Today, X-Men fans finally got their first real taste of the state of mutant affairs in the All-New All-Different Marvel Universe! The problem is, the reading experience was left slightly confusing in that both Uncanny X-Men #600 – much anticipated, with some irritation – and Extraordinary X-Men #1 were released on the same day, and they showed a very different state of affairs. So what’s happened between the two books?
First you have to understand how the All-New All-Different Marvel Universe works. For the last few years, Jonathan Hickman has been building up a story of universes colliding, of realities being destroyed; ultimately, matters came to a head in “Secret Wars”, with the destruction of the entire Multiverse. We don’t yet know how “Secret Wars” will pan out, but we do know that the Marvel Universe will be restored (albeit with a few additions, such as Miles Morales, the Regent, Weirdworld, and the Maker). It looks extremely likely that the end scenes of the Marvel Universe, such as Captain America and Iron Man fighting to the death, will be completely retconned somehow. We won’t know until December, when Secret Wars #9 comes out.
Rather than just pick up where they’ve left off, though, Marvel have chosen to commit to a time-jump. The entire Marvel Universe has jumped forward eight months. So for the X-Men, there’s an eight-month time-jump between Uncanny X-Men #600 (based before “Secret Wars”) and Extraordinary X-Men #1.
Uncanny X-Men #600 closes off with a message of hope, as Cyclops unites the mutants of the world for a ‘revolution’. Extraordinary X-Men #1 shows a mutant race on the verge of extinction once again, hunted and persecuted, and with Cyclops missing.
So what happened in the time between those two books?
During the “Infinity” event, the Inhuman monarch Black Bolt released the Terrigen Mists across the world. The Terrigen Mists are the source of the Inhumans’ powers, triggering a form of mutation in anyone with Inhuman genes – or, we’ve since seen, with Inhuman ancestry. These Mists have swept across the planet; although they were released in the Northern Hemisphere, they’ve also gotten to the Southern. Wherever they’ve gone, those with Inhuman potential have been transformed.
We now know that the Mists have another impact – a very dangerous one. If someone has a mutant gene (the ‘X’-gene of comic book lore), then the Mists are a poison. Direct exposure leaves you desperately ill, comatose and dying. We saw this in Avengers #0, where Rogue was in a pretty bad way after flying into a bank of Terrigen Mists in order to rescue some mutants. Worse still, there have been references to an ‘M-Pox’, as though an affected mutant is somehow infectious.
This is where Cyclops comes in. It seems that he perceived the Terrigen Mists as some sort of attack upon the mutant race, and he launched a counter-attack upon the Inhumans. Although it was unsuccessful, the brawl brought the mutant race into further disrepute, and Cyclops’ current status is unknown. In Uncanny Inhumans #1, though, Beast mentioned that Cyclops’ followers are still out there, and still share his perspective.
Storm and Beast took different approaches. Beast approached the Inhumans, and they agreed to allow him to study the Terrigen Mists. Avengers #0 implies that the Mists themselves can be used on a mutant to mitigate the effect of exposure, as Rogue’s treatment seemed dependent on Deadpool’s obtaining a sample of the Mists.
Storm, meanwhile, took as many mutants as she could to safety, to an unknown location known as X-Haven. From there, she began a campaign of rescuing mutants from this poisonous world, especially as first mobs and now military forces begin to actively hunt and kill mutants, for fear of the M-Pox.
One final sickening twist of the knife: Beast has discovered that the Terrigen Mists are making mutants sterile. No new mutants will ever be born; no new X-genes will ever be triggered.
And that is where we find ourselves at the beginning of Extraordinary X-Men #1. The fate of the mutants can be learned through reading both X-Men and Inhuman comics, a twist that not every X-Men fan will take too kindly to. It’s an intriguingly ‘meta’ idea, though, and one that looks set to generate some interesting twists…