Last week I wrote a post about Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men series: House of X and Powers of X exploring the elements of Biblical and mythological allegory, foreshadowing, and literary allusion within the story. As I was proofreading the post to publish, I noticed a subtle literary allusion to Dante’s Inferno in Sinister’s betrayal in the ninth life making him a sort of Judas figure for the tenth because, if they still bring him into their circle in life ten, they know ahead of time he will betray them. It wasn’t until after I published that post that I realized this allusion goes a whole lot further than alluding to Judas’ punishment at the deepest point of the ninth circle of hell. This, along with the way Moira’s lives have been displayed in the circle graphic and the heavy-handed Biblical allegory, are huge clues (i.e. more foreshadowing) that the structure of Moira’s lives is based on The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri.
The circle graph for lives one-ten conveniently leave out life six, which could have just had no information on it, but (if it extended past the other lives, would be a dead give away that the timeline in X³, (year 1000) is in fact her sixth life. But by removing the line (and thus the circle) we are given a diagram of nine layered circles. And for a big betrayal in the ninth, it dawned on me that these were the nine circles of hell laid out in Inferno, the first part of The Divine Comedy.
I want to note that I broke this theory on Twitter on my personal account, which you can read HERE. Several Twitter users replied and helped form the theory beyond Inferno since I haven’t actually read Purgatorio or Paradiso though have a general concept of them. With their help we were able to determine that the tenth and eleventh lives do, in fact, follow this theory rather strongly. (ps: Thank you to everyone on Twitter who helped with this!)
A great link for a summary of each of the nine circles of hell can be found at THIS LINK.
LIFE 1 (LIMBO): Moira does not know of the existence of mutants, and thus—like those who died before having knowledge of Christ—this life was limbo.
LIFE 2 (LUST): Moira discovers the existence of mutants and her “lust” for knowledge about what she is drives her to impulsively hop on a plane to go meet Charles Xavier.
LIFE 3 (GLUTTONY): After going through childhood and death twice already, Moira has had enough and has a ravenous hunger to solve her problem by curing it, unable to see how it could harm other mutants because of her own personal gain from it.
LIFE 4 (GREED): Moira keeps all her knowledge to herself in the life where she marries Charles Xavier.
LIFE 5 (WRATH): Moira radicalizes Charles Xavier, and enraged at how their life was ended by man-made machines, they separate the mutants from the humans.
LIFE 6 (HERESY): This is only speculation at this point, but evidence pointing at this being the X³ timeline, and the cover for Powers of X #6 making Moira look like she might become an omega sentinel (look closely at the design of her outfit and the aura around her) This would imply that she sided with the machines and make sense for X³ to be a continuation of that life. HOWEVER, Powers of X #4 introduced us to Bar Sinister, which is an unmistakable allusion to the City of Dis which is entered in…the sixth circle of hell. (more info on this at the end of the article).
LIFE 7 (VIOLENCE): Moira becomes an assassin and kills off the entire Trask line.
LIFE 8 (FRAUD): Moira sides with Magneto, who’s any means necessary way of living is usually self-serving and not so much for the good of the other mutants though he tells them it is.
LIFE 9 (BETRAYAL): Moira sides with Apocalypse, one of the X-Men’s greatest foes and embraces his way of life, which ends in war and destruction rather than striving for peace.
LIFE 10 (PURGATORY): This is the X-Men’s main continuity. It’s the only time Moira is Moira MacTaggart, the only time Proteus exists. And it makes sense that it will be the life we see the remaining X-Men books continue in as the X-Men live in a state of Purgatory already. Their story works best when it is a social commentary on prejudice and discrimination. If you take them out of this setting, they aren’t going to really work as well.
LIFE 11 (PARADISE): “Destiny” (the mutant and the concept) came to call on Moira and give her the course for her many lives. She has ten lives, but an eleventh if she lived the tenth right. (Speculation here:) The eleventh life is the afterlife, and it’s the promise of something beyond death. Moira, despite having lived far longer than any mortal, is not herself immortal and she was shaken when she discovered her lives were not infinite in number as she thought. Should there be an actual eleventh timeline in the story, and it’s not filled with hatred and murderous robots, I do not think it will be where the X-Men continuity continues. There is a lot of allusions to Heaven and what happens after death in this book so far.
Krokoa itself has the feel of the garden of Eden at first glance, but it also eerily draws parallels to the Elysian Fields of Greek Mythology, which was the Greek’s version of Heaven. Krokoa, in the way we see it in this series, does not exist in this way until life nine. From readers of Dante’s Purgatorio, there is a garden element to Purgatory. And, as I have been told, Purgatory starts at “dawn,” so with the following books being referred to as “Dawn of X” we have yet another nod toward the structuring of the story.
NEW ARGUMENTS based on Powers of X #4 which just came out today. (I withheld posting to see if the new issue would help or hurt my theory. It seems to strengthen it in regard to The Divine Comedy structure, but through some questions into the wind about my theory of Life six being Moira + Machines and X³.
-The City of Dis/Bar Sinister. When Dante reaches the sixth circle of hell, which is where the heretics are held, there is an infernal city called Dis that begins in this circle and encompasses the remaining circles through to the ninth. If Moira first encounters Sinister in her sixth life, this is a big clue to that being the case. It’s named The City of Dis after Dis Pater, the Roman god of the Underworld, later becoming Pluto, so Sinister upon a throne there is a fitting image. I also find it fitting that the city extends to the ninth circle, and that’s where Sinister betrayed them. So it fits rather well, to be honest.
-Sinister Secrets. These offer a lot of trivia to X-Men continuity and implications for the ongoing story. The damning one for this argument is on the second page when it says, “Sinister Secret Revealed! We don’t hear this word spoken often, so when we do, it’s best to pay attention, because when you square that circle, what took a long time to build can come crumbling down rather quickly. [Inferno].”
That’s right, it actually spells the word Inferno out on the page, and the most obvious reason, of course, is that there is a storyline called Inferno which Mr. Sinister played a big part in and featured demons from Limbo…I haven’t actually read this storyline so I can’t go into much detail or comparison here, but the name-drop may seem non-assuming based on that story’s existence. However, I think it’s another multilayered clue Hickman is laying out there for readers to figure out what he’s doing here with the talk of circles being added into the “secret” as well as the “Inferno” added in brackets almost as a whispered spoiler the way his mutant gene coming from Thunderbird apparently is.
-The imagery involved in the splitting of Okkara into Arakko and Krakoa. The enemies from the chasm are demonic in appearance and are said to
come from a “wicked place.” So not only does Bar Sinister have an infernal city appearance to it, but we have this hellish vision of a battle in which Apocalypse (further solidifying my argument last week as the Alpha/God figure in comparison to Nimrod as the Omega. The allegory of them as the Titan versus Olympian god is pretty striking the more you dig into it.) And Hickman actually labels Apocalypse as “the warrior god in blue” and credits him for saving the world against these demonic creatures, thus sending them back to their “wicked place” in theory. There’s a LOT to unpack about this reveal, but I think I need to read a few more times before I can do that any justice.
So what do you think? Do you think this story is structured around The Divine Comedy? Is Moira going to side with Sinister or the machines in life six? Or both? Do you have another theory?