Greetings from the Odinson,
Created by Stan “The Man” Lee and Jack “The King” Kirby, the Children of the Atom made their debut back in 1963 in the pages of X-Men #1. Five extraordinary teenagers born with fantastical powers were brought together by a wise mentor to protect those that fear and hate them. For six decades, their adventures have set the standard in high quality action, science fiction, and drama in the Marvel Universe.
Though the yearly JLA/JSA Crossover events pre-date it by nearly a generation, the Dark Phoenix Saga is the milestone by which all other “Big Event” stories in comics is measured. Over the last 40 years, there have been benchmark moments in the History of the X-Men that have shaken up the status quo, moved the narrative forward in interesting directions, and left their lasting mark on the X-Men, the Marvel Universe, the comic book industry, and the fans.
These are those Milestones.
X-Men Milestones Part 1:
From Dark Phoenix Saga to Phalanx Covenant (1980-1994)
Dark Phoenix Saga (1980) – The Lead Up: After a mission in outer space, in a desperate moment to save her team, Jean Grey merges with a cosmic entity now known as the Phoenix Force. Her psionic powers are amped up to unearthly levels and she spends the next 2 years trying to control her new god tier power levels. What Happened: The Hellfire Club’s scheme to manipulate Jean backfires as she loses control, gives in to the dark side, and unleashes the Dark Phoenix on the universe. The Dark Phoenix casually consumes a star which results in the destruction of a nearby inhabitant planet, killing billions. Its Legacy: Jean Grey sacrifices her life to save the universe, Cyclops, bereaved, leaves the X-Men, and the Phoenix Force becomes a recurring threat in the Marvel U.
Mutant Massacre (1986) – The Lead Up: None. It catches our mutant heroes and the mutant community completely off guard, leading to a devastating aftermath. What Happened: A hit squad of mutant killers called Marauders strafe the tunnels beneath Manhattan determined to exterminate every last Morlock. Its Legacy: Kitty Pryde, Nightcrawler, and Colossus are severely injured and sidelined for months. We learn there is a history between Wolverine and Sabretooth. Angel loses his wings due to injuries suffered at the hands of the marauders. The X-Men come into conflict with the Fantastic Four as they make a deal with the devil known as Doom. Excalibur is forged. And, revelations involving Gambit, Mister Sinister, the Dark Beast and more would come to light for years to come.
Fall of the Mutants (1988) – The Lead Up: The centuries-old mutant tyrant Apocalypse makes his ultimate play for power. Still reeling from the Massacre, the X-Men have been on the run and scattered. The New Mutants find themselves directionless and under the thumb of Magneto. What Happened: In this three-pronged event the New Mutants save a friend only to lose another. X-Factor saves New York City but lose one of their own. And the X-Men sacrifice themselves to save the world. Its Legacy: Doug Ramsey is K.I.A. and the New Mutants graduate. Angel is now the former Horseman, Death, his once angelic wings having been replaced by razor sharp metallic ones. The world thinks the X-Men are dead and they use this anonymity to make more proactive counter strikes against their enemies.
Inferno (1989) – The Lead Up: Ever since the return of Jean Grey, Madelyne Pryor, Scott Summer’s abandoned wife, has been hunted by the Marauders, manipulated by Mister Sinister, and seduced by the demon N’astirh. Thus, the Goblin Queen is born! What Happened: The Goblin Queen unleashes hell, literally, onto the streets of New York City! Its Legacy: Scott and Jean finally reconcile their struggling relationship and are reunited with Scott’s infant son (the child that will one day become Cable). The X-Men learn that Jean is alive, though Wolverine has suspected since the Massacre. And Magik becomes the Darkchilde but is ultimately transformed back into the little girl she was before being taken away to Limbo by the demon Belasco.
X-Tinction Agenda (1991) – The Lead Up: The X-Men learn about a country called Genosha where mutants are enslaved. To escape their enemies, the X-Men enter the magical Siege Perilous. They are scattered across the globe and given new lives with no memories of their past. Wolverine and Forge set out on separate quest to reunite the team, and we are all introduced to the enigmatic mutant thief simply called Gambit. What Happened: The X-Men, X-Factor, and New Mutants stand united and start a revolution against the oppressors that rule Genosha. Its Legacy: After 6 years and over 70 issues, the Children of the Atom are finally reunited with their estranged mentor, Charles Xavier. Magneto falls from grace. Cable forges the New Mutants into the super human combat squad called X-Force. And, the X-Men and X-Factor unite to assemble arguably the greatest and strongest X-Men team in history and set the stage for the 1990s which took the X-Men from rock star status to unquestionable, unanimous Hall of Fame ranking.
X-Cutioner’s Song (1992) – The Lead Up: The mutant law enforcer from the future known as Bishop arrives in the present with a foreboding warning of the X-Men’s demise and traitor that hides amongst them. The mutant terrorist known as Stryfe is revealed to be an identical twin of Cable. What Happened: After Cable is framed for an assassination attempt that leaves Professor X on death’s doorstep, the X-Men, X-Force, and new X-Factor are all drawn into a conspiracy involving Cable, Stryfe, and Apocalypse! Its Legacy: The revelation that Cable is Scott’s son begins to unfold. The Legacy Virus is released into the world and would go on to kill many mutants.
Fatal Attractions (1993) – The Lead Up: Illyana Rasputin is taken by the Legacy Virus leaving Colossus in utter disarray. What Happened: The X-Men set out to stop Magneto and his fanatical Acolytes’ attack on Earth. After Wolverine slashes Magneto, the Master of Magnetism rips the Adamantium from Logan’s bones, pulling it through the pores of his skin, leaving the mutant hero a quivering pool of jelly being held together only by Jean Grey’s will and Logan’s tenacious healing factor. Enraged, Professor X finally cuts loose and mind-wipes Magneto, leaving him in a vegetative state. Its Legacy: Colossus turns against the X-Men and actually becomes a disciple of Magneto. X-Men and fans all learn that Wolverine’s claws are actually bone and the Adamantium was hindering his mutant healing factor which is now amped up to the nth degree. And, Professor X’s attack on Magneto left him open for the villain’s dark essence to enter his mind. This ultimately leads to the events of Onslaught.
Phalanx Covenant (1994) – The Lead Up: Sabretooth becomes an unwelcome resident at the X-Mansion. Scott and Jean get married. And, Moira MacTaggert succumbs to the Legacy Virus. What Happened: Still reeling from the events of Fatal Attractions, the Children of the Atom are left completely unprepared for the all-out assault by the Phalanx Covenant, a group of mutant-hating humans that have merged with the techno-organic alien Phalanx. Its Legacy: The New Mutants-like Generation X is born. Cable discovers that his son is the leader of the mutant terrorist group known as the Dark Riders. And, Wolverine decides to confront Sabretooth and settle the score once and for all.
Be sure to tune in next week for X-Men Milestones Part 2: From Age of Apocalypse to Age of X (1995-2011)
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
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