So you think you know the X-Men? Over the last fifty years, Marvel have time and again surprised us with revelations of the history of the mutant race. I’m going to chronicle them…
In a plot referred to as ‘The Origin of the Species’, Uncanny X-Men #512 blew the lid on some of the secret history of the Marvel Universe. Here, we saw the Hellfire Club of 1906, settled in San Francisco, and depending on precogs – presumably early mutants – to hunt down what they saw as ‘Overmen’, based after Nietzsche.
But the Hellfire Club had realised that the mutants were growing in power; and, perhaps, given the presence of a Shaw, they had themselves been infiltrated. Their solution was to develop a powerful automaton, one that would hunt and kill mutants. They even located a mutant genius, and coerced him into creating a tremendous power-source.
And then came… the X-Men.
Beast had led a band of X-Men into the past, seeking the blood of mutants from before the Decimation. So the Hellfire Club of 1906 found themselves arrayed against the X-Men of the present-day, and it comes as no surprise that they lost. They did so in spectacular fashion, with the defeat being the trigger of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake!
It’s actually a tremendously dark touch; even at this early stage in mutant history, human hatred and fear is unleashing the Sentinels. It solidly roots the Sentinels even more into the past of the mutants, and consequently strengthens the threat that they pose in the future; wherever there are mutants, there will always be Sentinels. And, although the mutants will triumph, the very fact of the battle will ring ruin to all around.
This dark theme is counterbalanced beautifully by a personal drama, in which Doctor Nemesis encounters his parents – including his mother, who will die in childbirth. It’s an excellent comic, well worth a read.