets, but they were wrong to keep them from the rest of the group. Emma declares that these secrets will now be a shared burden among the Council, but that Xavier is the one who should feel the most guilty for them, and Krakoa will continue to endure any adversity so long as they’re the ones forced to protect it.
With that, Inferno comes to a close. It’s a relatively quiet and subdued ending, but with one major event in the form of Moira MacTaggart losing her powers. As Destiny notes in the issue, this is a huge development; the unseen lynchpin of the X-Men universe since House of X and Powers of X for nearly three years is no longer. She may still be alive, but her depowering means we’re now effectively locked in this one timeline; no more extra lives or chances for the mutants of Krakoa to get things right. And with Orchis finally making their opposition known to Krakoa, it couldn’t have come at a worse time.
As much as I’ll miss seeing Moira, this definitely feels like the right time for her to exit the stage, especially as it’s also Hickman’s final (for now) contribution to the X-Men. “Moira X” was the big opening salvo of this era, and Inferno gave him an opportunity to finish what he started. The Krakoa era will continue onwards without him, of course, and I hope this won’t be the last we see of him with these characters. But if it is, then this series was the sendoff he (and we the readers) deserved. And, as ever, there is fantastic art from Valerio Schiti and Stefano Caselli, who seemingly continue to outdo themselves each time they take to a page.
(Also, deep cut with Forge’s depowering gun. Don’t even mind that it’s used as a pretty straight example of a deus ex machina.)
With the scope of the post-Inferno “Destiny of X” phase mostly revealed, the events of this series set up an interesting status quo for Immortal X-Men, which will have Xavier presiding over a council of peers who now openly regard him (and Magneto, to a lesser extent) poorly. (So… basically what sometimes happens on Big Brother when the current HOH knows everybody in the house hates them but they can’t do anything about it because they’re not the ones in power. What I’m saying is that I hope Immortal X-Men has the vibe of a contentious Big Brother house.) But more than anything, I’m very excited that Mystique and Destiny are on the Council to shake things up and offer resistance to whatever bullshit Xavier tries to enact on them. For now, the Inferno has run its course, and our mutants are left to sift through the ashes, hopefully building something better in its place. Prognosis? Too soon to tell.