Has Storm brewed up her last bolt of lightning? Is Cyclops finished brooding behind his ruby quartz visor? Have the stars in Hank McCoy’s garter finally stopped shining?
Are the X-Men on their way out of the Marvel Universe?
Could be. And it starts with Marvel Comics’ Inhumans vs. X-Men, a six-issue limited series debuting this winter (though the seeds for this transformation were sowed quite some time ago).
Inhumans Are Pushing Mutants Out Of The Main Marvel Universe
Why are the mutants and the quasi-mutants going toe-to-toe? Turns out Terrigen Mists — an ancient Kree chemical cloud that is presently traversing the world and igniting the powers of potential Inhumans — is deadly to the X-Men. The mists have also rendered them sterile, meaning no more new mutants in the Marvel Universe.
So you can see why Storm, Ice-Man, Beast and the rest might have a beef with Black Bolt, Medusa, Ms. Marvel and the other Inhumans you can’t quite remember.
And while it would seem like this series is just the latest comic event written to move books, it may actually set up a situation in which our X-Men are pushed out of the Marvel Universe forever (or as long as forever is in comic books these days).
How would Marvel do this? And why? Let’s take a look.
Mutants And Inhumans Are Two Peas In A Crowded Pod
In a way, Marvel wrote themselves into a corner when the publisher decided to bring Inhumans to the forefront. The alien-DNA enhanced humans bear a striking resemblance to their mutant cousins. Humans with altered DNA that can turn them into heroes, monsters, madmen or some combination of the three.
For the casual comic book reader, this causes all kinds of confusion.
But Marvel kinda sorta had to do this. Without cinematic rights to its merry mutants, Marvel Studios couldn’t tell stories of the misunderstood mutant kind. It needed a proxy, and the Inhumans were it.
And though Marvel and Fox have weaved a television alliance with Legion, it’s still likely a long time before the two studios start sharing cinematic characters.
For this reason, the Inhumans have to stay. The X-Men, unfortunately, need to find a new place to live.
Why Not A New Universe? It Would Return The X-Men To Its Roots
Look, the X-Men have been through a lot in the last five decades. Dark Phoenix, the Age of Apocalypse, House of M, the Death of Wolverine, and a big fat battle with the Avengers. There’s a whole lot of baggage there. The whole population needs a bit of a refresh.
Plus, with hundreds of super-powered people doing all manner of super-powered things in the main Marvel Universe, it’s getting hard to believe everyday humans would still have it out for mutants.
How do you justify fearing a race that looks just like the race many are aspiring to be? With the Inhumans around, mutant stories (and Inhuman stories, for that matter) must work harder to build a suspension of disbelief.
If the X-Men were shunted to a parallel world with a parallel history — but one in which only mutants have powers — creators can return to stories about fear and loathing, discrimination and difference, acceptance and understanding.
In a word, we’d get our old X-Men back, in a world we haven’t yet explored.
It Gives The Fantastic Four Someplace To Be
Another bold prediction: The Fantastic Four transport the X-Men to this new world. And the Fantastic Four stay there.
Well, some of the Fantastic Four, anyway.
At the end of Marvel’s Secret Wars, we learn that Reed and Franklin Richards, along with the Molecule Man’s help, are creating new universes to replace those destroyed by the multiverse crushing incursions (you’re going to have to read the books).
Reed, now wielding the power of the Beyonders, could learn of the X-Men’s plight. After all, Beast was a fellow Illuminati member. And you know Beast could find a way to contact Reed.
Wanting to save the lives of his fellow heroes, Reed, Franklin and the Molecule Man could create that parallel universe — the one without Inhumans and heroes. The one where mutants can thrive and grow. (No doubt still hated by the humans surrounding them — an unexpected glitch, maybe.)
This act could create an opening for some of the Fantastic Four to reappear in regular comics. We haven't seen Reed, Sue, and the kids for some time. Maybe they decide it's time to take a break and settle down on this new world — one that’s so much like home.
Now The Comics Would Align With Marvel’s Cinematic World
We’ve all speculated the rise of the Inhumans in Marvel Comics and the Marvel Cinematic Universe occurred because Marvel Studios doesn’t have the cinematic rights to the X-Men characters. Wolverine, Deadpool and Professor X battle on Fox’s silver screen.
If the comic book X-Men move to their own universe, it aligns more closely with its cinematic counterpart. And as Marvel and Fox become cozier bedfellows, the walls between those universes will start to fall down.
Plus, this growing shared interest and collaboration drives Marvel to reinvigorate its mutant lineup. For a while, there was lots of talk that the X-Men would disappear completely, because Marvel Studios wasn't reaping enough mutant movie business (plus some rumored executive rivalries).
Now, if Marvel and Fox are striking some accord, similar to Marvel and Sony, the comics line might want to feature, or follow, the cinematic world a little closer.
It also allows the Inhumans to take a more prominent role in the main Marvel Universe without the X-Men interfering. Readers will understand why Beast isn’t on an Avengers team. He doesn’t exist in the 616. So Black Bolt joins. And Black Bolt can join the cinematic universe Avengers as well.
The shift, then, makes everything feel congruent.
Settle Them On A Familiar Earth
What universe will they populate? My guess is a planet destroyed during the incursions, reconstructed by Reed for our merry mutants: Earth X.
Earth X, as you may remember, was a limited series that explored a dystopian world on which everyone had superpowers. It wondered how heroes and villains would react when the playing field was truly leveled.
In a way, using Earth X is a little meta, too. The 616 is littered with heroes these days, like the world in Earth X. And now this new Earth X is everything but that: A world that knows no heroes — until the X-Men arrive.
Finally, giving Professor X and his gang a place where they can stretch their wings (and other mutant parts) without getting in the way of other heroes is the way to go. It will allow creators to tell better stories, rejuvenate the X-Men and give casual readers (many of whom only know the movies) a congruent Marvel experience.
Plus, there would now be a place for even the most unusual mutants to call home:
What do you think about Marvel giving the X-Men their own universe?