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.
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’.
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.
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.
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 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?