House of X #3

Issue Date: 
October 2019
Story Title: 
… Once More Unto the Breach

Jonathan Hickman (writer), Pepe Larraz (artist), Marte Gracia (colorist), VC’s Clayton Cowles (letterer), Tom Muller (Design), Pepe Larraz & Marte Gracia (cover artists), Mike Huddleston, Mahmud Asrar & David Curuel, Sara Pichelli & Dean White, Jeff Dekal, Skottie Young, John Tyler Christopher (variant cover artists), Annalise Bissa (assistant editor), Jordan D. White (editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

Xavier and Magneto have Cyclops assemble a team to fly to the Orchis Forge and sabotage the Mother Mold. However, they are noticed and, when their ship docks at the station’s hull, Captain Mendel sacrifices himself to rig an explosive that is meant to destroy the X-Men’s ship as well. The White Queen and two Stepford Cuckoos travel to Project Achilles to rescue an unrepentant Sabretooth, thanks to the new diplomatic immunity mutants currently enjoy.

Full Summary: 

“You make me so proud.”
Professor X

Cyclops informs Professor X and Magneto that he has assembled a team for their mission. They understand the stakes and the risk and embrace it. Xavier smiles gently, musing such a brave face Scott is wearing for him, but he can hear the fear in his mind.

Is it wrong that he is afraid, that he has doubts? Scott asks. Of course not, Xavier assures him. He’s always been that way. What matters is that he overcomes it for his family. He makes him so proud! Xavier promises he isn’t going to let him die.

Magneto adds that the righteous can never die. They live on. Transformed into something mighty by their works. For him to die, he would have to be forgotten, and no one forgets the founder of a nation!

Cyclops steps through a Krakoan gate and exits on their moon base. Time to go, he addresses the team he has gathered: Marvel Girl, Angel, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Husk, Monet St. Croix (who now calls herself Penance) and Mystique.

He summarizes that a group of rogue human scientists calling themselves Orchis is building the ultimate Master Mold – a Mother Mold – in orbit around the sun. They have to destroy it before it comes online. And while the Mother Mold is bad enough, the real danger is that they think it will lead to a technological paradigm shift – a Nimrod. He warns them they are not going to take any Krakoan fauna with them, so there isn’t any gateway home. They have to get in and out the old-fashioned way.

Archangel and Husk protest about that decision. Monet rolls her eyes at their naivete. They are only thinking about success. What if the Mother Mold AI got a good hard look at what they are doing on Krakoa, how all of this works? Maybe they’d find something the X-Men haven’t. Cyclops agrees that is the reason. He repeats, no plants, and especially targets Mystique.

As they enter the ship, Jean asks about the human crew. Cyclops stresses the mission is to stop the Mother Mold, no matter what, but they want to keep casualties as close to zero as possible There are probably a lot of innocent civilians alongside security. Wolverine points out “innocent civilians” don’t build death machines to kill a species. Jean retorts they are not soldiers, just scientists afraid for their future.

The ship leaves the moon base and Wolverine has the last word: just scientists, huh? How does she think they went from sticks to bombs?

Project Achilles, superhuman supermax:
Inside, there is a special court hearing taking place. Agent Tolliver informs the judge there is only one case today but, what it lacks in volume, it makes up for in depravity. The defendant is charged with breaking and entering, assault, theft, two cases of manslaughter, and if she could add bad manners to the list she would.

The judge asks the defense attorney if he has anything to add before proceedings begin. The clearly frightened man stammers he asks for the case to be dismissed based on the fact that his client was an unwilling participant and had no idea what his companions’ plans were. They have the wrong man.

The judge calls it a good try but they are charging his defendant under the new twelve-strike-rule, which supersedes intent, so, motion denied. How does his client plead?

Sabretooth is walked in, hand-cuffed. He spits on the ground and announces he’s guilty. He’s definitely got bad manners. And the other charges? the judge asks, annoyed. Sabretooth grins broadly and easily admits to those. It ain’t like this place can hold him and it ain’t like he’s gonna sit here and let them judge him.

Several armed guards train their weapons on him as he asks if they think chains can keep him from turning the judge’s insides into his outsides… cause they can’t. He suddenly sniffs and asks if they smell that jasmine. Means he is fired, he informs his attorney.

Cue for the White Queen to stride in, flanked by two Stepford Cuckoos. What do they have here? She asks rhetorically. Looks to her like he monkeys are using tools again, playing civilization, Ms. Frost, one of the Cockoos observes. The White Queen chides her for using her human name in public. Chastened, the Cuckoo apologizes.

The judge asks for the meaning of this. Emma arrogantly replies that isn’t the question he should be asking, as there is quite a difference between what’s going to happen and what it really means. When he asks her to enlighten him, she replies, what’s going to happen is that he is going to hand Mr. Creed over to her. Sabretooth, the Cuckoo corrects her. Emma agrees and continues that he is going to do this in anticipation of Krakoa becoming a sovereign nation. All Krakoans enjoy diplomatic immunity. A gift from the State Department. The Cuckoo adds they have all the paperwork. But it’s totally cool if they leave his chains on, her sister adds, studying Sabretooth nervously.

This isn’t going to happen! Tolliver interjects. Emma calmly repeats, it is going to happen. As for what it means: well, it simply means mutants don’t answer to them anymore.

That… thing is a killer! the judge shouts. Just like his mommy made him, Creed grins, and he ain’t even close to done.

Emma agrees, he is a bit of a monster, but he is their monster. And from this day forward, mutants aren’t going to be judged in human courts or by the likes of them.

Tolliver trains her gun on Emma, who muses that normally she’d make her stick that gun where her last boyfriend left her, but she’s been told the art of diplomacy is about equaling power dynamics, so why doesn’t she pretend that some larger American purpose is being served today and Emma will pretend that Tolliver could have stopped her.

The Cuckoos take Sabretooth away. Emma smirks, it’s a brave new world. Better get used to it.

On the Orchis Forge, Dr. Alia Gregor asks Omega Sentinel if she still thinks what they are doing is a mistake. The other woman replies that self-preservation is completely rational. It’s the panic it produces where errors get introduced. She thinks they built a Mother Mold that breeds Master Molds. The second they lose control, it’s hard not to see the entire planet covered in cold emotionless grey, with not a single pink fleshy bit in sight. After all, they know where mutants come from.

Fair point, Gregor concedes and explains that’s why they built the control collars. If things go south, the Mother Mold goes right into the heart of the sun.

Omega Sentinel asks how long until the Mother Mold wakes up. Gregor replies they could wake her up now but, even at the exponential rate she is learning, she still has a while before they are comfortable that she has evolved past the Heller-Faust line.

Gregor’s husband Captain Erasmus Mendel hails her from the bridge, explaining there is a problem. Incoming. It’s a modified Shi’ar class scoutship. Only one possibility of who that is. The X-Men.

Flabbergasted, Gregor wonders how the X-Men could know what they are doing. Her husband is more interested in what they are after: The Mother Mold. Can they stop them? she asks. Not in that bird, he fears. Long-range the X-Men’s countermeasures will be too good and nothing they have will be able to get through that shield. They screwed up. They were expecting to be fully online before catching the X-Men’s attention. So now they are going to have to repel them once they have boarded.

She wants to join him. He tells her to stay and protect the Mother. Omega Sentinel interjects why don’t they just recall the drones from Mercury to defend the station? He explains they did, but they are going to arrive too late. With gallows humor, he tells his wife to cheer up. It’s just a little fight for the survival of the species. Nothing to worry about. In the meantime, he has armed himself.

The X-Men have almost arrived. Nightcrawler is to teleport in and scout whether the Mother Mold ejection collars are in the right paces. Kurt complies. When he teleports to pillar three he comes across Dr Gregor and Karima. What a surprise, he remarks. Karima greets him curtly. “Picking sides, are we?” he asks pointedly. “Actually, that was all of you, wasn’t it?” she retorts.

He teleports away and Karima announces the X-Men are going to go for the control collars. Dr. Gregor hails her husband, Erasmus Mendel, and informs him as well adding they have a teleporter. Mendel replies he has read Nightcrawler’s file. His powers are point to point and low yield, so the X-Men will still have to dock to start a full assault. He’s moved most of the forces to the hangar, where they will confront them and hope the drones arrive in time.

Omega Sentinel decides that’s disappointing. It’s a very linear plan for a very non-linear foe. They hear a rumbling noise as the jet lands on the station hull.

Cyclops tells the team to extend the breaching collar, while Nightcrawler informs everyone that Omega Sentinel is with the other side.

Captain Mendel sees them cutting the hull above him and has all locks shut around him. He hails his wife and informs her they are cutting a hole inside the hull and from this part they can access the whole station, so he is sure they have plans. Their only hope is to respond asymmetrically. Irrationally, even. He begins fiddling with several cables.

Panicked, she asks what he is doing. What it takes to build a better world, he announces, then adds he often joked about it, but he really does wish they’d had kids. He tells her to be strong and not let them win, then presses the button on the explosive he has rigged and an explosion takes out that part of the station.

“For you to die you would have to be forgotten… and no one forgets a founder of a nation.”

Characters Involved: 

Archangel, Cyclops, Husk, Marvel Girl, Mystique, Nightcrawler, Penance, Wolverine (all X-Men)
Professor X
White Queen
Two unnamed Stepford Cuckoos


Dr. Alia Gregor
Captain Erasmus Mendel
Omega Sentinel

A.G. Tolliver

Story Notes: 

Text pages


The text page describes the progression from Sentinel to Nimrod

The first stage is the non-sentient mutant-hating Alpha Sentinel (Mark I – VIII)Next is the Master Mold, a replicating adapative Sentinel factory that is self-aware and capable of creating Sentinel dronesFollowed by the Mother Mold a replicating adaptive Sentinel factory that is self-aware and capable of creating Master MoldsOmega Sentinel: A human infected with Nano Sentinel technology and progressively transformed from human to machineNimrod: a pure Nano-Sentinel construct: Anti-mutant, adaptive, self-aware, self-replicating, virtually indestructibleMoira X has learned that, while emergent AI are unavoidable, a Nimrod is not. She and Apocalypse theorized that a Nimrod is the primary threat to long-term mutant survivalIn Moira’s ninth life, Apocalypse acquires the incomplete Nimrod origin files. A Nimrod almost always is created in conjunction or as a result of a Mother MoldIn Moira’s tenth life, Mora and Xavier charge several technopaths with creating Project Sleeping Giant to monitor for a Nimrod threshold being reached or the creation of a Mother Mold


Further Notes

“Once More Unto the Breach” is a quote from Shakespeare’s play Henry V. It is the start of a speech King Henry gives to urge his troops into battle.

More about the moon base / Summer House in X-Men (5th series) #1

A “Heller-Faust line” does not seem to be a real-world term, although the “Faust” most likely is a literary reference to the character Johann Georg Faust, who made a deal with the devil.

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