When I was 8-years old, I had an incredible revelation: Comic books are great.
I wasn’t 14 or 15 before I started to actually read the stories. As a child, the pictures told enough of the story. From the death of Superman to Magneto removing the adamantium that laces Wolverine’s skeleton—these were clear without the necessity of the words to better color the bright and wonderful panels. Out of all the super heroes and villains I grew up following through the pages of comic books, Uncanny X-Men was far and away the easiest brand of comics for me to understand.
It’s kind of crazy to say that. I jumped on to Uncanny with issue #262 and, of course, I had no idea what the heck was going on. I thought Jean Grey had turned into a demon and was dating Banshee. Peter Nicholas (Colossus) fancied himself an artist who was in a relationship with Callisto. I thought Forge was one of the original X-Men. Little did I know that in X-comics, at that time, the Marvel U considered the X-Men dead following the events during Fall of the Mutants. Lost to me was the knowledge that a chunk of the remaining team stepped into the Siege Perilous only to reemerge spread out throughout the globe as different versions of themselves. Still, despite that, the pages clung to my memory.
Another supporting book that added to my “X-hysteria” was Classic X-Men, or X-Men Classic, depending on the date of release. This series was a reprint of the initial run of Uncanny written by Chris Claremont and drawn by John Byrne. It also featured stunning covers from Arthur Adams and Steve Lightle, and then later by Mike Mignola. As a new reader, these stories told me the origins of the X-Men who were now the savvy vets who were featured in the first 1989 editions I flipped through.
Nearly twenty years from when I rifled through my first X-Men comics, I decided that I needed to not own all of Uncanny X-Men, I was going to read it too. The initial, “All-New, All-Different” issues #94-108 are pricey. I own a copy of Giant-Size X-Men #1, but I think my run begins around issue #109 or #110. After issue #144, I have nearly every issue of Uncanny. I still need Days of Future Past Part 1 and maybe a random issue in the 330’s for some reason. Outside of maybe two or three issues, I own over 500 issues of Uncanny X-Men.
The stories told by Claremont between the Dark Phoenix (1980) fallout and Mutant Genesis (1991) are what I consider to be the greatest run in the history of comics. It was from that decade of tales where I analyzed and studied the characters coming to my own conclusion that these books are about unity and accepting ever person on this planet as a human being no different than any other. It’s pretty heavy at 28 once you can peel back the layers enough to see how Claremont plays with the notion of social prejudices’ impact on society, particularly those who look different than the rest.
Some of my favorite arcs were The Mutant Massacre, which literally bled into Fall of the Mutants, then on down to the X-Tinction Agenda—which I feel serves as Claremont’s final comic book masterpiece. It is within this particular era (1986-1990) that I decided to highlight some of the best characters and villains. This is also therapeutic for me because all of the X-Men and Mutants in the current Marvel Universe are void of depth and emotion. (Thanks, FOX Studios/Marvel.) So much has done to twist and turn the origins of so many X-Men that it’s hard now to know where any of them originally came from. In my opinion, Marvel should think about re-releasing an “X-Men Classic” title that gives new readers the true origins of some of these characters. I’m not saying reprint the 80’s stuff. Reprint the origins of characters like Elixir and Prestige. Not many new to the X-universe are going to have any idea who they are.
Set-Up: Marvel’s finest have no choice but to once again beg the X-Men to save the world from an unknown alien invasion. I want to emphasize the word “unknown.” The Marvel “elite” have satellite proof that something is coming. Let’s say that the Avengers and other heroes vote on a team to check it out. The team gets obliterated aside from, I don’t know, Tony Stark—who’s still alive in my story’s continuity. Stark returns with the rest of his team—Captain Marvel, Simon Williams, Vision, and Johnny Storm—in shambles. He didn’t get a good look because of the speed of the attack, but there is an armada, and they’re big. Over the course of the next 24 hours, Stark and his fallen team infect the rest of the Avengers and Fantastic Four on hand with a virus causing them to age at a rapid rate.
The heroes’ memories worsen. The villains run amok in New York and elsewhere. Franklin and Valeria Richards, although infected children, age into adulthood and are powerful enough to fight villainy globally. Reed Richards, if he hasn’t already, suggests the X-Men’s aid. As usual, the X-Men are on the outs with the rest of Marvel’s heroes over something. Based on the amount of high-powered team members, S.H.I.E.L.D., S.W.O.R.D., the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, Strikeforce Morituri, and whomever agree to contact the X-Men. I am (you are) playing the role of Professor X assembling the right task forces necessary to carry the brunt of the action.
Team-Building: In order for Earth to be well-protected, you have to break up the X-Men into two definitive teams. That’s just what you do. I’m limiting one villain allowed per squad—two squads, six Mutants per team. Only the traditional “dead X-Men” are dead (Jean Grey (Earth-616), Thunderbird, Banshee, the Deadly Genesis crew—which includes Vulcan), but the “loophole-dead” X-Men are available. Maybe some of you readers have a few teams you would chose to defend Earth. Feel free to send away.
Team 1 Headquarters: A small, mobile satellite in direct connection to pretty much any sort of digital device. The base is equipped with an array of defense mechanisms. Let’s say that it’s strong enough to withstand the equivalent of a single, blast of low-level energy from Galactus. After that powerful of an attack: evacuate.
Team 1: “The Interplanetary X-Men” – this team will serve as the front line defending Earth’s orbit from whatever is coming. Considering the setting and the atmosphere, hand-to-hand combat experts aren’t going to do you much good here. we need some of the more “exotic” Mutants to defend the Earth’s atmosphere. Oh yeah, range and firepower. To ensure the safety of the planet, you want some hard-hitters manning Earth’s orbit.
Nate Grey/X-Man – To lead this band of misfits, I need experience. Not to contradict my rules for the roster, I need at least one Omega-level character. Nate is the genetically grown offspring of Scott Summers and Jean Grey. At one point, he was considered to be Marvel’s strongest telepath following the events of the Age of Apocalypse saga. “X-Man,” or “Nate-X,” can literally rip through time like a Hulk Hogan t-shirt via telepathy. He’s strong enough to level entire cities, so, who’s to say this dude can take down an armada of alien warships.
Xorn – I mentioned firepower. Kyan-Yin Xorn’s face is a tiny star/mini sun. He can emit any energy that a sun can produce. Thus—Omega-level electromagnetism, blinding light, radioactive force blasts, etc. Look up the Sun, and then study Xorn. Figure out the possibilities. If some super-fast, super-heavy unknown entity is heading to Earth, having Xorn stationed in Earth’s orbit would be beneficial, particularly if we discover the aliens are powered or depowered by the sun’s energy. Plus, he’s Zen AF so you know he’ll try to keep the nerves of this team in check.
Polaris – She’s the lovechild of Magneto with one of the most convoluted pasts of all the “original” X-Men created before 1976. Without taking into account her current status, I’m looking at Lorna Dane from the aspect of being a badass. That she is. Polaris can manipulate magnetic fields on an Omega-level. Meaning: the magnetic pull of Earth around the sun could possibly be breached or manipulated by Polaris. The same goes for an armada of alien warships. No substance can resist her grasp on control on any magnetic field. Polaris is a character often overlooked. She’s just as powerful as Magneto plus she has the ability to absorb energy—which is something Magneto has a little trouble with. If I need someone to deconstruct a ship that doesn’t make it through the Omega-level “blockade,” Polaris will prove useful as the teams plan to take down the aliens.
Lila Cheney – I tried to go without making too many “selfish” choices. Lila was unavoidable. This X-Man made her Marvel presence known in the late 80’s performing with the Mutant and pop-sensation, Dazzler. Since her stint in New Mutants and Uncanny X-Men/X-Men, Lila hasn’t been around much. A couple of years ago, she had a brief run of appearances during Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel series. Other than that, she’s an untapped resource with amazing potential. Lila is an interstellar teleporter. The difference between she and say, Nightcrawler, is that Lila can teleport from here to Jupiter. Kurt Wagner can only get us from inside a prison cell to outside the prison gates. How would she be important to the team? Depending on the intel this team can gather on these unknown aliens, if we need this intergalactic ragtag bunch to visit these aliens’ homeworld, Lila can get them there, or anywhere in space. She knows the cosmos like a roadmap.
Cypher – One of the biggest issues we face in society is a lack of communication. In Science Fiction, it seems most alien invasions occur because either: A.) We don’t understand/heed the aliens’ warnings, or, B.) The aliens think whatever signals we’re projecting is considered an act of war. Let’s totally cut that miscommunication angle out of the equation by bringing in Doug Ramsey. Cypher can translate any language. Not just human, verbal language, but also body language, the language of electronics, and most importantly extraterrestrial languages. If this unknown armada is using frequencies to contact Earth, its home world, or whomever else, Cypher will encrypt the language in no time flat. This team needs to individuals who communicate well with other people, and other objects.
Madison Jeffries – The other half of the communication factor for this team. How did the X-Men manage to build a mobile satellite so fast? For that matter, how did the X-Men recently build any sort of vehicle, ship, or base so fast? Jeffries is the guy. While Cypher can understand the language of a machine, Jeffries, or codename: “Box,” can literally “talk” to the machine. His mutant power allows him to basically automatically understand and manipulate mechanics. There’s no reason he can’t come up with the design for the most hard-bodied space station ever assembled because he “knows” the mechanisms involved in the construction. Isn’t that crazy? Jeffries is another underutilized Mutant, but I’m not overlooking him for this particular scenario. He’s the one sitting behind the control desk of the mobile satellite doling out orders to the rest of the team.
While the interplanetary squad awaits the arrival of the unknown entity, a select team of Mutants wait patiently before their services are needed. (Note: all remaining Avengers, FF, X-Men, and whomever are still helping defend the planet from everyday threats.)
Moving forward. The second line of defense…
Team 2: “The Ground Unit” – this team will be ready and waiting for the remaining forces to break through the barrier set up by the interplanetary “X-defense.” You don’t want to wreck the planet, but you definitely need some planet-wrecking strength in order to preserve civilization as a whole. There would need to be a few puzzle pieces already connected to ensure that the ensuing invasion could get crazy. Like for instance, me combining two of the X-Men’s most formidable characters because: 1. It could happen. And, 2. I’m watching Legion. He’s a dope Mutant.
“Proteus-Legion” – What if Kevin MacTaggert met David Haller? That would be neat. This arc would play out before the events of the alien invasion story. Legion could “see” it coming and project it out to the rest of the X-Men—who just subdued Haller and MacTaggert thanks to the help of Nate Grey returning to the fold with his telepathic ridiculousness. That way, as long as Legion can keep Kevin/Proteus in check, we’re looking at what could possibly be the most powerful Mutant ever. This is the scapegoat character that can sway every advantage with a snap of a finger. A “trope-y” individual that could potentially be strong enough to overthrow an entire alien or human culture/society. I also need a wildcard in case I get painted into a creative corner.
Elixir – When I was first introduced to Joshua Foley in X-Men comics, I couldn’t get into him. He’s a healer, big deal. It seems like there are so many other heroes and villains that have regenerative abilities. It wasn’t until years later when I discovered how important of a Mutant Elixir really is. Joshua has the ability to restructure his and other physiologies on a molecular level. Basically, he could rebuild you into a completely different person. He can cure cancer is he wanted to or even bring back the dead. The only problem, he can’t control his abilities. Such a common trope with super-powered individuals in comics—and life. With guys like Beast and Xorn around to mentor Elixir, his powers may prove useful if there happen to be casualties or a stray alien that he can dissect.
Hope Summers – Take all of the “ground unit” members and understand their power sets. Now take Hope and throw her next to any of them. She more or less presents you with having two Elixirs, two Legions, or two “young Jeans.” Not only is she a living Blue Lantern Ring, but she also can “copy” the abilities of any adjacent Mutant. Pretty nasty. She’s useful if an attack needs to be repelled with an array of offence. Due to the other heavies on this team, she double’s this X-squad’s firepower.
Jean Grey (Earth-TRN220) – One simple rule when forming a team of X-Men based around a speculative threat: If Jean Grey is available, use her. That, and if the team member is a redhead, use them. Her ridiculous power level is the main reasons she remained dead for so long. Technically “our” Jean is still dead. However, Beast went back in time three years ago and fished out the original five X-Men from the 60’s, or I guess what would be the 70’s or 80’s depending on Marvel continuity. The biggest “grab” was undoubtedly Jean Grey returning to the current Marvel canon. Although she’s still a teenager, she was hit off with the memories of the veteran X-Men, which fast-forwarded her learning process. So, this Jean is basically an 18-year old with the knowledge of the life ahead of her (X-Men stories of the past 50 years). If your Jeanie, that’s potentially a scary, scary, thing. Like I said, you gotta get past the psychological bend and enlist Jean Grey because she’s the most powerful Mutant in existence.
Namor – He’s the first Mutant—a fact that often goes unchecked. As a kid, when I first discovered that Namor was a Mutant, I wondered why in the heck he was never an X-Man. Then, Brian Michael Bendis made my dreams come true in many ways with Dark X-Men. Namor was killed during the events of Secret Wars but I still believe he’s around somewhere due to the Squadron Supreme monthly solicitation descriptions. Either way, he’s on my team. For the record, it’s impossible for anyone not to join up once Nate or Jean Grey are convinced to join because, well, mind-powers! Anyway, what makes up 71% of the planet? 61% of the human anatomy? Water. Namor has a pretty solid control over the seas, or at least water. I’m all about writing a Namor that has hydro-manipulation. Why not? It’s my story! If the aliens attack Earth, Namor will have Atlantis and the seas ready to defend.
Dr. Henry McCoy (Earth-616) – Finally rounding out the team is the brain of the bunch. Beast is who I would confer with as I assembled these teams. Plug Hank in the X-Mansion and have him push the buttons and relay the orders. He’s a genius, but he’s also a gentle character with a calming voice. In the X-Men’s darkest hours, there is no other voice I want to hear than Beast’s to ensure them of their safety. He’s another member of this team I picked based on experience alone. Plus, he’s connected to all of the other super-teams within the Marvel U. We need that buffer in case the “s” hits the fan.
IN REVIEW: Unknown aliens are on their way to Earth. Marvel needs the X-Men’s help.
On the super-defensive, mobile satellite, the front lines – X-MAN, XORN, POLARIS, LILA CHENEY, CYPHER, and MADISON JEFFRIES
Inside the X-Mansion, hoping the aliens don’t get through the front lines, but you know some will because it’s comics – a PROTEUS/LEGION hybrid, ELIXIR, HOPE SUMMERS, “Young” JEAN GREY, NAMOR, and BEAST
Now the questions: What will happen? Who are the aliens? How powerful are they? Will the interplanetary squad be able to stave off enough of the warships? If so, will the X-Men team on Earth be enough to quell this invasion? What about the aging? What’s that shit about? Will that plot detail get “WildStorm 98’d” out of the story? And let’s be real, what will Legion—the new vessel for Proteus—put the X-Men and heroes of Earth through while the aliens attack the interplanetary heroes? Is that a story in itself? What in the world is going on here?
I’m glad this is merely a speculative story—not a D&D campaign, much less a comic book series. As the guy who just dumped this on my readers, I think it’s a pretty basic crossover story that could’ve been released 1995. It may have already and I’m just not digging into my subconscious far enough. Either way, I would love to hear back from you folks in regards to what teams you would throw in front of our planet to stop and alien invasion. You don’t have to limit yourselves to just the X-Men either. I would ask that you stay within the parameters of the “Set-Up.” Feel free to drop me a line via Twitter or the MLP Facebook page. And if you like these speculative synopses, let me know. I love doing this kind of stuff. While you all do that, I’ll try and figure out the physiology and goal of these invading, unknown aliens.
Thanks for playing!
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