We are just a week away from the start of the Hellfire Gala. The event will be reshaping what the franchise has been in this era of Krakoa as the world will be introduced to the new X-Men superhero team. But before we get to that major X-Men crossover event there are still things that Krakoa’s leadership has to deal with. One of them being the looming threat of the Orchis Forge, a space station with the capacity to create the mutant-killing robot known as Nimrod. The X-Men’s elite strike team failed to take down Orchis Forge during House of X and Powers of X leading to that squads death. Now it looks like there will be a redo of that mission based on the fact that Nimrod is the featured character on the cover of X-Men #20. Let’s find out how this goes with X-Men #20.
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Francesco Mobili
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Remembering her last meeting with Destiny (Irene Adler) Mystique goes to meet Forge to get him to get her the equipment she needs for her mission. Forge, knowing that she wants to make a big impression with her upcoming mission, comments how Mystique looks like someone who hasn’t sleep well in quite sometime. Mystique demands Forge give her, using her authority in the Quiet Council to do so.
Forge asks Mystique if this mission involves Orchis Forge. Mystique confirms this. After commenting how a gun that turned them into those people was the worst weapon he created Forge agrees to make Mystique the weapons she needs.
A few weeks later Mystique shows Charles Xavier and Magneto the microscopic singularity generator that can create a black hole that can destroy Orchis Forge that’ll leave no doubt it is gone. Xavier says all that matters is they stop Nimrod from coming online. Mystique calls out Xavier and Magneto for wanting to keep their hands clean of this.
Before going through the portal to Orchis Forge, Mystique tells Xavier after she successfully returns her wife (Irene) will be moved up to the front of the queue for resurrection. Magneto and Xavier agree on this deal.
Over in the Orchis Forge, Dr. Alia Gregor works with several scientist to bring Nimrod online by using the data of her dead husband (Erasmus Mendel, who died during the X-Men’s strike on the base in House of X #3) memories to bring him back as Nimrod while Omega Sentinel and Dr. Devo watch over the process. Dr. Gregor inserts the data chip in Nimrod’s body causing it to glow purple.
Once it is done Nimrod comes online and recognizes Dr. Gregor as Alia. Erasmus comments on how Nimrod’s body is a wonder but says this will stop them from ever having a child. Dr. Gregor says she does not care as she is happy to have Erasmus back. The happy reunion is cut short when Erasmus as Nimrod detects a mutant inside Orchis Forge.
Mystique returns to her original form after being disguised as an Orchis guard and shoots at Dr. Gregor. Erasmus blocks the shots with his Nimrod body. Mystique then activates the microscopic singularity generator. She then drops it and makes a run for the Krakoa portal to escape.
Erasmus tells Dr. Gregor he can contain the singularity with a duplicate. Dr. Gregor says if he does that it will cause Erasmus memories to be gone as the memory core in Nimrod hasn’t had time to grow and replicate throughout its body. Erasmus says he has to do this to save her and immediately creates a Nimrod duplicate. Erasmus in the Nimrod duplicate then takes the microscopic singularity generator and goes outside into space.
As the singularity grows and disappears in space Nimrod reveals to Dr. Gregor that Erasmus is gone.
In another part of Orchis Forge, one of Nimrod’s duplicates has caught Mystique near the Krakoa portal. Nimrod kills Mystique and throws her charred body through the portal back to Krakoa.
Later, Omega Sentinel meets with Dr. Divos. She gives an update on Dr. Gregor and says the only thing they lost was Erasmus persona in Nimrod. Dr. Divos is happy that Krakoa’s attack failed as it shows they fear them.
Back on Krakoa Mystique is brought back to life by Xavier. Mystique tells Xavier and Magneto that Nimrod is back online. Xavier and Magneto talk with each other that they can’t delay their plans anymore.
Before they walk away Mystique asks about Irene. Xavier plays dumb by responding by asking what she wants. Remembering that Destiny told her that Xavier and Magneto would not bring her back Mystique knows that it is time to burn Krakoa to the ground.
In Krakoa’s No-Space, Xavier and Magneto go to meet with Moira X. End of issue.
The Good: X-Men #20 is Jonathan Hickman at his absolute best. The story is kept simple when it comes to its story as it involves a solo infiltration mission by Mystique. In this Hickman packs a ton of character work from both the hero and villain side of the greater conflict that Hickman and company have been building through all of the X-Men comic books.
Mystique was obviously the standout from X-Men #20 as her story with her underlying conflict with Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto continues to build. Hickman has done a great job in slowly building up how much Xavier and Magneto delaying the revival of Destiny is pissing Mystique off. Throughout this issue Hickman shows us that Mystique has reached her boiling point with both of Krakoa’s leaders.
The tension on this part of X-Men #20 was felt even during Mystique’s mission on Orchis Forge. The way Mystique went about trying to get things done quickly when she was discovered showed where her sense of desperation was. Which was an extension of how she quickly got on Forge’s case earlier in X-Men #20 to create a weapon for her to take down Orchis Forge. She knew going in that this mission was her ticket to force Xavier and Magneto’s hands to fulfill their end of their agreement. Failure was not an option.
Which leads us to the end of X-Men #20 on the Krakoa side of things as we get another example of how Xavier and Magneto leadership comes into question. Both of them clearly never intend to bring Destiny back because of whatever Moira X told them about the dangers of bringing Irene back to life. And the way that Xavier just says “What about her?” to Mystique you get a cold shiver from those words. It is another example of how Xavier and Magneto are only looking out for what will keep the utopia they’ve created for mutants the way they want it.
These questionable acts continue to pile up as Mystique isn’t the first one that they’ve shown not siding with. This is on top of how we’ve seen Xavier and the Quiet Council have disagreements with Cyclops, Jean Grey, and several others. While they’ve been able to find a way to at least work with the others in a way, as shown with the Hellfire Gala being where the X-Men will be re-established, the same can’t be said with Mystique. Mystique is obviously becoming the biggest one they have now crossed with their actions, as we see that Mystique will likely now do what Destiny told her to do in burning Krakoa down.
This is not even talking about how now Orchis has been able to successfully bring Nimrod back online. Based on the conversation between Omega Sentinel and Dr. Divos the danger that Krakoa is now in has elevated. Nimrod was already a powerful opponent for the X-Men to take on. But now that Nimrod has the backing of the powerful Orchis organization the threat of Nimrod is bigger than it has ever been.
In the middle of all this Hickman provides some strong character work that fleshes out one of the main characters in the Orchis organization in the form of Dr. Alia Gregor. This is a character we only had some character details about. X-Men #20 does a great job in fully expanding on the small character base to give Dr. Gregor a full character arc that makes you understand her motivations. And now those motivations when it comes to extinguishing mutants has escalated as Dr. Gregor will likely hold Krakoa responsible for the final death of her husband after she brought him back in Nimrod. It definitely got me invested in what the direction for Dr. Gregor is as she can become a main antagonist for any story moving forward.
Francesco Mobili was solid throughout X-Men #20. His artwork is at its best when getting across the emotion on various characters face. The most impressive being how he is able to make Nimrod have a sense of emotion as Erasmus Mendel mind was initially in control of the mutant-killing robot. It made the arc for Dr. Gregor and Erasmus sacrifice mean more as you understood from an artwork perspective what that all meant.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Jonathan Hickman and Francesco Mobili knock it out of the park with X-Men #20. The story is layered with a ton of character work for not only Mystique, Charles Xavier, and Magneto but also the antagonist side of franchise. By the end of X-Men #20 you are fully invested in multiple storylines and how they will be developed in the future.
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