Comics
Published March 22, 2023

X-Men: What Is Dominion?

Discover what it means to achieve Dominion as Mister Sinister and his clones race to reach that status in 'Sins of Sinister.'

As a longtime X-Men villain, Mister Sinister has concocted many twisted plans and launched dozens of attacks against mutants. However, all of Sinister’s previous efforts lie in the shadow of his true goal: outlasting and out-evolving machines before they become the dominant force in the universe. After a century of research, Sinister has set his sights on becoming a Dominion-status intelligence, which would cement him as one of the most formidable forces in the universe. 

Now, we’re taking a closer look at what Dominion is, how it played a crucial role in POWERS OF X (2019), and why Sinister and his clones are trying to reach it as SINS OF SINISTER continues in STORM AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF MUTANTS (2023) #2 by Al Ewing, Andrea Di Vito, Jim Charalampidis, Rachelle Rosenberg, and VC's Ariana Maher.

WHAT IS DOMINION?

Dominions represent the highest stage of interstellar intelligence within the Marvel Universe. A Dominion is essentially the ultimate evolution of machines and artificial intelligence. With a functionally limitless amount of processing ability and knowledge, a Dominion has godlike power and exists outside the traditional bonds of time and space. Put more simply, that means a Dominion exists in its most advanced state across all points in time simultaneously. 

As revealed in POWERS OF X (2019) #5 by Jonathan Hickman and R.B. Silva, Dominions are generally made up of Titans, each of which is a unified intelligence that can generate a singularity alone. When ten or more Titans link together and act in unison, they create a Dominion and generate a sentient singularity that controls an area of physical space and an epoch of time. 

Operating on a near incomprehensible scale, Dominions can include many more Titans, and the Dominion that controls Earth and its surrounding area includes 112 Titans. Outside of abstract forces like Death and Chaos, Dominions are so advanced that their only natural threats are Galactus and the Phoenix Force

While Dominions are generally machine-based, there are other theoretical ways for a being or culture to evolve to Dominion status. However, these methods would require raw power and processing ability on an unfathomably large and complex scale.

DOMINION AND THE PHALANX IN POWERS OF X

The clearest example of a Dominion’s power can be found in Jonathan Hickman and R.B. Silva’s POWERS OF X (2019), where the Phalanx served as a Dominion's emissaries and almost assimilated the culture of a future Earth. Created by Scott Lobdell and Jan Duursema in UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #305, the Phalanx are techno-organic aliens who share a hive mind and try to assimilate or absorb others into their collective. 

On a galactic scale, the Phalanx are essentially one level below Titans and exist primarily to consume lesser societies to grow their intelligence and manage the energy needed for that kind of assimilation. Although the Phalanx control a galaxy, they still serve a Dominion and act as a way for it to continue to expand and increase its intelligence. 

The Phalanx almost consumed the timeline created by the sixth life of Moira MacTaggert starting in POWERS OF X (2019) #1. In that world, the war between humans, mutants, and machines ended with the emergence of post-humans, who quickly took over Earth and reigned as its dominant species for a millennium. Like the Children of the Vault, these genetically engineered superhumans were known as the Homo novissima

In hopes of preserving their civilization, these post-humans turned the planet Nibiru into a planet-size artificial intelligence, Nimbus, to draw the attention of a stronger civilization that could help them ascend to the next galactic level. Subsequently, the Phalanx found and absorbed Nibiru and followed the implicit invitation to Earth.

After reaching Earth, the Phalanx announced they would absorb and assimilate the post-humans’ intelligence and preserve it as part of their collective as well as the larger Dominion they served. While this would allow post-human culture, history, and collective consciousness to exist outside of the bounds of space-time, the Phalanx would have to destroy every living thing on Earth to harvest enough energy for the expansion process. 

Although one post-human Elder was assimilated and killed through this process in POWERS OF X (2019) #5, the death of Moira MacTaggert ended this timeline before the Phalanx could consume the post-humans and make their machine intelligence part of a Dominion. Thanks to her mutant powers, Moira was reborn with the knowledge of the post-humans and their attempts to become part of a Dominion in her subsequent lives.

MISTER SINISTER AND DOMINION

Like the post-humans of Moira’s sixth life, Mister Sinister and his clones have been obsessed with reaching Dominion status as the ultimate means of self-preservation. As far back as the late 19th century, Nathaniel Essex was looking for a way to live forever and escape the eventual rise of the machines, as revealed in IMMORTAL X-MEN (2022) #8 by Kieron Gillen and Michele Bandini

Shortly before his death, Essex created four clones—including Mister Sinister—to investigate four different routes towards reaching Dominion status, which would allow him to live throughout space and time as a constant. While Sinister dedicated himself to studying mutants, his clone Doctor Stasis studied post-humanism, Mother Righteous studied magic, and Orbis Stellaris focused his research on cosmic forces. 

Mister Sinister’s plan to reach Dominion status led directly to the SINS OF SINISTER timeline. After establishing himself as a leader in the mutant nation Krakoa, Sinister created several clones of Moira MacTaggert to take advantage of her timeline-resetting mutant power and make save points in time that gave him multiple do-overs of certain events. 

Eventually, Sinister corrupted Krakoa’s resurrection protocols and inserted his personality into any mutant who went through them. By doing this, Sinister took over Krakoa’s Quiet Council, mutantkind, and the entire Earth in SINS OF SINISTER (2023) #1 by Kieron Gillen and Lucas Werneck. With complete control over mutantkind, Sinister hoped to reach Dominon-status by researching the unique ways mutant powers could be combined through genetic engineering and Chimera mutants possessing multiple X-genes. 

However, Sinister’s plan hit a roadblock when several Quiet Council members under his influence prioritized building a cosmic empire over his research. Around this time, Sinister’s Moira clones were stolen, which locked him in the SINS OF SINISTER timeline.

DOMINION IN SINS OF SINISTER 

While Doctor Stasis perished before his plans saw any serious progress, Mother Righteous’ attempts to reach Dominion continue as she gathers numerous mystical artifacts in the hopes of creating a Reliquary Perilous. Taking advantage of the chaos caused by Sinister’s warring cosmic empire, Mother Righteous’ forces have ransacked dead and dying worlds, as seen in NIGHTCRAWLERS (2023) #2 by Si Spurrier and Andrea Di Vito

Out of all Sinister clones, Orbis Stellaris has pursued the most conventional approach to reaching Dominion status. Despite his frail human body, Stellaris survived for centuries thanks to a floating golden orb filled with life-supporting technology. From a seat of power in the Galactic Rim at the edge of space, Stellaris took control over the World Farm, an artificial planetary system, and its Progenitors, an ancient race of alien computer scientists, as revealed in X-MEN RED (2022) #8 by Al Ewing and Madibek Musabekov

Thanks to its limitless processing power, the World Farm is roughly comparable to a Stronghold, the level of intelligence immediately under Dominion. Even though the World Farm doesn't feature the singularities that typify intelligences at this scale, its unmatched computing ability is functionally limitless. In the SINS OF SINISTER timeline, Stellaris encased his World Farm in the Death Sphere, a giant orb similar to the one that sustains him. As the Sinister cosmic empire grew around him, Stellaris dedicated all of the World Farm’s resources towards achieving Dominion status. 

Although Stellaris lost control over the World Farm in STORM AND THE BROTHERHOOD (2023) #2, it remains a theoretically viable route to achieving Dominion status. But regardless of how it is achieved, reaching Dominion status is still a rare feat on a universal scale.

Follow the Sinisters' pursuit of Dominion into STORM AND THE BROTHERHOOD (2023) #2, on sale now!

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