So after Marauders #5 and how directly it continues from Spider-Man 2099 Exodus #5....the thing I'm most interested in now that we've seen how closely Orlando's tying his present day stuff into his 2099 stuff....is the fact that he's made a point in his Spider-Man 2099 Exodus issues that the current 2099 comics are definitively set in the same timeline as the original run. He picked up events exactly from where those characters were last seen, the ones who did die in the earlier comics are still dead....it would have been very easy to soft-reboot the 2099 timeline and just treat it as a blank slate just using familiar characters, say that all the changes to the timeline had effectively made the 2099 era a free-for-all where its history could be anything current writers want it to be. But they've been very careful NOT to do that. Even while adding elements of the modern Krakoan Age into those stories, like mentions of 'the almost mythical mutant mystery metal, mysterium' as something that people obviously once knew as a thing at one point, but has been out of circulation long enough the average person in 2099 doesn't put a ton of stock in stories about it. And its that last part that's really interesting to me because given that there's obviously no Krakoa in 2099, no resurrection protocols, no Arakko....you'd think it SHOULDN'T be possible to integrate a whole Krakoan Age into 2099's history despite it not being a thing when that line was first introduced. Even with the way Cable's history or knowledge of history is explained by changes to the timeline and any subsequent ripple effects just folding themselves into his awareness or view of history, much like how we 'update' our view of past comics events that have been retconned....the whole point is Orlando's 2099 stuff has made such a big deal NOT to actually retcon anything. Even when it seems it would be EASIER to do that and just explain any changes the way Cable does, and just roll with it, its repeatedly been stressed that the history as 2099 mutants in current comics remember it is no different from history as mutants in the original 2099 comics remembered it. Suggesting that even those original 2099 comics could - and are now intended to - be viewed as though they could still happen just eight decades after the current era's events. Like I just mean....the 2099 era isn't just the possible future of a timeline where Krakoa never happened. Its blatantly being described as the possible future of even a timeline where Krakoa DID happen. So like I said, you'd think that the Krakoan Age SHOULDN'T be able to fit into the 2099 timeline's existing backstory, since it didn't exist yet as a thing that could inform/shape the original 2099 comics.....but the thing is, it actually slots into place very, VERY easily. And that's because in 2099's history.....most of mutantkind just up and fucking vanished at some point in the 2020s, and mutant births among the general global population didn't start happening again with any kind of frequency until well into the second half of the 21st century. [img][/img] The 2099 comics were always deliberately vague about the history of mutants before their present day....like there were frequent references to human/mutant conflicts throughout the late 20th and early 21st century, people definitely remember the X-Men, stuff like that. But then things get vague, become subject to rumors or conflicting stories, and nobody in 2099 seems super clear about what happened around the 2020s, what mutantkind was like then....just that there was one last big human/mutant conflict IN the 2020s specifically....and after that, the large existing mutant population seems to have just vanished overnight, with nobody seeming to know how or why. Mutants were a big deal, then the 2020s rolled around, and then no more giant mutant population, no more X-Men, no more known or named or recognizable mutant figures at ANY point after that....just sporadic mutant individuals whose powers manifested at some point AFTER that big disappearance and were subsequently kept safe by hiding in underground organizations like MUSE for the next fifty years. The 'modern' mutant population of the 2099 X-Men's era, the generation of mutants in their 20s and teens that we saw throughout those books....was literally the FIRST generation SINCE the 2020s, where mutants were born in large enough numbers that they were actually able to exist out in the open again, influence world events, etc. The 2099 books ran for years, and in all that time almost all mutants to appear in them were in their twenties at most, with only a handful of mutant characters older than thirty ever showing up and always being treated as outliers or a big deal in-universe when they did....because for the most part, there WERE no more mutants older than thirty at that time. There was always just a big gap in history that people danced around because they either didn't know what happened in that gap, or they didn't want to talk about it, something like that. And either way, the point of all this is I think its pretty significant that Marvel's not only greenlit Orlando in intertwining his 2099 stuff with the present day, bringing one of its most prominent characters to be a present day character like Bishop or Rachel....but they also seem to either be totally on board with how he's NOT retconning 2099's history....or alternatively, that could have literally been part of the directive given to Orlando when given the 2099 Spider-Man Exodus project. Like, rather than start fresh with that era, they've chosen to actively lean into the pre- existing history that's predicated on a mass mutant disappearance right smack in the decade we happen to be in, which is being treated as modern day within the comics as well. And thus now we have 2099 characters acknowledging elements of present day Krakoa stuff, the existence of mysterium but no mutants left that know how to make it, Cerebra's knowledge that something like the resurrection protocols DID exist in this day and age but are clearly no longer a thing in a future where mutants die all the time...but there's still enough mystery and also an element of discomfort when 2099 characters reference mutants from the start of the century, that like....its plausible that the reason this stuff doesn't get talked about more (or in the earlier 2099 comics) is just because nobody wants to dwell too much on stories or histories that clearly encompass both how much better everything once was for mutants, but also the fact that none of them are left, which suggests nothing good about their ultimate fate. So, to recap: We have most of the global mutant population concentrated in just one place on Earth, as well as on Arakko. In the 2020s. While setting the stage for a major human/mutant conflict. And meanwhile, in 2099’s history, we have the global mutant population all vanishing seemingly at once, in one mass disappearance or exodus, after the 'final' human/mutant conflict, and most if not all of mutantkind's major players with them. (Also in 2099, Mars is known just as Mars and looks about like you'd expect Mars to look, pre-Planet Sized X-Men....except for ruins that exist as evidence of some prior civilization and yet most people strangely reluctant to talk about Mars or displaying little curiosity about what SHOULD be a matter of great curiosity, proof of life on Mars....unless, say, everyone already knew a civilization had once existed on Mars and it wasn't even all that long ago and there's some OTHER reason Mars is a pretty taboo subject in 2099 that nobody wants to touch with a ten foot pole.) We also have Destiny over in the main X-Men title talking about a possible future she sees where mutants are going through a gate in large numbers and none of them come back...with this being a future she's convinced can ONLY be averted by Rogue stopping them. And meanwhile, in 2099, Orlando's current story about the X-Men of that era features the surviving mutants left from the original 2099 run, all of them in their twenties or thirties at most.....except now, along with a time-traveling Cable staying in that time period for his own reasons, those X- Men also include the one and only member of OUR 'modern day' X-Men to ever appear in that era. Almost like....the last one of her era that's left. And what character is that? Rogue. Almost as if....most mutants on Krakoa and Arakko vanished through a gateway they never came back from, and for whatever reason, she was unable to stop them but also didn't join them. But does that make her the last survivor of the current Krakoan nation? Or does that make her the one left behind....either by circumstance, or her own choice, or to perhaps fulfill some role or complete some task that require she still be present on Earth in 2099? And then we also have Orlando's present day title, which launched with an initial arc centered around the mystery of a two billion year old mysterium box somehow known to both Mystique and Emma, desperately sought by the latter, and which eventually leads the Marauders to learn of a long-vanished mutant civilization that not only possessed the means to try and send its population forward in time to SAVE it, but whose very presence - well before life evolved on Earth - heavily implies that mutant time-travelers started that civilization in the first place. And also of note....this mutant civilization is named Threshold. With a threshold of course being a way to describe the liminal space that exists between both sides of a doorway. Or y'know. A gate. Now, factor this thought in: The X-Office claims that its still following Hickman's overall outline or plan, and always has been...just taking different routes to get there. We’re all familiar with the theories that he rage quit the writer’s room because nobody got that Krakoa was supposed to be BAD, the whole point of the idea was a critique of nationalism and everybody was like no, Krakoa’s a mutant safe space, its much better that way and Hickman was like ugh you guys just don’t GET it. But like, BOTH Hickman AND the X-Offices are in complete agreement that they’re still using his outline, which is not a claim either HAD to put out there or comment on, especially if they didn’t part on the greatest of terms. There’s not a ton of reason NOT to believe that the X- Offices are still following plotlines he set in motion, affirmed by Ewing, by Duggan, by people individually confirming that not every idea in their books is their own original plot, some are just stuff Hickman never got around to…and I’m sorry but people who parted on at least AWKWARD terms because they had a fundamentally different view of the entire concept they were all working on together for years…they don’t go around opening themselves up to readers potentially crediting their plots to another writer whose whole departure slash beef was he didn’t like the direction everyone else was taking his idea. Obviously this is subjective and people will always follow their own gut one way or another here, but I really think its a stretch to assume everyone is lying about the X-books still following Hickman's original outline, just with a longer and more winding route from one major plot beat to the next. So even just to play this line of thought out, consider what happens if we do accept the possibility that they are in fact still following the same blueprint he laid out, just in a more drawn out away. That still begs the question....if there was this fundamental ideological divide between how Hickman and every one else, writers and editors alike, viewed the very POINT of Krakoa, with the latter seeing it as a good thing they wanted to keep around for years and develop further in a positive way while Hickman himself never intended it to be viewed positively and meant it as a screed against nationalism from day one to the very conclusion of his story..... Why on EARTH would all the writers and editors who disagree with him that Krakoa is wholly unsalvageable because its MEANT to be, who according to most theories deviated from his plan in the FIRST place because they viewed it as a waste of Krakoa's potential as a good thing for mutants and saw positive aspects of it they wanted to dig into and build up over the course of years of their own work and stories... Why would they then go BACK to following the same outline that led to the conclusion they fundamentally disagreed with for Krakoa and was allegedly the whole reason Hickman left after they all missed the point of Krakoa and didn't want it to go down in flames as a symbol of nationalistic hubris and nothing more? Hickman's already gone! Nobody gains anything from still adhering to a map that leads somewhere they don't think it should go, so the only reason that really makes sense for why they'd still want to end up in the same place even if they did take longer to get there, is if regardless of how long they spent getting there....they still DID see value in aiming at THAT specific destination, at the end of it all? And if the endpoint was always to burn Krakoa down as a failed experiment, a great mistake that the characters never should have wasted their time on and now regret, flawed from its earliest foundations in ways that never actually had a CHANCE to be shored up or transformed for the better, if the whole point was always to bring it all down.... Doesn't....circling back to this particular conclusion just....undermine literally everything the other X-writers wrote after Hickman specifically BECAUSE they saw promise and value in the Krakoan concept that he didn't? Isn't this still them eventually saying oh but forget everything I spent years writing about how Krakoa could be good, actually....obviously that wasn't true and it was never going to happen that way, even though the whole reason we didn't just go straight ahead with this blueprint in the first place, while Hickman was still on board, because we didn't think Krakoa HAD to be a bad idea? Like this isn't the kind of situation where everyone can get what they want if they're all just patient enough and give everyone a chance to play before bringing everything to a close....when Krakoa = good/Krakoa = bad is the literal core of the alleged conflict and only one of those was ever going to get to be substantiated in the form of Krakoa either still standing at the end, maybe flawed but enough good to be worth still moving forward with it....or Krakoa destroyed at the end, because there wasn't enough that was good about it to withstand everything that was wrong with it? Like these are COMPLETELY contrary goals that directly clash. People who want one CAN'T just be patient or make room for the other to happen first.....because the issue has nothing to do with how much time is spent pursuing a positive direction before finally returning to an intended negative direction...the issue is the FINAL direction regardless of how long or short a time it takes to get there. If that was where Hickman wanted to go and they're still headed there, he still gets the outcome he wanted but quit because they weren’t getting to that point soon enough....while everyone else, who allegedly got what they wanted by Hickman quitting instead of getting to follow through to his intended conclusion.....for some reason decide to still only entertain their preferred direction for a few more years, write as many stories as they had in mind that stemmed from their belief that Krakoa was good for mutants...and only after building this direction up YEARS longer and WAY further than Hickman ever intended before pulling the rug out from under the whole concept with a definitive 'no. Krakoa bad.' - they're committed to doing the exact same thing anyway. But now in an even more heightened way…because of all the time put into exploring the idea that things didn't HAVE to go this direction, specifically because THEY DIDN'T AGREE THIS HAD TO BE THE FINAL DIRECTION. I mean. I just. People say this with such confidence but I really do not get how that is supposed to make ANY kind of sense. So instead, let me put forth an alternative interpretation of Hickman's run, that doesn't actually revolve around the question of is Krakoa fundamentally a positive or a negative for mutantkind...and in fact, might suggest that Hickman never actually wanted to make a definitive ruling on Krakoa's morality. Hickman launched his run with the story of not just continuous or inevitable human/mutant conflicts, but with the entirety of his run geared around the looming threat of some FINAL human/mutant conflict that's unfolded across multiple timelines and lifetimes in all kinds of different ways. But that ultimately is treated as some kind of inevitable hinge point, to such an extent that everyone - on all sides of the conflict - views its outcome as the only variable that can be changed, its never actually a question of whether or not it even happens at all. It was Hickman who built up Destiny's return as pivotal to the future of his ongoing plots, suggesting he had some specific plans in mind for her visions, or for a specific vision he intended her to have. Many readers complained about how random it felt when Duggan had Rogue offhandedly mention some vision Destiny was hyping as a huge deal for the future of mutantkind, given that she only brought it up as kind of a throwaway line in her very last issue as a main cast member of his title, with Duggan making no effort to build it up as a big deal in the eleven previous issues he had her on his cast. Almost like it wasn't in his plans for Rogue at all and he just squeezed it in at the last second because its inclusion was mandated but he didn't want it taking up any more of his pagetime with Rogue than the bare minimum. Y'know, like it was a plot point from someone ELSE'S outline, with that outline regarded as important enough it can supersede Duggan's own outlines for his cast, at least enough that hitting certain plot beats on that other outline is non-negotiable. (Also of note: Hickman always said he wanted to do more with Rogue, especially in conjunction with Destiny, but that he didn't have room for Rogue in Inferno. And if longterm plans he had for Destiny are still being followed, it seems quite likely that some of those plans might naturally include certain directions for Rogue's character as well). And it was also Hickman who seeded the mystery of the two billion year old box of such importance Mystique was able to use it to bribe Emma onto her side in Inferno, after it was initially teased at the first Hellfire Gala. Many readers also complained how random the box and its importance to Emma ended up feeling by the end of Inferno, since Hickman kept bringing it front and center without us ever getting a look at what was IN it as of the time he left. But it certainly suggests he had SOMETHING in mind for the box, longterm, and if it was as big a deal to his plots as he kept treating it, and his overall outline is still being followed....its actually pretty likely that the mystery of the box ended up being EXACTLY what Hickman had in mind for it all along. Which means....Orlando didn't pull "oh maybe its a message from Kate to herself that she sent two billion years in the past, with just some obscure message about first blood spilled" out of his ass in the Marauders Annual because the X-Offices were like hey we need you to come up with something that makes this box feel like a big deal. Its actually maybe even more likely that when the X-Offices gave Orlando the Marauders book, which is centered around Kate, it came with a mandate to follow the overall shape of a plot already outlined for Kate and the box. Whose contents were never a mystery to the X-Offices and who thus didn't actually need or want Orlando to make something up himself, as to why it was a big deal. Which also suggests that this sprawling time-travel story....and the heavy importance it placed on the Shi'ar and their history....wasn't actually a hard sell for Orlando to make to the editors at all. Because maybe he didn't sell them on it at all - it was the other way around, and at most they just asked him to pitch how he'd go about writing a story built around certain specific plot beats. The time travel/Shi'ar arc that seems such an odd and risky choice for the relaunch of a satellite book with a new writer....is a little less of an odd choice when considering it was greenlit specifically to use that satellite book as a vehicle for laying certain plot groundwork they didn't have room for in other titles. (Not to mention, hey, who else do we know who likes to make a big deal about the Shi'ar and their place in the X-mythos/connection to mutants, even had an Imperial Guard series he wanted to write but never got to, also launched the current New Mutants book with an arc that took them to Shi'ar space despite that seeming an odd choice to a lot of readers at the time too, with this all tying into his longterm plans for the Shi'ar and their relationship with mutants, like how it was an alliance between the two that led to the defeat of the Dominions in Omega Sentinel's future, and how the only mutants to survive one of Moira's past lives were the ones who had a colony in Shi'ar space....hmmm...interesting coincidence....) And to add to all of that….its Hickman whose entire run and CONCEPT for the current era revolved around not just Krakoa and its society and whatever themes he built into things there....but also just as central to his X-Men work was the idea of closed loops of time. The intertwining of past and future, between past lives and precognition and reincarnation and time travel, all taking characters down slightly different roads that keep leading them to the same places…at which point they always return to start and try all over again and again and again with it becoming a never-ending cycle, a closed circle of life and death and war and genocide where everything is different each and every time while fundamentally still always being the same. Now, like mentioned earlier, obviously there’s the interpretation that takes for granted that Hickman's overall longterm plan was to just show mutants as hubristic and self-defeating, use Krakoa as a cautionary tale, and burn the whole thing to the ground and then return everything to the status quo that existed before he started his run. Except...that's not the only possible interpretation, especially when scrutinized next to the circular, self-defeating nature of the endless cycle of violence everyone in his work seemed confined to. The flaws he built into Krakoa definitely were varying degrees of troubling and uncomfortable from the start…but also, most of them could be argued as being carefully deliberate flaws that had plenty of room for growth. Nothing that couldn't be improved upon or transformed in various ways, by characters learning from past mistakes and DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY when given the opportunity, instead of just doubling down on their first instincts having been right all along, or committing to their belief they're the good guy of their story and thus inherently right or moral... (And regardless of personal opinion on Krakoa's overall morality, again, if considering the possibility that the very fact the editors and writers saw opportunities for extending Hickman's foundation for Krakoa-based stories longer than he'd originally intended, WHILE still maintaining they're sticking to his longterm plans....suggests that actually Hickman and the rest of the X-Offices WEREN'T on different pages when it came to their views of Krakoa....this actually reframes a LOT, the second we stop assuming his intentions for the island and taking it for granted that he intended Krakoa to be irredeemable. Like I said, if he really thought “umm no, Krakoa is clearly BAD, y'all" then it is kinda weird that editors and writers who disagreed enough to want to play in that sandbox longer would still WANT to commit to a longterm plan that says btw Krakoa was always bad and anyone who felt otherwise - like us - was wrong all along. So we stop taking that as fact or as good as....and explore the idea that Hickman's original plan WASN'T inherently any more geared towards an ultimate fall for Krakoa...and he could have had different themes/motivations in mind for why he wrote it the way he did. For instance: could it also be that Hickman always intended for Krakoa to start out with clear, obvious flaws and troubling undercurrents, to keep the moral stakes of the era’s stories high… but he wasn't intending to reveal it as inherently rotten and corrupt and needing to be scorched to the ground so much as to make it realistically a question of IF mutants could learn to grow in better directions when given a jolt of something entirely new to try...or if even with a huge paradigm shift and tons of possible directions, they'd still find their way back to the same flawed paths they'd walked countless times before? If it wasn’t a foregone conclusion but a question posed as to whether they would end up just defaulting to what was familiar and thus repeating or imitating the mistakes they and others before them had made....or if maybe they’d take a leap into truly uncharted and risky territories to break out of old patterns and ruts and in doing so find their way to making something better? Was maybe the outcome of the Krakoan experiment MEANT to be in doubt, readers uncertain which way it would go, given the cracks in the foundation....but the goal was never to engineer an outcome that said no, this outcome was never in doubt, there was never a plan for a possible future in which the characters actually DID change things for the better?) Because coming at things from a different angle, I'd argue that an outcome where Hickman was ALWAYS going to burn Krakoa to the ground before he was done and put everything back exactly the way it was....it kinda actually doesn't really track with what I feel are the actual themes of Hickman's entire run? Like. At all? Because his stuff might have cast the moral direction Krakoa would end up going in doubt, with him spotlighting key problem areas and saying yeah this IS bad and will likely lead bad places that should be avoided and the question is WILL the characters manage to course- correct.... But his stuff WASN'T vague or unclear at all, about the futility of self-defeating cycles where everyone repeats the same mistakes just in different ways and nobody ever does anything different and thus the cycle never gets broken and nothing ever matters and everything always ends up the same. He was actually VERY clear on this point: THAT, for sure, is DEFINITELY bad. Just say no to the existential prison of circular reasoning and destructive deja vu. Dare to be different! Take a risk on someone you're not sure you can trust! Good question, Xavier and Mags, what if mutants DID try making peace with machines as well as humans, could THAT lead somewhere new? Now there's a thought, let's explore more along THOSE lines, like oh say, the symbiotic bond between Doug, Warlock and Krakoa which Inferno thematically spotlighted as a literal gamechanger, a plot twist that caught BOTH 'I know everything because I've lived through everything over and over in the world's worst Groundhog Day remake and I'm so jaded' Moira AND 'I know everything because I see all and my wife who is also my publicity manager and number one hype woman makes sure everyone knows it' Destiny completely offguard and threw off both sides' plans? Isn't it noteworthy that every single thing mutants knew about the mutant/human/machine conflict and planned to do about the mutant/human/machine conflict....came from literally two people, each with their own source of intel that they thought made them all but infallible, and their choices - even if not right - at least the best POSSIBLE choice, with no better option existing or else they surely would have seen it or lived through it by now? Moira, who represented the past, with all her knowledge stemming from hers, and Irene, who represented the future, with all her knowledge stemming from her view of it. And these two women were quite literally LOCKED into a never-ending loop they both tried to escape, Irene by killing Moira and threatening her into fighting for mutantkind, Moira by blocking Irene's resurrection and considering a return to her original idea for ending human/mutant conflict once she thought Irene was off the gameboard.... And yet, despite their best efforts, they still ended up in a repeat of their very first encounter. Irene and Raven about to kill Moira because her cure was the problem and killing her the solution, Moira now insisting once again that her cure was the solution and killing her was the problem.... Almost as if none of their choices made any difference in avoiding this one hinge point. They always were going to end up here sooner or later....because for all their knowledge, they both kept being SURE that they already HAD the solution, and it was just Other People preventing them from implementing it that was the problem. THEY were right. THEY weren't the problem. And thus there was no reason FOR them to make different choices, no matter how many times they ended up here, right? Because their choices obviously weren't the problem....and neither was confirmation bias, taking everything they did live or see through and filtering it all through a lens that insisted on viewing it as proof they were right all along! And thus all of Hickman's work up to Inferno led up to one pivotal moment....the one Moira had spent his whole run trying to avoid. With the irony that her own preemptive actions were what had Raven and Irene sure she COULDN'T be worked with, find common ground with. And likely the only way Moira TRULY could have avoided ending up there is if she'd never tried to block Irene's resurrection, had given her (and asked for) the same blank slate all other mutants were expected to have with each other, and started fresh even if it was a risk to trust the other...but with the potential gains being the chance to combine their knowledge of past and future in ways they'd never tried before, instead of working at cross purposes. In the spirit of the era’s mutant technology, the theme of being able to do things together they never could apart…there was always the potential for Irene and Moira to combine their knowledge and unique perspectives of time via a mutant circuit of precognition and reincarnation, a way to look at the WHOLE picture all at once, rather than both just operating off of their one piece of it and limited awareness of when things like time travel might have altered events they regarded as hard data points. And Irene and Raven, of course, first chance they got, they went right to the same endpoint they'd arrived at the first time they encountered Moira in an earlier life. When they had also had the chance to risk the unknown and trust that Moira could be worked with WITHOUT making an example of her in one lifetime and threatening her in all others, convinced that fear and intimidation were the only true routes to avoiding a future where Moira tried to make her cure a reality again. Only to end up with Moira ultimately more convinced than ever that she had it right the first time, that was always the way to go. Two women, past and future, both convinced of their rightness and that their inside source to the universe and space/time continuum gave them the 411 on all the info RELEVANT to a certain choice or crossroads. And if there was a possibility they hadn't considered, it was obviously only because it was just not worth considering. Both women so used to everyone else being convinced of their infallibility and deferring to their knowledge and perspective....and with this affording them a particularly unique power over others, that they're both aware of given that they both have a tendency to edit the information they share so that the conclusions others draw based on it...inevitably match up to the conclusion they already decided should be drawn. Thus meaning everyone else only has the ILLUSION of choice in matters where they've steered them to certain inevitable choices....and also meaning neither woman ever actually gets an actual INFORMED third party perspective on the REAL situation in front of them, an interpretation of ALL available data that reaches a different conclusion and could actually have the potential to change their mind and decide someone else has a better plan. And the one thing that NEITHER of them saw coming, that truly blind-sided them....was Doug, the only other person who had all the relevant information aside from them....and solely because he didn't rely on either of them to BE his source of information. He found his own path to information via his close connection and covenant with BOTH Warlock AND Krakoa....and one that just as importantly…all three parties benefited equally from. None of them have more info than the other. All three work together to glean ALL available information sources and interpret the data together. Throughout Hickman’s run we constantly loop back to the same endless cycle of conflict between THREE parties, not two - humans, mutants AND machines, with the current iteration of that cycle citing this timeline's conflict between machines and mutants as being the current most relevant ‘side’ of that....and with both mutant prophets and the machine oracle, time- traveling Omega Sentinel Karima....all locked into their already decided upon courses of actions, and all LIMITED to just their own personal source of knowledge. And with these different sources of knowledge, even about the same lifetimes or timelines, leading them to vastly different conclusions - because the angle they were viewing events from mattered just as much as the events themselves. No two people view the same sight in the same way…when viewing it from two different angles or directions. And thus all of them were focused on the exact same conflict…yet to Moira, that conflict was one she believed ALWAYS ended with mutants losing. Omega Sentinel was equally convinced the very same conflict was destined to end with mutants winning. Doug's cooperation with a machine intelligence, Warlock, was what caught him up to speed and let him impact this cycle, intrude upon it as a new player whose actions in saving Moira from Irene and Mystique while sending Moira on the run....were the catalyst for change, breaking the cycle wide open and allowing for new possible futures to unfold.....especially if Moira and Irene had actually CONSIDERED his third party perspective and the existence of information and a POV not filtered through them and their confirmation bias. If they'd done that, maybe if Irene and Mystique had just let Moira go, if Moira left but didn't feel hunted, didn't have cancer, never had Raven track her down to confirm her gut assumption they'd still come after her, if Moira had in turn been open to the possibility they might listen to Doug and not hunt her down, that she was safe, even if everyone had just fucking WAITED a week before going all Kill Bill sirens and Magneto and Xavier came back while things were still salvageable and could broker a ceasefire between Moira and Raven, bring both back to the table, or if Emma didn't wait a week because she was pissed about their manipulations and wanted to pay them back in turn like see how YOU guys like being left in the dark.....so many ways things could have gone differently in all that. But ONLY if the various characters had gone against type, broken free of old patterns, and taken a chance on making a different choice from the one they’d usually make, the familiar, reliable, COMFORTABLE choice. Naive as many readers called Doug for giving everyone a chance to do something DIFFERENT this time, and thus change things for the better.....Hickman's goal with that part of the narrative was pretty clear, I thought. Doug's offer of a third path, one not to either Moira or Irene's liking because it was a risk, it put the power in someone else's hands, it required trust and they don't do that, but it was still something new.... Like, Doug's decision to trust both parties to give his suggestion a try DID bite him in the ass, but like....that was kinda the point of the whole thing? It was always going to be a risk, but that's what trust is. That's what it costs. And however naive some people consider Doug for thinking the chance of it paying off was worth the risk it wouldn't....the fact remains that Mystique, Irene and Moira all still made their own choices in the aftermath. That's still on them. And look what happened? The first real opportunity to break the cycle they'd literally been locked in to some degree or another for seven lifetimes, the first time someone pointed out a path that WASN'T based on Moira's past lives or Irene's visions, when they were told hey maybe you don't know everything.... And they all ignored it and doubled down on doing what they'd always done. Making the same choices they always make. Based on the same information they already had. Doug came in at the eleventh hour and rightly or wrongly did something none of them expected and kicked them off course at the CRITICAL moment that looped them right back around to a reminder of the moment that started this eternal conflict between them in Life Three, gave them an out.... And they all said hard pass, went with the familiar, their gut choices, as though their gut never steered them wrong even though they KNOW its steered them down this path time and again. Even starting from a brand new point none of them had ever actually been at or seen before, because it took a new variable (Doug) to shove them out of the loop so they could even end up there.....they went right back to responding to everything past this fresh start point with all the same choices and behavior and thus in no time at all THEY WALKED THEMSELVES RIGHT BACK ON TO THE PATH THEY'D JUST BEEN KICKED OFF OF AND RESTARTED THE VERY SAME CYCLE WITHOUT MISSING A BEAT. And parallel to Doug and Warlock's unprecedented bond of mutant/machine cooperation...I always found Xavier and Magneto's question to Moira "what if we tried allying with the machines" not just ironic from that vantage point....but also the one where you consider that their enemies had that same option too. They're locked in this cycle as well, with Omega Sentinel coming back in time to stop it and change things and potentially locking her own side into the very conflict she's trying to win....by overwriting her past self, Karima, in the process. Karima of course being notable for her history as a human turned into a killing machine against her will....and only AFTER that becoming one of the X-Men's staunchest allies for awhile. If only Omega Sentinel hadn't cut off HER possible perspective on all this, by insisting her POV and source of intel/her future knowledge, was all she really needed to end this conflict HER way. The ironies abound. As - I'm fairly sure - they were meant to. So yeah. However you feel about Krakoa, however you think Hickman viewed it, I still say its a very safe bet that his view on self-fulfilling prophecies and eternally looping time loops where everyone does the same thing over and over and never tries anything new....I'm preeeeeeeetty sure he's got a firmly negative outlook on that kinda thing. Like, thematically, he's like....that shit is bad, and stupid, and self-defeating, and the goal should be to NOT DO THAT. If his run has one single underlying message to it, I'd argue it has nothing to do with Krakoa's morality or mutant hubris....its that doing the same old thing a million slightly different ways will always lead back to the same old place. In fact, I'd even go so far as to suggest that there's the additional message that the more entrenched a cycle is, the bigger the change or shock to the system you need to introduce in order to 'jump' the train onto an entirely new track. But even big changes will still eventually lead right back to same old same old if you only make the one BIG change and every chance after that you still keep making old familiar choices. Given stuff he's said in a lot of interviews about this era, like how he introduced the resurrection protocols because death in comics is treated as a revolving door with no stakes anyway, so by deliberately REMOVING the X-books from that familiar cycle and giving them an entirely different framework for how they interacted with death and resurrection.....he hoped the resulting stories would at least feel new and different. Not a given they'd be any BETTER, but at least they'd be something new. People have projected all kinds of views of their own about the resurrection process and how he was trying to showcase the inevitable decline of morality or eroding of values, but everything he's actually said on that subject has literally always been a variation of 'I'm tired of how death is utilized in superhero comics and I wanted to mix things up.' The resurrection protocols being viewed as some kind of message about how they were always INEVITABLY going to have some specific effect on mutant society or outcome....the funny thing is, I think that's actually the complete antithesis of what I think was the biggest unifying or central theme of his entire run: NOTHING HAS TO BE INEVITABLE UNLESS YOU TREAT IT AS INEVITABLE. This is the one single conclusion all roads lead back to in his run. Its easy to get caught or lured back into a never-ending cycle of repeated mistakes and failures, but the only thing that truly makes that inevitable is BELIEVING that its inevitable, refusing to accept or be convinced that an alternative is even possible. Omega Sentinel coming back from the future of THIS timeline because in her future mutants win, when this just so happens to be the timeline where Moira's kinda already resigned to thinking this time's gonna end up no different than all the other times she's tried to change things, where its like she's just going through the motions of trying to change things anyway because she doesn't really know what else to do at this point and at least its familiar, she already knows her lines, knows the routine.....the irony of Moira succumbing to apathy and the plot twist that after nine lifetimes of giving it her best, she only started phoning it in right before she would've ended up winning and getting the outcome she started this in hopes of reaching in the first place? IMO? THAT'S THE ENTIRE POINT OF HIS WHOLE FREAKING RUN. THAT'S THE THEME. All of which suggests to me that whatever final outcome or Third Act Hickman DID have planned and was working towards all along, that the X-Offices are still following a map towards..... Ending the resurrection protocols, declaring Krakoa was a mistake and unsalvageable from the get go, every story written about it and all the time spent there was a complete waste in the sense that none of it was ever going to lead anywhere except for Krakoa burned to ashes, yet another failed mutant island nation like all others before it, and with Hickman's final act being to put everything back exactly how he found it and clear the stage for the X-books to resume their endless cycle of mutant genocides and going back to school like it'd barely been interrupted? All of that actually kinda feels like its the LAST thing Hickman was planning. Like its counter-intuitive to literally every idea he had for the franchise and undermines his OWN stories and plots to instead advocate for the view that change is scary and wrong and the futility of inevitability should be embraced as all anyone can ever really expect in life. So. To bring all this back to the start of my meandering....(yes I'm aware of the irony, shush, its fine).... I've got a hunch. Weaving the 2099 comics and characters into all of this is likely Orlando's own personal preferences and touch, not necessarily part of the overall outline for the X-books aside from that.... But Threshold itself? Not actually Orlando's idea. Its Hickman's. The current Marauders arc just ended with the cast rescuing the last of the Threshold survivors, after most of them fled some attempted massacre two billion years in the past, by jumping forward to a point in the timeline that in-universe is likely at least within the same decade as current events. We know from solicits, and the existence of the mysterium box and Kate's message, dated from two billion years in the past....that in the next arc the Marauders will likely be traveling back in time to Threshold BEFORE the attack that made them flee....the attack which sent at least one survivor into the future where they were rescued by the Marauders...and whose help they probably need to even REACH Threshold back when it was still standing. Two billion years ago is a pretty broad freaking benchmark to shoot for when time-traveling...they'd need some kind of link or image or psychic impression of what it was like or what to picture or look for, or even just use someone's mutant power to determine exactly how far in time this Thresholder traveled. However it plays out it seems highly likely that this rescued Thresholder is needed to get the Marauders back to Threshold in the past, BEFORE the attack that sent this Thresholder to a time when he could be rescued by the Marauders and thus enable their own travel back in time. And we know that they definitely DO go back in time to Threshold because that's the only way the mysterium box could have ended up back there...and the mysterium box is the very thing that alerted present day Kate to Threshold's existence and spurred her into LOOKING for information about it, and from there went in search of survivors from it, which in turn led to the one they rescued and made it possible for them to go to Threshold themselves. Its a time loop. A closed, self-perpetuating loop where they beget their own actions which then play out to the same conclusions, which has to happen for their initial actions to even happen in the first place. And who loves time travel and repeating time loops? Hickman sure does. But its more than just that, see....because there's still the mystery of how did Threshold even come to exist in the first place? Two billion years is way too far back for them to have evolved on Earth naturally...but its also SO far back that time travelers could set up a civilization there, 'hide out' for awhile in some place and time no one might think to look for them, and with all traces of them and their civilization long gone by the time life DOES evolve on Earth, thus greatly minimizing the risk of altering the timeline. But the key to that sort of plan is a civilization set up like that? Its founders or first generation intends for it to be temporary. Nobody makes a point to set up shop so far back there's no one around yet TO be impacted by their presence....if they intend or even hope for their civilization to be long-lasting. It defeats the entire point. Not to mention its very name, Threshold? Interesting choice of name for a mutant civilization, and one that implies a temporary state of being itself. As I said, a threshold is specifically a liminal space, the point BETWEEN two points. A place of transition, a way station maybe. Like something or somewhere for people to pass through on their way to somewhere else....or maybe, when we're talking about a civilization of time travelers in specific, its the name you give a place or society that's only intended as a kind of in between point that exists not to be its own entity, but a placeholder....a stop along the way in between two points in time....or a way to describe a society that exists in between two different incarnations of a single civilization....the civilization it USED to be, and the one it AIMS to become...but that for whatever reason, it can't become quite yet. Its on pause, waiting for something else to happen first, or some other point to be reached...THEN it can finish changing from what it was before to what its trying to change into. But for the moment, its in a kind of chrysalis stage, a waiting period, on pause. Its killing time, treading water, just....waiting. I mean, I might call a civilization like that something along the lines of 'Threshold.' But whatever the story there, there clearly IS a story. Orlando's not just spending his entire first year on Marauders telling a time-travel story about how Kate and crew accidentally start a loop where they then have to go two billion years in the past in order to let it all play out to its end. I mean, solicits tell us they're trying to save the whole civilization from whatever attack made them flee and reduced them to one survivor, so they either have to avert the attack entirely....which would derail the events that led them to be involved in the first place and cause all sorts of time travel paradox bullshit...or else they'll use modern mutant resurrection with back-ups and DNA samples they get from their trip to the past, pre-attack...and thus bring back the dead Thresholders and restart their society safely OUTSIDE the temporal loop, with no risk of derailing the past. That still leaves the mystery of how Threshold came to be in the first place, however. Given Orlando's fondness for the 2099 timeline, a lot of people have speculated it ends up being mutants from that era who are sent into the past and become Threshold's first generation. That could be it. But remember, if Threshold itself is actually part of Hickman's original outline....its probably not there, and teased with the prominence he gave it when sowing that plot's seeds, to end up just randomly being a civilization of mutants from 2099. And similarly, other people have speculated that the Thresholders the Marauders rescue and/or lead to the resurrection of....as in Threshold's LAST generation, however many generations it had, but whomever was alive at the time of the attack that destroyed it and made everyone flee...these are the ones who'll be resurrected and once that's done, the Marauders will help them go even further back in time where instead of re-establishing Threshold, they end up being the very ones to establish it in the first place, its last generation now becoming its first generation and thus closing the temporal loop of Threshold's entire existence. This is more likely to me than it being mutants from 2099, at least in terms of Threshold-as- Hickman-might-have-conceived-it...but it still doesn't feel right. Not only does it still feel out of left field, like why would it be so important that a story about this random civilization make its way into the X-books, even if it is a time travel/Ouroborous Loop story? Still seems like that'd just make it a story told just for the sake of being told, not something that advances the X- books or Krakoa era to some later stage or form. Plus, themes or symbolism of a civilization's last generation becoming its very inception aside, that makes the genetics all kinds of wonky and questionable. Might not be a big deal if there were lots of generations of Thresholders in between its beginning and end, which again, kinda defies the spirit of setting up a theoretically temporary civilization in the past as a kind of shelter or waystation while waiting or on your way to somewhere or somewhen else....but just because Longshot and Shatterstar make being both your own father and son look sexy....still not recommended for an entire society to try and replicate that phenomenon with a literally finite gene pool that somehow manages to produce the exact same arrangements of genes in a later generation as the first generation all those genes initially stem from because they're literally one and the same. Its just....yeah, this one is also unlikely. Kinda neat thematically, but doesn't really work in practice. So if not the last generation of Thresholders that the Marauders rescue and/or resurrect, and if not mutants from the 2099 future, where does this seemingly pivotal TEMPORARY mutant civilization come from? My big theory at the end of all this, as some people have probably guessed? The first generation and founders of Threshold came from Krakoa. They're THIS generation of Krakoans. If Hickman was building towards a clear endpoint all along, if he definitely had a Third Act to his HoX/PoX pitch and its one the X-Offices and current books are all still aiming towards while following his outline and the steps he laid out to get there.....when considering the whole picture, the impression I walk away with is that he wanted to introduce radical change to the X- books, and regardless of earlier runs where he liked to put things neatly away, for this run he had a clear theme in mind and wanted to build a narrative that lasts, that made a lasting impression, left things at a new startpoint, the exact OPPOSITE of business as usual. He called this the franchise he most wanted to work on, a career dream goal, he was on his way out the door of work for hire comics and was always intending to shift more towards creator owned indie works after he was done here, even if it wrapped earlier than he intended. This was his big finish, a story about defying all odds and expectations and changing the game completely, at a point in his career where he's clearly kinda over the cyclical nature of comics and how nothing - like for instance death - ever really has any impact anymore since everything always ends up in the same place. So no, his Third Act was never going to have Krakoa burnt to the ground. It was going to have Krakoa leaving. Orchis, Omega Sentinel, the Phalanx, the Children of the Vault, assorted other threats all singularly or together bringing rising tensions between humans and mutants to a climactic boil....until there was no avoiding it anymore. Outright conflict was inevitable. The much hyped 'final conflict' between humans and mutants would erupt, and ALL mutants would currently be on the same side, X-Men and villains alike. Mutants would eventually start striking back in self defense, even if they weren't responsible for actual all-out war igniting...and mutants like the X-Men would be pressed to make that ultimate choice. When all their best attempts to broker peace between sides have failed, when the conflict can't be pushed off, delayed, stalled by anything they try...it all becomes pretty simple. Do they stand alongside their own people, mutantkind as a whole, and strike to kill in defense of mutant lives even when it means standing side by side with villains while attacking the very people they once fought so hard to protect FROM those very villains? Yeah, they're okay or have made their peace with working alongside long time enemies NOW, but that's while the endgoal is still peace, still co-existence even if its a fractured one. Its one thing to stand in solidarity with mutants like the Acolytes, the MLF and the Hellfire Club when doing so is directly tied to all of them NOT attacking humanity anymore, as mutant solidarity is explicitly NOT intended to be at human expense and not predicated on asking X-Men 'would you protect someone like Sebastian Shaw at the direct expense of even INNOCENT human lives, not just members of groups who have chosen to initiate aggression against mutants but when ALL human governments or organizations are so allied against mutants there's no more distinction and saving Shaw today means knowing he'll doubtless kill humans tomorrow and say its in all of our names.' Like, that's not a question every mutant, even X-Men, have implicitly answered yes to just by virtue of joining Krakoa, because keeping things from ever reaching that point is still explicitly the goal, the official party line. Mutants like the X-Men HAVEN'T actually given up yet on the idea that such an all-out conflict with two clear sides, mutant vs human, can still be avoided. Armageddon can still be canceled. They still have hope things never get that bad, its the entire POINT of Krakoa for most of them and why they're okay with it, I maintain....because it gives them a way to hold THEIR side of that potential conflict back, do more to keep them from actively making things worse or trying to incite that exact kind of war. They don't at this point all see that conflict as outright INEVITABLE, they still believe things can go differently, that there are more paths the future could take. And Hickman's entire run is about asking characters what do you choose to do when hope runs out, when all your best intentions lead right back where you started, when insanity is doing things over and over without anything ever changing and living through that ten lifetimes in a row pretty much drove Moira insane? Do you give up, start phoning it in, decide nothing really matters and its all the same anyway, why try and fight the inevitable anymore? Do you just sit down and refuse to join the fight on either side, let it play out without you and if you die you die? Do you try and just do the familiar thing, follow your gut instincts even if starting out somewhere entirely new, like fighting alongside Riptide against humans in defense of innocent mutant lives.....only to then see Riptide start looking for opportunities to just take any human lives he can, even noncombatants, not actually doing any of this in defense of mutants or Krakoa. And so you do the familiar thing and turn your attacks on him, even if it means ignoring human soldiers still trying to kill you both and who don’t care or believe that you're fighting in defense of them at the moment, and just like that, voila, started out different but familiar choices on BOTH sides, Riptide’s choices and how you, an X-Man respond to them… that’s all it takes for you both to end up right back on old familiar paths in no time at all? Do you decide you've come this far with Krakoa, you've already given up so much or made enough compromises in the hope of making it all worth it that it ends up being surprisingly easy to justify one more, the first time you kill a human soldier even if to save someone like Avalanche? Because how can you be okay just standing by or even turning on him yourself after years of living peacefully alongside him and seeing him actually have your back in this fight? If the resurrection protocols are offline and the Five already taken out and every mutant life counts and he's willing to give his to protect yours, is that enough for even a longtime X- Man to look at overwhelming odds about to mow him down and make a killshot that leaves them on the side of the same guy they once swore to always stop from making those exact kinds of shots himself? With no going back from that? And does any of it even matter, if once the conflict starts there's no way for it to end without a bunch of dead mutants and dead humans and where either one side is entirely gone or else no one won and its all going to start over again, at least unless someone snipes a Moira clone or bungee jumps into a singularity or bums a ride with the Phoenix to the White Hot Room where they mash some kind of universal reset button that takes everyone back to the start-start and with everyone back to their original places, it all starts all over again? Or in the face of things finally getting that bad, the clock going bing bong its finally Mutants Vs Humans: This Time Its for REAL Day, all hope of a peaceful outcome is lost and every mutant is agreed on that much.... Do you ask what if there's another option, and you get everyone all huddled up on either Krakoa or Arakko Prime and you all just....leave. And that's why nobody in 2099 knows what happened to the world's mutant population after the mid 2020s, why Mars just has a bunch of ruins, why there's no more resurrection protocols and the scattered mutant births that start picking up again in the following decades come with expiration dates like any natural mortal lifespan.... In the history of that future, in the future of Hickman's X-books, there WAS one final human/mutant conflict, the Big Daddy of them all, the ultimate no-holds-barred grudge match for the ages....and then it was over, and there were no more mutants and Wanda swears she didn't even say a WORD, it wasn't her, Vision, you saw me, tell them! But mutants didn't die, they didn't even lose, exactly....they packed up their things and peaced out once and for all. And when they left, they went the one place nobody would look for them, even in a big but crowded universe where everybody's constantly tripping over each other and fighting for the same parking spot. They don't even bother trying to move through space, they pull their vanishing act and just jump as far as they can through time. And not to an uncertain future that could look like anything and would likely be just as hostile....but billions of years into the past, when the universe was a lot LESS crowded, Earth's nearest neighbor is several evolutionary leaps away from even being able to swing by Earth to size up its local real estate market, and even most machine races like the Phalanx are still smack in their own equivalent of the Stone Age: DOS. Nobody would think to look for mutantkind that far in the past, or follow them there…it was so far back in history there wouldn't even be much in the way of space-faring civilizations who'd even notice Earth had a couple tenants move in ahead of schedule....it was the perfect place for mutantkind to finally stop, take a beat, and have a minute to catch their breath. Because that's the big thing about that kinda plan, see....that's an escape hatch, not an end zone. Something like that, mutants living in that particular time, on the very planet they had to keep tidy enough that nothing would stop life (and them) from evolving when they were supposed to...something like that couldn't POSSIBLY be meant to be permanent. Not at first. It was just...a stop to let everyone out of the car to stretch their legs and go to the bathroom if they needed to, while the grown-ups all got together to go over the maps and figure out just where the hell they were all going, soon as they picked an end destination they could all agree on. But obviously it didn't quite work out that way. Something went hinky somewhere. Maybe a pit stop turned into a week turned into a month turned into a year a decade and three generations later they're still there. Nobody calls it Krakoa anymore, of course, they changed the name ages ago, maybe as a reminder to themselves that this wasn't the end of the line, their actual new house, they were all going to have to hop back in so they could get back on the road to wherever eventually. This was just....the Threshold, between where they left and where they were going. And they were going to figure out where that was aaaaaany day now; they were all agreed they couldn't pretend they were the same as they'd been before, this wasn't Krakoa the mutant nation, the new hope, the place they'd built up in their heads....nah, that got left behind in the place they'd just told to fuck off, see you never. This wasn't that place, what it had been and meant to them even if just for a short while. It wasn't a shared vision, its not a HOME. All this is just...temporary. Can't call it Krakoa anymore, like that's still Mr. Island Man's name of course but their society, their civilization, that's not the right name anymore but they gotta call their placeholder society something until they figure out who or what they're trying to be next, and Threshold ends up winning the vote. Pit Stop just didn't have quite the same ring to it. And maybe the resurrection protocols get put on hold, that's a closer vote but it passes eventually because the longer they stay and the less clear they are about when they leave, the more aware that initial population is of the fact that hey we're not supposed to be here, you guys do remember that, right? None of us ever dying, population boom, none of our kids ever dying, like....eventually, somebody's gonna slip up and carve 'Mutants were here' in a rock, a little too close to when mudfish wash up on shore and inch their towards legs and literacy, one waddle at a time. Besides, we only created theprotocols as a response to people constantly killing us off, and hey we finally found a neighborhood with no people so....we can probably give the Five a break for awhile. Or, y'know. Forever. And whatever the reason that first generation never moved on, ended up staying...lost their time-travel doohickey, lost their map, lost their moxie and just got comfortable where they were and ended up settling in all senses of the word...Krakoa became Threshold, people had babies and died and usually did it in that order even, the first generation became a second generation who grew up with parents who didn't like talking much about the past and also left no clear instruction manual about how to use the time travel stuff to go somewhere else and also where the fuck are we supposed to go, Mom, Dad? We literally don't have a clue what's out there or lies in the future, just that you're all very bad at exposition and keep looking up at space like any second something's gonna jump out of there and eat us, instilling a pervasive cultural fear of space into us and also our kids because apparently you guys forgot to pack immortality, spaceships and those video games you're always going on about but somehow remembered to grab the generational trauma on your way out the door. Wheee. But Threshold stayed put, generation after generation, it weathered the baby Shi'ar race's first attempted genocide and racked up a debt either their descendants or ancestors would cash in, look we have time travel within time travel happening up in this bitch, nobody knows what tenses we're supposed to be using at this point. Its whatever. Time is fake anyway, unless its doing loop de loops and then it turns into real serious business real fast, but we're not there yet. Except then we are, because we finally get to the last generation of Thresholders before somebody comes from somewhere because they heard a rumor there was a bunch of muties living out their lives way back in the temporal boonies and get this, those genejokes are actually HAPPY and HEALTHY and that can not stand, its literally unnatural, the universe has very clear RULES about this sort of thing and multiple generations of mutants living out their lives in secluded peace and quiet with only one measly attempted genocide in all that time? That literally breaks like TWENTY of those rules. Probably. Look, they gots ta go. So somebody comes, tries to wipe them all out, they mostly get away with it, probably due to the lack of any meddling kids, but enough Thresholders manage to use time travel technology they've always known about but not known enough about to risk using except as a real break glass in case of emergency option....and they wind up way in the future, mostly dead except for one outlier who apparently IS to be counted, as this is who the Marauders rescue and then use to jump back before the attack and save/rescue/resurrect that generation of Thresholders and thus the last of the temporal loops is finally closed and the universe checks off that all the rules of time travel have officially been observed and it can officially close the books on this one, congrats to all mutants involved for officially not fucking everything up. And thus.... To recap: Rather than fight all of humanity and make all its citizens choose between protecting all mutant lives at the cost of potentially even innocent human lives, but with most mutants in agreement that there's no hope left of staying put while being like 'no listen but what if you DIDN'T try and kill us, is the thing' and actually getting some kind of positive outcome...mutants gather on Krakoa and Arakko and they all leave, jumping two billion years back in time where they become Threshold and forget what 'temporary' means while in the future they just left, all anybody knows is one day mutants, the next day no more mutants and everyone's pretty sure it really wasn't Wanda so they're like oh well, just one of those unsolved mysteries we guess. And humanity went on to enjoy its freshly renovated mutant-free planet for the next few decades and then took a sharp right straight into cyberpunk dystopia-ville right around the same time mutants started being born in large numbers for the first time since The Great Adios of the 2020s, and humanity was like ugh, you again. But between their arrival in the past and the last generation of Threshold before the attack that would've destroyed it, multiple generations of mutants - and the original generation from Krakoa - all lived out their lives safely in a secluded era that was comfortable enough they never followed through on their earlier ambitions of turning their hasty flight from their original home and timeline into a new stage of their civilization that they actively built upon, that would grow and flourish in the ways they'd dreamed of when first creating the Krakoan nation. They settled for less than they'd initially hoped for, both in terms of their own expansion and in terms of their co-existence with humanity. They took an option that broke them out of the cycle of violence they'd been locked in, and that gave them a chance at something new and different...and they savored the safety and comfort that gave them, but at the cost of never making much of themselves or doing much beyond that, for fear of rocking the boat and making waves that changed the future. And thus when later attackers went after a subsequent generation, that generation of Thresholders followed the same paths and choices of THEIR predecessors, as far as they knew, and simply repeated their actions of fleeing from the conflict in hopes of starting over, only to lose all but one of them and that being the end of their society if not for the intrusion of the Marauders into this cycle, bringing different options and choices with them. With all these events feeding back into the same temporal loop in an endless cycle. And thus....that's why I think Threshold was always the Third Act of Hickman's overall outline for this era, but its not the actual END of his story. Its not quite the final point everything was building towards, his punctuation mark for this saga of eternal cycles and the futility of trying to break free of them without ever really doing anything different or new. The endgoal is not actully the pivotal, hinge event that culminates in mutantkind disappearing into the past and which leaves humanity poised to begin moving forward without them from there. The endgoal of this era is the moment that comes right after mutantkind leaves. Or rather, right after the moment they're SUPPOSED to leave. There's that one last variable to consider, see. Destiny's vision of mutants vanishing through a gate never to return, with Rogue crucial to stopping them. Its quite possible that the gate Destiny saw is something like the External Gate being used to move the whole island through time like it moved Arakko to Mars. Forge's secret Project Black Box that he's working on for Xavier could be tied to it, or building a time travel escape hatch for Krakoa IS the project, and what Destiny foresaw was mutantkind actually using it, after which they'd become Threshold and none of them would ever return through it. Both literally and figuratively, Irene's vision fits this....but its not an inherently dire fate mutants need to be saved from, unless say, Irene has some sense of how all of that will end up culminating in Threshold's descendants being almost all wiped out in the end anyway. Perhaps she foresees that mutantkind's grand getaway scheme only helps them survive in the short term, but the long road still leads to eventual ruin anyway. Its not actually a solution, just stalling the inevitable. The outcome that somehow still, no matter what they try, always seems to remain inevitable. And once they all learn the outcome of the Marauders trip to Threshold, its likely many characters would put two and two together and figure that Threshold is the end result of them making the jump to the past in another timeline, or the future of this one, or however that works. Either way they'll know how it eventually turns out, where that road leads...but they'll also know that the years in between weren't so bad. The fate - or stay of execution - the Threshold path offers mutantkind is still better than a mass grave. But its also undeniably far less than any of the characters currently hope for mutantkind. Its settling by any of their definitions. Its a slow death to their race rather than a swift and violent one, but its still a death and with very little to show for it in the end, by most of their standards. Whether because they had grander ambitions for mutantkind or because they spent their whole lives fighting for a way to live their lives peacefully but WITHOUT giving up the world and time they were born into and have just as much a right to as anyone else….this was never the goal. All the different dreams different mutants had for their people…this was never what any of those dreams looked like or were about. Mutantkind survives their final conflict with humanity, they don’t ‘lose’, they get away safe…but beyond that? After that? In the years and generations to come, inching towards an ending they’ve already read in their own history books but not only no longer know how to avoid or break free of, they’re no longer sure they even care enough to try again? Not when every frying pan they’ve ever leaped out of only ever led them straight into bigger and more painful burns, and this is the only real relief they’ve ever gotten, the only actual rest? No, there’s too many reasons to just lay their weary burdens down and finally REST, and just…keep doing it, generation after generation because as a people they’re just fucking TIRED of hard and messy and compromising and this? This is easy. This is simple. This is FINE. Its good enough, and even if that’s also all it ever ends up being for them, from here on out, well. It could be worse. It could be better but they all know how much worse it can be, that it always gets, any time they stop aiming for fine and shoot a little higher. Yeah. This is fine. They didn’t die. They didn’t wipe out humanity. They weren’t enslaved by machines and they found a quiet little moment in time big enough to squeeze their entire civilization into it even if that leaves no room at all for them to ever grow. They gave it their best shot, they fought for as long as they had the energy, and at the end of it all, at least they can say they didn’t lose. They’re still here - for now - in spite of every attempt to kill them, and they didn’t lose, and that basically means the same thing as saying they won, right? They didn’t lose, so they must have won, they’re safe and alive and they won and that’s all they need at this point. That’s all they’ll ever need, because they’re never going to risk losing what they have now by trying to swap it out for something better, something more…but why would they need to? They did it. They won. To quote what Roberto once said to Isca: That's how you lose without losing. Threshold is a future where mutants never intend it to be forever, always intend to grow beyond it....but never actually do. Its the option that seems appealing at first but is actually the one where they all - hero and villain alike - give up everything they've ever dreamed of or fought for, discarding it all as irrelevant and worthless. Its where they end with a whimper and say at least its better than ending with a bang, that shit hurts....but once Krakoa and its people leave to become Threshold.....Destiny's vision is that mutantkind doesn't come back from that. It becomes the 'best possible road' all paths end up winding their way back to like water flowing downhill cuz its easiest. Even slightly different choices made each time round the loop...still get sucked in by the gravity of its appeal as a safe, easy, comfortable alternative where nobody gets what they want, maybe, but they all at least get better than the worst things MIGHT end up for them. Its the future where they sit down to rest and end up never getting back up because even resting and doing nothing is better than trying for more and winding up suffering worse. And so mutants post-Threshold never end up re-establishing themselves with an actual foundation, with aims to actually GROW. They never try to expand again, never go back to exploring mutant circuits, never terraform more planets or plant more gates or go through a Siege Perilous just to see what's on the other side. They just. Stop. Its the future where they all already know how that story ends, that it definitively DOES end, but they still go that way anyway, because the only other options they see have them ending just as definitively, and so they pick the most comfortable end available. But however you dress it up, its the outcome where they give up believing there's any longterm future for mutants, period, so they just give up and basically lay down and wait to die. Its the one consistent outcome that keeps repeating through time loops and resets because it becomes inevitable....the second mutants 'accept' or convince themselves....that just like we were told at the very beginning of Hickman's story.... Mutants DO always lose. So what's the point in ever hoping for more, let alone continuing to fight the inevitable? So. What if the end this was always aiming for is the story where against all odds, despite every available source of information telling them its hopeless and certain fates are inevitable, that nothing they've ever done or tried matters, experience and visions both prove that things always get worse unless they burn it all down and start from scratch and even with foreknowledge and a headstart things still end up just as bad as ever, just now in different ways... Just when it seems like there was no point to ANY of this, and Krakoa was a nice dream but in the end that was all it was ever going to be, that it wasn't actual hope, it wasn't a future, it wasn't something that would actually let them ever move FORWARD...this was as far as they'd ever managed to make it, and this was as far as they'd ever actually get.... After a Third Act geared entirely around building towards Krakoa's eventual departure, with all signs pointing to it as inevitable.... When the moment for that comes, they break the cycle, in defiance of all logic and all the reasons to follow it through to its conclusion anyway. If the story reaches the climax it treated as such an obviously foregone conclusion, where it was already literal history that the entire mutant civilization of Threshold had lived through and what clearer proof of its inevitability could there be...but then. But. When the moment comes, to actually take that leap into the past, cross the Rubicon, from Krakoa to Threshold…what if that’s when instead, mutantkind steps off the path everything - past, present, future - seems to be shoving them towards as the only path left for them to take, the path they've been constantly told is the only real one that matters, the only road out of here even if its destined to be a road to nowhere, at least its OUT....but instead of doing the expected, the familiar, the safest step forward even if it does mean giving up….at the very last second, mutants actually end up saying screw it, instead. We're not leaving. Not giving up. Even if it looks like staying means certain death, what the hell. Let's give this one last try anyway. Let's try literally anything else, just as long as its new, and its not just another way of giving up. Because NOTHING is inevitable, Hickman kept saying over and over and over in his stories.... Except for the failure that inevitably follows giving up, because you've already accepted it as the outcome and have stopped even looking for some other way out. There is NO guarantee of a positive outcome, NO amount of knowledge or specific vision that guarantees you success, there are always too many variables for that and no way of accounting for ALL of them so you do the best you can with what you've got and keep trying even when it seems like there's no point....at least if you still want ANY possibility of getting what you want. The only outcome that comes with a guarantee is the one where you stop trying, stop hoping, stop changing things up or doing something new or all the stuff Kurt's continually hyping as essential over in Way of X and Legion of X. The only inevitability is the one you actually ACCEPT as an inevitability, because you found a map to a destination you find somewhat tolerable, like Threshold over in Marauders, and you convince yourself that its the ONLY choice that’s significantly better than alternatives you've decided to treat as inevitable because they let you justify settling for an outcome that's still a loss in every way that really matters. The only futures that are even left to consider as possible outcomes are ones where you never really progress any further than you are now....if you keep trying to reset the board every time you feel things aren't going quite the way you hoped, and so long as everyone else is too scared of potentially making things worse to actually try and stop you…like Sinister with his Moira clones and Destiny afraid he'll just reboot if he founds out she knows about them in Immortal X-Men. Brand literally switched sides to Orchis and is plotting the destruction of her own people even after they handed her the keys to their space program and she said mmm not good enough, I don't trust how Krakoa will affect things in the future or that I can control the decisions/outcomes I think I need to, so long as I don't have as MUCH control over the variables as I'm convinced I need. Better to remove anything or anyone as a dangerous wildcard the second it deviates from the plans I have for it...and yet funnily enough, all that means is the one outcome she gave up on ever actually exploring was the one where she actually worked WITH Storm and Arakko and Krakoa instead of trying to work around all them. The one where she so fully resigned herself to the futility of succeeding with allies she'd have to actually take a leap of faith in and TRUST....that she walked right up to the people who hate her entire race and said sign me up, because at least with them I know I'm getting a sure thing, and that's all that really matters. For that matter, the most consistent theme of X-Men Red is the idea of breaking cycles and established patterns of behavior and history. Finding the line between honoring history and traditions and seeing value in what came before and not just throwing it all away, but still finding new ways to adjust to new situations and opportunities, not expecting old ways of doing things to universally apply to new experiences. Literally all the characters struggle with this and the stories center around it....from Brand suggesting Krakoa's just another colonizing entity and Storm pushing back by saying that's not an accurate comparison and there's no historical precedent for the road they've taken with Mars and they're not looking to change Arakkii culture to match their own.....to Magneto questioning his own history and wondering if he's lost his drive to fight and lead.....to Brand picking Storm to try and use as a proxy expecting to get the Queen of Wakanda but Storm not doing what she expects based on her history and combining past versions of herself in brand new ways in search of an entirely new path for herself....to both Storm and Magneto going back to older looks but in new roles that don't match up to the kind of roles or people they were when they last wore those iconic outfits....over and over the core question seems to be: must the old and the new always be at odds, only one way of really doing things, and with that being upheld as the only real option even through cycles of repeating or similar behavior or situations? Or can the old and the new be combined and used together, to break free of stagnant cycles and forge an entirely new path that leads somewhere better? Hell, Isca the Unbeaten's ENTIRE SHTICK is that the only possible outcome when opposing her....is that you'll lose. At least, that's what everyone accepts with so much certainty barely anyone ever even TRIES to actually challenge or oppose her. With it kinda being a big deal that the first person we saw just...REFUSE to accept there was no way to get a positive outcome from opposing Isca...managed to get the outcome he wanted, 'losing without losing' - all because he refused to start strategizing from a point that accepted at face value the idea that she couldn’t be bested at all. Because of course nobody can find a way to beat her when everybody's too convinced it flat out can't happen, they never even bother to TRY. And I believe it was Hickman who created her and her power, right? Similarly, Idyll the greatest seer of the Arakkii race, walked right into her own death scene without even trying to change her fate....because she was convinced it couldn't be done. Moira stopped trying for a future where mutants win when she decided the only sure path was if everyone followed her instructions to the letter, and when Magneto and Xavier couldn't give her that, she stopped seeing any outcomes where mutants ended up any better than they did in the lives she'd already lived through....because she stopped looking for them. She gave up, rage quit, accepted this lifetime's plan on behalf of mutantkind was officially a wash and as pointless as any she'd tried before. Irene never got a chance to compare notes with Moira and find something both of them missed on their own, because she believed not being able to see around/through Moira in her visions left no possibility of finding a sure, successful path WITH Moira around as a wildcard, so she decided it was safer to not have her in the picture at all. Its all connected, the single common theme in every single book since the start of this era, and if they're all really following Hickman's plan and always have been, I don't think its a coincidence that over and over this era is emphasizing that the only sure outcome is the one you get from calling it quits before you have to, not because you’ve actually lost but because you’ve already accepted, already convinced yourself that there’s no path you can see that leads you to a win, and that means it doesn’t exist and failure is all that’s ahead of you anyway. The outcome you get from sitting down and quitting while you're still alive to hope, look and fight for an outcome you actually WANT...instead of one you settle on as just the closest thing to a win you’ll ever get, even though it really isn’t any kind of an actual win at all. So there's my big giant sprawling thesis if you're actually still reading at this point and if you are wow wtf is wrong with you. LOL just kidding. Thanks. But yeah, there you go. I don't think there are actually any plans to try and put the Krakoa genie back in the bottle. It was always going to still be here at the end of the era, an established part of the new status quo going forward. The much hyped Third Act is about steering things towards an seemingly inevitable future event where the ONLY option that seems to avoid being killed by humanity or accepting there's no longer a way to avoid all-out war with humanity....is if mutants leave everything they've known and fought for behind, and try and start somewhere else, giving up on there being any other possible outcomes they just haven't thought of yet. But they decide not to at the last possible second, they call it what it is, accepting defeat as an inevitability and just cutting their losses....and they haven't spent their whole lives fighting for what they want out of this life here and now - hero and villain alike - just to give up on it all and write every past struggle off as nothing that really mattered in the end. Nope, it might look hopeless, but they're gonna stay and keep looking for another way no matter how pointless it might seem. The only outcome they collectively acknowledge as an inevitability is the one where they just refuse to give up or stop trying so long as there's ANYTHING left to try. And that's when they'll find another way forward that nobody considered before....something far enough out of left field it pulls everyone back from the brink and doesn't end human/mutant tensions by any stretch of the imagination....but it keeps things from crossing the point of no return, leaves room for hope they can someday still find a path that DOES bring humans and mutants closer rather than further apart. And thus Krakoa will still remain standing at the end of it all, even with its massive flaws and humanity still largely at odds with them... Because the entire point of it all, IMO, is the only surefire way to make the Krakoan experiment a waste of everyone's time is if the characters all accept that not only is it flawed in significant ways....they accept it can NEVER be BETTER than that, so they don't even try. They just toss the whole idea in the trash as not even worth it if it couldn't be exactly what they wanted it to be. Just like the only way for Krakoa to TRULY mark the end of the X-Men's dream of co- existence, for its longterm survival and prospects to be seen as proof that the dream is dead and nobody really believes humans and mutants can ever really live in peace anymore.... The only way that ends up an inevitability if its just taken for granted that it has to be one or the other. That unlike humans and mutants who CAN co-exist, peaceful co-existence and a mutant nation absolutely can NOT both exist as viable outcomes - no, mutants have to pick. They can be pro-Krakoa or they can be pro-humanity but they can't be both and its a waste of time for the characters to try and find good in Krakoa and what it offers and embodies for mutants, as well as good in their relationships with humanity, reasons to keep striving to build and improve upon those. There's absolutely nothing to be gained from mutant characters looking for proof that both can add value to their lives WITHOUT inherently being at cross purposes or each other's expense. The only future that guarantees all roads eventually lead back to the Institute, where things go back to the way they were years ago, where there's no way this era ends with Krakoa intact or with anything short of it labeled a mistake the characters all regret believing in before all returning to the lives they had before... Is the future where no other possible outcome, no chance for Krakoa to ever last or grow or improve, is ever actually considered or explored, viewed as an actual possibility. The one where people say of course Krakoa is a mistake, can only ever be that, that this era is doomed to collapse and fall apart. Of course Hickman was always intending to put everything back exactly as he found it. Of course. Its all so obvious. And everyone else says yeah, of course. Of course that ends with things playing out exactly as some assumed it would all along.... Because as Moira and Irene and Omega Sentinel and countless other characters have been proving from the start: No one can find or see an outcome they literally refuse to believe exists. They'd never be able to recognize it even if they did... They'd already be too busy deciding it obviously HAS to be something else.