Friday, April 6, 2018

X-MEN '92 #8 - #10

Writers: Chad Bowers & Chris Sims | Art: Alti Frimansyah w/Cory Hamscher (#10 assist)
Color Art: Matt Milla | Lettering: VC's Travis Lanham | Cover Art: David Nakayama
Production: Carlos Lao | Editors: Heather Antos & Jordan D. White
Editor-in-Chief: Axel Alonso | Chief Creative Officer: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley | Executive Producer: Alan Fine

The final chunk of X-MEN '92 begins with our heroes and the Ex-Brood fighting off the Shi'ar Imperial Guard, who have arrived to exterminate the Brood. Rogue gets a spotlight here, going to-to-toe with Gladiator while the rest of her friends battle the remaining members of the Imperial Guard -- and the entire fight proves to be a diversion allowing Gambit, Beast, and Death's Head to hijack the Guard's ship. The X-Men escape back toward Earth, where this short-lived series' sub-plots quickly come to a head.

First, we learn that the Gamesmaster is actually Mystique in disguise, and the entire Upstarts competition has been the brainchild of Apocalypse as a way to steel the X-Men against an impending threat. Apocalypse reveals himself to the Upstarts and recruits them to his cause, and at the same time is joined by Cassandra Nova and the mysterious Joseph. Meanwhile, President Kelly arrives at the site of Lila Cheney's concert in Westchester to confront Professor X and X-Factor, revealing that he doesn't trust the X-Men to protect Earth and that he's made a deal with Apocalypse.

Apocalypse and his team show up, we get some jokes at the expense of nineties whipping boy Adam-X, then the X-Men arrive on Earth with the Ex-Brood. Apocalypse reveals a heretofore unknown benevolence to Xavier, explaining that he wants to save the world from a mutant Celestial named Xodus, who has recently awakened. But before he can explain his plan, he's gunned down by Cable as X-Force shows up.

We'll pause here, at the cliffhanger ending issue 9, to note that I'm assuming none of this is going the way Bowers and Sims had envisioned. I mean, clearly they had ideas of how their storylines would end, and what we have here are probably variations on those ending, but it seems unlikely that every single plot was intended to tie together in this fashion. But when your ongoing series is suddenly cut short, you do what you've gotta do to put together something resembling a satisfactory conclusion.

Also of note is that, with the "Secret Wars" event concluded, we're no longer on a Battleworld and the references to Doctor Doom ruling everything have fallen by the wayside. Further, Robert Kelly, who was "Baron Kelly" in the Infinite Comics, is now "President Kelly" as he was in the X-MEN animated series. There are still references to the "Westchester Wars", however, and the X-Men are still considered beloved heroes on this Earth, so not everything is as it should be.

Our story comes to a conclusion in issue 10, where we first check in with Cyclops and Jean in the far-flung future of the year 2099. They've become the leaders of the X-Men of that era and are training them when President Doom arrives, hands them the Darkhold, and sends them back in time to the present. Once returned to our era, they meet up with the rest of the X-Men, as well as Apocalypse, who survived Cable's attack. Realizing the only way they can defeat Xodus is to use the Darkhold to transform everyone on Earth into a mutant. Professor X sends out a summons to the people of the world, who agree to be changed, then Dead Girl, who communed with the Darkhold in the first story arc, uses it to mutate the world's population. Xavier dies after assisting Dead Girl, and the story ends with the new mutant race attacking Xodus.

So... that was something. I would never have guessed in a billion years that the grand finale would be so... cosmic. Look, the X-Men travel into space now and then; it's been part of their shtick since Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum introduced the Shi'ar in 1975 -- heck, extraterrestrials have been involved with them even longer, since the Z'nox and Lucifer in tthe sixties.

BUT -- the X-Men fighting Celestials is about a dozen steps beyond anything they've ever done or, really, ever should do. The Celestials are Avengers or Fantastic Four territory. The X-Men fight the Brood and the Shi'ar, maybe the Badoon or the Skrulls once in a while. Perhaps I'm just not thinking big enough; maybe I'm pigeon-holing them, but I just can't get into a story where the merry mutants confront a threat on such a scale.

So, while I enjoyed much of X-MEN '92, for me, the finale is a misfire of epic (dare I say cosmic?) proportions. Mind you, I still would've liked to have seen the series run longer, but that desire now turns out to be in spite of a weird and thematically inappropriate conclusion.


  1. What about Apocalypse? I realize he's not really considered a cosmic being, but he has ties with the Celestials, due to his ret-conned origin.
    The X-Men are the main heroes stopping Apocalypse. As seen by Age of Apocalypse or Cable's future, Apocalypse is a threat to the entire planet.

    1. True, and I have no problem with the X-Men saving the world -- heck, Jean Grey saved the universe in the heart of the M'Krann Crystal! It's just the idea of the X-Men turning everyone on Earth into a mutant and then flying off to physically battle a Celestial that feels off from my perspective.

      I know I just have weird hang-ups sometimes, but this would've been more palatable to me if Xavier had just pulled the old worldwide mind-link again as he did with the Z'Nox, and the Celestial was beaten that way. It would've been a rehash of an old premise, but that's sort of what this series was about in the first place!

    2. My problem with that plot is it's brazenly lifted from the grand finale of Grant Morrison's JLA run, where everyone on Earth was turned into a superhuman to fight a doomsday machine. Your notion about bringing back the Z'nox method would have been far more clever and a brilliant call back.

    3. Huh. I don't think I ever finished Morrison's JLA. I read it via a friend's copies, and he stopped picking it up around "Rock of Ages", so that was when I stopped as well.

      Anyway, I had no idea Morrison had already used this gimmick!

      By the way, if I ever need a pull quote about myself for any purpose, I will come to this comment and snip it down to size:

      "Brilliant." - Jack

    4. Pleased to be of service!

    5. It also occurs to me that if the last part was called "Earth X", they were riffing on the Earth X series, in which everyone on Earth was either a mutant or turned into an Inhuman, and the Celestials were the villains, but "turn the world into superheroes to fight an intergalactic menace" is indeed the plot to Morrison's JLA finale as well.

  2. It was kind of noticeable deal in MARVEL SAGA #1 that Celestials on their first visit to Earth 1 Million years ago planted the genetic seed that mankind would one day develop into a superpowered species. I don't appreciate the retcon.

    1. Wasn't that supposed to be the origin of the Eternals or something? Or am I mixing up my Jack Kirby stories?

    2. Sort of. The Celestials created three races on the planet: the Eternals, the Deviants, and Homo Sapiens.
      The Homo Sapiens species had the genetic potential to give birth to mutants, eventually.

    3. Technically only the Eternals and Deviants, and apparently by experimenting on the pre-existing proto-humans.

      Not to pick nits, but you know how there is a potential for all kinds of problems when Ghost Rider gets a "Friend" or something.