Greetings from the Odinson,
Back in 1980 with the Dark Phoenix Saga the X-Men franchise hit their first real Milestone and set the standard for what a Big Event storyline could and should be. All throughout the decade that followed, with major landmark tales like Mutant Massacre and Fall of the Mutants, the legend of the X-Men continued to grow. When we left off last week, the X-Men had been dealt major blows in Fatal Attraction and the Phalanx Covenant, setting the stage for arguably the biggest X-Event of them all!
X-Men Milestones Part 2 of 3:
From Age of Apocalypse to Age of X (1995-2011)
Age of Apocalypse (1995) – The Lead Up: In the Legion Quest, David, Charles Xavier’s demented son, decides to give his pop the best father’s day gift ever, so he travels back in time to kill his dad’s greatest foe – Magneto. Well, as things tend to do in time-traveling scenarios, things go sideways and Professor X winds up dead. This alters history, as you can imagine. What Happened: The time-traveling mutant known as Bishop, being somewhat of an anomaly, wakes up in a world ruled by Apocalypse, and Bishop is the only one with memories of how the world is supposed to be. Since Charles Xavier never formed the X-Men, there was no one there to stop the mutant tyrant’s grab for power during the Fall of the Mutants. We even learn in the pages of X-Universe that Xavier’s absence had an adverse effect on the histories of many of Marvel’s premiere heroes like Spider-Man, Hulk, Avengers, Fantastic Four, and more. Its Legacy: The tale culminates with an epic battle between all the many factions of this alternate timeline. As Bishop succeeds in his mission to set things right, a few refugees from the Age of Apocalypse including Nate Summers, Holocaust, the Sugar Man, and Dark Beast make the leap over to the 616. And as the years have passed, we have learned some of them have had a hand in other major Milestones like the Mutant Massacre.
Onslaught (1996) – The Lead Up: When Bishop arrived in the present from the future back in Uncanny X-Men #282, he came armed with a foreboding warning that the X-Men would be betrayed and destroyed by one of their own. The drums of war begin to beat when the “unstoppable” Juggernaut gets pummeled and left a shaken mess at the X-Men’s feet by an unknown assailant (NOTE: This is also the moment in Marvel History when the once mighty Juggernaut began his spiral to becoming little more than a jobber for the rest of the Marvel U. It’s something I discussed back in 2013 in my column – Whatever Happened to the Unstoppable Juggernaut?). The Children of the Atom, and readers, are shocked to learn it is Professor X that stands revealed as the traitor! What Happened: Remember in Fatal Attraction when Professor X mind wiped Magneto. Well, in that moment, the evil within Magneto transferred over to Xavier and gestated until it became a possessive entity of its own. This creature evolved into a monster with the combined powers of the world’s most powerful mutant mind and the Master of Magnetism. This was a threat no hero could ignore so it was all hands on deck and in the end, the Avengers and Fantastic Four had to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to defeat this seemingly unbeatable foe. Its Legacy: This one had ripples for years to come. In the immediate aftermath we learn that Franklin Richards used his immense psionic powers to create a pocket world called Heroes Reborn where his family the Fantastic Four and the Avengers would be reborn with updated origins. With the world thinking their greatest heroes dead, and the X-Men, of course, taking the blame for it, others rose up to fill the void. During this time, the jungle lord Ka-Zar and the speedster Quicksilver took on more active roles, Alpha Flight and the Heroes for Hire teams reassembled, but the most notable of all was the emergence of the new super team known as the Thunderbolts. Taking up residence in the old headquarters of the Fantastic Four, it was not long before a surprising, and quite shocking, secret was revealed about these Thunderbolts that would leave jaws agape and hands wringing, waiting for what came next. This all led to the triumphant Heroes Return era at the House of Ideas, one of the finest chapters in Marvel History.
Operation: Zero Tolerance (1997) – The Lead Up: Because they were the ones that destroyed the energy of Onslaught after the Avengers and Fantastic Four leapt in, the X-Men were blamed for the premiere heroes’ deaths. Then presidential candidate Graydon Creed is assassinated and his death is also blamed on mutants. What Happened: The mysterious man known as Bastion uses the mass anti-mutant hysteria to convince the government to allow him to hunt down and exterminate mutants at will. Its Legacy: It is revealed that Bastion is actually Master Mold and Nimrod which were combined together to create Bastion when he went through the Siege Perilous back in Uncanny X-Men #247.
Age of Apocalypse and Onslaught are two of the biggest and most influential X-Men Milestones in history. For the next few years the Children of the Atom would sail along under the watchful eye and amazing imagination of Grant Morrison. This all led to THE most devastating moment in X-History.
House of M (2005) – The Lead Up: Avengers Disassembled was the darkest day in Avengers History. The Mighty Thor and the gods of Asgard faced their end in Ragnarok. Iron Man falls off the wagon. Captain America begins to suffer a mental breakdown. And, Avengers Mansion is suddenly attacks by many of their foes all at once resulting in the deaths of many heroes including Vision, Hawkeye, and Jack of Hearts. And the person responsible for all of it is one of their own. What Happened: Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, is the daughter of Magneto, the world’s most wanted mutant terrorist, the sister of Quicksilver, one of the most mentally unstable heroes around, the estranged wife of Vision, an android who after being rebuilt retains no memory of their love, and a practitioner of chaos magic whose own mutants powers allow her to manipulate reality. She has had a history of mental instability and after the loss of her children, she finally went off the deep end. She orchestrated the demise of the Avengers and used her reality warping powers to change the world into a mutant utopia ruled by her father. When she is finally found out and defeated, Wanda casts one last spell and with three little words, changes the course of Marvel History forever. Its Legacy: Decimation was the legacy of House of M.
Messiah Complex (2007) – The Lead Up: No More Mutants brought the mutant community to the edge of extinction. Where once there were millions, now only 198 mutants remained in the world. What Happened: The first mutant child following the devastating events of House of M is detected. The X-Men and all their allies and enemies race to locate the child that may hold the key to the future of the mutant community. Its Legacy: Cable takes the child to the future to raise her as his own and she is given the name Hope. He trains her to be a capable warrior and as a former Chosen One himself, prepares Hope for her destiny.
Messiah War (2009) – The Lead Up: Cyclops sends Wolverine and his X-Force into the distant future on a suicide mission to recover the child named Hope. What Happened: In this harsh future X-Force and Cable engage in a free for all against the immensely powerful Stryfe and deranged Bishop with the fate of Hope hanging in the balance. Oh yeah, and Apocalypse is there too! Its Legacy: Magneto returns and the X-Men learn their island home is beginning to sink into the ocean.
X Necrosha (2009) – The Lead Up: The centuries old mutant vampire Selene returns on a quest to ascend to godhood. What Happened: The X-Men battle an undead army consisting of their fallen friends and foes in a horrific, bloody attempt to stop Selene’s plans. Its Legacy: Many mutants that have perished over the years are returned to life including Banshee, Caliban, Darkstar, Proteus, Pyro, Stonewall and Super Sabre, Unus the Untouchable, and more!
Second Coming (2010) – The Lead Up: House of M, Messiah Complex, and the Messiah War have all led to this moment as Cable returns from the future and with him, Hope, the girl believed to be the mutant messiah. What Happened: The X-Men race against the clock to find their Messiah before Bastion, the leader of a mutant-hating cabal and orchestrator of Operation: Zero Tolerance, finds her first and exterminates Hope. Its Legacy: The X-Men are dealt devastating blows as both Nightcrawler and Cabal sacrifice themselves in order to keep Hope alive.
Age of X (2011) – The Lead Up: It’s a mystery that unfolds as the tale is told. What Happened: Once again, the deranged son of Professor X, Legion, uses his immense mutant powers to alter reality and completely rewrite history. Its Legacy: Magneto, Rogue, and Gambit find themselves in a love triangle that has been teased since the Age of Apocalypse. Plus, the days ahead will see the Children of the Atom divided like never before.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
NOTE: Be sure to check out my book – Autumn Dawn: A Glen Haven Tale. Available in Paperback, on Kindle, and Audiobook.