In the late 80’s/early 90’s unless you were wearing a red and blue spider suit, nothing was as big as the X-Men for Marvel. With the collector boom in full swing, issues were selling millions of copies. Artists like Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri and (shudder) Rob Liefeld were making their mark and establishing the popularity that would allow them to later launch Image Comics. And an animated series was released that would become one of the most honored and celebrated this side of Batman: The Animated Series.
The writers, artists and editors of the X-Men corner of the Marvel Universe also had the related title crossovers nailed. Whereas now we seem to wait for each company wide event, at that time is was more a question of what the next X-crossover would be? Inferno, X-Tinction Agenda, X-Cutioner’s Song, Age of Apocolypse to name a few. While some would crossover into other titles, these were X-Events to the core.
In this post we’ll look at a couple of books inspired by those crossovers (Inferno #1, X-Tinction Agenda #1), a continuation of that animated series (X-Men ’92 #1) and one outlier from the early 80’s that really set the stage for all X-crossovers to come (Years of Future Past #1).
Also, if you are like me and haven’t read all of Johnathon Hickman’s Avengers run leading up to Secret Wars, be sure to take Tom’s Road To Secret Wars course at gabbinggeekuniversity.com. The reading materials are online here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six and Part Seven.
X-Men ’92 #1
The domain of Westchester on Battleworld is a bit of an oddity. While the other domains are something new or based on previous Marvel crossover events, Westchester is actually based on the X-Men cartoon that ran from 1992 – 1997. The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe does list the world that the series occurred on as being part of the Multiverse, inhabiting Earth-92131. At worst you could argue that the X-Men Adventures comic which adapted the early seasons before moving on to original stories is the basis for this domain. Regardless, we have another group of X-Men floating around Battleworld.
After an intense game of lazer tag at the local arcade the usual cartoon suspects find themselves attacked by Sentinels. The X-Men make somewhat quick work of them and they are then visited by constant thorn in the X-Men side, Robert Kelly. It seems Kelly is the Baron of this domain, and is concerned about the welfare of the X-Men. It is unclear when the two became allies, but it seems to stem from the “Westchester Wars”.
When Wolverine gets a little uppity with Kelly, one of Kelly’s soldiers threatens him with a trip to “Clear Mountian”, which the X-Men are unfamiliar with. Kelly fills them in. After a war that saw humanity and the X-Men join forces against Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Magneto’s death would leave an abundance of evil mutants roaming Westchester, leaderless. The Clear Mountain Institute was established to take in these evil mutants with a desire to find a new path in life.
The X-Men return to the X-Mansion and inform Professor X of Clear Mountain. The Professor believes it is a good idea to check the facility out. Cyclops has an announcement of his own, he’s decided to leave the X-Men. He agrees to lead the Clear Mountain investigation, but after that he is done.
When the X-Men land in Clear Mountain they are welcomed by the director, Cassanda Nova. A character that never appeared on the animated show, but is a big bad villain from Grant Morrison’s X-Men run.
I’ve posted two covers for this one, the solicited first and then the released…can you spot the difference? It seems Marvel wanted to make Madelyne Pryor — Jean Grey clone and goblin queen — a little more modest by covering up her underboob. This is also the way she appears in the comic. The original cover with the more revealing costume is more in line with her actual look back in 1989 when the Inferno storyline first appeared.
For some perspective on this, I went to Gabbing Geeks best source on females in comic books. Surprisingly not Watson, but Jenny:
jimmy: What are your thoughts on this change by Marvel?
jenny: Though I am not familiar with the character herself, I am glad that Marvel did that. I mean – tits hanging out is not something I generally approve of. No matter if it’s a comic character or not. So that actually makes me happy.
My guess is that there are male comic geeks out there pitching a fit.
jimmy: I’m not sure anyone cares too much. I thought it was an interesting choice as that has been, for better or worse, her classic look from the time period that story is taken from.
jenny: And that statement is what some male comic geeks take too far. “She’s always looked like that, why change her now” – I wonder if there are any other examples of Marvel changing people’s costumes…without any “press” so to speak. She got a column because her boobs are being covered. But how many men have changed costumes and it never received another thought?
jimmy: Probably none, comic geeks will flip out over the slightest change. But I get your point.
jenny: The thought being “WOW- COOL CHANGE! LOOK AT CAP NOW!” because that’s the reality. Captain America, DD, Wolverine have had many costume changes, and most people are on board because it’s an updated look. We cover boobs (because that’s the updated look women want) and people freak out. It’s a double standard that can be infuriating.
jimmy: How would you compare her outfit to say Power Girl’s “boob window” over at DC? (Which DC has covered up with a Superman symbol…on Earth 2 anyways. Standard DCU has the girls out for all to see.)
jenny: I hate Power Girl’s boob window more than anything – which is half the reason why I have never featured her as a cosplay. Never. I don’t support it, I will never buy the comic – so long as she looks like that.
Much more enlightening than Watson’s response when I asked him:
watson: heh, boobs, heh heh
So, as for Inferno the comic book…it takes place in the What If? style domain of Limbo. A world where the demon invasion of New York was not prevented in the end by the X-Men.
At the center of this story is Colossus. He has made a deal with Scott Summers to be a loyal X-Man and help police the outer boroughs, but once a year he and a team of X-Men would make an attempt to storm into the Inferno and rescue his sister. Each year they get closer and closer.
In year four however, Cyclops is crippled and Colossus finally reaches his sister, only to find she’s been waiting for him. She has no desire to be rescued, and as Darkchild, ruler of Inferno, she disfigures Colossus’ arm.
The story does not tell of their escape, but one year later Colossus can only focus on attempt number five. But Cyclops, wheelchair bound and looking like Professor X, has other ideas. He’s not willing to risk sending his team back in after Illyana. While Cyclops refuses to send a team, Colossus pulls together a rag tag group to help him including Nightcrawler and Colossus’ lover Domino. (Side note: Domino did not make her first appearance until two years after Inferno had concluded.)
Again the attempt does not go well. Boom Boom is critically wounded and Nightcrawler is captured by Darkchild. When Colossus and Domino are overwhelmed by demons and all appears lost, the duo are rescued by Madelyne Pryor and Alex Summers, the Goblin Queen and Prince respectively.
X-Tinction Agenda #1
While it’s another What If?-like domain of a 90’s X-Men crossover, this one is more of a natural continuation picking up from the conclusion of that event.
Alex Summers and Rahne Sinclair lead a team of mutants attempting to keep order in the land of Genosha. People are starving as the Extinction Plague has cut the domain off from trade with the rest of Battleworld.
When Summers and Sinclair plead their case to Doom at Doomstadt, he immediately dismisses them and sends them back to the quarantined Genosha.
The pair try again to procure help from Rachel Grey, Phoenix and Baron of X-Topia. This is one of the few times I’ve read so far of the zones communicating and working together. But the best that Phoenix can offer Genosha is an increase in food drops from drone flybys. Anything else is just not worth the risk of spreading the Extinction Plague and wiping out all mutants on Battleworld.
The Genoshians decide that if X-Topolis will not help, they will go to X-Topolis and bring back what they need for a cure. Namely the mutants Triage and Rouge.
While Alex and his team attempt the abduction, the so called “Genegineer” is back in Genosha in the midst of an experiment on the head of Cameron Hodge, the big bad from the original crossover.
Years of Future Past #1
Remember back in the 616 universe when Wolverine died? Did you miss him? Well, if you did, Secret Wars is for you because it seems like every other title, especially anything X-Men related has a version of Logan (amongst other X-Men) kicking around. (And we already know that Old Man Logan will make his way to the regular Marvel Universe post Secret Wars.)
Years of Future Past is no different as another older version of Wolverine appears in this domain that continues the story of the world from Days of Future Past. You are likely familiar with the movie of the same name and similar premise. If you are not familiar with the source material you might be surprised to find that the story occurred in just two issues: Uncanny X-Men #141-142. It just goes to show that a good story goes a long way and you don’t need an event with 80 tie-in issues for something to be special.
In this domain, mutants continue to be wiped out by Sentinels and those that survive are mostly equipped with inhibitor collars that block their powers.
But it’s hard to keep a good mutant down, and when a team of mutants manage to remove their collars it’s up to Magneto, Phoenix, Colossus, Kitty Pryde and her daughter Christina Pryde to battle the Sentinels.
In an attempt to “fight fire with fight”, President Kelly revives Mystique and Blob and sends them after the rebels.
Kitty and crew have a plan. They’ve learned that a Sentinel has been infected with a virus that has corrupted it and it will attempt to kill President Kelly. If the two youngest mutants, Christina and Wolverine’s son Cameron could save the President it might persuade Doom, and all of humanity to save the remaining mutants from extinction.
As the team along with Wolverine and Cameron attempt to put their plan in action a battle with Mystique and Blob ensues, which results in Cameron killing Blob. Though Mystique disappears the battle is not over as the new infected Sentinel appears…and looks suspiciously like a Doombot, styled after the way Doom looked in his appearance in the original Secret Wars.
Ryan stopped by with some thoughts on this book. He wasn’t too fussy about it:
jimmy: What didn’t you like about Years of Future Past?
ryan: Okay this will seem weird but it was the president on an airplane. The airplane made me wonder again how this all works. How does Air Force One fly around a zone on a planet and not realize that the sun is a guy and the next zone over is completely different? Why does Doom even preserve places that are so different? When this zone is asking for help with the mutant problem why doesn’t Doom just either help them or say “Stop being idiots.”?
Remember that bad Tom Cruise sci-if movie, Oblivion? The illusion all fell apart when he started flying his personal aircraft a bit beyond his zone. This is a frakking 747. How does this illusion persist and WHY??
Oh and Blob died too easily.
jimmy: I guess the same applies to any characters that can fly, not just planes. I understand, it is a strange dynamic. Is there any reason besides selling comics that Doom would create a world such as this? They are supposed to be “fragments” from other worlds, but you can only take that so far.
And I still wonder about the dynamic between zones. Everyone seems to know there are different zones on Battleworld and that they are not supposed to cross the borders. Each zone has a Baron. They can even communicate across zones as seen in X-Tinction Agenda. I know it is comics, but it seems like if I was Wolverine and I know there were like 20 other Wolverines on the planet, not like me, but actually me, I’d be a little freaked out. That said, it has been 8 years, so maybe they are over it.
And I think they do know the sun is a guy and the next zone over is completely different.
ryan: Did the earlier stuff explain why the universes were colliding and being destroyed? Or just because reasons.
jimmy: Tom can better answer that, but I think it was all just an experiment by the Beyonders. To see what happened when they destroyed everything.
ryan: Damn. They’re dicks.
jimmy: The biggest kind. Speaking of dicks, who do you think is Cameron’s mother?
ryan: Kitty. Not a lot of mutants left. They had to repopulate.
jimmy: Kitty was my first thought too given his phasing powers. Chrissie is a chip off the old Colossus though.
Not sure if it is mentioned elsewhere in anything you read, but in X-Tinction Agenda (if you haven’t read it) there is a scene where Doom says, “Mutants. A blight upon the world.” It makes you wonder if he was in control of shaping the world and populating the zones. Contradictory to that though is the lack of Reed Richards in any zone I’ve seen so far.
ryan: I think they’re both Kitty’s.
jimmy: It looks that way.
And I asked Tom your question about the cause of the incursions (and gave him my answer) he says:
“Short answer, you are correct. The Beyonders were performing an experiment to destroy the multiverse.
Long answer: Incursions were a result of Doom killing the Molecule Man in different realities. The Molecule Man was basically a bomb to destroy universes and was the same guy in every reality.”
But…you don’t know who Molecule Man is, so…
ryan:Is his real name McGuffin?
jimmy: Yes. Owen McGuffin.
ryan: As in Owen is this going to make sense?