Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Catching up on comics: Death of X #1-4 review

Mutants. Inhumans. These two groups have had an increasing presence in comics and other media the last decade. The X-Men have staring in movies since 2000, and have had representation on the small screen in assorted cartoons since the early 90's (and one made for TV movie in 1996 focusing on Generation X that I loved). The Inhumans, who have recently appeared in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., will soon appear in their own live action television show and upcoming movie in 2019.

In the current Marvel comics timeline, these two groups are at war! After the destruction of a Terrigen Bomb by Black Bolt, leader of the Inhumans, two separate clouds have been drifting randomly over the Earth. Much like the original Terrigen Mists, the Terrigen Clouds grant anyone with dormant Inhuman genes fantastic new powers. It is discovered not long after that the Terrigen Clouds are poisonous to mutants, not just causing a terrible disease called "m-pox" but also neutralizing the x-gene in humans which would effectively destroy the mutant population in a generation. Because of their need to destroy the Terrigen Clouds, the mutants of the Marvel universe are fighting the Inhumans so that the clouds can be destroyed and future mutantkind preserved. The Inhumans, who rely on the cloud in order to produce more Inhumans, are fighting to save it. This conflict culminates in Inhumans vs. X-men, a seven issue mini series that should wrap up in April.

As a precursor to that, a four issue mini-series dealing with the death of a prominent mutant character and the beginings of the Inhuman/X-man conflict came out entitled Death of X. Today, I'm going to discuss what happened.

In issue one, a squad of X-men fly to Muir Island in response to a distress call sent out from a mutant research facility. The green fog of the Terrigen Cloud has already enveloped the island. Meanwhile, at nearby Matsumoto, Japan, a group of Inhumans are flying above the populace in expectance of the Nu-humans the cloud is about to create. Back on the X-men side of things, they arrive to find that the the entire facility has died while collecting data on the Terrigen Cloud, which is revealed to be the source of the calamity. Cyclops himself passes out from exposure though he soon recovers. Back with the Inhumans, the group comes under attack from Hydra while trying to secure a Nu-human cocoon. During the struggle, the Nu-human "hatches" and reveals he has the ability to cause all non-Inhumans in a rather large radius to fall comatose, unhurt. Cyclops decides as a result of the new information about the Terrigen Cloud, it is time for mutants to go on the offensive and "take care of their own." Crystal, leader of the Inhuman group, states the same thing in response to the Hydra threat. That sets up a dramatic final page where both leaders state their intentions to protect their species.

The writing in the book does an amazing job of keeping a steady pace throughout the four issues. This book existed as a flashback to explain exactly how Cyclops was killed leading up to Inhumans vs. X-men, and white it does provide details and an interesting story, I feel the death of Cyclops from "m-pox" is somehow hollow. It doesn't have the same impact as those who died from the Legacy Virus in the 90's, for instance. It's so quick that there feels to be almost no meaning at all. The same statement applies to his apparent suicide.

As much as I disliked Cyclops in recent years I do feel he deserved something a little more substantial around his demise. What did you guys think of the series? If you haven't read it, despite my spoilers you should seriously check it out. It's a pretty pivotal moment in current Marvel comics stories so it would do you some good to have an idea of what is what. Let me know what you think in the comments below!

In issue two, Storm arrives to New Attilan to deliver the news that the Terrigen Cloud can kill mutants and to gauge Medusa's (Queen of the Inhumans) reaction. Medusa immediately moves to begin protecting mutants in the path of the cloud which satisfies Storm's worry on if the cloud was an intentional attack or not. As Storm begins to leave to help with the Inhuman led mutant evacuation, Cyclops sends a planet wide psychic declaration through Emma Frost that the Terrigen Cloud is lethal to mutants and possibly humans as well. He says that the X-men will strive to protect everyone from the Inhumans and their "weapon". During the projection, the Stepford Sisters see something in Emma Frost's mind but are sworn to secrecy concerning it. The Inhumans head to Madrid, Spain in an effort to divert the cloud and receive some timely support from Storm. Though the crisis with the cloud has passed, a riot in Madrid threatens the lives of all present and the Inhumans and a few X-men led by Storm try to neutralize the rioting. Cyclops and Frost leave for Madrid to confront the Inhumans. Meanwhile, the Nu-human named Downer uses his powers to stop the riot after the Inhumans weigh the consequences of catching the X-men up in the area of effect. The move works, however, and the riot is stopped.

In issue three, Emma Frost is explaining the situation to Magneto by boiling down the Terrigen Cloud into an increase in Inhuman numbers with an equal decrease in mutant numbers. Thanks to a remote viewing of the Madrid riot, she also spins the activity of Downer to stop the riot as a serious threat to mutants since Storm's team was easily dispatched as an afterthought. Just as Storm's team wakes up and Crystal's Inhumans are explaining their actions, Illyana teleports in and kidnaps Downer. Magneto appears immediately afterwards and attacks both groups in an effort to stall them while Cyclops's group begins a plan to attack the Terrigen Cloud with the help of a mutant named Alchemy.

In the midst of the fighting between Storm and Crystal's respective groups, they notice exactly what Cyclops is trying to do. Crystal gets an emergency call out to Medusa to bring her up to speed on the situation and to ask for aid. Medusa appears near where Cyclops and his followers are standing, showing up with Lockjaw, Black Bolt, and others. The attack on the cloud is momentarily stopped by the Inhumans and they discuss their next move. Unfortunately, a new assault on the Terrigen Cloud beings and Medusa's Inhumans are forced to act, though their response arrives too late. As they close in on Cyclops' group, the cloud has already been turned red and Alchemy reveals that he succeeded in neutralizing the Terrigen in the cloud. His actions come at a cost as by doing so he is infected with "m-pox" and quickly dies. As both mutants and Inhumans come to grips with what this new turn could mean, Cyclops confronts Medusa and Black Bolt. Medusa quickly points out that the distruction of the sacred Terrigen mists have made mutants the enemies of the Inhumans forever. Cyclops gives a monologue about his actions and what this will mean for the mutant people and just as he is about to attack Black Bolt with an optic blast, Black Bolt whispers, sending a deadly shockwave that instantly flays Cyclops to pieces.

The issue skips ahead to a week later where Storm is giving a eulogy at Cyclops' funeral. Off to the side, Emma Frost and Cyclops' brother Havoc are discussing the aftermath. Storm as fashioned an uneasy peace with the Inhumans where each group will "live and let live" for now. Havoc confronts Frost about the nature of Cyclops' death, feeling that "death by Black Bolt" doesn't make sense. This causes Emma Frost to reveal the Havoc, and the readers, that it was his initial encounter with the Terrigen Cloud that actually killed Cyclops. The following events transpired by Emma Frost projection an image of Cyclops into the mind of everyone (except the Stepford Sisters) to make everyone think he was alive. The resulting attack on Black Bolt was done so that Cyclops could be come an ideal and a martyr.

1 comment:

  1. As you probably know, this wasn't my favorite. I really hope that the new direction takes them back to a more "Classic" feel.