Meet Orchis, the X-Men's Greatest Threat Yet
What is Orchis? Meet the insidious organization whose only goal is to prevent the dominance of mutantkind—now and for all time.
The X-Men have always lived in and protected a world that hates and fears them. But after years of fighting Sentinels and mutant-hating zealots, the X-Men and the rest of Marvel’s mutants must now face the ultimate anti-mutant threat: Orchis.
Just as Charles Xavier and Magneto built a new home for mutants on the island nation Krakoa, Orchis bought together the worst of humanity in a coordinated effort to launch an all-out attack on mutantkind. Despite the X-Men’s best efforts, Orchis may have already doomed the future of mutantkind—and they’re about to use Iron Man’s technology to do it.
Now, we’re taking a closer look at Orchis before its next major attack begins in FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2023: AVENGERS/X-MEN (2023) #1, in a story by Gerry Duggan, Joshua Cassara, Marte Gracia, and VC’s Clayton Cowles.
WHAT IS ORCHIS?
Like the mutant nation Krakoa, Orchis debuted in HOUSE OF X (2019) #1 by Jonathan Hickman and Pepe Larraz. The organization began as an idea by Alia Gregor, a scientist and ex-A.I.M. agent. She theorized that catastrophic events like the mutant genocide at Genosha and the mass depowering of Decimation were the only things that had prevented mutants from becoming the dominant species on Earth. Accordingly, she believed humanity would need an aggressive, organized response to the establishment of any future mutant nations.
When Professor X and his allies established Krakoa, a scientist named Killian Devo acted on Gregor’s theoretical ideas to form Orchis. To coordinate a comprehensive, multipronged campaign against mutantkind, Orchis recruited former members of organizations like S.H.I.E.L.D., S.W.O.R.D., Alpha Flight, and Hydra.
While Devo serves as the director of Orchis, the organization’s true mastermind is the Omega Sentinel, as revealed in INFERNO (2021) #3 by Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva, Stefano Caselli, and Valerio Schiti. Although Karima Sapandar was originally a human detective, she was infected by technology that transformed her into the Omega Sentinel. Although she struggled against her mutant-hunting programming and briefly joined the X-Men, her body ultimately became possessed by the Omega Sentinel of an alternate future timeline where mutants became the world’s dominant species. Having fully submitted to her Sentinel programming, this future Omega Sentinel sent her mind back to a time when mutants were vulnerable and manipulated Devo into forming Orchis to eradicate mutants.
In one of its first efforts, Orchis took control of Sol’s Hammer, an abandoned space station built by Tony Stark, and turned it into the Orchis Forge. From there, Orchis tried to build a Mother Mold, a Sentinel that could create Master Molds to generate even more Sentinels. However, the X-Men successfully destroyed the Mother Mold in HOUSE OF X (2019) #4 by Hickman and Larraz.
After that defeat, Orchis dedicated its resources to developing a Nimrod Sentinel, an endlessly adaptable and self-duplicating mutant-hunting machine. While the X-Men had faced the time-traveling Nimrod of a possible future before, both the Omega Sentinel and Krakoa’s leaders pinpointed the creation of a modern-day Nimrod as a pivotal turning point in their conflict.
Despite Krakoa’s best efforts, Orchis activated Nimrod in X-MEN (2019) #20 by Jonathan Hickman and Francesco Mobili. Although Krakoa made several attempts to destroy Nimrod and the entire Orchis Forge, those efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, and Nimrod settled into his place as Orchis’ ultimate weapon.
Although the organization focused intensely on building Nimrod, Orchis has other plans in motion. Under the leadership of Devo and the Omega Sentinel, Orchis is divided into several sub-sections with specific focuses. While Gregor leads Orchis’ scientific research and development, Abigail Brand oversees the Infrastructure/Influence division. The telepathic Judas Traveler is in charge of Orchis’ Culture/Narrative division, while Feilong heads the organization's operations and offensive arm and Doctor Stasis oversees the organization’s research on humans.
As Krakoa’s medicines and the X-Men’s heroic feats improved the reputation of mutants worldwide, Orchis used its considerable influence to encourage anti-mutant sentiment among the world’s general population, attacking mutants from economic, psychological, and physical perspectives. The organization even convinced outsiders like M.O.D.O.K. and James Hudson—Alpha Flight’s Guardian and a longtime friend of Wolverine—to join their cause.
After the mutant civilization Arakko settled on and renamed the planet Mars, Henry Gyrich—an Orchis agent and the head of the Alpha Flight space program—grew concerned about the growing importance of mutants on a cosmic scale. But after making unsuccessful attempts to kill the mutant Shi’ar leader Xandra and crash S.W.O.R.D.’s Peak space station, he was murdered by Abigail Brand. Despite Brand’s status as a mutant and the leader of S.W.O.R.D., though, she contributed to Orchis’ failed plot to gain influence over universal politics.
Following Krakoa’s first Hellfire Gala and the colonization of Mars, several Orchis leaders began enacting their plans in earnest. The industrialist Feilong spent much of his life and his considerable fortune making plans to be the first human to terraform Mars, as revealed during his debut in X-MEN (2021) #1 by Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz. Enraged by mutantkind’s audacity to get there first, he augmented his body with cosmic rays and landed on the moon Phobos, where he skirmished with the mutants of Arakko before building an Orchis base.
Around the same time, a clone of Nathaniel Essex—the Victorian-era geneticist who became Mister Sinister—started menacing the X-Men as Doctor Stasis. With a focus on exploring the potential of human biology, he created animal chimera through his cruel genetic research. He also realized that mutants had secretly discovered a way to be resurrected after death, which he revealed to Daily Bugle reporter Ben Urich in X-MEN (2021) #3 by Duggan and Larraz. Although Stasis’ lab was ultimately destroyed, he compelled Cyclops to disclose the existence of the mutant resurrection process to the general public.
After secretly cofounding Krakoa, longtime X-Men ally Moira MacTaggert also defected and now stands as one of Orchis’ most valuable assets. With a mutant power that reset reality whenever she died, Moira used her knowledge of potential futures to guide the development of Krakoa. But after seeing so many doomed futures, she came to believe that depowering the world’s mutants was the only way to save them, as she revealed in INFERNO (2021) #4 by Jonathan Hickman, Valerio Schiti, and Stefano Caselli. Then, when she was depowered herself by a resurrected Destiny, Moira turned against mutants and dedicated herself to destroying Krakoa.
Then, after turning herself into a cyborg, Moira joined Orchis as part of their efforts to disrupt the Hellfire Gala, an annual Krakoan celebration and diplomatic event. She infiltrated the Gala by possessing Mary Jane Watson, a spokesperson for Krakoan medicine, but Wolverine and Spider-Man ultimately stopped her and saved Mary Jane.
Later, Moira approached the Eternals and baited them into declaring war on mutants in A.X.E.: JUDGMENT DAY (2022). But after that led to the awakening of a long-dead Celestial called the Progenitor, Nightcrawler successfully convinced Moira, Nimrod, and Orchis to help them fight the Celestial.
WHAT ORCHIS IS DOING NOW
In addition to its Sentinel program, Orchis has captured mutants and studied them to neutralize and exploit their powers. Under the supervision of Graydon Creed, Orchis operated six facilities that held Sabretooth, Creed's father, and hundreds of other mutants captive. After Sabretooth escaped imprisonment in Krakoa’s Pit, he was captured by Orchis and subjected to violent experiments in SABRETOOTH AND THE EXILES (2022) #1 by Victor Lavalle and Leonard Kirk. With help from other Krakoan exiles, he freed many of Orchis’ captives and destroyed several prisons, including one in the Astral Plane.
Around this time, Orchis also started using mystical attacks. For instance, it convinced sorceress Margali Szardos to curse her adopted son, Nightcrawler, and several other mutants with animal-like transformations in LEGION OF X (2022) #10 by Si Spurrier and Netho Diaz.
Now, Feilong is leading Orchis’ efforts against mutants with Stark Sentinels powered by Tony Stark’s Iron Man technology. During a chance meeting with Stark during the Hellfire Gala, Feilong blamed Iron Man and the Avengers for not colonizing Mars before mutants claimed the planet. Feilong subsequently launched a multipronged attack on Iron Man to tarnish his public image through a series of destructive public fights, targeted killings, and embarrassing incidents.
Then, in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN (2022) #4 by Gerry Duggan and Juan Frigeri, Feilong took over Stark’s business empire by becoming the new owner of Stark Unlimited. With access to and control over Stark’s designs, Feilong started manufacturing Sentinels modeled after Iron Man and built on Stark’s technology. With the power of Nimrod and the Stark Sentinels, Orchis has some of the most powerful mutant-hunting machines ever created, and it won’t be long before they take their war on mutants to the next level.
Catch Orchis' next major strike against mutantkind in FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2023: AVENGERS/X-MEN #1, available for free in participating comic books starting Saturday, May 6!
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