First, here’s this.
I’m not totally caught up on the latest goings-on in Marvel’s comic universe (I just finished reading a bunch of the stuff related to Axis about a week ago; Secret Wars isn’t even on my radar yet), but I do know that there’s a big time skip coming up where the editors are going to shake up the status quo. I was briefly concerned about the state of the X-Men (what with the streamlining of continuities that happened with Battleworld), as there was some speculation that Marvel might nix them from regular continuity in favor of the Inhumans. Once Axel Alonso, Marvel’s Editor-In-Chief, reassured everyone that the X-Men and mutant related properties wouldn’t be disappearing from main continuity, I felt some relief. As awkward as it can be to make mutants and their surrounding difficulties logically fit in a world that has hundreds of super-powered people who don’t get discriminated against, the X-Men have been a part of Marvel’s universe since the ’60s. It feels like something would be lost if they were translated to a different continuity where they don’t have the Avengers and other publicly lauded super groups to play off of.
But I’m starting to rethink that relief since the previews for the new flagship X-book, Extraordinary X-Men has a scene where Storm explains that the Inhumans’ latest batch of Terrigen Mists is not only toxic to mutants (what the what?) but also sterilizes them (what the double what?).
You know that persistent speculation that people do about Marvel trying to replace mutants with Inhumans in the comics as a way of undermining Fox’s competing movie universe? Choosing to make it so that the Inhumans are directly responsible for mutants’ decline in universe doesn’t help reduce that kind of talk. Essentially, the metanarrative that a lot of people have embraced regarding Marvel’s creative decisions is about to become actual narrative.
While I try to accept narrative developments in X-Men comics with equanimity most of the time, this point doesn’t sit well with me. It might be better if it were actually a new creative direction, but mutant genocides have happened twice before as markers of major creative shifts (the first was the destruction of Genosha by Sentinels at the start of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run, and the second was Wanda Maximoff’s curse on mutants following the House of M event). In Morrison’s case, Genosha was a one off event that set the stage for a new vision of mutants as an established minority in the Marvel universe with their own subculture; the X-Men flourished following that move. With M-Day, things shifted the status quo for mutants from thriving subculture to endangered species; it wasn’t my favorite development, but it did produce some interesting storylines in the decade that followed. When Avengers vs. X-men (for all of its narrative faults) concluded with mutants getting jumpstarted by the Phoenix Force, I was actually quite pleased to be able to put that chapter of X-Men history in the past.
Now it’s three years later in publishing time, and Marvel’s getting ready to start the endangered species thing all over again, but with the company’s new favorite outcasts being the source of the strife, and a huge cash cow in the form of its movie universe looming in the background as a reminder that X-Men don’t get to play with the rest of Marvel’s properties on the big screen.
Maybe the X-Men should just get split off into their own continuity. At least then we won’t have to deal with all these zero-sum predicaments that seem to be so clearly driven by commerce instead of storytelling.