Inferno (2nd series) #1

Issue Date: 
November 2021
Story Title: 

Jonathan Hickman (writer), Valerio Schiti (artist), David Curiel (colorist), VC’s Joe Sabino (letterer), Tom Muller (Design), Jerome Opena & Frank Martin (cover artists), Stan Lau, Mark Brooks, Greg Capullo & Chris Sotomayor, Carmen Carnera & Marte Garcia, Jeff Dekal, Peach Momoko (variant cover artists), Lauren Amaro (assistant editor), Annalise Bissa (associate editor), Jordan D. White (editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

X-Force have attacked the Orchis Node several times, failing each time. In her third life, Moira MacTaggert and her team created a cure against mutants and were killed by the Brotherhood of Mutants. Destiny and Moira had a long talk and Destiny warned her that, if she tried anything similar in her future lives, Destiny would get her, before having her cruelly killed. In the present, Moira visits Muir, Isle gathering her notes about the Cure and the scientists who worked with her. When she returns to her apartment, she is expected by Magneto and Xavier, who ask for her help against Orchis. After some debate, they agree on firing Mystique from the Quiet Council and destroying Destiny’s DNA. Orchis scientists are watching Krakoan gates and notice some unusual patterns. The Krakoan Captains welcome Bishop as the new commander and Psylocke as a new captain to replace Gorgon. Afterwards, Xavier and Magneto try to announce a season of change for the Council. Mystique uses that opportunity to demand a vote on a new council member – her wife Destiny returned from the dead… Sometime in the future, Emma Frost revives Xavier and Magneto.

Full Summary: 

“Someone remembers. It’s why they keep coming.”
Omega Sentinel

Arbor Magna:
Two resurrected mutants break out of the eggs. They are husks of Charles Xavier and Magneto. They crawl toward Emma Frost, who is wearing a Cerebro helmet. What is it he likes to say in times like these? Emma asks rhetorically. “To me, my X-Men!”

The Orchis Forge:
X-Force have tried several times to attack the Orchis Forge in space, each attempt was met with failure.

In their latest attempt, X-Force (Domino, Kid Omega, Wolverine) are floating in an hollowed-out rock to land at the Orchis Forge. They are immediately attacked by Nimrod. Domino tries to attack first. Nimrod identifies her and matches her low-level probability altering power with cluster bombs with quantum targeting. One of them attaches itself to her ankle before it detonates.

Kid Omega snarls at Nimrod that it doesn’t matter if his brain is analog or digital. He can control anything! So he is going to reduce him down to atoms, remake him in his image and wreck this place!

However, Nimrod has analyzed Quentin’s power and overcomes it, killing Quentin. Which leaves just Wolverine, who slashes Nimrod from behind, only to be targeted and killed by a second Nimrod unit.

Director Devo freezes the recording. He turns to Dr. Alia Gregor and announces this is the sixteenth assassination attempt since Nimrod came online. Her husband terrifies them. Gregor tells him not to call Nimrod that. That’s not who he is anymore. Devo apologizes and asks what they have learned. She replies the attacks fall into two categories: external force and participants including long range assaults, two instances of hired assassins and a Brood infection outside normal spawning grounds. The second being of a kind they have just observed. Mutants from Krakoa. The same ones… over and over.

Yes, so what have they learned? Director Devo repeats.

Dr. Gregor supposes they are clones or copies. Either a scientific breakthrough or a new power. Orchis are getting better at responding to them – seven minutes this time – but the mutants are not getting better at attacking them. They should be adapting, evolving. Since they aren’t, it must mean the mutants don’t know what happens after they get here. They don’t remember. Devo agrees. Omega Sentinel does not. Someone must remember. It’s why they keep coming.

A previous timeline:
Dr. Moira MacTaggart congratulates her scientific team on their breakthrough, as they share a bottle of champagne. The others praise her for her work. They’ve accomplished her dream. Moira proposes a toast to the dream: a cure to mutants.

That’s when there is an explosion and the Brotherhood of Mutants crashes the party. The other scientists are soon killed; Moira is tied to a chair. The precognitive Destiny is astonished. She can’t see Moira at all. She sees the world bending around her, but she is just an absence. A mutant who is invisible to other mutants. It’s a defense mechanism of sorts, but not much good if you know what you are looking for. Is Moira looking at her now? the blind Destiny asks Mystique. Mystique says she is and she doesn’t look happy. Destiny supposes, they have given her good reason. Then again, they have acted with cause. She introduces herself to Moira and explains she can see the future, which is tricky with someone whose mutant gift is reincarnation. One might think that would be impossible with one who has an unending series of lives. But here she is.

Moira snarls, if they are going to kill her, then kill her and get it over with. Mystique promises, they are going to, but it doesn’t do much good if they are just going to have to do it again next time. Destiny has a word for her.

Such a gift, knowledge, Destiny muses. And yet Moira is using it to betray her own kind. Moira snaps what they are is a disease. She would only use it on people who want it. Destiny scoffs she thinks this stops at “want..” She thinks they are going to let her keep this thing she made. The humans will come for her. They will break her, chain her, make her their own. Then they will use what she has made to eliminate all of mutantkind. She has seen the potential of Moira’s good works, and she does not care for them.

How do they think they can stop her? Moira retorts. Destiny points out she is much older than Moira. Her power will manifest before Moira is reborn equipped with the knowledge of today. If Moira – once again – tries to do this evil work against their people like today, Destiny will see the outcome and find her. Again. And if Moira tries to kill her, Destiny will see her coming. They are joined together now. Moira will know that Destiny is out here waiting for this version of her. And knowing that, she has a choice: Change or die. Help her people or Destiny will annihilate her in all her lives to come.

Moira glares wordlessly. Destiny remarks that she thinks Moira is still on the fence and needs some more encouragement. Very well, here it is, Destiny announces. Moira is a smart woman who is beginning to understand the potential of her power. She is starting to believe that she is in an eternal loop of some kind. That her powers give her some kind of immortality. Destiny wants to tell her that they do not. She sees ten lives… maybe eleven, if she makes the right choice at the end, but that is all.

How can she die? Moira asks shocked. Destiny explains if she dies as a child before her powers activate, then she will simply end like everybody else. What if she doesn’t believe her? Moira spits. Destiny asks her how a scientist would go about proving something like that. She tests it, Moira admits. Experiences it for herself. In her next life.

The question is will she, Destiny stresses. Will she embrace what she is and help her people in her next life? Moira admits she doesn’t know.

That’s simply not good enough, Mystique announces. Moira retorts they already said they were going to kill her. Now they want her to lie? So they can feel better? She wants her to not be a monster, Mystique states. Moira snarls they are surrounded by the bodies of her friends and colleagues! Does Mystique have any idea of how stupid she sounds?

Destiny states that, yes, they are all monsters. They are all committed. And so they sleep lightly or not at all, but that’s just guilt. Here’s what really keeps her up at night: Dr. MacTaggert has been blessed with a curious mind and she knows that in that fertile ground the idea of shameless mutantkind has been planted. She knows Moira will cultivate it. But what happens when the flawed vessel fails? It may take one life or many, but hiding in the corners of her mind sits the cancer called doubt. It whispers. “What if they were wrong and I was right the whole time?” That’s the real war, isn’t it? Ensuring she is on the winning side.

Mystique asks then how do they make her newfound convictions stick? She thinks the answer is fear. Perhaps, Destiny concedes, let’s find out.

She doesn’t want to die, Moira admits. Who does? Destiny replies and orders Pyro to burn her slowly, so she doesn’t forget what failing to change feels like. Pyro complies and Moira screams in agony.

Now, Moira’s tenth life:
She is in the ruins of her lab on Muir Isle. She peruses some notes on Project: Cure with the names of all the scientists who helped her in her third life, then uses a Krakoan Gate to return to Paris and her apartment, unaware that someone has been following the Gate activity. The Orchis members find something unusual about the readings and are calling them in.

To the Orchis node in Terra Verde.
One member asks Dr. Smyth (the ape scientist) about the team registering a conflict in gateway signature. How should they handle it?

Smyth lectures him they ignore nothing and orders him to put it on board. He states that this gate only sees moderate traffic, but now – a few days after their latest software update - there seems to be an unexplained inconsistency in the gateway resonance. He asks his colleague, Dr. Jones, if she has a recommendation. She replies her initial instinct is what the observation team is implying - a glitch from the update. Based on the threat level she’d recommend continued documentation and a full analysis when they have accumulated more data. Smyth is not satisfied. His instinct tells him there is more. After the last update, she says? Whenever possible, go to the source. Get them online.

Them being Augusta of Hordeculture, who is extremely annoyed at being bothered. When Smyth tells her there is a problem with the code Hordeculture sold them, she retorts that there isn’t, and is about to break off contact. Smyth repeats his claim forcefully and reminds her that, when Orchis agreed to pay the outrageous sums Hordeculture demanded for their gateway knowledge base, there was an expectation it would actually work.

Augusta stutters and is interrupted by Edith, who asks if she is talking to a monkey and tries to get her to eat her meds with some pudding. She supposes he also has some opinions on modern medicine and aging, she acidly asks Dr. Smyth, who repeats his question about the code. Because, if it is wrong, then everything they’ve recorded with it is wrong. This is too important to be wrong. After a small pause, Augusta asks him to send her the data. Dr. Jones complies and points out they are getting multiple frequencies from a single location. They shouldn’t be getting more than one reading from a single gateway, should they? Not unless.…

Augusta thinks, then finds something: Clever, she muses. Clever dirty mutants. Smyth asks her what she sees. Augusta explains the readings are correct. There are multiple frequencies because there are two gateways in the buildings. Same location. Different floors.

Dr. Smyth gives the order to prioritize the Paris site immediately. Full blanket. A support team will be en route in an hour. The agents promise they are on it and will keep their eyes open.

They in turn are being listened to by X-Force agent Tommy who passes that info on to Sage.

Moiras No-Place:
Moira MacTaggart teleports in to find Xavier and Magneto waiting for her. Unexpected, she announces. After all, the two of them left her down here hidden away while they remade the world. Busy men, doing the good work of nation building. The question is how goes the real necessary work of survival.

Not well, is Magneto’s curt reply. Moira asks what happened. Actually, it’s what failed to happen, Xavier clarifies. They made another attempt on the Orchis Forge. More poetically Magneto expresses that, like a blight, that black halo still circles the sun. A monument to mutant failure. Moira chides him not to mythologize it. The failure is theirs alone. “Things will be different, because we are different,” they said. The two of them have made it clear how unimportant her perspective regarding these things is…

Xavier announces she is the most important person in the world, but they should be honest with another – it’s time to admit a few things to themselves. The first of which is that Nimrod might be an inevitability. Every step they took to prevent it only ensured its creation. Every step since then… has made things worse, somehow. So, they are here to ask… has she ever tried embracing the machines?

Well, if they are being honest, she replies coyly, she is not sure they want to hear what he has to say. Opening a wine bottle, Magneto announces he does not fear truth. Moira tartly points out, yet here she is, the biggest secret in mutant history, still hidden away.

Xavier senses her anger and regret but points out that her reminiscing on that doesn’t help matters at all. Moira snaps at him not to pretend he understands. He’s been in her head but he hasn’t lived those lives. She knows the world that follows their failure. She knows this better than they ever will and it angers her that they refuse to listen to her.

Magneto calmly states that is exactly why they are here. Has it ever been tried being allies with the machines? Moira sighs, noting that they are basically asking if you can befriend death or trust cancer. There are only two things they should fear: the emergence of a living machine that until recently did not exist and a woman who is dead who must not be brought back – Nimrod and Destiny. Yet somehow the two of them – the brilliant leaders of a nation – have managed to combine those two into three separate failures.

He asks if she is angry. Damn right she… She recalls they said reminiscing on the past. How did they know she went to Muir Island? And they were waiting for her when she returned. Are they having her followed?

Don’t be ridiculous, Xavier demurs. Of course not. Magneto explains that she is carrying techno-organic tech in her blood that ignites when she uses the gates and informs them where she is going. When? she demands. When the day arrived that they had too much to lose. Before the first meeting of the Quiet Council. It was in her tea.

How dare they? Moira protests. Xavier reminds her she is the most important person on the planet. Of course, they would do whatever is necessary to protect her.

Moira expresses her disgust then asks why they are here. Magneto explains they are here to humbles themselves. She has lived many lives, they have not. They need to know what to do, Xavier adds. Moira orders them to listen. She is done being ignored and hidden away. Magneto agrees. Moira begins, regarding Nimrod and its temporary Orchis masters: the clock they are running against is most likely measured in years. It will become more and more difficult, but there is time. And with time mutants can also grow stronger, spread out and execute a long term survival plan… but that only works if they are actually getting stronger. And not being pulled apart.

Which brings them back to Destiny. Any chance of her resurrection has to be erased. Xavier begins that Mystique… Moira cuts him off. She needs to be removed from a position of power. Xavier finds this a tricky proposition. Moira points out there are already two free seats on the Council. Sell it as a season of change. Erased? That’s what she wants? Xavier asks. Yes, erased, Moira replies. She wants them to get Destiny’s DNA and destroy it.

Later, a plane lands at Island M. Magneto goes to the cradle that is located there and takes the Cerebro helmet. Xavier visits Bar Sinister, has a talk with Mr. Sinister, who hands him a vial with DNA.

Xavier promises Moira that, as a sign of their realignment and good will, they will do that. She brusquely tells him not to lie. It’s what keeps her up at night. It’s the one thing Moira truly fears. And she hasn’t slept peacefully for a thousand years. She cannot accept Destiny breathing Krakoan air. She wants her gone forever. Burned from all existence!

Rosetta, home of Cypher, voice of Krakoa:
Doug awakes. Getting some coffee, he announces it’s time to go to work. He kisses his sleeping wife Bei, grabs something to eat and leaves. Bei’s eyes open.

Doug walks through nature to some idyllic place and wakes up Warlock. Part of Warlock crawls up Cypher’s arm. They jokingly state that Warlock doesn’t need sleep. Warlock finds Doug looks tired. Doug replies ‘Berto told him he needed a better mattress and an icebag for the bags under his eyes. Sam said it’s just called marriage. Warlock admits he finds Doug’s lifemate scary. Yeah, she’s a little terrifying, Doug agrees. He loves her so much.

Krakoa joins the conversation. Doug assures the island that he loves it too. He sits down and suggests the three of them talk about how things are going on their island.

Surrounded by the rest of the Quiet Council, Storm carries a laurel wreath. She admits to being surprised about this change. Normally, he has never given up things without a fight, she addresses Captain Commander Cyclops, surrounded by his co-captains. Cyclops explains he cannot be an X-Man outside in the world and be chief protector of their experiment. This needs a more attentive eye. He is giving up his role as a Captain Commander.

Exodus asks why not give up the captain role altogether. Krakoa does not need the half-hearted effort of the lukewarm. Smiling Scott replies if any of them feels the need to test his conviction… go right ahead. He has been well tested in the wars. And he is still standing.

Xavier agrees, but it is hard for him not to fear cracks forming in the firmament. Calling Cyclops “son,” he asks if this is really the right time. It’s the perfect time Scott states. He will still be a captain for their people, but he cannot be more than that. This job demands total commitment and unwavering principles, no matter the cost. And so, this is his brother Bishop. A commander of Captains.

Storm places the wreath on Bishop’s brow and asks if he is ready for this. He gives her a cocky smile.

Emma Frost asks if the captains just expect the Quiet Council to accept this decision without any input. She fails to remember anyone asking permission, Psylocke remarks. Magik adds that, if it is not already obvious, they have drafted Psylocke as a Captain to replace Gorgon. So, they could fight over it if they want. Make it a twofer. Emma wisely says nothing. Amused, Magneto remarks they asked for wolves to protect the den, and lo, wolves they have raised.

Nightcrawler is the first to congratulate Bishop. With that done, Cyclops points to the tradition of the newly elected commander buying drinks for the other captains. Bishop asks how that can be a tradition if it is happening for the first time. With a grin, Scott suggests that, the more they drink, the more clarity they will have on the subject. Psylocke asks why pay; there is no money on the island. Magik explains they are going to Madripoor. Because, when a new captain gets raised, it ain’t without a fight. It’s a tradition! The four head to a gate.

Later, at a Quiet Council meeting:
Xavier takes the issue with the captains as an opportunity to talk about change. He suggests that some of them should not be afraid of stepping back and enjoy the fruits of what they have built. Kurt is confused. Is he asking for names of those they think should join them here or for people to step down?

Magneto replies they certainly need replacements. But they have a methodology. Anyone on the Council can ask for a vote at any time and it has to be addressed. What they do not have is a retirement plan. And heavy is the head… There is no shame in a little closing of the eyes. A nodding of the head. He will not lie – he has considered it himself.

So, he plans to step down, Shaw asks, interested. Magneto stiffly replies he will follow his heart for the good of the nation. Xavier quickly adds that none of this has to be done today or even tomorrow. But they will be talking with each of them. And they should talk with each other as well. Maybe change will do them good. Or they could all decide that he is a foolish old man for even considering such a thing. Either way, he leaves it to them. Mystique interjects he shouldn’t sell himself short. He knows very well when he has a good idea. And change is a very good idea. Xavier tries to use that opportunity to hint at her retirement but Mystique continues that she has a mutant they should consider for the Council. Xavier is surprised and Magneto tries to say there will be time for that later. No, the time for that is now, Mystique insists and stands up. She asks her candidate to step forth.

Kate looks shocked, Emma intrigued, Shaw leers. Kurt and Cypher look frightened, Storm inscrutable. Mystique kisses her candidate’s hand reverently. Sinister grins broadly, and Xavier and Magneto realize they have a problem, for the candidate is a very much alive Irene Adler aka Destiny.

Shall they vote? Mystique purrs.

Characters Involved: 

Emma Frost, Exodus, Magneto, Mr. Sinister, Mystique, Kate Pryde, Nightcrawler, Professor X, Sebastian Shaw, Storm (Quiet Council)
Moira X
Black Tom Cassidy, Domino, Kid Omega, Sage, Tommy, Wolverine (X-Force)
Bishop, Cyclops, Magik, Psylocke II (Krakoan Captains)

Omega Sentinel

Dr. Devo, Dr. Gregor (All Orchis)

Dr. Smyth, Dr. Jones
Augusta Bromes, Edith Scutch (Hordeculture)

In Moira’s third life:
Moira MacTaggert
Destiny, Mystique, Pyro (Brotherhood of evil mutants)

Story Notes: 

Text pages:

A threat analysis of Orchis and the numerous times X-Force attacked them and failedA medical report on Blac Tom Cassidy

Further notes:

This is the end of Hickman’s storyline.

Despite the title, the series has nothing to do with the Inferno event from the 80’s or with Inferno (1st series).

The gorilla scientists working for Orchis first appeared in X-Men (5th series) #1.

The X-Men first tangled with Hordeculture in X-Men (5th series) #3.

The scene from Moira’s third life was previously shown in House of X #3, though some bits of dialogue are different here.

It is strange that Moira in her third life also has the name MacTaggert, as her maiden name is actually Kinross and it seems unlikely she’d have married the abusive Joe MacTaggert in several lifetimes.

Tommy is a former Morlock, whose only appearance so far was Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #210, in which she was murdered by the Marauders

Gorgon died in Otherworld during the X of Swords event and therefore was resurrected “wrong.”

“Heavy is the head that wears the Crown” is a quote from Shakespeare’s play Henry the IV part 2.

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