During the Cup-O-Joe panel at SDCC, Marvel revealed that the inevitable is finally going to happen. This winter, we can expect to see an X-Men event that will bring the X-Men and the Inhumans into head-on collision! What is this event, and why is it happening?
Why Are The X-Men And The Inhumans Going To War?
In the comics, the Terrigen Mist — the mist that triggers an Inhuman's mutation — has been spread across the planet, circling the globe in a cloud that can activate the powers of anyone with an Inhuman gene. It's already been responsible for some phenomenal new superheroes (particularly Kamala Khan's Ms. Marvel), but in the aftermath of "Secret Wars", Marvel revealed a shocking twist.
The Terrigen Mist is toxic to mutants. It triggers an illness known as M-Pox, which appears to cause a mutant's powers to fluctuate — sometimes disappearing, sometimes going out of control. Ultimately, the M-Pox seems to cause death. Worse still, in some unknown way the Terrigen Mist is preventing latent X-genes from activating. In other words, while the Terrigen Mist is circling the globe, the number of new mutants will be dramatically reduced.
We're soon to see an event known as "Death of X," which explores an eight-month time gap between "Secret Wars" and the current status quo. In this time gap, we know that Cyclops will unite the mutants in an unsuccessful attack on the Inhumans. Something he does during this event causes him to become regarded as a bona-fide supervillain, and both he and Emma Frost will be disappearing at the end.
Moving to the present day, Storm has taken as many mutants as she can to a Hellish alternate-dimension known as Limbo, where they can hide out in safety from the Terrigen Mist. Magneto, meanwhile, has taken a more proactive approach, gathering a black-ops team to proactively neutralize any further potential threats to the mutant race. The current Civil War II: X-Men will bring Storm and Magneto into conflict around the new Inhuman Ulysses. Ulysses's ability to foresee the future is one that Magneto fears could easily be turned against the mutant race.
Understandably, relations between the X-Men and the Inhumans are tense. From the little we know, Inhumans Versus X-Men will feature Medusa deciding that the X-Men have to be destroyed in order to preserve the Terrigen Mist. It sounds as though the X-Men have found a way to dispel the Terrigen Mist, which would effectively render the Inhumans extinct. We're left with a classic battle for survival; there's no room for coexistence between these two races.
Why Is Marvel Doing This?
For years, a small but vocal group of X-Men fans have been convinced that the X-Men are being sidelined by Marvel. The argument has always run that Marvel is minimizing the X-Men's importance in the comics as something of a snub to Fox, who retain the film rights. Marvel and Fox have a troubled history, running right the way back to the complex Mutant X lawsuit in the early 2000s, and it's undeniable that there seem to have been issues in terms of merchandise rights. That said, the recent cooperation between Marvel Entertainment and Fox Television has suggested that things may be changing.
The last three or four years have seen a change in the X-Men conspiracy theory, though. With Marvel unable to use the X-Men and mutants as part of the MCU, fans have been watching warily as Marvel ups the profile of the Inhumans. Many X-Men fans have considered the increased profile of the Inhumans to be at the expense of the X-Men, and have treated the two Marvel franchises as competitors.
In the wake of "Secret Wars," Marvel essentially chose to troll this theory by deliberately pitting the X-Men and the Inhumans against one another. That strategy seems to be going to a head in the winter, with Inhumans Versus X-Men.
What Comics Will Be Part Of This Event?
We've already been shown the cover of Inhumans Versus X-Men #1 (written by Jeff Lemire and Charles Soule), but it's too soon to know whether or not this is a core miniseries or simply an "Alpha" issue (there's a tradition of "Alpha" and "Omega" issues in X-Men comics).
In addition, at Marvel's House of Ideas panel, there was a throwaway mention of another book — X-Men / Inhumans: Terrigenocide. This sounds likely to be a miniseries associated with the event and to explore the impact of the Terrigen Mist on mutants worldwide. Given that the current range of X-Men books have given a very confusing and contradictory sense of just how the Terrigen Mist affects mutants, it may be an informative book.
Marvel is pitching Inhumans Versus X-Men as an event in which only one race can survive. I seriously doubt that's the case, though — the X-Men are a powerful (and still successful) comic book franchise, while the Inhumans are rising stars. I don't know how a compromise can be reached in so dramatic a situation, but it's going to be interesting to find out...