Friday, May 23, 2008

X-Men Chronology (2000-2007)

Three months ago, I wrote a very long mail to La Tey to outline the X-Men Chronology from the start of the new Millennium up to the present. This was supposed to be a guidemap for him to navigate the convoluted oceans of what we comic-geeks refer to (sometimes frustratingly, sometimes haughtily) as X-Continuity. I'm editing what I wrote in that mail and posting it below:

i) From Morrison to Whedon:

Grant Morrison took over the adjectiveless X-Men book in 2000 and it was renamed "New X-Men". He took the book on a whole new direction by introducing Cassandra Nova, destroying Genosha, redefining the Weapon-Plus Project, outing Prof. X's secret-mutant identity, redefining Emma Frost as the new cool uber-mutant-mama, wrote the Xavier School as a *real* school for mutant-kids, introduced the Xorn-Magneto conspiracy and killing Jean Grey again. The book felt more "Vertigo-esque" than classic Marvel romance/heroics but the reviews have largely been positive. After Morrison, the X-Men Universe was totally redefined and, some would say, wrecked! In short, Jean was dead again, the school was broken, NYC was destroyed and Scott was with Emma.

At the same time, Chris Claremont was writing his anti-activism book "X-Treme X-Men" as a polemical response to Morrison's flagship book and it worked very, very well. We must applaud Claremont for not falling upon the easy-route of appealing to nostalgia but really addressing the socio-political overtones of Morrison's X-Corp and Emma's leadership position in the Institute. Chuck Austen was writing "Uncanny X-Men" and it bombed badly - the less said about the book, the better!

Marvel launched the "Reload" event following Morrison's departure:
- Josh Whedon's "Astonishing X-Men" title
- Chris Claremont's "Uncanny X-Men" and "Excalibur" title
- Peter Milligan's "X-Men" title (initially written by the infamous Chuck Austen)

Whedon was responsible for the new "flagship" title and returning the X-Men to a more "superhero-ish" root. He introduced the "Cure" storyline with Kavita Rao, brought back Colossus from the dead and turned the Danger Room into a villain.

Claremont was writing the X-Men into the UK in "Uncanny". Most important thing that happened was the resurrection of Psylocke, the X-23 (Wolvie's clone) story and the Shi'ar killing off all biological relatives of Jean Grey (with Rachel/Marvel Girl as the only survivor). Morrison mentioned in his run that the Shi'ar wanted to terminate the Phoenix Egg and stuff like that. It happened here. Over in "Excalibur", Xavier went to Genosha to help Magneto rebuild that Island-State. While he was there, the Scarlet Witch went crazy over in the Avengers title and caused the whole "Disassembled" event. Captain America handed the Scarlet Witch back to her father Magneto. Magneto took her back to Xavier in Genosha to find a cure. (The story in Whedon's book with Danger attacking Genosha happened just prior to this).

Milligan's "X-Men" title was largely oddball storylines and insignificant developments. Mystique joined the X-Men, Storm met Black Panther and went off with him to Wakanda, Africa (where they later got married) and they had a largely insignificant fight with Apocalypse.

ii) Disassembled, House of M, Decimation and Deadly Genesis:

Four important events affect the X-titles more than anything else in recent years.

"Disassembled": Scarlet Witch went crazy and caused several deaths in Avengers. The Avengers disband and she was sent to Genosha to live with her dad Magneto and Xavier. They tried to cure her madness but failed. That led to a meeting between Whedon's Astonishing team and Bendis' New Avengers - to decide whether to continue to cure Scarlet Witch or to kill her. Quicksilver learned of the meeting and rushed to Genosha to save his sister, Scarlet Witch. Magneto ignored his son, Quicksilver's pleas. Quicksilver then persuaded the mad Scarlet Witch to use her powers to recreate the world - a world where everyone's wishes came true...

"House of M": Everyone woke up in a new existence where all their wishes were true. Captain America is now a retired old man. Spider-Man is a popular hero and married to Gwen Stacy (not dead), and staying with May and Ben Parker (also not dead). Scott and Emma are married. Iron Man and Mary Jane are lovers. etc. etc. Only two problems: 1) Logan's wish is for his memories to be restored - and when that happens, he's the only person who knew about the pre-House-of-M reality! 2) a girl called Layla Miller who's power is to "know things" so she knows that reality has been tampered with. Logan and Layla went around trying to convince everyone that their reality is unreal - and build an army to finally take down the Royal Family of Magnus (Magneto, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and Polaris) in Genosha. War in Genosha - Magneto awoke and realized that Quicksilver was the culprit and tried to kill him. Scarlet Witch saw her dad attacking her brother and went nuts again - undoing the whole House of M reality and striking into the heart of Magneto's greatest wish with 3 small words - "NO MORE MUTANTS!"

"Decimation": Everyone woke up in the original reality again with some changes. E.g. Spider-Man remembers his life from House of M (married to Gwen, Ben not dead, etc.) He was so much in pain because of the memories that he begged Dr Strange to erase his mind. Dr Strange refused. Wolverine now remembers every single thing about his origins and past - so he's out on a mission to hunt down the people who screwed up his life. But the single most dramatic change in the world was that the mutant population has been reduced to a mere 198. In Morrison's time, there were millions - there was Mutant Town and mutant fashion designers, etc. Now, ex-mutants woke up with their mutant powers gone (including Xavier, Magneto, Blob, Ice-Man, Jubilee and hundreds of students in the Xavier Institute).

[Peter David launches a new book called "X-Factor" led by Madrox the Multiple Man and Layla Miller from House of M to investigate the whole "Decimation" event...]

[Craig Kyle and Chris Yost took over "New X-Men" to write about the students leaving the mansion since they're no longer mutants but fanatic evangelical Rev. William Stryker blowing up their bus and killing 40-50 students. Then he tried to kill Sooraya (Dust) but ended up killing more students. One of the students killed Stryker but his followers, the Purifiers, vowed revenge and created a synthetic beast called "Predator-X" to hunt down mutants...]

No more mutant babies were being born...

"Deadly Genesis": This story revisits the Krakoa storyline from 1975. It revealed that Xavier trained up another team to save Cyclops and the others from the Krakoa Island. That team died in that mission. Then Xavier went off to assemble Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Banshee, Sunfire and Thunderbird. The second team (as we already know) succeeded. However, the memory of that first team was wiped from the minds of all the X-Men (especially since Vulcan, the lost 3rd brother of Scott and Alex, was the leader of that team). Vulcan actually survived but was in a coma floating about in space. When Scarlet Witch removed all the mutant's powers at the end of "House of M", that collective power was in free float. Firstly, it awakened Vulcan from his coma; secondly, it repowered Onslaught (see "Onslaught Reborn" mini-series) and thirdly, it revived Xorn as "The Collective" (see "New Avengers" book 4). In "Deadly Genesis", the reawakened Vulcan is back to seek revenge. X-Men fought Vulcan and ended up realizing that Xavier was the one responsible for everything. In that fight, Vulcan killed Banshee and flew off to destroy the Shi'ar Empire. Cyclops then threw Xavier out of the Institute for his duplicity...

iii) Rise and Fall of Shi'ar Empire, Supernovas, Endangered Species:

Uncanny: Xavier was thrown out of the mansion at the end of "Deadly Genesis". He then assembled his own team to go after Vulcan and save the Shi'ar Empire. He chose Nightcrawler, Warpath (Thunderbird's brother), Havok, Polaris and Rachel Grey (who's family was killed by the Shi'ar - see above). Problem was - Xavier is now the number one wanted man in the Shi'ar Empire because of the mess caused by Cassandra Nova when she inhabited Xavier's body previously (see Morrison's run). The team lost, the Starjammers died (with Hepzibah the only survivor) and Vulcan killed Emperor D'Ken, married Lilandra's sister (Deathbird) and became the new Emperor of the Shi'ar Empire and the new head of the Imperial Neramani Clan.

X-Men: The earth-bound team comprises Cable, Ice-Man (repowered), Mystique, Rogue, Lady Mastermind, Karima and Sabretooth. They were caught right in the middle of the "Supernovas" event - actually an in-depth exploration of the full Mummudrai element introduced by Morrison. This is probably my favourite X-Men story in recent years. It's really very, very complex and mind-blowing in its scope. Very Vertigo-esque stuff, if you catch my drift. Immediately after this story, Mystique shot Rogue in the chest and Cable was assassinated by Gambit. Mystique and Gambit both defected and joined Sinister's new Marauders to hunt down the rumoured mutant-messiah baby...

"Endangered Species": Beast tries to find a way to reverse the effects of "Decimation". Since that event, no new mutant babies have been born - this means that the mutant race is slowly descending towards total extinction. Every single mutant kid killed off by Rev Stryker and his Purifier army (see "New X-Men" above) means one less mutant on earth - and one step closer to total extinction. In the midst of all this, there are rumours that a new mutant-baby has been born and is destined to be the mutant-messiah...


I'm eagerly awaiting this hardcover. The new mutant-baby is born and several different groups want the baby:

- Sinister reformed the Marauders to hunt down the baby for scientific experiments. If he controls the baby, he controls the future of mutantkind. Mystique and Gambit are (apparently) working for him.

- The Purifiers despatched "Predator X" (see above) to hunt and EAT the baby - thus killing off the last hope for mutantkind! The New X-Men kids are out to stop the Purifiers but ended up facing Lady Deathstrike. X-23 and Lady Deathstrike fight to the death!

- Scott Summers (with Emma at his side) takes on his "general" role again and oversees the entire operation to save the baby. One of his chief plans include the formation of "X-Force" (comprising of Wolverine, Warpath, Wolfsbane and X-23) to kill anyone who stands in their way to the baby.

- Jamie Madrox and Layla Miller (see above on X-Factor) travels in time to discover the mysteries of "Decimation" and the messiah-baby.

- Cable is resurrected and appoints himself the baby's protector (at whatever cost).

- Bishop turned out to be the X-traitor and fired the final shot to kill the baby. Xavier took the shot and died. Cable took the baby to the future. Scott disbands the X-Men and closes down the Institute.

There you have it. The complete past 3-4 years of X-continuity summarized for you in one mail (I really did read 80-90% of everything above). What more do you need? You've got the map - now it's up to you to experience the whole thing yourself...

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