Change is coming. That was the announcement that was made this week; the aftermath of ‘Secret Wars’ will radically transform the Marvel Universe! But how will that affect the X-Men?
When the dust settles from ‘Secret Wars’, Marvel have revealed that we’ll see a whole new Marvel Universe – mostly a merger of the mainstream (known as ‘616’) and the Ultimate Universe. Some of the threads from other universes will enter into this single continuity too – I’m particularly thinking of Gwen Stacy’s Spider-Woman.
But what does this ‘semi-reboot’ mean for Marvel’s merry mutants? Here are four theories:
No more mutants!
For months, stirred on by rumour sites like ‘Bleeding Cool’, X-fans have been up in arms. Are Marvel planning to cancel the X-Men? Are they planning to turn all mutants into Inhumans? Will they write the X-Men out of continuity altogether?
The reason for this rumour is because relations aren’t good between Marvel and Fox, and fans feel that Marvel are planning to ‘spite’ Fox in an attempt to knock down the X-Men film franchise. Fortunately, the logic is nonsense; if Marvel stopped selling X-Men comics altogether, it wouldn’t affect Fox’s cinematic performance at all. It’d just mean Marvel Comics weren’t selling as many books. Do we really think Marvel are so stupid?
At the same time, I think the Inhumans will continue to grow in importance. I mean, one of the teasers for ‘Secret Wars’ was entitled ‘Attilan Rising’, and we know from the Battleworld map that Attilan will be sharing space with the 616 and Ultimate versions of Manhattan. But, for all Marvel have entitled a forthcoming book ‘Uncanny Inhumans‘, I really don’t buy that the Inhumans are a threat to the X-Men.
Now, a caveat; the Ultimate Universe has been too free to kill off characters, so I don’t buy for a second that the new continuity will have so many heroes dead. But there’s one key element of Ultimate continuity that Marvel could take, completely transforming the X-Men mythos.
In the Ultimate Universe, mutants are man-made.
None of this ‘Celestial tinkering’ stuff. None of this ‘next step of human evolution’. Mutants are man-made, and this changes the ethics pretty radically. What’s more, Brian Bendis’ ‘All-New X-Men’ is going to great pains to introduce key aspects of the Ultimate Universe, including that mutants are artificial.
Incidentally, Fox have happily mined both 616 and Ultimate Universes for ideas, so before fans speculate I’d point out that this won’t affect the film rights at all.
Remember which comic introduced the ‘All-New’ brand that Marvel are now capitalising upon? And remember that this has been in the works for at least four years, so they likely knew what they were doing?
It’s entirely possible that Marvel will use ‘All-New X-Men’ to relaunch the X-Men’s timeline, with the stories originally centred around just a handful of mutants – the Original Five. The writers lose the convolutions of continuity that have felt like they’re trapping the X-books, and can subtly pay homage as they introduce key characters and concepts that fans recall and that get us wondering how it’s all going to play out this time.
When Wolverine comes along, he’s not the ‘everybody knows him’ character we got fed up of – he’s back to his roots, the loner, the guy struggling to restrain the savage beast. He’s back to the character who was actually popular.
You can see the attraction of this idea.
And the final possibility is that Marvel will simply take this opportunity to streamline X-Men continuity; playing upon both Ultimate and other universes (such as ‘X-Men #92’) to get rid of the junk. On Tumblr, Tom Brevoort’s been dismissive of the idea Jubilee works as a single parent vampire – as he observed, it’s not like fans first came to the character in pursuit of that idea. So at the very least, I reckon Jubilee’s gonna get a reboot, likely in line with ‘X-Men ‘92’. And the complexities of Apocalypse can be abandoned by simply bringing in the world-conquering despot of ‘Age of Apocalypse’, rewriting his continuous ‘death-and-rebirth-loops’.