‘X-Men’ #20 Review

We are one week away from the highly anticipated Hellfire Gala. Leading up to the first three issues of the arc we were given X-Men #20 which has been one of my favorite X-Men issues in a minute.

Taking us back to key plots, long since left dangling, we have Mystique preparing to return to the Orchis Forge. It was back in X-Men #6 that the plot of this issue kicked off; We find out that Destiny, Mystique’s wife, has since sensed the creation of Krakoa. Not only that, been in that sensation warned Mystique that should the powers that be refuse to bring her back that she is to burn the island to the ground. Love it.

For those of us that read HoX/PoX we recall that Mystique was one of the chosen eight to go on the (suicide) mission to the Orchis Forge in order to prevent the Mothermold from coming online. The reason for this being that it was suspected the Mothermold would be the trigger to give birth to Nimrod; the agent of mutant extinction.

What I have loved about Hickman’s work thus far is how intential so much of the journey has been. In that original story we remember Mystique speaking with Cyclops letting him know she had just “gotten lost” for a bit in trying to find the security lock on to the Mothermold. Yet, in X-Men #6 we are reminded; Mystique doesn’t get F**** lost. Magneto and Xavier had secretly tasked her with a side mission; plant a Krakoan gate somewhere secure aboard the Orchis Forge in order to grant the mutants access. Why? If the future of mutantkind depends on this mission and this mission alone we damn well better make sure we succeeded.

Unfortunately, upen returning to the forge in X-Men #6, Mystique learns that the creation of Nimrod is still very much underway…

I can’t believe we had to wait fourteen issues and SO many months to get the next piece of this story! I don’t mind reading the majority of the current X books, but my principal investment is the work that Hickman initiated back in 2019. The X-Men title has probably been the most reliable book to tie to the original thesis and this is by far the best issue to do just that.

Mystique pays a visit to Forge (mutant forge not the bad place) in order to request his assistance in creating a classified weapon. This will be a bomb that will ultimately destroy the Orchis facility in space and end the chances of Nimrod coming online.

Mangeto and Xavier have promised Mystique that if she succeeds at this they will gladly push Destiny to the front of the line for resurrection. A question that comes to mind here is if they truly intending on bringing her back to life if she were to succeed. A part of me believes that they would have considering Nimrod is the catalyst that spells the doom for mutants. They may have seen this success as the true elimination of their threat and would see no issue with allowing a precog to come to Krakoa. VERY disrespectful to Moira but, alas, Magneto and Xavier are ego monsters.

Mystique heads to Orchis with a black hole bomb. Now, what she witnesses is fascinating. It turns out that Doctor Gregor managed to create a digital backup of her dead husband’s consciousness much like how cerebro does so with mutants. This is the very dead husband that killed himself in order to prevent the X-Men from boarding the forge.

Her intentions are to use the backup to upload into the created husk that looks exactly like Nimrod. Her husband comes online in the new body and immediatley recognizes that Mystique in disguise is a mutant. Mystique throws the bomb and the ressurrected spouse uses his new abilities to minimize the radius of the blast. Unfortunately, in doing this so shortly after his coming online, the complete consciousness of Dr. Gregor’s husband could not be secured within the Nimrod copies created. In other words, what is walking around as Nimrod now is a completely original and new entity. One that is likely more dangerous than Dr. Gregor’s husband ever would have been.

What we see here is a classic time travel trope done very well; the mutants are responsible for the creation of Nimrod. Back in HoX/Pox we learned through the lives of Moira X that the sentinels were inevitable. They, like all progress in human technology, were meant to happen one way or another. They are fated. What was debated was if Nimrod was truly destined or if it was something that could be changed.

The irony here is that if the X-Men had just not gone to the Orchis Forge they would have avoided the creation of Nimrod all together. He was not going to be created by the Mothermold. It is because Gregor’s husband killed himself, because she created the Nimrod husk and developed the consciousness backup, and because Mystique went on that mission with the black hole bomb, that the Nimrod of the future that leaves mutants nearly completely extinct exists. YIKES.

Of course Mystique returns home (dead) and upon resurrection informs her superiors that she failed. She shoots in the dark and asks about Destiny only to have the shadiest response from Xavier; what about her?

Nimrod is online! The blueprint for the future is once again building and right at the inception of the Hellfire Gala. A part of me is hoping there is serious tie-in between these plots but we will see. I do suspect that this new X-Men team will focus largely on this plot. All teams have very specfic purposes in the Hickman era, and what better purpose for the titular heroes than to save the very future of their kind.


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