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In 'X-Men,' Annihilation was always hiding in plain sight
Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Comic Books

In ‘X-Men,’ Annihilation was always hiding in plain sight

The truth, it seems, was right there in the cards.

When X of Swords: Stasis #1 dropped on October 28, many long-time Marvel/X readers were shocked to learn of Annihilation’s true identity, revealing herself to be none other than Genesis, Apocalypse’s long lost wife.  

Surprising as this reveal may be, the writing was on the walls for months. During the Free Comic Book Day X-Men issue, Saturnyne drew a card. The “Eight of Cups” card featured a face that was half Genesis and half Annihilation, subtly revealing her identity for the very first time.

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Courtesy of Marvel Comics.

Genesis’ Eight of Cups card appears again during X Of Swords: Creation #1 (released back in September). Tarot reads the card, noting that “someone’s heart has been left empty.” She also then adds, “She has been wanting for something more. Will she turn away? Will she be turned away? A woman like this keeps her cup close.”

X-Men #12 employed a bit of misdirection to make Annihilation’s big reveal in X of Swords appear more shocking for both Apocalypse and the reader. In X-Men #12, the Summoner recounts the tale of Arakko’s battle with Amenth. He tells Apocalypse about how his wife battled Annihilation. Obviously, the person behind the golden helm in this battle was not Genesis, though their battle was a clever way to cast doubt on the idea that Genesis could ever wear the golden mask.

Marvel’s marketing for the event also played coy with this reveal. When the announcement video for the Swordbearers of Arakko debuted, Annihilation’s name and powers were notably blacked out, indicating incoming surprises.

X-Men #14 acts as a sister title to X-Men #12, using many of the same panels with all-new text. This technique echoes something the Summoner said in the previous issue, noting that different people tell different stories –and his tale does, in fact, differ from Genesis’. She clarifies several details, including that Isca was actually her sister.

According to Genesis, she had won the fight with Annihilation, calling it her greatest victory. But as she won, she also “lost her life,” being gifted the golden helm. As with many Johnathan Hickman stories, heavy is the head that wears the crown. In Avengers, he demonstrated this with the Illuminati as they weighed the decision to destroy other universes to save their own. Krakoa has embodied this concept with the Quiet Council and the introduction of Crucible, with Kurt noting that Krakoa asks him to do many things that weigh on his conscience. For Genesis, this theme is echoed when she wins her battle but is forced to wear the golden helm, giving her control of the Amenthi horde she previously fought to destroy.

Though she tried to fight its influence –and even refused to wear the helm for 100 years– she eventually gave in. As the Eight of Cups cards says, she is “disillusioned” with her own power, and now must fight her husband and his new nation.

The Genesis reveal is an interesting one, but it’s made even more impactful with the hindsight of the Eight of Cups card. Seeing the foreshadowing that implies Genesis and Apocalypse’s inevitable tragedy makes forthcoming issues even more foreboding. The card Apocalypse drew for this event, The Lovers, also hints towards an upcoming disaster. Will the two make it out together? Or, will Apocalypse be forced to separate from his wife once more? We won’t know for sure until all the cards are played.

Editor’s Note: For even more X-centric coverage, be sure to check out our ongoing “X-Men Monday” feature. Or, read some recent reviews, like X-Men #14, X-Men: S.W.O.R.D. – No Time To Breathe, and Empyre: X-Men, among many others.

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