Age of X

Age of X Assessment: Chapter 5

Mike Carey returns to cover the secret of Moira MacTaggert, and at last, the truth behind the Age of X

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By Ben Morse

WARNING: SPOILERS FOR X-MEN: LEGACY #247 AHEAD, SO IF YOU HAVEN’T READ IT YET, GET TO IT!

We have entered the Age of X.

From now through April in the pages of X-MEN: LEGACY, NEW MUTANTS and beyond, a strange and exciting new reality known as the Age of X will be introduced, with mysteries unfolding and a world where the X-Men never existed coming to light. After each chapter, we’ll have the event’s writer and mastermind Mike Carey here with us to discuss the latest revelations and will also preview art from the next exciting installment!

After months of trying to piece it all together, we finally learned the truth behind what created the Age of X in X-MEN: LEGACY #247, and true to form, writer Mike Carey went all out in the origin of this brave new world.

Professor Xavier returned to the forefront and revealed secrets aplenty, not the least being the true identity of Moira MacTaggert, while the Force Warriors battled Moonstar Cadre and Cannonball faced off with Basilisk in a different sort of confrontation. Action mingled with revelation and the promise of more to come hangs heavy coming out of this penultimate installment of Age of X.

With all this in mind, we tapped Mr. Carey to speak on this packed chapter and also scored some primo Steve Kurth preview art from NEW MUTANTS #24, the Age of X finale.

X-MEN: LEGACY #247 cover by Mico Suayan

Marvel.com: Despite the very different trappings, this is your first chance to get back to the narrative focus of Charles Xavier, which was the original focus of X-MEN: LEGACY; how did you find the experience?

Mike Carey: It’s always great to put Professor X front and center.  I like these morally serious guys—Xavier, Exodus, Magneto.  Almost anyone else in the core cast makes a good foil for them, and vice versa.  You can get the interplay between grand, solemn statements and widescreen action, which is always fun to do.

But I like Professor X for other reasons, too.  I think he’s one of the most admirable and yet at the same time one of the most complex and flawed and haunted characters in the X-verse.  One of my favorite Legacy issues was the one where he and Emma got to argue about the rights and wrongs of the Professor’s past actions.

Marvel.com: Again we see Kitty playing a key role here as Xavier’s savior and Legacy again notes that Kitty was the first to crack the secret of there being nothing beyond Fortress X. Why is Kitty special?

Mike Carey: She was just the right X-Man in the right place.  I chose all the core characters for this story with the same basic criteria in mind: I was looking for the people who would rock the boat, ask the awkward questions, stick their necks out and not take no for an answer.

Marvel.com: Just to state definitively: X is Moira, right?

Mike Carey: Oh yes.  X is a sock-puppet for Moira—the way she interacts with all the mutants trapped in her little world without blowing her cover.

Marvel.com: Two of the X-Men’s prime alpha males face off when Basilisk calls Cannonball into question. Even though Basilisk is a wild card in this universe, the others follow him—is that a nod to his role as Cyclops or does he just make a compelling argument? And why is Cannonball so adamant about sticking to his guns here?

NEW MUTANTS #24 preview art by Steve Kurth

Mike Carey: It’s two very different responses to the same situation, but I think it’s about role rather than personality.  In Sam’s position, Scott might have made the same call: putting the safety of the fortress and the lives of the people he was leading before anything else.  But because he’s a wild card, and a maverick, Basilisk is free to take the crazy risk—and because he’s Scott Summers, he’s got the charisma to make people follow him, especially given the fact that their faith in Magneto, the general, has already been shaken.

Marvel.com: Again, we see that Moonstar Cadre shows loyalty to Xavier and Magneto while the Force Warriors are unflinching in wanting to take them out. What motivates both groups?

Mike Carey: I think there are different factors in play for everyone here.  The Force Warriors are initially still following Legion’s lead, and Legion is taking his cue from Moira.  We’d also seen, in the previous issue, the Force Warriors’ reactions to the apparent murder of Rogue.  Moonstar Cadre [has] spoken to Magneto and heard at least some of his side of the story; they know there’s stuff going on under the surface, and they’re prepared to roll with this new situation on that basis.

Marvel.com: Finally we get some explanation about who/what Moira is and her/its role in the Age of X’s creation—but could you clarify a bit? And are there still more revelations to come on this front?

Mike Carey: Moira is a new persona hived off within Legion’s mind as a direct result of Doctor Nemesis’ deletion of some of his other personas; in that respect, she’s like a kind of psychic antibody.  Legion’s mind is being invaded and—you could say—compromised or damaged by Nemesis’ actions, and Moira appears as Legion’s direct, unwilled and unconscious response to this process.  She acts to protect him from the destruction—the loss of self—that he’s experiencing at Nemesis’ hands, even though consciously he consents to what Nemesis is doing to him.  And since her power is to reshape reality, her response is to take Legion into a new reality, out of Nemesis’ reach.  For good measure, she gives him fame and adulation and elite status in the new reality; sick as it sounds, the Age of X is a sort of twisted wish-fulfillment for Legion.

NEW MUTANTS #24 preview art by Steve Kurth

Marvel.com: What is at the crux of Xavier and Doctor Nemesis’ argument over how to treat Legion?

Mike Carey: Professor X is convinced that Nemesis’ brute force approach won’t work with Legion, and of course he turns out to be right.  The problem is that David Haller’s personality disorder is intrinsically tied up with his powers—and that it’s reactive.  When something significant happens to him, a new persona is born to take the psychic brunt of it.  So when Nemesis directly attacks Legion’s mind, the reaction is on a spectacular scale: Moira is a broadly proportionate defensive response to the loss of hundreds of Legion’s sub-selves.

Marvel.com: Would it be reasonable to blame Doctor Nemesis for the Age of X coming into being? To blame Xavier?

Mike Carey: I think it’s debatable.  I certainly wouldn’t blame Xavier.  But Nemesis wasn’t acting alone. What he was doing had been sanctioned by everyone who was around at the time to express an opinion and had the authority to make it stick.  It’s a shared responsibility, I think.

Marvel.com: Is the creature that becomes Moira meant to be familiar to us or is this a new creation?

Mike Carey: It’s new.  And I like that way of putting it.  The antibody becomes Moira because that gains it a momentary advantage over Professor X, but then it keeps the shape for other reasons: because it’s a convenient disguise to wear within the reality bubble, and because it gets an emotional response from Legion that’s actually quite useful.  But it could easily adopt a different shape on another occasion.

Marvel.com: What about Legion makes him susceptible to this manipulation by Moira?

Mike Carey: She’s edited his memories in the same way as she has everyone else’s.  I don’t think he’s uniquely susceptible; her powers are colossal and very wide-ranging.

Marvel.com: What can we look forward to in the final chapter?

Mike Carey: Fights!  And resolutions!  And pay-back!  And fall-out!  Well, the start of the fall-out.  We’ll see more of that in various X-books in the months to come.  But chapter six centers on two simultaneous battles-to-the-death: all of the X-Men versus the infinite forces of the Human Coalition, and Professor X and Magneto versus Moira.

Age of X comes to its stunning conclusion on April 27 in NEW MUTANTS #24! Be sure to pick up the final chapter and then head here not long after as we wrap things up with Mike Carey!

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