Monday, August 26, 2013

X-Universe #1

While I don't think there's anything there in the title to clue you in on it, the purpose of the 2 issue X-Universe series was to answer the question of what all of Marvel's other heroes were doing in the Age of Apocalypse.  When I first read this I knew very little of the other heroes beyond their origins, and I don't think this interested me very much, enough that I didn't bother purchasing the second issue at the time.  Now with all the Marvel movies teaching me a lot more about at least some of these heroes, I'm curious to see if it will have a greater impression on me.

Gwen Stacy is an agent for the Human High Council, currently serving in Wakanda with Dr. Donald Blake attempting to take care of the poor and sick who live there. They depend desperately on the supplies that the Human High Council flies in to them, supplies that the Marauders are here to steal.  In this reality, the Marauders are not mutants but humans, specifically Norman Osbourne, Wilson Fisk, Arcade, and the Owl.  Gwen Stacy holds her ground against them, but her weapon isn't strong enough to take them all down.  Fortunately, a huge spider-shaped ship is coming, piloted by Hawkeye and carrying Anthony Stark along with him.  They take out the Marauders and then land, providing the needed supplies to Wakanda and telling Blake (who walks with a cane) that he needs to come with them.

They are heading back to London, where Mikhail has brought an armada of ships with him to negotiate peace on behalf of Apocalypse.  Sue Storm and Ben Grimm don't trust him one bit, and they shouldn't because someone just blew up the base where they were about to land.  They survive the attack and search through the rubble to find a grey Hulk.  Sue (who is a normal human, as is Ben) chops off the Hulk's ear and he transforms back into Bruce Banner, who they were originally coming here to meet.  They realize he doesn't realize what the monster inside him just did, so they take him along with them to meet up with Mikhail along with the other heroes we've seen previously.

We get a glimpse onto Mikhail's ship first, where we get a confirmation that Apocalypse has no intention of making peace.  We also see that he's been modifying humans with enhancements in exchange for them working for him, and among them is Matt Murdock.

Mikhail descends out of his ship and meets up with the human representative Victor Von Doom, who is scarred on one cheek but not wearing an iron mask, and Mikhail gives a rousing speech meant to inspire hope in the humans, and it works as they begin to chant his name.  Our collection of heroes is escorted onto Mikhail's ship, where they find out that the people are so willing to believe him because he's hooked up the mutant Empath to a machine and is manipulating their emotions with him.

On the following page we get a look at the Human High Council files, a quick way to tell us the status of some other Marvel heroes:

T'Challa - killed when Apocalypse showed up in Wakanda to take the vibranium
Frank Castle - Went to a monastery after his wife and children were killed by Apocalypse, but died there with the monks.
Peter Parker - Was supposed to be a contact for Gwen Stacy to meet up with, but was killed before that could happen.
Reed Richards & Johnny Storm - Died during an attempt to help some human refugees escape America.
Namor - Apocalypse also destroyed Atlantis and he died in that attack.

I think I understand why I didn't originally continue with this series.  Their efforts to shove as many characters as possible into this one very brief series leave it cluttered and confusing.  With the exception of Gwen, Sue, and Ben, most of them have so brief a role that they don't really contribute all that much.  Yes, it's neat to see Dr. Doom on the side of good here, but that's not really enough to make it interesting.  I have since purchased the second issue though, so we'll see how they wrap this one up and if it gets any better.


  1. +JMJ+

    What I find interesting is that they killed off so many major characters (in one blow, from the looks of it!), as if to deliberately give the less popular figures a chance to shine. And hardly anyone has the powers we associate with them! Thinking about it some more, I guess they did it because many of the major heroes, if they had lived and had their powers, would have likely joined one of the X-groups in this future; so it's more plausible to have them out of the picture than to come up with an explanation for why they weren't part of the main story.

    Now, while I have always thought that Frank Castle could have easily gone exactly that other route, it doesn't ring true to me here. I can see him forgiving his family's human killers and becoming a monk in the main timeline, but hearing that he did it for Apocalypse, and ended up going out in a whimper, totally strains my credulity.

    1. I think the answer to why most of them don't have powers is simpler than that - things are much more difficult for normal humans in this timeline, so most of them would not have had the chance to be in the situations that led to them getting powers.

      While it's not specified, I'm assuming Peter never got bitten by a radioactive spider, for instance, because he probably didn't even get to go to a normal high school!

      You also bring up an interesting thought - would Magneto let a "mutate" or otherwise non-mutant into his version of the X-men? He wants peace with humans and to stop Apocalypse, but would he accept a tamed Hulk, for instance, into his crew? I wonder if he's dropped his feelings of superiority enough to accept such a thing in this timeline.

    2. +JMJ+

      I can see Magneto possibly making an exception for Thor. But does Don Blake ever reveal that he is a god in this timeline? (Or does this take place before Odin lets him figure it out?)

    3. I don't think they ever specify one way or the other.

  2. I quite liked this issue, thought it handled the larger cast better than I expected I would, but it does play on some level of familiarity with the characters, so I can see it not working for someone coming in somewhat fresh. Which is what threw me off in some of the other AoA titles, because my X-Men knowledge is nowhere near yours, but here, I do know quite a bit about the people involved.


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