“How can I prove, definitively, that my favorite character can beat up your favorite?”
From the school yard to the message boards, X-Men fans always want to know who would win in a fight. Classifying and categorizing their heroes is an easy method for doing this, at least on the surface. And so, the introduction of the concept of “Omega-level mutants” in 2001 brought about considerable debate and activity in the X-Men fandom.
In X-Men Forever (1st series) #3, Jean Grey discovered notes Professor Charles Xavier had compiled about the original team of X-Men. Professor X remarked that Cyclops, Angel and Beast had essentially reached the apex of their mutant abilities, able to grow in skill and application through training but ultimately a cap on their power levels had been found. Iceman and Marvel Girl, on the other hand, had the capacity for “unlimited potential” and growth over time. In the context of that series and the Cataclysm Keys’ investigation into the Stranger and his exploitation of mankind, this seemingly tied into man and mutants’ potential to eclipse the fundamental entities of the universe, even Eternity himself.
For nearly twenty years, fans would debate who qualified as an Omega-level mutant. For some, raw power seemed like the best indicator of Omega-level. Magneto was certainly one of the most powerful mutants alive, so he must be an Omega. Hyperstorm commanded the fundamental forces of the universe, and Scarlet Witch could re-write reality, so clearly they were Omegas. Others pointed towards the implication from Jean and Iceman that Omega mutants could transcend their “human shells” to become fundamental forces. It became common to look to other realities for “proof” of mutant potential. Storm became a pure elemental being in Ages of Apocalypse, so she must be an Omega. The New Sun’s vast powers showcased just how powerful Gambit must truly be. And, of course, the Phoenix Force would only choose the most powerful of mutants to be potential hosts: Jean Grey, Rachel Grey, and Quentin Quire were all examples of how the Phoenix preferred Omegas.
Unfortunately, none of these measures were as definitive as fans would like. Existing power levels don’t ultimately guide what someone’s potential may be. With potential literally being something we haven’t seen yet, arguing whether it exists or not is academic. And in this vast and infinite multiverse, other realities were simply that: something other. (This was especially true after Marvel embraced the idea that other universes weren’t just divergent timelines, but worlds where anything was possible.) In time, we would also see the Phoenix merging with just about anybody, so it was no longer a trend-setter for naming Omegas. It became almost a comedy as references cropped up about mutants who were “potentially Omega-level” (Chamber, New Excalibur #9) or “near Omega-level” (Tempus, Uncanny X-Men (3rd series) Annual #1) or “beyond Omega-level” (Matthew Malloy, Uncanny X-Men (3rd series) #25-27) in text, but nothing to further clarify what Omega-level itself was, specifically.
In 2019, House of X #1 had solid answers for the first time in almost two decades. Here, Omegas were defined roughly the same as in X-Men Forever, called “a mutant whose dominant power is deemed to register – or reach – an undefined upper limit of that power’s specific classification.” One new distinction is that a mutant can have multiple power sets, but not all abilities are necessarily Omega-class, such as being an Omega telepath but only a standard telekinetic, or visa versa.
With the establishment of a mutant nation-state on Krakoa, it was determined that Omega-level mutants were the “greatest natural resource” of mutantkind. To cultivate that resource, the Xavier Files listed all known Omega-level mutants and their current allegiance in order to keep track of them: Jean Grey, Iceman, Kid Omega, Elixir, Mister M, Powerhouse, Vulcan, Legion, Hope Summers, Magneto, Storm, Proteus, Exodus and Jamie Braddock (Monarch). Some expected, perhaps some unexpected, and a few arguably left out, but this is the definitive answer of who qualifies as an Omega-level mutant at this time.
Other attempts have been made to classify mutants in the past, often by power levels and threat levels. Omega mutants essentially grew out of an existing term referring to Alpha mutants. Despite its prevalence (especially in the 1990’s), the definition of the term “Alpha mutant” was even more vague than Omega mutant.
“Alpha mutants” were mostly associated with Apocalypse. The term gained wide use in the Age of Apocalypse storyline and was used throughout that crossover event. Alphas were clearly “strong,” “impressive,” “powerful” or “dominant” examples of the mutant race. The X-Men and Apocalypse’s Horsemen and Elite Mutant Force all seemed to be Alphas. However, there was nothing to compare Alphas to. In other words, “What are you if you’re NOT an Alpha?” Terms such as Beta and Delta mutant didn’t even appear until the second return to the AOA in Age of Apocalypse (1st series) #6 (and even then, no description was given). So… Alpha mutants were “cool” and not much else. Also, in Age of Apocalypse : The Chosen, En Sabah Nur himself was seen arbitrarily changing a different classification system from “Chosen” to “Forgotten”. It’s likely “Alpha mutant” was just a way of saying the Strong or the Fit under Apocalypse’s philosophy, meaning it was totally subjective.
The Alpha classification was used in Earth-616 occasionally, again by Apocalypse and especially during the Gathering of the Twelve storyline. All members of the Twelve (and potential members) were broadly labeled as Alphas. Besides Apocalypse, the most common users of the Alpha term were Sentinels and anti-mutant government agencies such as Operation: Zero Tolerance. A mutant character in the Sentinel series was referred to as a Beta mutant, an energy-blaster named Brian Reinhart who was strong enough to take down a Sentinel, despite being “Beta.” Jean Grey’s latent mutant niece and nephew were once called “Epsilon-Beta” mutants in X-Man #30.
(For the record, there is a list of mutant classifications going around the internet, categorizing Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon and Zeta mutants in a tiered system based on power level, flaws or drawbacks to their abilities, and the capacity to pass for human. This system is non-canon and yet has been reprinted for content in articles on many comic news and research sites. In an effort to debunk this system, here is a link to the original website using the classification (https://usx-men.angelfire.com/Classifications.html) and their opening disclaimer stating their classification system is merely a guide for creating characters, not continuity.)
Not Omegas (...?)
Several mutants previously considered to be Omega-class mutants (or strong contenders for the title) have been excluded from Krakoa-era lists. In some cases, this seems to be definitive about their status, but in others there is perhaps room for doubt.
Prestige is in many ways the most notable exclusion from the list of Omega mutants, since the term technically originated with her. In Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #208 (1986), Nimrod scanned Rachel Summers and identified her as an Omega class mutant. This early use of the term seemed to hint at what was to come, citing “upper limit of target-subject’s abilities has yet to be determined.” Still, with Rachel being both known to Krakoa and present on it, her exclusion from the list in House of X #1 is a clear declaration she is not an Omega-class mutant according to the modern definition.
In addition to Rachel, several mutant psychics over the course of roughly 2009 to 2014 were referred to as Omega level: Omega level telepaths, Omega level telekinetics, etc. These examples included Charles Xavier, Emma Frost, Psylocke, Cable and Stryfe. Again, all these characters are known to Krakoa and yet were left off the list of Omegas, indicating they are not modern Omegas. The prevalence of this classification (and mis-classification) raises the implication that one can be an “Omega-level telepath” while not being an “Omega-level mutant” who is a telepath. This distinction had not been spelled out in comics, though, and is only speculation trying to smooth the edges of this retcon.
Another mutant cut from the list is Gambit, whose potential to "become the expression of the kinetic flow of the universe" referenced in Gambit (3rd series) #24 truly seemed to indicate Omega-level potential. In #15 of the same series, Mister Sinister even had his power signature recorded as "Catalogue 2-Omega". In the end, however, it seems he never quite measured up. In general, it must be assumed that any mutant known to Krakoa as of House of X #1 who was not listed as an Omega-class mutant must therefore NOT be an Omega. Therefore, characters such as Chamber (who was previously called “potentially Omega-class”) and Tempus (who was “near Omega-class”) simply don’t make the cut. Apocalypse is also an interesting exclusion from the list. While tremendously powerful and long-lived, En Sabah Nur often did NOT make lists for fan speculation about Omegas. Instead, Apocalypse was usually considered the pinnacle of an "Alpha mutant", who still didn’t demonstrate “unlimited potential” to articulate the difference between Alphas and Omegas. Still, revelations subsequent to the start of the Krakoa era should be noted regarding Apocalypse. It’s interesting that the Great Ring of Arakko is only sat by Omega-class mutants when their founder, En Sabah Nur, is not.
One point to be raised is that the Omega mutants listed in House of X #1 can only account for mutants known to Krakoa. As a result, characters such as Matthew Malloy who was erased from the timeline could still be Omega-class under the modern definition. Hyperstorm was an immensely powerful future mutant who spent very little time in the modern era. It is possible Xavier didn’t know about him, or saw no practical reason to include him among current or potential Omega assets for Krakoa. One might, possibly, still make an argument for Nate Grey, X-Man, being an Omega-class mutant under that logic – a known mutant who is nevertheless completely removed from reality to be irrelevant. (Nate was identified as an Omega previously in Dark X-Men #2 and the X-Men: Disassembled arc.)
The list from House of X #1 has already been massaged with the removal of Franklin Richards, Powerhouse. A universal-scale reality-warper, Franklin was always phenomenally powerful, and explicitly classified as an Omega-level mutant in the 198 Files shortly after M-Day. However, Fantastic Four (6th series) #26 apparently revealed that Franklin was not a true mutant. Instead his reality-warping powers had created an X-Gene (or the reality-illusion of one) which ultimately disappeared when he lost his powers. Similarly, another previous contender for Omega classification would have been the Scarlet Witch, before the Great Pretender was revealed as a non-mutant engineered superhuman.
Finally, some uses of the Omega-class mutant term were so obscure that it’s possible they went unnoticed (both in and out-of-universe). Brian Morrison appeared in X-Men: Gold #36 as an out-of-control “Omega mutant” who was shot and killed the same day his powers manifested as an example of human hatred towards mutants. Death is not the end for mutants these days, but he hasn’t been mentioned. Similarly, an Omega-class mutant teleporter named Maddie appeared in Deadpool vs. Old Man Logan #2-5 before disappearing. She too hasn’t appeared or been mentioned on Krakoa.
List of Omega Mutants
Marvel Girl (Jean Grey)
First Appearance: X-Men (1st series) #1
Identified: X-Men Forever (1st series) #3
Mutant Powers: Omega-class telepathy with unlimited capacity for detecting thoughts, projecting information mentally, and manipulating psionic energy to create illusions, edit memories, and impose her will on the thoughts of others; also possesses telekinesis to lift and manipulate matter with mental energy, project psionic force blasts, tangible force fields, and flight
Notes: Original Omega-class mutant, identified with the disclosure of the term. Confirmed that this status exists independently of any connection she once had with the Phoenix Force.
Iceman (Robert Drake)
First Appearance: X-Men (1st series) #1
Identified: X-Men Forever (1st series) #3
Mutant Powers: Omega-class cryokinesis, with unlimited ability to displace heat energy and create cold to freeze matter in his vicinity, sculpting ice out of water vapor in the atmosphere into any shape imaginable, and cryomorphic talent to transmute into organic ice, altering the state and dimensions of his body, rebuilding it with ambient moisture, separate his consciousness into independent ice forms, etc.
Notes: Original Omega-class mutant, identified with the disclosure of the term. Discussion of his incredible potential predates the Omega terminology, dating back to Emma Frost’s manipulation of his body in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #314.
Kid Omega (Quentin Quire)
First Appearance: New X-Men (1st series) #134
Identified: New X-Men (1st series) #135
Mutant Powers: Superhuman intelligence with advanced data analysis and parallel processing attributes, telekinesis and Omega-level telepathy often expressed through psychic constructs like melee or ranged weapons
Notes: The first new Omega identified, Quire was confirmed almost immediately as an Omega-class mutant. He demonstrated traits such as transcending his human body and interacting with the Phoenix Force, which were common to Omegas at the time.
Elixir (Joshua Foley)
First Appearance: New Mutants (2nd series) #5
Identified: New Mutants (2nd series) #12
Mutant Powers: Omega-class bio-kinesis gives him unlimited control over biological systems at a sub-molecular level, allowing him to repair existing tissue or regrow lost tissue out of ambient molecules, manipulate biological functions to force sleep and other reactions, extract microorganisms or nano-viruses from living systems, induce cancers, tumors, and other bio-hazards and pathogens, and even raise the dead
Notes: Introduced with basic healing powers, Elixir soon learned he had Omega-level control over biological systems, triggering a secondary mutation in himself as he tapped that potential.
Mr. M (Absolom Mercator)
First Appearance: District X #2
Identified: X-Men: The 198 Files #1
Mutant Powers: Omega-class matter manipulation expressed as feats of telekinesis, phasing, healing, influence over the X-Gene, assembly and control over mechanical systems, directing sub-atomic interactions to mentally influence others, or cast energy as heat, force, electricity, and atomic reactions
Notes: Mr. M was clearly quite powerful in his early appearances. His status as an Omega was confirmed in the 198 Files.
Vulcan (Gabriel Summers)
First Appearance: X-Men: Deadly Genesis #1
Identified: X-Men: Deadly Genesis #1
Mutant Powers: Omega-class energy manipulation gives him an unlimited capacity to sense and direct energy, converting and/or amplifying ambient light, heat, force, electromagnetism, and gravity for his own use, deflecting or seizing control of directed energy, manipulating power running through technology or living systems, etc.
Notes: Vulcan was introduced as an Omega-level mutant, technically even being classified as “beyond Omega level” by Cerebra. The only caveat was that this was after he reappeared with the power of his teammates absorbed into him. Still, he continued declaring himself Omega class right up until his apparent death in War of Kings #6. Any ambiguity was removed when he was listed in House of X #1.
First Appearance: X-Men (2nd series) #205
Identified: X-Men Phoenix Force Handbook #1
Mutant Powers: Omega-class power manipulation gives her an unlimited connection to the mutant powers of others, able to manifest a copy of their abilities, activate and direct the powers of people nearby, or improve those abilities (alone or in synergy with other mutants)
Notes: Hope’s raw power, link to the Phoenix Force and ultimate connection to the mutant race all pointed to her being an Omega Mutant. This was clearly stated in her Handbook entry, and more obliquely in canon sources like Cable and X-Force #1. Her status was fully confirmed in-universe with House of X #1.
Legion (David Haller)
First Appearance: New Mutants (1st series) #26
Identified: New Mutants (3rd series) #4
Mutant Powers: Omega-class power manifestation allows him to recode his X-Gene to support an unlimited variety of different power sets on command, typically including telepathy, telekinesis, and pyrokinesis, progressing to advanced control over time, space, matter, energy, and reality; mental health often causes each new power set to manifest through a different splinter personality
Notes: An impressive and powerful psi-talent, Legion was inactive for a number of years during which the Omega classification was first introduced as a concept. Shortly after his return, he was quickly established as an Omega-class mutant as well.
Storm (Ororo Munroe)
First Appearance: Giant-Size X-Men #1
Identified: House of X #1
Mutant Powers: Omega-class weather manipulation connects her to the ambient energy patterns supporting the elements in any natural environment, letting her summon winds, manipulate temperature, climate and atmosphere, call forth rain, sleet, snow, and hail, and induce ionization to direct lightning, manipulate electrical activity, etc.
Notes: Storm was frequently brought up by fans as a possible Omega, citing her raw power and certain alternate realities where she transcended her physical form. She was referred to as “potentially Omega” by Iron Man and Sentinel Squad in Black Panther (4th series) #21, but dismissed by Supergiant in New Avengers (3rd series) #9 when the invader claimed Iceman was the only “Omega-level mutate” in her presence. Both of these were questionable uses of the term, though, leaving her status ambiguous until House of X #1.
Magneto (Max Eisenhardt)
First Appearance: X-Men (1st series) #1
Identified: House of X #1
Mutant Powers: Omega-class magnetic manipulation gives him absolute control over electromagnetic forces, allowing him to magnetically move anything made of metal or containing metal, heat, separate and reform metals at an atomic level, project magnetic force blasts, cast magnetic force fields, manipulate iron content in blood, absorb cold and electricity to further augment his powers, etc.
Notes: Magneto’s raw power was typically cited as reason to consider him a credible possibility for Omega-class over the years. His status was confirmed in House of X #1.
Proteus (Kevin MacTaggert)
First Appearance: X-Men (1st series) #125
Identified: House of X #1
Mutant Powers: Omega-class reality manipulation guided by psionic influence exerted over fundamental forces and principles, enabling him to animate, reshape and transmute matter and energy, affect space and gravity, access the minds of others, etc.; requires a renewable source of physical avatars as his energy form burns through bodies over time
Notes: Proteus would be mentioned as a contender for Omega-class given the raw power of his reality-warping and “transcending” of physical form. Confirmation would come in House of X #1.
Monarch (James Braddock, Jr.)
First Appearance: Captain Britain (1st series) #9
Identified: House of X #1
Mutant Powers: Omega-class reality manipulation guided by ability to affect the quantum strings binding together the universe, moving or reorganizing existent pieces of reality for levitation, conjuring, transmutation, healing, even resurrection, or to tear at or strengthen the fabric of reality itself
Notes: Jamie Braddock would be mentioned as a contender for Omega-class typically because of his reality-warping capabilities. Confirmation would come in House of X #1.
Exodus (Paris Bennet)
First Appearance: X-Factor (1st series) #92
Identified: House of X #1
Mutant Powers: Psychoactive X-Gene feeds on ambient sources of psychic energy to empower his abilities, drawing strength from his convictions, the faith of others, or active sources of psionic energy, uses these energies for feats of telepathy, teleportation, psionic and plasmic energy projection for force fields and discharge, and Omega-class telekinesis giving him an unlimited capacity to manipulate matter psionically
Notes: Exodus is an incredibly powerful psi-talent who was considered a credible possibility for Omega-class over the years. His status was confirmed in House of X #1.
The lost land of Arakko served as a mutant community for thousands of years. A land of warriors, in constant conflict with the demon hordes of Amenth, they came to value power over all else. As a result, the ruling body known as the Great Ring of Arakko would give its seats only to Omega-level mutants as a show of respect. Known Omega mutants of Arakko include:
Known to have sat on the Great Ring, Apocalypse’s equal and counterpart is a presumed Omega possessing unlimited life-crafting abilities to strengthen plant-life, accelerate its growth, and control its activity.
Voice of Arakko, Redroot the Forest is also presumed to be an Omega due to her (adjacent) seat on the Great Ring. Her botomancy gives her an unlimited ability to communicate with plant life, controlling both growth and decay.
The ultimate warrior of Arakko, Isca the Unbeaten’s power makes her genetically unbeatable. She has never lost a challenge, and her power will guide her actions and decisions to ensure victory. Every time.
Tarn is a genomic mage, the Amenth equivalent of Mister Sinister for his ability to, and delight in, manipulating the genes of others. Tarn the Uncaring demonstrates several abilities such as telepathy and telekinesis, but his Omega-class power is probably genomic manipulation itself, an unlimited capacity to re-engineer genetic material, unlocking potential and altering genetic expression.
Born in exiled Arakko, Idyll is the High Mutant Prophet of the Great Ring due to her Omega-class and therefore unlimited capacity to perceive the future. (Idyll is apparently a hereditary title and at least the third of her lineage, although it's unclear if every Idyll was Omega-class.)
An amphibious Omega-class mutant sitting on the Great Ring, Sobunar of the Depths’s blood contains an entire oceanic ecosystem. With the assistance of other Omega mutants, his blood was able to bring water to Mars.
Another member of the Great Ring of Arakko, Lactuca the Knower possesses a form of unlimited knowledge. As an Omega-class mutant, Lactuca knows the exact position of all people and objects in known space, and can trace changes in their position in real time to comprehend movement and trajectories.
Xilo, First Defender of this Broken Land, is presumably an Arakko – Amenth hybrid and an Omega-class mutant able to interface with the land. Their body breaks down into mutant earthworms, burrowing down into the soil. Once linked with the soil like this, Xilo can sample the molecular and chemical content of the land, make small adjustments to things like pH levels and micro-organisms, or massive changes like carving enormous statues from mountainsides.