BotA week: The Powers that Be

While everybody’s attention is focused on the way the Avengers are having more to do with mutant affairs, there’s one thing I’d not really thought about… In the X-Men comics, the Government are more involved than ever before.


The X-Men have traditionally had a seriously rocky history with the US Government, most notably because said Government was often representative of a world that hated and feared all things mutant.  Perhaps my favourite of these was the rise of anti-mutant hard-liner Graydon Creed, whose Presidential bid ended in a brutal assassination.

Graydon Creed was the son of Sabretooth and Mystique. No wonder he was messed-up!

Traditionally, the Government has responded to mutant threats with, ah, extreme measures – from The First X-Men through to Operation: Zero Tolerance, time and again the X-Men comics have imagined the Government as a threat.  Linking in to the ghosts of Nazi Germany, the X-Men comics frequently featured discussion about some kind of ‘Mutant Registration Act’.

Agent Fred Duncan became rather more important to X-Men history in First X-Men, although he was an important associate of Xavier’s back in the ’60s.

And then came the Decimation, and with it a few shock twists.  With the majority of the world’s mutants depowered, the US Government contained all the mutants they could find in Xavier’s School, and posted Sentinels on guard.  Yeah, OK, it was a new breed of Sentinels (sort of Power Rangers style, with humans in the ‘cockpit’ of the robots), but still… And then came Marvel’s Civil War.  A not-much-discussed side-effect of this plotline was that every mutant at the School (read: most mutants in the US) was automatically registered with the Superhuman Registration Act.  After Messiah CompleX, Scott closes the School down and makes a point of ensuring Iron Man – then head of S.H.I.E.L.D. – is aware that the X-Men’s days are over.  Note that when he refounds the X-Men in San Fran, he arranges it with the local Government (i.e. the Mayor, who became a recurring character), but doesn’t bother mentioning anything to Stark.

These particular Sentinels were different to anything we’d seen before; they were piloted by humans. Which rather made the Government’s using Sentinel appearances rather than, say, Iron Man ones rather disturbing. Remember Genosha?

Mutants flocked to San Fran, including, curiously enough, quite a few who the US Government could be pardoned for actively pursuing – say, members of the Acolytes, for example.  But the Government seem to have turned a blind eye, at least up until the Utopia plotline, where Norman Osborn basically declared war on the mutant race and pushed the X-Men out of the US and onto an artificial island in San Fran bay.

And then, in the aftermath of Schism, Wolverine took things in a whole different direction.  Think about it: the Jean Grey School’s (nominal) Headmaster was an Avenger, and Logan went and notified the Avengers of what he was doing (it’s how Beast joins up).  In the first arc of Wolverine and the X-Men, the Jean Grey School gets inspected.

I actually trained to be a teacher, and found that an Ofsted (school inspection) terrifies the teachers, because they feel undermined and hyper-aware of everything they do. In the Marvel Universe, the school inspectors turn into a Sauron and a Sasquatch.

More recently, S.H.I.E.L.D. have been actively pursuing Cyclops and his ‘rogue’ X-Men, with the particular help of their newest recruit Dazzler.

I do consider it an improvement to the weird costume she wore in the Utopia era (which featured a starburst placed rather… oddly, shall we say), but seriously Dazzler – you can do better than just tweaking a S.H.I.E.L.D. uniform and putting on a starburst belt.

I don’t know, to me this is dangerous.  The moment the Government get a whiff of that old ‘hate and fear’ stuff, the X-Men are seriously vulnerable.  Maybe Cyclops was right after all…

But what’s this got to do with Battle of the Atom?  Well, in interviews Jason Aaron has mentioned he’ll be writing some discussion of the increasing involvement of S.H.I.E.L.D. – so just maybe BotA is the story that starts to address this?

4 Comments Add yours

  1. loz says:

    I read too that SHIELD have been keeping away from the school but soon won’t be giving Wolverine the distance they have enjoyed.
    I’m also worried for Dazzler, just when it seems she had a good gig going, she’s hijacked by Mystique.


    1. Ooh, more power to SHIELD eh? Sounds… ominous 🙂


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