Monday, August 8, 2011

X-Men: Civil War or Whatever

This bodes ill for Cyclops
As you well know by now I am a pretty big X-Men fan and have been for the majority of my life (And wrote approximately 10,000 blogs on the subject a few months ago).   However despite this I haven’t been able to get into the X-Men comic books in a few years; not since Joss Whedon left Astonishing X-Men.   It’s partly because I just didn’t get around to picking up X-Men titles but it’s mostly because I have not been interested in the darker direction the books have been taken for the most part since House of M and especially since Messiah Complex.  But now for the first time in years Marvel Comics has come out with an X-storyline that grabbed my attention.  Called “X-Men: Schism” the books is promised to feature a dramatic split in the X-Men where leader Cyclops and his second-in-command-by-proxy Wolverine will have a violent separation due to an as of yet unknown disagreement which will lead into two different X-Books: Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine and the X-Men (Oh for Christ sakes…).  Now this isn’t original storytelling; Marvel just did near the exact same storyline on a wider scale during the aftermath of Civil War.  It’s not like I’m impressed with the storyline but the promise of being able to read an X-Men title without the dreaded Wolverine is so appealing to me that I decided to give the series a chance.  The problem is that I’m so far gone from the X-Men titles that I barely recognize anyone in the them anymore, which sucks and is pretty embarrassing.  In any event I’ll be reading and reviewing all five issues of X-Men: Schism and possibly the issues of Generation Hope that I’m told tie-in to the main story.  

However X-Men books are fairly complex and this specific crossover is the result of storylines reaching back almost ten years.   So for those of you who don’t know anything about X-Men (And frankly I’m not that much better off) I’ll give a brief run down on what lead up to Cyclops and Wolverine finally ending their relationship.

Comic book nerdiness after the jump.

Finish him, Cyclops!  FINISH HIM!!!!
Before we get too far I must remind you that Cyclops and Wolverine’s relationship has traditionally been rocky due to their love for the same women (Now deceased) and their general personality clash and most adaptations such as the cartoon and the movies have showcased this as well.  They had a sort of truce at some point during the Dark Age of Comics, possibly due to Scott Summer’s marriage to Jean Grey, but things reignited again following her death and Scott’s subsequent relationship with Emma Frost.   Still the last few years they have been working together well enough during to the current status quo.  Speaking of which…

House of M/Decimation
Scarlet Witch: No more retcons.
Joe Quesada: Ha!  You wish, asshole!
The single most important storyline in recent X-Men comics was House of M which ended with notorious technophiliac the Scarlet Witch, even crazier than usual, using her reality warping powers to declare “No More Mutants” and thus stripping 99% of the mutant population of their powers (Including several X-Men ad even Magneto, though he got better).  Following this only 198 mutants were confirmed to still have their abilities (Although later it an additional few hundred still kept their powers) thus making the mutant population an endangered species on the verge of extinction.  The result of this forces the X-Men to stop any pretense of still being superheroes, thereby undoing much of what Astonishing X-Men was supposed to do, and concentrate solely on protecting mutant kind while it’s at its most vulnerable.  This would lead Cyclops, now the absolute leader of the X-Men, to resort to some pretty damming resorts in order to secure his people’s safety, but more onthat later.

The Fall of Professor X/The Rise of Cyclops
Hey! A new squad of X-Men! I'm sure they'll be a great addition-JOSSED
Technically Cyclops traditionally has been “Field Commander” and it was Professor Xavier who was the actual leader throughout most of the team’s existence (Though Storm would lead the X-Men during a point when the Prof was not around for a few years in the 80s).  This changed during after the final two storylines of Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men, “Planet X” and “Here Comes Tomorrow”, when the Professor decided to go into semi-retirement and Cyclops (After some pushing from his dead wife.  Don’t ask) decided to reopen Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters as headmaster making him the leader by default, at least until Xavier returned.

However several horrifying things were revealed during this time of Xavier’s “retirement”.  During Whedon’s run on Astonishing the Danger Room, the X-Men’s solid light projecting training facility that was modified using alien technology, suddenly turned on the X-Men and created a body for itself.  Now calling itself “Danger” it claimed that it had always been alive and Xavier knew that from day one and yet forced it into slavery nonetheless.  After barely (And only temporarily) defeating it Xavier claimed he only did it because he needed the X-Men to be prepared for the danger they would face but the subjugation of a new life form, being exactly what the X-Men were formed to stopped, left Cyclops’s faith in his mentor and father figure rattled.

However the final straw would come a few months later in X-Men: Deadly Genesis when a crazed mutant named Vulcan showed up looking for revenge against Professor X.  It turns out that Vulcan is Gabriel Summers, the long lost brother of Cyclops who for some reason he didn’t remember having.  Apparently, as a result of a retcon of curse, Gabriel was a member of a second team of X-Men (Which also included Darwin for those of you who saw X-Men: First Class and wondered who the hell he was) formed after the original team went missing while investigating Krakoa, The Island That Walks Like a Man (!!!!) but before Xavier recruited the likes of Storm, Nightcrawler and Wolverine in Giant Size X-Men #1.  However this second team was ill-trained and ill-equipped to handle the situation and were all (Supposedly) killed on their mission.   In order to cover his tracks Xavier erased Scott’s memories of the group and his brother, not to mention tampering with the other X-Men’s minds to better sell his story.  Except that Vulcan actually survived the mission and was now super pissed.  Oops.  Anyway following this Cyclops rightfully kicked the Professor out of X-Men and told him he was no longer welcomed at the mansion.  With Xavier banished Cyclops officially became leader of the team.

Though unfortunately a lot of these details were somewhat retconned again so that Xavier wasn’t nearly as at fault as he originally had been, thus making his exile fromthe X-Men less appropriate.

Messiah Something or Other
Pictured: Mutant Jesus
Later during the crossover “Messiah Complex” the first mutant birth since “M-Day” (The name given for the day Scarlet Witch decided to be a huge dick) occurred in a tiny town which lead to a three way fight (And later five way fight) to control her destiny.   Eventually Cable, Cyclops’ time displaced son, grabbed the baby and took it with him through the time stream to protect her as he believed that she would grow up too be the savior of mutant kind.  The baby grew up to be Hope Summers and Cable’s adoptive daughter (Who bears a strong resemblance to the dead Jean Grey) and eventually the two came back to the present, as seen in “Second Coming” but the fallout  led to the deaths of several X-Men including Cable (Who’s died twice within two years or so, by the way).  Many of the problems of this was caused, in some people’s eyes, by Cyclops’ growing ruthlessness in his position as leader of mutant kind.

Cyclops: Hero or Menace
Cyclops is trying is best to replace Iron Man as "Biggest Dick at Marvel"
A major theme of the X-Books has been Cyclops having to become a darker figure in order to combat the newest threats to his species and as such made several questionably moral decisions for the greater good in his role including forming an black-opts assassination team to kill the X-Men’s enemies before they get a chance to threaten them, forming an all-mutant safe haven that completely separates humans and mutants and effectively kills his mentor’s longstanding dream of co-existence, welcoming the X-Men’s greatest enemy Magneto into the fold (With Magneto even praising Cyclops for his methods) and the overall militarization of the X-Men.  I’m not sure If Marvel is purposely trying to make Cyclops a huge asshole but it seems to be working that way.  His actions have already started isolating several of his long time friends including his oldest friend Hank “The Beast” McCoy who strongly disapproves of his methods.  Meanwhile the hateful and loathsome Wolverine is always pretty much looking like a badass. I suspect that if there’s a divide between them then it’s likely Scott will end up being portrayed as being in the wrong.

So anyway at the beginning of X-Men: Schism Cyclops leads all of mutant kind who are all living on an island fortress called “Utopia” which appears to be its own nation.  Magneto and Namor the Submariner are both part of the team, and everyone has forgiven Professor X for all the crap he did.  Assuming I can get around to it I’ll b reviewing the storyline as the comics come out starting with issues #1 and #2 this week….maybe.

By the way, if you weren't sure who I was pulling for just remember that despite his fault I am 100% a Cyclops fan.  Don't forget that I'm the founder of Cyclops Lovers Against Wolverine!
Hope Summers is not a member of C.L.A.W.

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