…X-Men Forever

This post comes from G. Kendall who began his blog Not Blog X to answer a simple question: Were X-Men comics in the ’90s as bad as you think?  The focus eventually began to shift to all mainstream comics from the ’90s, leading him to review everything from Spider-Man’s clone saga to the Archie TMNT series.  Over the years his site has been linked on major comics sites like CBR, The Comics Journal, Newsarama and even the New York Times’ pop culture blog.  Amazingly, ’90s comics haven’t killed him yet, but they have tried very hard at times.

X-Men Forever debuted in 2009 as the latest Chris Claremont X-project. The premise was simple but also intriguing: what if Claremont never left the X-Men in 1991? Claremont’s abrupt departure from the X-Men titles after his historic run of over fifteen years seemed unthinkable to the core fan base at the time. Now, years later, readers had a chance to see what could, or if you’re a certain type of fan, should have happened next.

X-Men 01 1991Hopes were high, but as soon as the preview pages for X-Men Forever #1 were released, Internet Outrage had officially begun. The next chronological issue of Claremont’s run would’ve been X-Men (vol. 2) #4, an early entry in the “merged team” era of the titles that featured an X-Men cast consisting of over a dozen characters. The teams were divided into Blue and Gold squads, with each squad receiving a separate title dedicated to their exploits. X-Men Forever #1 opens with no Blue or Gold squads, just a single group of X-Men that’s missing several established members of the team, circa Claremont’s final issue.

A logical assumption can be made that the other cast members are on a mission and that Claremont never intended for the Blue and Gold squads to have static line-ups. Not that these words were ever spoken aloud in the series, of course, but it’s a painless No-Prize explanation. But, there is a larger problem for the continuity-minded reader. Shadowcat and Nightcrawler, two characters written off years earlier to appear in the British-themed spinoff Excalibur, are now members of the team. A line or two indicates that Excalibur still exists, but what are these two characters doing here? How could this possibly be the X-Men (vol. 2) #4 the readers never got to see?

X-Men_Forever_1_coverThe real reason: a decision was made at some point in the development of X-Men Forever to keep the cast relatively small and not to dwell on every character who should hypothetically be an X-Man. That means around half of the cast is dropped, and two of Claremont’s favorite characters that he hasn’t used in ages pop up as new/old members of the team. Broadly speaking, this is a defensible position, even though the cast will soon balloon out of control with characters that weren’t X-Men in 1991. The execution, however, undermines the premise of the series. X-Men Forever #1 is clearly not the next issue of the Claremont canon, and the questions raised from the awkward transition are never adequately addressed.

Magneto memorialLet’s find a way to get to the starting place of X-Men Forever #1 without causing any continuity headaches. How would I fix the questions of who should be where? I’ll begin with the cast as it exists in X-Men Forever #1: Xavier, Cyclops, Wolverine, Rogue, Nightcrawler, Beast, Storm, Jean Grey, Gambit, and Shadowcat. Nightcrawler and Shadowcat are in America for Magneto’s memorial service, as established in X-Men Forever Alpha, and are now considering rejoining the team. Fair enough. Who is missing at this point, following X-Men (vol. 2) #3? Colossus, Iceman, Archangel, and Psylocke haven’t been accounted for. Plus, the mansion’s support staff, Banshee and Forge, is missing. We can’t forget Jubilee, who was last seen in the Muir Island Saga storyline. Her whereabouts during X-Men (vol. 2) #1-3 remain unknown. Future issues of X-Men Forever hint that Psylocke has joined Excalibur, and we later discover that Colossus has returned to Russia to work as a government-sanctioned superhero. Fair enough, again. But that leaves no explanation for Iceman, Archangel, Banshee, Forge, and Jubilee. Where could they have disappeared between issues?

My solution: Australia. Specifically, the deserted outback town populated by the X-Men from Uncanny X-Men #229-#251.

Australian BaseWhen last seen in Chris Claremont’s canon (Uncanny X-Men #269), the X-Men’s outback base had been overtaken by the Reavers. The last X-Man at the location was Rogue, who emerged in her old room after using the Siege Perilous to escape Master Mold. The rest of the X-Men were gone, following the events of Uncanny X-Men #251, which had Psylocke tricking the other team members to disappear through the Siege Perilous in order to avoid a fatal battle with the Reavers. Rogue found herself in enemy territory, fleeing from the Reavers. She promised Gateway that she would find the X-Men and return to help him, as she absorbed his powers and teleported far away. That’s a promise that subsequent writers quickly forgot.

Rogue - Master Mold269-GatewayThe next time we see the outback base in the mainstream continuity (Uncanny X-Men #281,) Gateway is still a prisoner of the Reavers. The X-Men have found the time to defeat the Shadow King, reassemble the team with the members of X-Factor, and rebuild their mansion in Salem Center. But, they never got around to helping poor Gateway. What if, in the Forever continuity, Rogue didn’t forget about her promise? I posit that after the united X-teams battle with the Shadow King, Rogue explains the situation in the outback to her teammates. Their response would not be to sit around and do nothing. It would be an all-out mutant assault on the Reavers! Gateway is rescued, the Reavers are defeated, and the X-Men have control of their former base once again.

What if the months spent rebuilding the mansion were also spent reclaiming the Australian base? So, where did Iceman, Archangel, Banshee, and Forge disappear to? They split their time between Salem Center and Australia, thanks to Gateway’s teleportation powers. What are they doing there? My theory is that they’re training the next generation of young mutants. That’s where Jubilee’s been the entire time: she is the first student of the All-New, All-Secret Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters.

While the school in Salem Center is in fact a home for well-educated adults, the real Xavier school is in a secret ghost town in Australia. What better place to hide the next generation of mutants from a world that fears and hates them? The geography is almost impossible to reach, protecting the school from intruders, while Gateway’s teleportation powers grant easy access for the mutants to travel to any location they wish. The school in Salem Center can be the cover, the public face of the school, while the students are actually in the safest possible location.

Now, you might ask why Xavier himself isn’t in Australia training these mutants. I have two rebuttals. One: the precedent set in the mainstream continuity is that Xavier stays with the adult X-Men in Salem Center while Banshee (with Emma Frost) trains the neophyte mutants in Generation X. It is plausible that a group of X-Men, including Banshee, would be chosen to head up the new, secret school in the outback. Two: who is to say Xavier isn’t teaching these kids? He could reach them telepathically, or travel there at any time thanks to Gateway’s powers. Just because we never saw the events on-panel doesn’t mean they couldn’t have happened. It’s not as if we ever saw the mansion being rebuilt, either.

With the Australian base reintroduced into the series, Claremont has the option to finally resolve all of the danglers relating to Gateway and the outback ghost town. He would not have to shift the focus of the series to this location, but he could throw an occasional storyline towards the “B-team” while also giving the readers the answers he teased decades ago. If anyone is going to unlock the secrets of the Australian base, wouldn’t Forge be the most likely contender?

I can’t speak for what Claremont had in mind for the Australian base, but he certainly planted enough clues following its introduction Uncanny X-Men #229 to indicate that he had some elaborate plans for the future.  (As I’ve mentioned earlier, this site has the most comprehensive list of the danglers and possible resolutions I’ve ever read.)  Why is the computer system seemingly alive?  Why is it exempt from Roma’s spell of invisibility?  Who built the tunnels underneath the town?  What’s Gateway’s connection to the land?  What’s Gateway’s history with the Reavers?  As cryptically hinted in the letters page – why would the full truth behind Gateway cost the X-Men dearly?  Perhaps after some of the answers are revealed, we’ll discover this isn’t the best place to be training teenage mutants.  But would the X-Men discover this information in time?

xterminatorsAre all of these X-Men traveling across the globe for the sake of educating one mutant? Of course not! There are plenty of unclaimed mutants at this point in continuity that could be potential recruits. The X-Terminators are still around, leaving Wiz Kid, Artie, and Leech as potential students. X-Men (vol. 2) #1-3 has already been established as predating Uncanny X-Men #281. That means it could conceivably take place before X-Force #4 as well. X-Force #4 had Siryn joining the team. But, had she been reached by Xavier sooner, it is entirely possible that she would have joined Jubilee in the outback. That’s one more student. Rictor and Wolfsbane are unaccounted for during this period, with Rictor abandoning the New Mutants in order to “rescue” Wolfsbane in Genosha. Shouldn’t the X-Men take care of something like this? And, while we’re at it, wouldn’t the former members of X-Factor be interested in rescuing Rusty and Skids from the MLF? See, there’s an entire student body waiting to be taught at this location.

It’s a simple solution, and it’s a shame X-Men Forever never gave the readers an explanation like this. It’s an easy, one sentence justification for shuffling any unwanted character from this era off the stage. “Where’s Iceman?! I know he was an X-Man at this point!” “Australia.” There. Done! Not only does this solution ease the transition from the original continuity to the Forever continuity, but it leaves several doors open for new stories. It also gives Claremont an opportunity to resolve storylines he was never able to finish in his original run; i.e., what the audience expected from the title in the first place.

…The Dane Curse?

Figure 00

When Polaris was introduced it was revealed that she was Magneto’s daughter, firstly by Mesmero in X-Men #50…

Figure 01

…and then by the master of magnetism himself in X-Men #51.

Figure 02

In X-Men #52 Iceman suggests that both villains had lied and that Lorna’s parents had actually died and she had been adopted by her father’s sister and brother-in-law…

Figure 03

… further supported by the revelation in X-Men #58 that the Magneto who partnered with Mesmero and claimed to be her father had actually been a robot.

Figure 04

Figure 05

And that was pretty much the state of affairs for the next thirty plus years, until a convoluted series of stories in recent years which have stupidly revealed Lorna’s mother apparently having had an affair with the self-styled master of magnetism, making her Magneto’s daughter after all.

But that’s not the end of the matter.

In Astonishing Tales #3, we were introduced to a character named Zaladane who was a priestess of the sun god, Garokk, and a member of his tribe of Savage Land followers.

Figure 06

After floating around in the background for over a decade, playing a small role as Garokk’s high priestess, Chris Claremont brought her forward into the spotlight, initially in Uncanny X-Men Annual #12 where the High Evolutionary introduced her to Havok as his assistant Zala…

Figure 07a

…during his plot to restore the then barren Savage Land to its former state during the Evolutionary War.

Figure 07b

She came face to face with the X-Man Havok during this time, who found her strangely familiar looking.

Figure 07c

Zaladane remained out of most of the action fighting in this Annual, content with the power that had become hers as the High Evolutionary’s second-in-command.  However it was at this point she began her association with the Savage Land Mutates.

Figure 07d

Claremont then follows this story up with a two-part storyline in Uncanny X-Men #249-250 (“The Dane Curse”) with Zaladane as the main villain, having Lorna Dane captured…

Figure 08a

…and brought to the Savage Land…

Figure 08b

…where her real name is not only revealed as Zala Dane…

Figure 08c

…but she addresses Lorna as her long-lost sister whom she has “searched the world for”.

Figure 08d

In the following issue she uses the High Evolutionary’s Transmutator, a machine capable of transferring superpowers from one individual to a genetically compatible match, to steal Lorna’s magnetic powers and graft them onto herself.

It is also here that Havok can’t help but notice a family resemblance between the two.

Figure 09b

But Polaris obviously had no clue about Zaladane being her sister since she showed as much surprise as readers at the suggestion.

Figure 09c

However, a few issues later, in Uncanny X-Men #254, Lorna makes it to Muir Island where Moira MacTaggert checks her over carefully and asserts that Zaladane “must” have been some sort of close relative for the power transfer to have worked.

Figure 10

While we know from X-Men #52 that Lorna was actually adopted by her aunt, fans have used this to suggest that Zaladane was her aunt’s daughter and therefore Lorna’s cousin, who had acquired her aunt’s married surname.

However, in terms of genetics first cousins have 12.5% of each other’s genes (implying, inversely, that 87.5% of their genes are different), whereas siblings have 50% of their genes in common with one another.

Figure 11

So these hints Claremont adds, particularly Moira’s comments, would all seem to point to him intending Zaladane to be Lorna Dane’s sister, and not her cousin.

Claremont has Zaladane return eighteen months later, in Uncanny X-Men #274, trying to steal Magneto’s powers as well…

Figure 12a

…though she was ultimately defeated and killed.

Figure 12b

Again fans’ theories claim that if her power-stealing technique was workable at all with Magneto, this was meant to be a heavy hint on Claremont’s part that Zaladane, Polaris, and Magneto were in fact all closely related. In recent years this has led to the whole long-discredited assertion about Lorna being Magneto’s daughter being dusted off and not only waved in our faces by Chuck Austen, who is on record as having been the worst writer on any core X-title in history, but made established continuity by Peter David.

However, I would argue that Claremont did not mean to hint at this at all, and here’s why!

During his swan song, in X-Men #2, he had made a big deal that Moira MacTaggert had taken genetic samples from Magneto after he had been reverted to infancy in an attempt to cure the instability in his central nervous system caused by his manipulation of the Earth’s magnetic field which had been responsible for his becoming a villain.

Figure 13a

Moira was too thorough to have not cross-referenced Lorna’s DNA during her countless periods on Muir Isle with those she had of Magnus’s, particularly after claims during her introduction as his daughter.

Figure 13b

Nevertheless, Claremont’s first run on Uncanny X-Men ended not long after this, so we never discovered his plans for the true familial connection between Polaris and Zaladane.

If Lorna is her long-lost sister, however, one can adduce that Zala’s father was similarly the sister of the couple that adopted Lorna.

But despite general fan consensus, this is not the only clue we have.

That is, there is one additional clue which has been RIGHT THERE since Zaladane’s introduction…

…the meaning of her name…

While it initially seemed to be an insignificant, arbitrary collection of syllables, upon further analysis one finds the last syllable “dane” means “valley dweller” which could suggest her and Lorna’s ancestors originate from a valley.

Where that valley could be is anyone’s guess until one looks to Zala’s first name which means “beautiful” in Slovene.  So her full name would mean “beautiful valley dweller” (certainly NOT out of the realm of possibility for parents to name their daughter).

This leads to the question: Is there a “valley” in the Balkan region that has been the setting of any stories, or identified as the birthplace of any characters, within the Marvel Universe?

Well not necessarily, until one considers the valley that shared a western border with Yugoslavia which Slovene was considered to be part of at the time of both characters’ introductions.

This valley was below Wundagore Mountain, and was otherwise known as Transia!

Figure 14a

Figure 14b

Figure 14c

So might this suggest that Transia was the birthplace of either siblings, or at least their parents?

And if their parents ARE from Transia, might they already be established characters in the Marvel Universe?

While there are perhaps a number of famous candidates for their father, it would seem unlikely that it is Phillip Masters, the Fantastic Four supervillain known as the Puppet Master, since after marrying Alicia’s mother, the couple went on to have NO children of their own.

Figure 14d

One could argue the same for Django and Marya Maximoff as they were already accounted for as parents, having adopted the twins Wanda and Pietro, otherwise known as the Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver, from the High Evolutionary after the their mother Magda’s disappearance.

Figure 14ei

That leaves the High Evolutionary himself, Herbert Wyndham.

Figure 14f

But while he knew who Zaladane was when he engaged her as his lab assistant during the Evolutionary War, he did NOT appear to show any paternal instinct toward her.  It is interesting that he DID show paternal feelings at this time to Alex Summers though, the boyfriend of Lorna Dane.  In addition, his surname is not “Dane”.  However, given the fabrications Wanda and Pietro were told with regard to their own biological origins, he could very well have paid Lorna’s adopted parents to change their surname to “Dane” and take on the youngster.

But more on this later, since for now I wish to turn to their mother, a character for whom there was no mention made before the end of Claremont’s first run.

Since Lorna is blissfully unaware of her true origins, to investigate this question I feel we need to look more to Zaladane who was at least aware she had a sister, and for some time apparently given her claim in Uncanny X-Men #249 that she had been searching “the world for you, dear sister”.

Very little was known about the past of Zaladane by the end of Claremont first run.  While not a native of the Savage Land, the circumstances and timing of her arrival in the prehistoric land hidden within Antarctica have yet to be revealed.

One thing is clear though, the dark-haired beauty was mad for power.

So is this a trait she inherited from one of her parents…

…her mother perhaps?!

It is interesting to note that Claremont penned another story closely similar in its attempt to resolve a familial connection back in 1982.  I’m speaking about where he brings the Viper into the pages of Spider-Woman from issue #42, having Jessica interfering with her operations, during which time several characters note the remarkable similarity between the two women.  In her private thoughts Claremont repeatedly has Viper lament over how much she loved Jessica, even while outwardly demanding her death.

Figure 15a

The “truth” then comes in issue #44 that the terrorist, and all-around nihilist, had been possessed 50 years earlier on Mount Wundagore by Chthon who had planned to use her in an unexplained way to free him from his arcane prison within the mount.  But for some reason the demon-spirit found some flaw within Viper that put an end to his being able to use her to end his extradimensional exile.

Figure 15b

Less than a year later J.M. Dematteis retcons Viper being Spider-Woman’s mother in Captain America #281, revealing that Morgan Le Fay had actually implanted her with false memories that she had mothered Jessica on behalf of Chthon.

Figure 16

With his plot nixed, did Claremont then decide to carry it on through the mystery of Lorna and Zaladane’s unrevealed origins?

If so, I’d suggest he would reveal that Viper’s memories weren’t entirely false and Chthon had not implanted the memory of her being a mother but instead the identity of whom she and her daughter had been.

But why the Drews…

To answer this, we perhaps need to go back to why Viper was on Mount Wundagore in the first place, and what of her background up to Claremont leaving had been.

Throughout Viper’s career as a terrorist, in her Marvel comic appearances, she had consistently been shown to use neurotoxins and haemotoxins derived from reptiles.

Figure 17a

Figure 17b

Figure 17c

Figure 17d

But she had never been shown to employ anyone to produce these on her behalf.

This would seem to suggest she had an innate understanding of toxins which may suggest she was secretly an accomplished biochemist herself.

So I’d suggest it works something like this…

After surviving her family’s murder during an unnamed revolution in Europe, the woman who would become Viper came to settle in the valley below Mount Wundagore, Transia.  But while she had escaped with her life, I would posit that the scarring she sustained on the right side of her face was a result of being raped while crossing the border which resulted in her becoming pregnant.

Figure 18

As for when, I’d suggest that it coincided with Jonathon Drew’s departure from Mount Wundagore after the 6th century sorcerer, Magnus, relinquished control of his body after successfully re-binding Chthon within the mountain once again.

Figure 19a

This was in 1958.

But Spider-Woman #44 revealed Viper had been possessed fifty years earlier by Chthon which, since the issue was set in 1982, would mean she arrived on Mount Wundagore as far back as 1932.  However, no revolutions in Europe occurred just prior to this time, the closest being the Klaipėda Revolt which took place in 1923 in Prussia and approximately 1,200kms from Transia.

I’d instead argue that Chthon had lied about how long he’d controlled Viper for and she had in fact arrived in Transia toward the end of Magnus and the High Evolutionary’s Knights of Wundagore’s campaign against the demon-spirit.

Figure 19b

If so, the most likely revolution Viper had escaped with her life from is the Hungarian Revolution.

So she arrives in Transia with a young daughter, and is perhaps even witness to the battle.

She struggles to make ends meet after escaping her home and, with an additional mouth to feed in the form of her young daughter, she takes to a life of petty crime such as stealing which continues when she arrives in the valley of Transia.

After settling in the village, she hears rumours of a tower of marvels and thinks she’s hit the payload.  And so it is not long before she makes her way up the mount to break into the High Evolutionary’s “Tower”.

Figure 20a

However, she is discovered by his New Men, who bring her before their master.

Figure 20b

But instead of turning her over to the village’s authorities, he is struck by her appearance and so begins further conversation with her.  Discovering she has an innate flair for biochemistry he encourages her to move into the citadel with her daughter, Zala, and takes her under his wing, having her eventually fill Jonathon’s role as his laboratory assistant.

Having not previously used his Genetic Accelerator on reptiles due to his concern about how aggressive a fully grown Serpent-Man might become, he entrusts her to begin researching how this issue might be overcome.

During their time working together the two fall in love, get married in the citadel and Viper goes on to become pregnant with their daughter.

Unbeknownst to Herbert though, she co-opts the study she has been tasked with to develop a serum derived from reptilian cells to heal the scarring on the right side of her face.  Since the mountain is abundant with vipers (specifically vipera ammodytes which are native to the Balkan region), they become the specimens she exploits for her experiments.  But after countless efforts she is unable to fully ameliorate her facial disfigurement.  However, she does develop a deep affinity for the viper (her studies of
them leading to her becoming an expert in neurotoxins and haemotoxins).

Still tormented by her facial scarring though…

Figure 21a

…she becomes distant from Herbert, obsessed with resolving it.  Due to scientific efforts
being unable to resolve it for her, she recalls her arrival in the village and the battle with Chthon and Herbert recounting how young Jessica’s father, Jonathon, had used the Darkhold to rebind the demon-spirit after Baron Russoff, their neighbour, had used it to attempt to release him.

Figure 21b

One night, telling Herbert she is after additional specimens for her studies, she instead makes her way to Russoff’s castle and, using her skills learned while on the run, breaks in and steals the Darkhold.  She then performs the book’s Spell of Ascension but some flaw within her prevents Chthon from being able to break free from his Earthly prison.

As for what the flaw in Viper is, I’d suggest it is connected to the serpent serum she used on herself in her efforts to cure her facial scarring.  That is, since the serum she injects herself with is derived from vipers living around Mount Wundagore, I would posit that the snakes have been irradiated by the same mineral that similarly binds Chthon within the mountain.  However, while the large mineral stores in Wundagore were previously believed to be uranium, I’d posit they are in fact vibranium (in line with my Grand Unified Vibranium Theory and I’ll explain why further down).

But Viper does succeed in summoning the demon-spirit and begs him to cure her facial scarring.  He agrees to only if she hands over the daughter she currently carries (i.e. Lorna) once born, which in desperation she agrees to.  But as most deals with demons
go, and while her scarring vanishes, she doesn’t quite get what she bargained for.

The spell over, Viper returns to the “Tower” where she is supported by Herbert and Bova to give birth; but upon doing so the demon appears in the birthing chamber to claim baby Lorna as his own.

Sensing Chthon, the sorcerer Magnus returns from the spirit-world once more and this time enters the High Evolutionary, using Herbert’s armoured body to protect Lorna and bear her to a chamber in the citadel where he exposes the infant to a sample of vibranium from the Earth surrounding the mountain.  This immediately protects the child from Chthon’s attempted possession, and it has the additional outcome of turning her hair momentarily green (which occurs again, but this time permanently, when her magnetic powers manifest).

The immediate threat of Chthon having passed, Magnus leaves Herbert’s body but not before explaining to him what has occurred and how vibranium deposits from the surrounds of Mount Wundagore, but not the core, act as a deterrent to the demon.

Since Chthon is unable to claim Lorna, the bargain defaults immediately to Viper who he goes on to possess and when Herbert goes to comfort her she suddenly becomes cold, aloof, distant and detached toward him.  From now on she has no free will and her sole existence is that she will be employed as his puppet, the demon forcing her to carry out his bidding while still retaining a sliver of true humanity in the back of her mind.

As Chthon’s first act in possession of Viper’s body, he compels her to open a portal to his prison using the black orb he has replaced her right eye (similarly damaged when her face was scarred from her assault during the Hungarian Revolution) after Magnus has relinquished control of the High Evolutionary’s body so he can be sent to his domain.

Figure 22

But Herbert manages to overpower her once he dons his armour.  Upset, but similarly enraged that his wife is now beyond his reach and the fact that she was willing to sacrifice their daughter to the demon, he banishes her from the citadel.  While refusing to let her take Lorna he is unable to stop her from taking the older Zala with her.

And so it is Viper leaves Mount Wundagore and the village of Transia with daughter Zala, going on to become agent of Hydra and eventual international terrorist.

Figure 23

Worried that Viper will be compelled by Chthon to eventually return for young Lorna, the High Evolutionary decides it much safer if he adopts her out as he had done with the children of Magneto.  But he decides much further away is necessary this time.  He seeks the counsel of his dear friend Jonathon Drew who approaches his sister who lives in New Haven, Connecticut with her husband who were unable to have children of their own.  Believing it is better to hide her in plain sight, Herbert and Jonathon decide it is best Lorna goes by the surname of her mother and sister, which is Dane, believing if Viper does decide to hunt Lorna down she is unlikely to look for a family with her own surname.  Their plot hatched, Herbert organises the paperwork so Drew’s sister and her husband become “Dane’s” after which they to move from New Haven to prevent anyone drawing conclusions that she has been placed her relatives of Jonathon.  And so it is that Jonathon’s sister and her husband move to southern California where they go on to raise young Lorna.

Over the years Chthon’s hold on Viper begins to weaken, and in the back of her mind she begins developing a desire to be reunited with her daughter/s.

Figure 24

Chthon is not happy about the idea, though, given his inability to possess the siblings due to their relative exposure to vibranium.

Also, in addition to realising he’ll be unable to convince Viper that she had never been on Wundagore due to their pact the demon recalls another child had lived at the citadel he could use to free himself from his mountain prison… young Jessica Drew.  Given her father Jonathon’s own involvement in hiding Lorna, the demon-spirit feels a delicious irony at the prospect and so implants memories in Viper’s mind that she is in fact Merriem his wife and not the estranged wife of the High Evolutionary.  He even goes so far as to mystically adjust Viper’s facial appearance to be more like the adult Jessica to make the memory real not only to Viper but others around both of them as well.

Does this not provide a much more intellectually-satisfying resolution to the 30 years plus mystery for how Viper came to believe she was Merriem Drew and Spider-Woman was her daughter than the retconned explanation we received from J.M. Dematteis in Captain America #281!?

As for Zala Dane, living under the influence of an agent of Chthon she cannot help but develop a similar nature to that of her sociopathic mother.  Having two such personalities living in the same household causes problems however, leading to Zala leaving her mother who goes on to eventually join the terrorist hordes of Hydra.

Having learned of the mutative effects of the mineral of Mount Wundagore while herself taking an interest in geophysics while living in the High Evolutionary’s citadel, I would posit that Zala independently discovers it is vibranium and comes to understand that she has developed mild psionic abilities as a result of her exposure to the radiation it emits from the Mount.

And so, after leaving her mother, she develops similar plans for world domination and comes to believe the mineral will enable her to fully achieve these goals.

Realising she can never return to Transia due to the mountain being under the protection of the High Evolutionary’s Knights of Wundagore…

Figure 25

…and the vibranium mound in Wakanda being similarly protected by the Panther Cult…

Figure 26

…she comes to learn of the Antarctic variant (perhaps by meeting Parnival Plunder) and so travels to the hidden prehistoric land there.

Figure 27

While there she learns of the Sun-People’s god Garokk whom she comes to believe has the power to draw forth the land’s vibranium deposits.  And so using her psionic abilities, which she convinces others are magical skills, she manipulates herself to become their high priestess.

However, upon Garokk returning to the Savage Land she found she couldn’t easily control him and so after his death…

Figure 28

…she had the tribe’s acolytes kidnap radiologist Kirk Marston (who previously helped Ka-Zar defeat the villain Klaw, another vibranium mutate), and exposes him to the liquid from the black pool beneath their city.  Upon being transformed into the Sun God…

Figure 29

…she effectively exerts her control over him using her vibranium-induced psionic abilities and begins compelling him to take over the whole Savage Land.  Despite her psionic abilities leading Garokk to make significant progress in unknowingly helping her achieve her long-term goals…

Figure 30

…Ka-Zar’s allies the X-Men manage to defeat Garokk not once, but twice.

Realising Garokk is not bringing her the success she so desperately craves Zaladane begins changing her game plan.

Taking control of her cult she next allies herself with Sauron…

Figure 31

…who she learns of Polaris from, and ends up deducting the mutant mistress of magnetism is her younger sister left behind on Wundagore.

She then attempts to track her down after her defeat at the hands of the X-Men once again, with the aim of exploiting Lorna’s magnetic powers so she can draw forth all of the Savage Land’s vibranium and use it to threaten the world’s governments if they do not hand control over to her…

…but the trail goes cold once Polaris is possessed by Malice and recruited to lead Mister Sinister’s Marauders, the psionic entity managing to block Zaladane’s psionic tracking.

Figure 32

Once Mister Sinister was seemingly killed during the crisis known as “Inferno” though, Malice’s hold over Polaris weakened, leading to Lorna gaining the upper hand and being able to contact the X-Men for help.

Figure 33

As soon as this occurred, Lorna came back on Zaladane’s radar and her capture by the Savage Land Mutates was almost instantaneous.

And so there you have it, the mystery behind Zaladane and Polaris, and “The Dane Curse” finally resolved after some 25 years!

But I’m not done yet since as there’s still Malice!

Figure 34aIt’s pretty obvious that Chris Claremont drew his inspiration for this character from science fiction author Piers Anthony’s first published novel, Chthon, which was nominated for both the Nebula and Hugo Awards for Best Novel in 1968.

Figure 34bIn this story the main protagonist commits the crime of falling in love with a strange and extremely beautiful woman in the forest named Malice and is therefore condemned to death in the subterranean prison of Chthon.  The protagonist comes to discover that Malice is a legendary and dangerous siren called a minionette, which are females all identical to each other and semi-telepathic, their beauty and youth maintained eternally by negative emotions, whereas positive emotions cause them pain and sufficiently intense love kills them.

I’d therefore posit that Malice is Lorna’s twin sister and she became a being of pure psionic energy while a foetus in her mother’s womb, as a result of Viper’s possession by Chthon, his evil energy making it so that she was able to merge with the negative emotional instincts of others, overriding their personalities and taking control of their bodies.  Her being Lorna’s twin would finally explain why Malice’s energy matrix was so compatible with Polaris’s powers and, if we go by Moira’s theory in Uncanny X-Men #254 about Zaladane, how the two became so easily grafted together, effectively inseparable.  This would further explain why, when Malice attempted to leave Lorna…

Figure 35

…Mister Sinister informed her that he was aware of the connection and that was why he had suggested their union in the first place, telling her that she is “the unchanging pole star”.

Figure 36

We have never previously understood quite what Sinister meant by this phrase, but now it becomes so damned obvious.  Polaris, the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor, is a BINARY STAR, a system which consists of two stars orbiting around their common centre of mass.  So when Davan Shakari (Eric the Red) gave Lorna the codename Polaris…

Figure 37

… he obviously knew she was a twin and that she would come to be psionically bonded to her.  Sinister obviously also knew Lorna and Malice were twins, but as to how he discovered this and what destiny his bringing them together pointed to, don’t you think it’s time I was offered a break;)

This has been Nathan Adler, continuing to live up to the sobriquet of “He Who Can Explain Every Claremont Dangler Given Enough Time”!

Postscript: Incidentally, Wyndham means “village near the Winding Way”.  Given Herbert Edgar Wyndham established his citadel of science on Mount Wundagore, above the village of Transia, might this finally suggest it was there that Chris Claremont intended Margali Szardos to have also been born!?

…Gateway’s origin?

Figure 01

Before Chris Claremont was unceremoniously fired from the X-titles by Bob Harras, we never learnt the origins of the mutant aborigine Gateway or the details behind the “geas” binding him to the land surrounding the abandoned mining town that served as the Reavers’ outback headquarters.

In the letters page of Uncanny X-Men #229 it says this about Gateway:

"And the full truth won't be known about Gateway for quite some time – which just might cost the X-Men dearly!" (letters page of Uncanny X-Men #229)

“And the full truth won’t be known about Gateway for quite some time – which just might cost the X-Men dearly!” (letters page of Uncanny X-Men #229)

Cryptic hint there in that last sentence, wouldn’t you say?  What “full truth” is going to cost the X-Men dearly?? When we meet Gateway in #229, he is providing the villainous Reavers use of his teleporting powers.  But why? Reaver leader Bonebreaker knows something about Gateway, saying on Page 9:

"Don't mind. He can look any which way he pleases... so long as he does what he's told. But mark me, Gateway-- any funny stuff, an' the Reavers'll trash your Holy Place beyond all hope o-' reconsecration-- an' then your people will NEVER know peace. They'll wander the Dreamlands, slave to OUTSIGN SPIRITS, to the end of time an' beyond!" (cf. Uncanny X-Men #229, p.9)

“Don’t mind. He can look any which way he pleases… so long as he does what he’s told. But mark me, Gateway– any funny stuff, an’ the Reavers’ll trash your Holy Place beyond all hope o’ reconsecration– an’ then your people will NEVER know peace. They’ll wander the Dreamlands, slave to OUTSIGN SPIRITS, to the end of time an’ beyond!” (cf. Uncanny X-Men #229, p.9)

Gateway stares at Bonebreaker with barely hidden contempt.  Reading the above quote, the “Holy Place” Bonebreaker mentions is obviously the land surrounding the outback town, where the spirits of Gateway’s ancestors reside.  What’s further interesting about this quote is that the Dreamlands, the usual resting place for all ancestral spirit beings in Australian Aboriginal mythology, according to Bonebreaker are threatened by “outsign spirits”.

So just what are these “outsign spirits” threatening the Dreamlands?

The next time Claremont refers to the Aboriginal Dreamtime, also known as Alchera, being under threat is when the Shadow King kidnaps Gateway in X-Treme X-Men Annual 2001 in an effort to access the totality of time-space and all of creation through it.

Figure 04

Interesting to note  in this Annual is that Donald Pierce, leader of the Reavers, is revealed to have been among the Shadow King’s many hosts.

Figure 05

So was the Shadow King one of the “outsign spirits” Bonebreaker refers to, and the Reaver’s threat to Gateway concerns the Shadow King enslaving his ancestors if he didn’t serve their villainous needs?

Other mysteries surrounding this whole Claremont plot include the origins of the Australian Outback town itself and the land surrounding it.

Figure 06

So what were the origins of the town, and for that matter the Reavers’ base?

Well first up, the saloon in the town is shown with a signpost atop it with the year 1890 inscribed…

Figure 07

…a period when there had been regular massacres of Aboriginal people by white settlers in Australia. This initially made me consider the significance of the town to be that white settlers had massacred Gateway’s people and had further desecrated the land by building their town over it.

However, if we go back to Bonebreaker’s quote in Uncanny X-Men #229, he threatens to desecrate their Holy Place (FUTURE TENSE), not that it has already been desecrated (PAST or PRESENT TENSE)!

Then there is the mystery of the technology of the Reavers’ base.  The underground computer system in particular is technologically advanced – moreso than that of the X-Mansion –

Figure 08

so advanced in fact that it teaches Madelyne how to operate it – something she found eerily convenient.

Figure 09

Among its many other advanced features it once tapped into Madelyne’s dreams and displayed them on its monitors, suggesting it had the ability to psionically scan minds and translate this into visual images.

Figure 10

However, this ability only manifested after Madelyne appeared to have made contact with Limbo and there is evidence that S’ym and N’astirh could perform this trick with other devices, during one instance while Madelyne was away from the Outback…

Figure 11

…N’astirh contacted her over a computer monitor on the island of Genosha in Uncanny X-Men #236.

Figure 12

In addition to being possibly self-aware and connected to Limbo, the computer appeared to be self-repairing as well.  It was perhaps even organic, the monitor twice repairing itself after a user damaged it; once at the hands of Madelyne in Uncanny X-Men #234…

Figure 13

..and once by Havok in Uncanny X-Men #249.

Figure 14a

Figure 14b

Then after the Reavers retook the town, they observed that the computer system seemed to be growing on its own.

Figure 15a

Figure 15b

This self-repairing ability would seem analogous to Sentinel technology (i.e. Master Mold as shown in Uncanny X-Men #246)…

Figure 16

…or the Transmode Virus, and given the demon N’astirh had during Inferno been shown to have been infected by this virus…

Figure 17

…this could suggest his seduction of Madelyne through its systems spread the virus enough that the system’s former operator, Bonebreaker, would understandably show surprise at its new programming language and note its growth being comparable to that of a living organism (see above).

But what of the computer’s advanced technology shown prior to its potential infection by the Transmode Virus, and that beyond Bonebreakers’ modifications?  Does a clue lie in Uncanny X-Men #253?  The other Reaver besides Bonebreaker that demonstrates knowledge operating the computer’s systems in this issue is Lady Deathstrike, particularly its comprehensive surveillance system, which she refers to as “Spyeye”.

Figure 18

Now where have we heard that before?  This is the term by which Psylocke’s prosthetic set of cybernetic eyeballs Spiral implanted to replace those blinded by Slaymaster – which also functioned as cameras allowing Mojo to spy on the X-Men – were referred by Mojo and Spiral.

Figure 19

Considering Lady Deathstrike was cybernetically enhanced by Spiral to become a member of the Reavers…

Figure 20

…I’d posit the technology behind their base’s computer system, with its advanced cameras, etc., could be from Mojoworld and have been purchased from Spiral by Donald Pierce.

But back to the “outsign spirits” Bonebreaker refers to, which, sadly, the explanation for has been RIGHT THERE in another tale from Marvel’s history.

This tale requires us to travel to Wakanda for a moment where after the vibranium meteor fell there, as revealed by T’Challa in Black Panther #7…

Figure 21a

…it emitted radiation causing mutations in small portions of the population, turning them into “demon spirits” who attacked their fellow tribe members.

Figure 21b

T’Challa’s ancestor, Bashenga, declared the vibranium mound too dangerous closing it to outsiders, and formed the Panther Cult to guard over it thus preventing others from being transformed by it into “demon spirits” and spreading across the kingdom.

Figure 21c

I would therefore suggest that the “outsign spirits” to whom Bonebreaker refers were Aborigines similarly transformed by a vibranium meteor that fell in the Australian Outback.

This raises another question, that being where is the vibranium meteor now?  In order to answer this, I must continue to try explaining the mystery behind the Australian Outback town.

It is worth noting that a vast, sprawling complex lies hidden beneath the town where the Reavers established their base; the buildings connected to each other by a series of underground tunnels and a sewer system, in addition to massive vaults.

Figure 22

These catacombs – obviously predating the Reavers’ arrival – are indicative of abandoned mining corridors.

Does this therefore suggest that white settlers had discovered small vibranium deposits and so decided to establish a mining town on the site (that was the land of Gateway’s ancestors)?

I’ll get to this mystery soon but will first try to answer where the vibranium meteor had fallen in the Australian Outback.

When it comes to Gateway, he spends virtually every moment we saw him – during Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men run – sitting atop a rock not unlike Uluru.

Figure 23

It is interesting to note that Uluru, a mineral rich monolith arising from the heart of Australia…

Figure 24

…used to be believed by people to be a meteorite.  So was Claremont aware of this theory and decided to reveal the similar monolith overlooking the town as a vibranium mound?

Might this further suggest Claremont intended to reveal Gateway’s power as a product of the mutagenic properties of a vibranium mound?  In addition to Gateway being somehow indebted to the Reavers, Uncanny X-Men #269 revealed that a “geas” bound him to the place to perform some task.

Figure 25

I would posit that this was equivalent to the sacred duty of the Panther Cult in Wakanda and was placed upon him by his spirit ancestors to ensure he guarded over the monolithic vibranium mound to prevent the “outsign spirits” from breaking free to control the Dreamlands.  To substantiate this theory I’d ask you to recall how during Claremont’s Outback era Gateway is shown to firstly never leave the vicinity of the rock…

Figure 26

…and secondly regularly use a bull-roarer, a sacred object known for its ability in Australian Aboriginal culture to ward off evil spirits.

Figure 27

While writers since Claremont have attempted to place the location of the town and its surrounding land in Western Australia, the town’s high-tech computer systems were to me a more reliable source of information, and they place the town somewhere in North Central Australia.

Figure 28a

Figure 28b

Readers can, I suppose, be forgiven for buying bulldust written by later writers given their lack of familiarity with Australian geography (though for goodness sake if the giant rock Gateway sat atop wasn’t a clue), but a little research about Australian indigenous religion would reveal Gateway’s use of the bull-roarer also held the answer to the location of the town in addition to the identity of his people’s tribal group.  You see, the bull-roarer, also known as a Churinga, is an object of religious significance used only by North Central Australian indigenous people of the Arrernte groups, who are the traditional custodians of the Arrernte lands which lies roughly between Alice Springs and Uluru.

Now back to the mining town, the explanation for who mined the vibranium mound has been RIGHT THERE… and perhaps answers the real reason why Donald Pierce had established the Reavers’ base in this particular Australian Outback town.  Recall that in Marvel Graphic Novel #4, introducing the New Mutants, the mine young Samuel Guthrie gained employment at after the death of his father in Cameron, Kentucky was owned by Pierce-Consolidated Mining, the company responsible for providing Donald with his vast financial resources which made him eligible for membership in the Hellfire Club.

Figure 29

Since Pierce was a pawn of the Shadow King at the time, and probably had been since becoming a member of the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club given the Shadow King had been its lord imperial…

Figure 30

…I would posit he had been manipulated to establish the underground complex in the town for purpose of mining the vibranium there; and Pierce had encouraged his original Reavers using it as their base of operations for their international heists to conceal its true function.

But what did the Shadow King want with Vibranium?

Well recall throughout most of his appearances during Claremont’s run how the Shadow King had been pursuing Storm for many years?

Figure 31

Toward the end of his run, in Uncanny X-Men #265, further hints were dropped as to what was behind this bizarre obsession when the Shadow King claimed she had been promised to him long ago.

Figure 32

With it then being shown in Uncanny X-Men #253 that the Shadow King had Gateway bound for some time, could this finally explain what he was attempting all along?

Figure 33a

Figure 33bNow recall that both Ororo’s mother N’Dare’s tribe was in Kenya and Wakanda is likewise obviously meant to be in Kenya – what with its name being evocative of the Wakamba tribe of Kenya.  However, Wakanda is a patriarchy, the title of Black Panther prior to T’Challa always having gone to the nation’s king, whereas N’Dare was a princess in a matriarchal tribe.

Figure 34

This raises the question of how N’Dare’s tribe became a matriarchy.  Might it stem back to the incident in Wakanda?  That is, was N’Dare’s tribe originally a clan of the territory that was cut off when Bashenga founded the nation of Wakanda around the area of the vibranium mound to prevent the spread of “demon spirits” across the kingdom?  And was the Shadow King leader of a clan who was mutated into a “demon spirit” by radiation from the mound?  Were the males of this clan perhaps more susceptible to being transformed into “demon spirits” and did the surviving clan go on to became a matriarchy after this incident? And is this why the Shadow King was so intent on gaining possession of Ororo, so he could unseat the ancient line of sorceresses and reinstate himself as rightful heir to the tribe’s mystical power, after which he intends to return to Wakanda to release his demon brethren?  A closely guarded secret of the royal family of Wakanda is that pure vibranium can amplify magical abilities exponentially, so had whom Farouk had been back then discovered this and made his way to the mound to increase the power of some spell, which led to his becoming a being of pure psionic energy, further prompting Bashenga’s formation of the Black Panther Cult to guard the sacred mound containing it?

If this was the case why did he then need to manipulate Donald Pierce and force Gateway into his servitude?

Well recall he had been defeated at every turn in his efforts to possess Storm, so had he turned his attentions to the Sacred Mound in Australia as a backup?  That is, by firstly employing Pierce to mine the site the mound would be uncovered and the “outsign spirits” equivalent to his demon brethren would be released and enslave Gateway’s spirit ancestors, thereby shifting them off the board so he could go on to conquer the Dreamtime, perhaps providing him with a back door to Wakanda.

Whatever the case may be, the remaining question in this overall plot requiring an intellectually-satisfying answer is where did the vibranium meteor originate from?  With my fix suggesting Storm’s ancestry as Faltine, I began entertaining the idea that Vibranium had come to reside on Earth as a result of an ancient Wakandan cult summoning it from some Dark Dimension by performing some dark ritual; and that the leader of this ancient cult was a member of Bashenga’s tribe who would go on to become the Shadow King as a result of the meteor’s radiation.

But this didn’t sit quite right with me, and I recalled how the Vibranium mound was shown in Black Panther #7 to transform at least one member of Bashenga’s tribe into a great red demon with tough, leathery skin and razor-sharp claws…

Figure 35

…leading me to think of Kierrok, and whether the vibranium meteor had been summoned by the ancient Wakandan cult from the N’Garai dimension?  And were those of Bashenga’s tribe who were transformed into “demon spirits” members of this mystical cult and their leader mutated into a demon of pure psionic energy?

However, I still found myself not entirely satisfied with this explanation, and began returning my thoughts to the Arrernte people above and how their term for the Dreaming is the Alchera, a name etymologically similar to the spirit plane called the Alshra…

Figure 36a

…introduced by Claremont’s partner in Arthurian crime, Alan Davis, in the Wolverine 1990 annual, Bloodlust.

Figure 36b

Figure 36c

In this tale, a group of the Neuri tribe are draining energy from the spirit plane following their transformation into “demon spirits” after feasting on human flesh…

Figure 36d

Figure 36e

…a concept identical to that more famous Marvel spirit demon, Wendigo.  It is worth noting that the curse of the Wendigo is referred to as a “curse of the Elder Gods” in Monsters Unleashed #9.

Figure 37

As it’s written by Claremont, that would seem to tie the Wendigo to the N’Garai.

So if the N’Garai are responsible for this “demon spirit” does this suggest they are responsible for all “demon spirits” in the Marvel Universe and are exposing those they corrupt into demons with raw vibranium?  Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu #22, also written by Claremont, reveals that many millennia ago, long before the Great Cataclysm which sank Atlantis, humanity was enslaved by the N’Garai, serving as their workers.

Figure 38

It has never been revealed what work it was that humans were forced to perform for the N’Garai, but I’d posit based on the above that it was mining vibranium for them.

This would seem to suggest that the N’Garai had conquered Earth for the purpose of mining its vibranium deposits, which would mean the vibranium meteor had obviously not come from their dimension.

That is, unless the N’Garai were not otherdimensional demons at all but rather our ancient ancestors, and like later “demon spirits” were similarly transformed by the vibranium deposits!

But if the N’Garai were birthed on Earth, this still leaves unresolved the question of where the vibranium meteor originates from.

While vibranium does not obviously originate from the dimension the N’Garai were banished to (by Satana’s father according to Marvel Preview #7), was there more to their interest in Limbo than just using it as a “stepping stone” back to Earth?  Now recall that Limbo was a place with an ecology composed primarily of demons, and outsiders who come to be lost/ trapped there similarly develop a demonic appearance.

Figure 39

So might this finally explain not only the mystery of the source of the massive meteor made up of the sound-absorbing mineral vibranium that crashed on Earth, but what was responsible for transforming travellers becoming trapped in Limbo?

To those who made it this far you’ve been wondering “He completely overlooked the Savage Land variant (aka. Anti-Metal)”!   To which I answer “Oh ye of little faith” and posit that Antarctica vibranium, while appearing different due to it destroying other metals by its presence as opposed to the Wakandan version which absorbs energy/ vibrations, has much more in common with it than previously believed.

Figure 40a

Figure 40b

In promoting this theory I’d draw your attention to Ka-Zar the Savage #11, which is set in Pangaea, the semi-tropical paradise hidden in the icy reaches of Antarctica built as an amusement park by the ancient Atlanteans before Atlantis fell, its virtually indestructible machinery keeping the cold at bay.

Figure 41

In this tale we learn this to be the place the N’Garai directed Belasco to for performing a ritual to summon them to Earth.  In his supposed efforts, Belasco formed vast tunnels deep into the caverns of the valley, but I’d alternatively posit he did this with the intention of mining the Anti-Metal for his N’Garai Masters who had previously enslaved humanity to mine it for them before the Great Cataclysm.  Then as is the pattern, upon exposure to pure deposits of the element, he begins developing a demonic appearance.

Figure 42

This tale also introduces the Children of Dis, an underground yellow-skinned humanoid race are identical to Moloids in appearance…

Figure 45a

…save for the power to emit bursts of energy through their eyes, are said to be descendants of Dante’s crew mutated by Belasco.

Figure 45b

But what if he instead had enslaved them to work in the mines and their mutation was from exposure to the Antartic vibranium?  Given their appearance this could further overturn the shoe-horned origin for the Moloids and Tyrannoids – that they were created through Celestial science by the Deviants – and alternatively align it more to their creator, Jack Kirby’s plot of Vibranium as a major source of mutation in the Marvel Universe (still retaining the Deviants but not as creations of the Celestials but rather vibranium mutates who formed their own race).

And here Kirby spells it out in black & pink, Vibranium abilities drawing on energy from Limbo!

And here Kirby spells it out in black & pink, Vibranium abilities drawing on energy from Limbo!

The Children of Dis (hereafter Disoids;) emitting bursts of energy through their eyes further brings to mind those denizens of the Dark Dimension, the Mindless Ones.

Figure 45c

And like the Moloids, Tyrannoids and Disoids, the Mindless Ones are a slave-race summoned to do the bidding of others.   Might this suggest they were originally a cult of wizards who sought out a sacred mound to amplify some spell which similarly transformed them into “demon spirits”!?  And might this further explain how the realm that later became the Dark Dimension got wiped out half a million years ago?  That is, upon being transformed, these mindless wizards were perhaps compelled, like Jakarra, to enter the vibranium mound in that universe; generating a shockwave so massive it shattered the dimension, creating warps into pocket universes?  I’d further posit that the Mindless Ones managed to somehow survive this cataclysm and their continued attempts at shattering the Dark Dimension’s great mystical barrier is in an effort to access the warps into pocket universes so they can seek out more stores of vibranium.  Which leads me to finally conclude that Vibranium originates from this realm and the cataclysm that destroyed it sent meteors of the stuff through the warps it created into pocket universes…

Figure 44

…which is how it ended up in Wakanda, Antarctica, the heart of Australia and various other locations.  It’s interesting to note in Marvel Preview #7 the N’Garai were revealed as being defeated and driven from the Earth by the forces of Heaven, led by the angel Lucifer (Satana’s father), prior to his fall.  Humanity subsequently gained its freedom.  Given we are now to a point that Vibranium originated from the realm that became the Dark Dimension, and the Faltine conquer this dimension in an effort to keep the Mindless Ones from setting off further cataclysms in pocket universes in their pursuit of vibranium, might Lucifer and his host have known to drive the N’Garai from Earth because they were likewise aware of how the Dark Dimension came to be?  As to how, recall in Ghost Rider, and then Son of Satan, he had very similar facial features to Dormammu, including the flaming head.  I’d therefore posit that these flames were the flames of regency and Lucifer was the first Regent of the Dark Dimension!

Now back to Ka-Zar the Savage #11 where I’d like to point out that the story in this issue, which is the foundation from which Claremont builds his “Return of the Elder Gods” subplot on (i.e. Belasco’s efforts to free the N’Garai from their dimensional imprisonment), is titled “Children of the Damned”.  This is of particular note when you recall his regular use of the term “Damned” when referring to these demons, e.g. Kierrok THE DAMNED, the Shiatra Book of THE DAMNED and don’t get me started on Prince Gaynor the Damned (from the Conan the Barbarian story introducing Kulan Gath, another sorcerer Claremont would go on to use and reveal as a High Priest of the N’Garai).  By using this term it would appear he is suggesting this whole connection between the N’Garai and demonic transformation from exposure to “pure vibranium”.

In this same issue Pangaea’s rides and attractions began attacking Ka-Zar and crew (which they blamed on Belasco).

Figure 45

But what if their exposure to vibranium was likewise causing this?  What do inanimate objects attacking and devouring people remind you of?  The answer of course is Inferno, when the whole of New York City became demonically possessed!  Pangaea’s amusement park interestingly does resemble Dante’s Inferno, even to the extent of its entranceway having the inscription… Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.

Figure 43

So does this suggest the rides and attractions the park possessed by “demon spirits” too, and this was also caused by the vibranium exposure?  And if this is the case, does this finally explain why the Reavers’ computer system appeared to be growing on its own, with its former operator, Bonebreaker, comparing it to a living organism?  You’d have to agree this is a much better fix than my above suggestion of Mojoworld technology since it links it directly to the overall matter for discussion, that is, Vibranium being another source of mutation in the Marvel Universe.

And given the Atlanteans had extremely advanced technology in the lead-up to the Great Cataclysm, was the “orichalcum” they used as an energy source, including to power their vailixi, actually “vibranium” which they mined causing members of their race to mutate into “demon spirits” who were then banished by King of Atlantis, Kamuu. I’d further posit these “demon spirits” went on to conquer Lemuria and then storm the domed capital city of Atlantis under which the Vibranium mound perhaps was.

Figure 47

And the final cataclysm that sank both continents was a result of one of these “demon spirits” entering the mound, analogous to when Jakarra, T’Challa’s half-brother, was compelled to journey to the Sacred Mound after his transformation into a “demon spirit” which would unwittingly generate a cataclysmic shockwave so powerful it could destroy the earth.  Interesting to note here is that Plato’s Critias refers to orichalcum sparkling “like fire” and flashing with “red light”, which immediately brings to mind the sound constructs used by the Black Panther’s oldest foe, Klaw.  So there’s one more box ticked!

And of further note is how the young homo mermani also named Kamuu, who’d taken up the Sword of Kamuu after finding it in the sunken ruins of  Atlantis, was visited by the spirits of his air-breathing predecessors King Kamuu and Queen Zartra.

Figure 48

So had they crossed over to the spirit plane like Gateway’s ancestors, and the Lemurian “demon spirits” compelled to return to the sacred mound under Atlantis to bring about the cataclysm in an effort to access the Dreamtime/ Alchera/ Alshra and conquer and enslave the spirit world?

While on the subject of Atlantis, and post-Cataclysm King Kamuu, I need to bring up the tribe of the Unforgiven Dead, and their priest-king, Suma-Ket, first seen in Namor the Sub-Mariner #36.  Suma-Ket and his tribe came from the North as the saviour of the undersea city of Atlantis.  Ket claimed his people to be wise men who could rid Atlantis of the plague of Faceless Ones; in return, they wished merely to settle among them.  Suma-Ket freed the Atlanteans from the terror of the Faceless Ones, banishing the monstrous creatures from the city.  In awe of his mighty battle-prowess and great mystical power, the Atlanteans followed Ket, slaying their king Harran, the son of Kamuu, and proclaimed Ket as King of all Atlantis.

Figure 50a

Figure 50b

Once he was made king, the seemingly messianic Suma-Ket transformed into a demonic tyrant, bringing to Atlantis the religion of the Elder Gods and building an immense temple in the capital dedicated to these dark gods (just like Belasco).  Namor #37 reveals that Suma-Ket’s tribe “are followers of the old ways, of deities both foul and fell, dark and evil beings are they, whose cruelty offended the very gods of Olympus”…Figure 50c

…which seems similar to how Kulan Gath was driven out of Stygia for practicing sorcery forbidden even by the worshippers of Set.

Figure 50d

And with Kulan Gath later revealed as a High Priest of the N’Garai you can see where I’m going with this…

Figure 50b

Had Suma-Ket and his tribe of Unforgiven Dead been homo mermani that had settled north of the undersea city of Atlantis to mine a vibranium deposit that had sunk there after breaking off from Atlantis during the great cataclysm for their N’Garai Masters?  It’s interesting to note how Suma-Ket’s banishment of the Faceless Ones from the city of Atlantis leads to his being proclaimed its King just as Dormammu and Umar upon repelling and confining the Mindless Ones were likewise hailed heroes and proclaimed regents of the Dark Dimension.  It was also later revealed that the Faceless Ones had really been mindless servants of Ket…

Figure 50d

… which would seem to suggest, under this theory, that they had been homo mermani transformed by radiation from the vibranium mound north of Atlantis into undersea “demon spirits”; similar to perhaps how the Mindless Ones were transformed.

But I’m not stopping there in my Grand Unified Theory.

This whole plot raises in my mind a number of other mysteries introduced by Chris Claremont that could be resolved in one fell swoop, this time surrounding Xavier’s Estate in Westchester County.  Was the stone cairn carved with mystical symbols on Xavier’s Estate installed there, of all places, due to it once being the site of a Vibranium mound?

Figure 49

That is, if the N’Garai were inhabitants of Earth evolved into demons by the mineral’s energies they would be more likely to be hanging around sites with deposits of the unstable mineral!

Figure 51

The other mystery is the network of tunnels leading from Manhattan to directly beneath the hangar complex below the mansion on Xavier’s estate!

Colossus tells his teammates that the Morlock tunnel network leads from Manhattan to those directly beneath the hangar complex below Professor Xavier’s estate (Uncanny X-Men #243, p. 19).  Coincidence!?

Colossus tells his teammates that the Morlock tunnel network leads from Manhattan to those directly beneath the hangar complex below Professor Xavier’s estate (Uncanny X-Men #243, p. 19). Coincidence!?

Who originally built these tunnels to cover nearly forty miles from Manhattan to Graymalkin Lane in Westchester? (Uncanny X-Men #193, p.4)

Who originally built these tunnels to cover nearly forty miles from Manhattan to Graymalkin Lane in Westchester? (Uncanny X-Men #193, p.4)

Might the N’Garai demon that made its way into the mansion in Uncanny X-Men #143 have been compelled to do so because of one such mound lying beneath the massive underground complex, similar to the one below the Reavers’ base, which was constructed to mine vibranium which was then transported by train some forty miles to Manhattan for shipping to perhaps the San Francisco Mint which held the entire stock of the United States’ vibranium as revealed in Spider-Woman #37?  It’s interesting to note that Claremont introduced Siryn in this same issue as accomplice to her uncle Black Tom Cassidy and Juggernaut in their plan to rob the Mint of the United States’ stock of vibranium.

Figure 51

Could it be that Black Tom wasn’t just after the metal for profit?  Then why!

I believe the answer lies in Siryn’s sonic powers.

Now recall when Claremont originally introduced Black Tom his actions were primarily driven by his hate and jealousy for his cousin, Sean (Banshee).  So did Tom come to the belief that Sean’s mutant abilities were to blame for his own failures, Sean subtly using his sonic powers to manipulate the roll of the dice in the game that won him both Cassidy Keep and the family fortune in addition to winning the heart of Maeve Rourke?  Then when Sean is away on Interpol business, Tom discovers some a small deposit of vibranium in Cassidy Keep (perhaps left behind by the leprechauns) and an analysis shows its sonic properties which lead him to believe it is responsible for Sean’s mutation.  He perhaps then tried exposing himself to the sample but it wasn’t enough to impact on a fully grown adult.  Frustrated he perhaps exposes young Theresa to it without her knowledge and is surprised to discover she begins manifesting similar abilities to her father.

So yes, I’m suggesting Siryn is not necessarily your garden-variety mutant.  That is, it has always been a mystery about how Siryn came to develop the same abilities as her father, since up until her introduction while inheriting the gene responsible for mutant powers offspring did not inherit the same subset of abilities as their mutant parents.  Then in the following issue, Spider-Woman #38, Siryn is shown to be able to create illusions with her sonic powers.

Figure 52

So were her sonic powers not inherited but a result of exposure to a sample of vibranium Tom exposed her to, and her so-called “illusions” are actually inchoate sonic constructs?  And Tom’s plan to steal the United States’ vibranium was so he could expose himself to a larger concentration of the mineral and in his mind make himself a more powerful version of Banshee, thereby reclaiming his rightful status in the family as Sean’s superior (but would obviously as we know turn himself into a rampaging “demon spirit”)!

Returning to the stone cairns for a moment… there is another famous stone with mystical carvings that crops up during Claremont’s run… the tombstone that seals the portal Forge forced the Adversary through.

Figure 53

I’ve contended for years now that the Adversary was somehow connected to the N’Garai and this may have been another hint dropped by Claremont to suggest so.  During The Fall of the Mutants we are shown a scene in Vietnam where Forge uses the spirits of his fallen comrades to summon forth N’Garai demons to take revenge on the Vietcong…

Figure 54

…an action that apparently allowed the Adversary to come to Earth.

It’s also worth noting that back in his first appearance the Adversary is actually called “The Great Spirit” so might this resolve the connection and suggest Claremont intend to later reveal him as leader of all the “demon spirits”?

Figure 54

But back to Siryn… if her sonic powers were not inherited from her father, but rather a result of exposure to vibranium, we need to look to what other Marvel’s heroes this may have likewise been the case for.

And I’m not suggesting only looking for those characters with abilities similar to Klaw, the Sultan of Sound!

I’d firstly nominate another Marvel character with vibratory powers was the global terrorist, Moses Magnum. Obsessed with weapons, he became the head of a major global weapons manufacturer.  Initially dealing with chemical weapons, after a blistering defeat at the hands of Spider-Man and the Punisher, he turned his attention to mining operations.  After a confrontation with the hero known as Power Man, Magnum fell down a shaft which his laser drill had bored to the centre of the Earth.  To Magnum’s surprise, he was saved from the fall by Apocalypse (cf. Classic X-Men #25) who transformed him so that he was able to generate concussive force and seismic powers.

apocalypse22

The first use of Moses Magnum’s new abilities and technology came during his assault on the isles of Japan, where he was confronted and defeated by the X-Men (cf. Uncanny X-Men #118-119).  I’d suggest Magnum had manifested these particular powers as a result of Apocalypse exposing him to a sample of vibranium.

Next I’d nominate another character Apocalypse had his hand in transforming; Cable, one of the most powerful telepaths/ telekinetics on the planet.  Now recall when he was baby in X-Factor, Nathan was shown with a force-field power (think Unus the Untouchable), which really could be separate and have had nothing to do with his psionic abilities.

cable01

This would seem to suggest Cable’s true mutant power is to generate a force-field, and the psionic powers come from a different source.  So what is that source, you ask!  What’s really interesting here is that T’Challa is exposed to vibranium radiation and suddenly develops psionic abilities, making me believe that Cable’s enhanced psionic abilities were a result of his own exposure to vibranium radiation which I’d suggest emerged as a result of the Techno-Organic Virus Apocalypse infected him with…

Nathan infected by Apocalypse

…a virus which derived from Anti-Metal he mined from his base in the Savage Land.

jungleadventure

I’d next suggest that Killraven’s heightened perceptions, especially his ESP hallucinations…

Figure 61

… are akin to those developed by T’Challa in Black Panther #10 after he is exposed to “pure vibranium”.

Figure 50a

Figure 50b

Figure 50c

So when earlier was young Jonathan exposed to vibranium?  To determine that answer I’m proposing that he was raised in the Savage Land and that his parents were in fact Lord Kevin Plunder and Shanna O’Hara! But the son of Ka-Zar and Shanna the She-Devil was named Matthew and Jonathan Raven’s mother was named Maureen?

What I’m proposing here is that while growing up as a child in the Savage Land with his parents, Matthew was in close proximity to the vibranium deposits there, which granted him ESP which lay dormant until the stress of experimentation by Keeper Whitman caused them to finally manifest.  Knowing these abilities had the potential to defeat the Martians…

Figure 58

…Ka-Zar and Shanna separated, Ka-Zar remaining behind in the Savage Land to defend it from invasion, Shanna fleeing with young Matthew to New York City where she changed their names, adopting Maureen, after Maureen O’Hara her famous namesake, and the surname Raven since it is Middle English for Plunder!  Then consider the Panther’s vibranium in the light of Frank Herbert’s Dune, and the spice, it seems like telepathy, but then it also seems like clairvoyance, as perhaps ungovernable telepathy would.  But maybe it’s neither of those.  Maybe it’s a space-time effect!  I would posit here that T’Challa’s exposure to the pure vibranium makes him not able to necessarily “read” minds, but rather make contact, i.e. he’s touching them, he’s there… it’s a distance effect.  In this whole Vibranium plot Chris Claremont makes even more explicit reference to Dune in Uncanny X-Men #251, where he has one the Reavers specifically refer to Psylocke as a “mentat”.

Figure 65

I’d therefore extend Killraven’s psionic abilities to being an extension of T’Challa’s likewise caused from exposure to Vibranium while raised by his parents Ka-Zar and Shanna in the Savage Land, and reintroduce him as Marvel’s version of Muad’Dib!  I’d further posit M’Shulla Scott was perhaps a sleeper agent from Wakanda sent to join the Freeman (?Marvel Fremen?) to secretly mentor him in the use of these abilities!  And that the Martians were really on Earth to mine Vibranium so they could then use it to “fold space” in order to return to their original homeworld!

Then there’s, of course, Matt Murdock.  That is, was the radioactive substance inside the drum that fell from the truck and spilled directly onto his eyes some form of vibranium?

Figure 53
It is rather interesting that the Savage Land variant (i.e. Anti-Metal) is first introduced in of all series Daredevil, and the only issue illustrated by Jack Kirby to boot.

Figure 54

And isn’t it further interesting that the substance from the accident not only gave Matt heightened senses but a sonar that allowed him to “see” through sonic vibrations!?

Figure 55

And his costumed identity in effect makes him a “demon spirit” protecting those in Hell’s Kitchen!  As T’Challa states above “DEVILISH metal” indeed!

While on the subject of Anti-Metal, the unstable variant of Wakandan vibranium, might this provide a further explanation for what is behind Marvel’s famous “Unstable Molecules”?  Is it these molecules which make vibranium so unstable in the first place?  While previously considered to be an invention of Reed Richards…

Figure 67a

…recall that the Fantastic Four did not obtain their costumes that adapted to their powers until after three of the four Skrulls they fought in Fantastic Four #2 were captured (while one of the four Skrulls in this issue escaped you’ll recall Ben Grimm did not require a costume that adapted to his Thing state since it didn’t change).

Figure 67bb

In this issue Skrull clothes were shown to adapt to whatever they needed…

Figure 67c

…suggesting they are made of unstable molecules, and it is not until issue #3 that Sue appears with three unstable molecule costumes.

Figure 67d

While on the subject of the Skrulls, it is interesting that their shape-changing cousins, the Dire Wraiths, are red-scaled monstrosities like T’Challa’s cousin.

Figure 67e

Then if you recall that the Martians in H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds are revealed as not native to Mars, might this suggest these invaders in Killraven are in fact Dire Wraiths and the real reason behind their invasion is to obtain vibranium to kickstart their shape-changing abilities which they perhaps lost after the activation of the Hyper-Wave Bomb?

Figure 67f

Tales to Astonish #35, released in the exact same month as first mention of unstable molecules in Fantastic Four, reveals Hank Pym’s own Ant-Man costume was made from unstable molecules…

Figure 68a

…which leads me to further suggest the dimension of Kosmos, from which Pym draws his “growth pollen”, also contains vibranium energy which is why the Pilai were similarly monstrously scaled…

Figure 68b

…and it is this energy (i.e. unstable molecules) which is the true science behind his ability to alter his size.

While on the subject of “unstable molecules”, when Claremont wrote X-Men Forever he reintroduced Gambit as Remy Picard (no longer able to have him as a psionic projection of Scott’s boyhood friend Nathan from the orphanage)…

Figure 69a

…fans assumed this was a veiled reference to the character being a fan of Patrick Stewart’s character in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  However, what if Claremont was instead using Picard to refer to Remy’s being French as it is a surname meaning a person from a historical region and cultural area of France?  So basically Gambit is Remy from Picardy, or at least his true family as intended by Claremont.  So which other characters did Claremont write that came from this region of France?  Well none that I’ve been able to find, but Picardy was famous for being where founding members of the Knights Templars, Godfrey de Saint-Omer, hailed from.  So was Claremont intending to reveal Gambit by this stage as descended from the Knights Templar?  The Knights Templar were rumoured to be protecting a secret treasure, so what if this treasure was vibranium?  And the Guilds are modern day Knights Templars attempting to reclaim this treasure?  And what if that treasure is a bloodline?  And that bloodline is Ororo’s?  That is, throughout Storm’s history she has shown an unusual ability to manipulate and shape unstable molecules into different kinds of clothing with ease.

Figure 69b

Figure 69c

Figure 69d

So might this finally explain the Shadow King’s long obsession with her!?  He realises this ability means she effectively has the ability to shape vibranium.  And this is the reason behind Gambit’s initial pairing up with Stormie!

Figure 69e

But this isn’t the end of the theory and to get closer to that point I must return to the underlying origins of the Marvel Universe itself, in particular Thor #169, where Galactus is revealed to have been the scientist/ explorer Galan who was the only individual from the planet Taa to survive a space plague as a result of absorbing its radiation causing him to be transformed into the devourer of worlds.

Figure 60b

This was retconned somewhat by Mark Gruenwald & John Byrne in Super Villain Classics #1 (1983), where it was revealed that Taa actually existed in the pre-Big Bang universe, thus establishing in Marvel canon that a universe existed prior to the current one, and that Galan/ Galactus came from this universe.

Figure 60

While I liked some of this origin (the appearing to different races differently), making him a Cosmic Principle was a little too comfortable.

As usual, I’ll go back to Stan and Jack, which makes Galactus being from a universe in another dimension possible.  So what was that dimension?  Well we know Galan was a scientist and informed people of an impending cataclysm not only to Taa, but their system as well.

Figure 60e

Figure 60f

When inhabitants of Taa began dying of the radiation wave responsible for the cataclysm and even their advanced skills could not prevent it, Galan, believing at least one of his race to be immune to the radiation…

Figure 60h

…and determined that the glory and grandeur of their civilisation must live on…

Figure 60g

…persuaded the remaining survivors to join him on his space vessel by flying into the source of the plague, what was designated as “the largest sun in the(ir) universe”.

Figure 60i

Galan’s crewmen were said to have all died.  At this point I’d suggest that this sun was the original source of vibranium and the space plague was caused by the mineral at its core increasing entropy which began destabilising the molecules within the cells of Taa’s inhabitants leading to planet-wide death.  I’d further suggest that just before Galan would also die from the vibranium radiation, the sun generated a final shockwave so massive it shattered the dimension, creating warps into pocket dimensions.  Because Galan was so close to the sun he took the full brunt of this shockwave and was thrown into one of these warps and was sent hurtling into our universe.  Having been in the direct path of the shockwave before being thrown into the warp, Galan absorbed so much vibranium energy he came out the other end having transformed into Galactus, whose hunger for planets is perhaps explained by his needing to feed an addiction to vibranium.  I’d further suggest that Galan’s crewmen did not die before he was thrown into the dimensional warp but survived to become the Mindless Ones whose singular drive is to breach the Dark Dimension’s great mystical barrier so they can access the warps into pocket universes in an effort to seek out stores of vibranium similar to Galactus, but on a smaller scale given they were not in the direct path of their sun’s final shockwave and so did not absorb its final burst of vibranium radiation.

Figure 60j

So yes, in my Grand Unified Theory this makes the realm that later became the Dark Dimension, the universe where Galactus originated.

Now that we’ve been back to the possible origins of the Marvel Universe, we find ourselves almost back at the beginning of this article and another Kirby creation, the source of mutation in the Marvel Universe the Terrigen Mists, those rays responsible for providing the Inhumans with their powers.  Terrigen means “earth-producing” which would suggest the Kree Sentry in Thor #147 was not telling the entire story…

Figure 68a

…and the mists were produced by them from extensive heating of some mineral on Earth; perhaps vibranium!?  This would appear to be a tenuous link to vibranium until one considers king of the Inhumans, Black Bolt, whose exposure to the mists gave him a “sonic scream” capable of vibrating electrons to the extent that his merest whisper can level buildings.

Figure 68b

Then recall the metallic trim on Black Bolt’s costume looks like a V radiating from his body, which was perhaps a hint to the true source of his powers.

Figure 68c

Then consider the fork-shaped antenna that Black Bolt wore upon his brow since childhood enabled him to channel his powers in more directed, less destructive ways.  When shown here his channelled powers are mentioned as “deeply… corroding ALL metal…”

Figure 70d

…which couldn’t be anything but a blatant reference to the Antarctic variant of Vibranium, also known as Anti-Metal, and its ability to break “the molecular bondings of ALL other metals” (i.e. the ultimate corrosive), especially when revealed in another Kirby story of all places!

In addition, Black Bolt’s vow of silence due to the cataclysmic potential of his voice brings to mind Gateway’s own silence apparent during Claremont’s run.  So was Claremont attempting to suggest the ancient Aborigine had likewise taken a vow of silence due to similar capabilities of his voice caused by exposure to the vibranium mound in outback Australia?

Figure 69a

Figure 69

Might this further suggest Gateway’s bull-roarer acts in a similar fashion to Black Bolt’s tuning fork in that when he spins it he is disrupting electrons in their air, which in his case opened teletransportational wormholes in space?

Good enough for me to say ©J C. N 2013

Postscript: Now that I’ve done all the heavy lifting who wants to have a go at explaining why Roma chose this abandoned mining town, occupied by a band of sadistic, cybernetic super-criminals, to insert the X-Men after restoring them to life following their sacrifice at the conclusion of The Fall of the Mutants?  Was it a) so they could access advanced computer systems to detect problems and crises around the planet and the abilities of Gateway so they could respond accordingly, b) to help Gateway break the “geas” that bound him to Reavers, or c) to prevent the “outsign spirits” from spreading across the Dreamlands?

Post-postscript: Oh and you know what other mystery connecting Vibranium to Limbo leads me to after some brief musing?  The Singing Sword, Excalibur, and Avalon!  Which for some reason leads me to Prester John, whom after finding the fabled isle of Avalon…

Figure 61b

…and sitting in the Siege Perilous appeared to fall into a form of suspended animation, only to be found centuries later in a deep underground cavern beneath the African desert north of Wakanda by the Human Torch and Wyatt Wingfoot.

Figure 61a

So how might the mystery behind Prester John and Avalon tie into my revelations regarding Limbo and the origin of Vibranium?

Acknowledgements: Thanks go out to fnord12 of the Marvel Comics Chronology – for his continued assistance in compiling some of the more obscure comic panel scans here – Teebore of Gentlemen of Leisure, bipedal mammal of Estoreal, Richard Bensam, Rob Johnson of the Iron Man Library and Bad Man of Bad Haven for the remainder I required, in addition to comic book scholar and writer/ editor of the Unofficial Appendix to the Marvel Universe, Michael Hoskin, for compelling me to begin piecing together a worthwhile origin for Vibranium.  But my biggest thanks must go to the inimitable Jason Powell who here, moreso than any other blog post I’ve written previously, has made me begin to live up to his designation of me lo’ those many years ago as “He Who Can Explain Every Claremont Dangler Given Enough Time”.  Though I’m requesting if you’re out there in the blogosphere, Jason, that you now need to upgrade this description to “He Who Can create a Grand Unified Theory for the Marvel Universe Given Enough Time”;)

…Cable’s origin?

Figure 00_prophetcable1

Rob Liefeld had originally planned for Cable to be a traveller from thousands of years in the future who journeyed back to our time to combat specific menaces that threatened the future of the Marvel Universe, intending Kang the Conqueror as chief among these threats.  To support this Rob reveals, in Prophet/Cable #1, that Prophet was originally intended to be a police officer from the future sent by Kang, a warlord in his era, to bring back Cable.  While this never came to be, here’s my attempt to increase his importance in the wider Marvel Universe… but with a twist;)

In Chris Claremont’s End of Greys tale the Shi’ar, in an effort to prevent the manifestation of the Phoenix through her descendants, decide to end Rachel Grey’s line by having their Death Commandos slay the entire Grey family (cf. Uncanny X-Men #467-468).

Figure 01_Uncanny X-Men V1 468 - 11

In Uncanny X-Men #468, Rachel wonders why the Shi’ar missed Cable when he’s her carries the genes of her mother’s clone.

Figure 02_Uncanny X-Men V1 468 - 21

We know the Shi’ar have technology far exceeding anything even Mr. Sinister would possess in determining Cable’s lineage, and yet they choose not to involve him in their purge.

Figure 03_Cable V1 06

This would seem to put an end to the erroneous argument that Cable is the offspring of Jean Grey’s clone…

Figure 04_mother of Nathan Summers, Madelyne Pryor_Uncanny X-Men V1 241

…and goes along with his creator Rob Liefeld’s own hope “that one day, the Askani aspect will be revealed as a dream, a hoax or an imaginary story and that Cable’s true identity will be revealed” (Robservations XI: The Secret Origin of Cable)

Interestingly Chris Claremont also contended on Comixfan that it was never his intention for Rachel to evolve into “Mother Askani”!

Figure 05_Rachel as Mother Askani_Cable V1 23

So here I am again with a solution, this time for how the Askani aspect of Cable’s origin can be revealed as inaccurate.

Figure 06_Soldier X 08

I’d do this by firstly suggesting that young Nathan Christopher Summers and Cable are not the same being.

Figure 07_Nathan Summers of Earth-161

Okay then!

Endgame” did happen, and I felt I should make it work, so in line with Fabian et. al., I’d retain the account that young Nathan Christopher Summers was infected by Apocalypse because the Celestial caretaker had been advised that the infant would somehow prevent his ascension.

Figure 08_Nathan infected by Apocalypse

Hence Askani appears on the scene and offers to take him through time to cure him of the infection.

Figure 09_Askani takes Nathan to cure

However, in line with Claremont’s contention that Askani might not have been intended to be from 4000 AD, I’d instead reveal Cable was from the alternate world, Warlord’s Earth, where Nathaniel Richards dwelt.

Figure 10_What If v2 39 p10

I say alternate world because in X-Factor #67 on page 6, the world that Apocalypse rules (and Askani hails from) is referred to as “Sidereal scantime.” So it’s a SIDE REALITY, as Other Earth is.

Figure 11_X-Factor 67_Sidereal

I’d further reveal the Askani Sisterhood as a future version of the matriarchal society of the Eyrie on Warlord’s Earth, as shown by John Byrne in Fantastic Four #273.

Figure 12_Eyriennes from Fantastic Four 273

Upon being cured of his techno-organic infection, I’d propose the Askani placed him in the care of this timeline’s Richards clan who are descendants of this timeline’s Franklin Richards and Rachel Grey.

Nathan Christopher Summers is hence raised as a Richards to protect his identity from Clan Akkaba’s spies who will stop at nothing to kill him since he is destined to become Apocalypse’s greatest enemy.

2eb4gnt

Young Nathan is then secretly trained in the use of his powers, in much the same way 1A trained Magnus the Robot Fighter (but perhaps still ignorant of his true identity).

Figure 13_1A training Magnus the Robot Fighter

Upon discovering the truth, he embraces his destiny, and travels back in time to become Rama-Tut with the aim of preventing the High Lord from becoming “all-powerful”.

Figure 14_FF273_Kang

Unfortunately, in an ironic twist, the Fantastic Four return to the same period…

Figure 15_Fantastic Four's arrival in ancient Egypt_Fantastic Four V1 19

…and it is their interference…

Figure 16_Rama-Tut's defeat_Fantastic Four V1 19

…that prevents Rama-Tut from stopping Apocalypse before he begins his meteoric rise to power.

Figure 17_Apocalypse rise to power in Egypt

As for Cable’s true identity, around the same time as his introduction there was another character in the Marvel Universe having similar features.

That is, Nathaniel Richards Senior – Reed’s father.

Figure 18_Fantastic Four V1 375 - 45

In addition, Cable regularly used the Askani curse-phrase “stab his eyes”…

Figure 20_Cable Blood-Metal 02 - 28

…and when Nathaniel was reintroduced during Tom De Falco’s run on Fantastic Four he was teaching Franklin curses including “Stab my eyes”…

Figure 21_Fantastic Force 09 - 16

….which seemed to imply that the reality he raised his grandson in was one where the Askani held sway.

This could further resolve why Cable’s first name is Nathan.

But fret not!  I’m not suggesting this is because he is Nathan Richards Senior…

…rather that he is the unnamed son from Nathaniel Richards Senior’s marriage to Cassandra, Warlord of Otherworld.

Figure 22_Fantastic Four V1 272 - 21

Figure 22_Fantastic Four V1 272 - 22

While completely out there, look at the similarities in their armour; that worn by Cable during New Mutants #90…

Figure 23_New Mutants v1 90

…and moreso during the Sabotage X-Over in X-Force #3…

Figure 24_X-Force v1 03 - 09

…and Spider-Man #16…

Figure 25_Spider-Man V1 16 - 12Figure 26_Spider-Man V1 16 - 13

Figure 27_Spider-Man V1 16 - 16-17

…was almost identical to Nathaniel Richards Senior’s psi-armour worn during flashbacks in Fantastic Four #390 (p. 10)…

Figure 25_Fantastic Four V1 390 - 11

…and #393 (p. 4).

Figure 29_Fantastic Four V1 393 - 04

I would posit that Cable’s armour was meant to be psi-armour rather than generic (which could be used in concert with his telekinesis to absorb Juggernaut impacts), and this is the reason it looked so similar to that worn by Richards.

This would further explain why, as stated in Cable’s costume specifications in his Marvel Universe Master Edition #3 entry, the various suits of body armour he wore were of “unknown composition”.

Figure 25

Furthermore, the armour worn by Reed Richards during his “battle-in-time” with Dr. Doom during Fantastic Four #352 was extremely similar to that worn by Nathaniel and Cable.

Fantastic Four V1 352 - 12

So Cable wears this trademark armour due to his being the son and heir of Nathaniel Richards Senior and a time-traveller like his father, since that would appear to be the function of that worn by both Nathaniel and Reed; and claims affiliation with Cyclops and Nathan Summers as a cover story.

Why?

Maybe Nathaniel Senior discovers the destiny of young Nathan Christopher Summers, and raises his and Cassandra’s unnamed son to travel to Earth-616 and begin involving himself in missions that would eventually suggest to Apocalypse that he was in fact young Nate.

In this way they could prevent Apocalypse from realising what the Richards Clan were really up to.  That is, training Nathan Summers to go back in time and prevent his rise as Rama-Tut.

I feel the revelation of Cable being a Richards would also fulfil Rob Liefeld’s plan of his being a technologically advanced time-traveller with a strong science background (since science certainly runs in the Richards family).

This is why Reed’s father, at times, appears enigmatic and his occasional machinations seem opposed to the Fantastic Four.  Nathaniel Sr. can’t reveal the truth to them for fear that Apocalypse may discover the truth.  That and he is still miffed at their interference in preventing Rama-Tut from putting a stop to Apocalypse.

As mentioned above Claremont’s End of Greys storyline puts an end to the argument that Cable is the offspring of Jean Grey’s clone.

In addition, it is more likely, as I suggest, that Cable hails from an alternate earth, rather than the far flung future of 4000 AD. Cable can still be a time-traveller and travel from Earth-6311 to Earth-616, as time machines have previously been proven to be able to access both realities.

It is further doubtful that Cable travelled from this future to our present, since after Pryde’s Time-Switch, the Hierarchy set in motion appropriate counter-measures installing Ahab and his Sentinels and Hounds at the temporal Nexus to prevent any further time travel from the future back to the modern era…

Figure 29

…so Cable would have been prevented from travelling from the future to our era prior to 1990.

While one could argue that Bishop had done the same, this was only after Claremont had Ahab defeated and Cable had arrived in our era prior to this.

If we maintain Cable was a alternity traveller, this further supports my theory that he did not come from the 4000 AD, but rather the period of Warlord’s Earth that Nathaniel Richards Sr. had settled in (hence my positing above that he is Nathaniel’s other unnamed son, by way of Cassandra).

All that’s left to figure out now is how Cable knew the Master of the Hounds, Ahab in Uncanny X-Men Annual #14 (and no I don’t believe the two were originally intended to be the same character and here is my reason why).

Postscript: What would make this whole scenario perfect for me is for the Shi’ar to eventually make an attempt on one of the incarnations of Nathaniel Richards Jr., whether that be Rama-Tut, Kang or Immortus.

…Penance and Monet’s origin?

This week’s guest post comes from Chris Arrant, a writer and designer who co-founded Project:Rooftop with Trippe in 2006 and serves as an editor on the site.  He writes extensively about comics for Marvel Entertainment, MTV, Newsarama.com, ComicBookResources.com and iFanboy.com.  He has also entered the comics writing fray with stories in the anthologies Tori Amos’ Comic Book Tattoo, 24Seven Vol. 2, Negative Burn and No Formula: Stories From The Chemistry Set.

Figure 1

When Marvel launched the series Generation X by Scott Lobdell and Chris Bachalo back in 1994, it showed a long-overdue new generation of mutants coming of age in the Marvel Universe.  Guided under the twin tutelage of longtime X-Man Banshee and longtime X-Men villain Emma Frost, it featured a completely new cast of young mutants with one memorable name – Jubilee.  But with behind-the-scenes turmoil and editorial changes in the first few years of Generation X led to non-existent or misshapen origins for each of these new characters; chief amongst those was Penance and M.

Figure 2

Throwing out what later creators did with the characters both in Generation X and other subsequent series, let’s turn back the hands of time and re-imagine what could have been in terms of a convincing, conclusive and creatively deep origin for these two.

In broad strokes, M (Monet St. Croix) is the aristocratic, well-taken-care of daughter of a rich Monacan family whose mutant powers include strength, invulnerability and mild telekinetic powers.

Figure 3

Penance, on the other hand is a mute, withdrawn woman shell-shocked by years of imprisonment by M’s brother Emplate.

Figure 4

Her powers were ill-defined, but were generally understood to be that her body (and hair) had turned red and hardened to the density and invulnerableness of diamond. There were connections between M and Penance, but early on in Generation X it was left up to the imagination.

Figure 5

In my fictional scenario here, I would have picked up on Penance’s intended origin as Yugoslavian runaway named Yvette –with a twist.  She’s the daughter of Mephisto, stolen away and hidden from him.  Don’t see the family resemblance? Look at Mephisto’s other child, Blackheart.

Figure 6

Born in the former Yugoslavia, Yvette could have ended up in Monaco running from tensions building up to Bosnian war.  There in Monaco, Yvette could’ve come under the of the St. Croix family. The St. Croix would’ve at the same time been dealing with the son Marius (the future Emplate) first manifestations of his powers and his early attempts at using it for sadistic purposes.

Figure 7

The St. Croix family reaches out to Mephisto to make a Faustian bargain to “correct” Marius’ evil tendencies in exchange for the future servitude of his sister, Monet.

Figure 9

Yvette could be pulled into this by being forced to replace Monet by the St. Croix parents in a blood pact with; Yvette would’ve been caught in the middle of it and transported to Mephisto’s hellish realm and saved, surprisingly, by an earlier incarnation of Ghost Rider. Her powers, as it were, are bent when she gets an ill-timed dose of Ghost Rider’s Penance Stare, reacting badly with her powers and shocking her system into her familiar red form.

Figure 10

She ends up in the confines of Emplate’s realm when he strikes a side bargain with Mephisto.

Figure 11

For Penance, this would create a more simplistic origin that ties her into more general Marvel elements; namely, Mephisto and Ghost Rider. A storyarc later on in the Generation X series would begin to suss out layers of this, eventually leading to the full reveal that she’s Mephisto’s daughter and put a large onus on her as reformed but eternally dangerous due to her bloodline.

For both Penance and M, it would have them as metaphorical “blood” sisters; non-related people who are tied together through similar actions happening to them. Both are looking for redemption from the deeds of their parents, but each struggling with their own way to come to terms with it.

Figure 12

…why Mr. Sinister had the Marauders kill the Morlocks?

Figure 00_OHOTMU18v2_Morlocks2

During the Mutant Massacre, the first X-Crossover (1986), without warning or apparent reason the Morlocks living in the abandoned subway tunnels below New York are slaughtered by the Marauders.  For the remainder of Chris Claremont’s run we never learned the actual motivations for the massacre, the closest to answers readers obtain is during the actual crossover when Storm suggests that it is nothing less than a planned, deliberate attempt to wipe out Callisto’s people…

Figure 1: Storm suggests the Marauders attack was nothing less than a planned deliberate attempt to wipe out the Morlocks (New Mutants #46, p.8)

Figure 1: Storm suggests the Marauders attack was nothing less than a planned deliberate attempt to wipe out the Morlocks (New Mutants #46, p.8)

Figure 2: …and Sabretooth further tells Wolverine that Mr. Sinister is playing a game that doesn't allow for "wild cards" like the Morlocks (Uncanny X-Men #212, p.?)

Figure 2: …and Sabretooth further tells Wolverine that Mr. Sinister is playing a game that doesn’t allow for “wild cards” like the Morlocks (Uncanny X-Men #212, p.15)

When Claremont was forced from the X-titles in the early 90s it became another of his many “dangling plots”.  When later writers revealed Mr. Sinister as a former servant of Apocalypse, theories arose that his master had deemed the Morlocks as not strong enough to survive and previously programmed him to do it.

Figure 3: Apocalypse reminds Caliban that the weak, like the Morlocks, need to be culled so the strong can grow and prosper (X-Factor #51, p.4)

Figure 3: Apocalypse reminds Caliban that the weak, like the Morlocks, need to be culled so the strong can grow and prosper (X-Factor #51, p.4)

In the 10 years following Claremont’s original storyline, the Morlocks had been retconned into having been created by the Dark Beast, a refugee from the Age of Apocalypse crossover.

Figure 4: Marrow meets the Dark Beast, who recognises her as "his creation, one or two generations removed" (X-Men Prime, p.41)

Figure 4: Marrow meets the Dark Beast, who recognises her as “his creation, one or two generations removed” (X-Men Prime, p.41)

In Cable #28 it is inferred Mr. Sinister recognised the Morlocks as being based on his own genetically manipulative style, given Dark Beast learned genetics from his AoA counterpart, and annoyed by the unauthorised use of his theories, sends the Marauders to wipe them out.

Figure 5: Sinister claims the Morlocks are the first such perversion of his work, which were retconned into being genetically manipulated by the Dark Beast (Cable #28, p.8)

Figure 5: Sinister claims the Morlocks are the first such perversion of his work, which were retconned into being genetically manipulated by the Dark Beast (Cable #28, p.8)

However, wasn’t it a bit of a coincidence that the Morlock’s system led from their tunnels beneath Manhattan to Professor Xavier’s estate as stated by Colossus in Uncanny X-Men #243, p.19, and shown in New Mutants #90-91!?

Figure 6: Colossus tells his teammates that the Morlock tunnel network leads from Manhattan to those directly beneath the hangar complex below Professor Xavier’s estate (Uncanny X-Men #243, p. 19).  Coincidence!?

Figure 6: Colossus tells his teammates that the Morlock tunnel network leads from Manhattan to those directly beneath the hangar complex below Professor Xavier’s estate (Uncanny X-Men #243, p. 19). Coincidence!?

Figure 7: Who originally built these tunnels to cover nearly forty miles from Manhattan to Graymalkin Lane in Westchester? (Uncanny X-Men #193, p.4)

Figure 7: Who originally built these tunnels to cover nearly forty miles from Manhattan to Graymalkin Lane in Westchester? (Uncanny X-Men #193, p.4)

Now flash forward to X-Men Forever (v1) #4, written by Fabian Nicieza that hints Mr. Sinister is responsible for muties!!… Threads picked up in this issue were seeded earlier by Nicieza in X-Men (v2) #12 where Professor X explains to Wolverine that his father, Brian Xavier, worked at Almagordo Nuclear Research Facility a front for mutant research (the later revealed government-backed Black Womb Program)…

Figure 08_X12_Almagordo

Figure 8: A file explains that Xavier's father’s work facility at Almagordo Nuclear Research Facility was really a front for mutant research (X-Men v2 #12, p.18-19)

Figure 8: A file explains that Xavier’s father’s work facility at Almagordo Nuclear Research Facility was really a front for mutant research (X-Men v2 #12, p.18-19)

…along with fellow scientist Kurt Marko, father of the Juggernaut who went on to marry Sharon Xavier after Charles’s father died in a supposed accident at Almagordo.

Figure 9: When Charles was still a child, his father Dr. Brian Xavier had been killed during an atomic blast at the research facility he and his colleague Dr. Kurt Marko worked at. While Marko comforts Xavier's widow Sharon, young Charles never trusted him (and months later he knew why, when Marko proposed to Sharon Xavier from Uncanny X-Men #12, p.4)

Figure 9: When Charles was still a child, his father Dr. Brian Xavier had been killed during an atomic blast at the research facility he and his colleague Dr. Kurt Marko worked at. While Marko comforts Xavier’s widow Sharon, young Charles never trusted him (and months later he knew why, when Marko proposed to Sharon Xavier from Uncanny X-Men #12, p.4)

So there’s the thread to start my fix.

Figure 10: The investigators labeled the death of Brian Xavier while working at the research station at Almagordo, New Mexico as an accident (X-Men v2 #13, p.4)

Figure 10: The investigators labeled the death of Brian Xavier while working at the research station at Almagordo, New Mexico as an accident (X-Men v2 #13, p.4)

Figure 11: But while Kurt Marko double-crossed and murdered Charles’s father (Uncanny X-Men #12, p.7)...

Figure 11: But while Kurt Marko double-crossed and murdered Charles’s father (Uncanny X-Men #12, p.7)…

Figure 12: ...was there more behind his reason for doing so other than to marry Sharon and gain access to Brian’s fortune? (X-Men v2 #13, p.4)

Figure 12: …was there more behind his reason for doing so other than to marry Sharon and gain access to Brian’s fortune? (X-Men v2 #13, p.4)

That is, I would reveal that Brian Xavier’s death during his work at the research station, Almagordo, was not only an accident and connected with his smuggling some of Sinister’s REJECTS (i.e. the first Morlocks) out of there in order to prevent their deaths.

But where would he safely hide them from Sinister?

What if the network of tunnels beneath NYC revealed to have been constructed in the 1950s by the United States government for it and the military’s use, but later abandoned, was a cover story?  Did Brian Xavier use his government and military connections to construct these tunnels, extending to beneath his mansion, thus providing Sinister’s REJECTS with a community where their distorted physical appearances would be hidden away from humankind’s prejudice?

It also perhaps provided Xavier with a surreptitious means to get food, water, shelter and medicine to them.

Did the Xavier legacy for mutant rights therefore not begin with Charles, but instead with his father Brian?

I would posit that Brian’s efforts are eventually discovered by Kurt Marko who, fearing he would go to jail for his part in the Black Womb Program, kills him and makes it look like an accident.

Brian’s untimely death prevents him from ever revealing the truth to Charles, and so the community is left to fend for itself and goes on to fall under the leadership of Callisto.

I would posit though that just prior to his death, however, Xavier manages to get word to people within the U.S. government sympathetic to the rights of mutants about Sinister’s experiments within the Black Womb Program.

In the meantime, Marko reports what he has done to Sinister. Not wanting the full extent of his activities made public until his plans were fully formulated, Sinister moved his base off American soil.

He reopens shop in Genosha, a nation sympathetic with his eugenic goals.  They give him a free hand to continue his research, as long as the fruits of his labour provide their nation with significant economic benefit.

Sinister exceeds even his wildest expectations, achieving both goals in the one action.

You ask why I reveal Sinister as the mastermind behind the slave nation!  While any true X-Fan shouldn’t even be asking why I would retcon the grotesque oaf Sugar Man as the mysterious force behind Genosha, they should recall how X-Men: Prime, refers to Mister Edgerton (Genosha’s oldest and first recorded mutate) as the original Morlock (so yes I’m retconning AoA refugees Sugar Man and Dark Beast as the masterminds behind Genosha and the Morlocks respectively, and would instead reveal that McCoy only tampered with the Morlocks who became Gene Nation and took credit for their wider creation to establish his reputation as a villainous manipulator on par with the sinister vivisector).

Figure 11_XPRIME_OrigMutate

Figure 11: (X-Men: Prime, p.34-35)

Figure 13: (X-Men: Prime, p.34-35)

And so Sinister was, at first, tasked with finding the illegitimate daughter of one Lord Kelly (another recurring name) who was living in the “white ghettoes”… but even in the cesspool that was Victorian-era London too many missing people tended to draw unwanted attention, as became the case with those Whitechapel prostitutes.  That is after subjecting four of them to Sinister’s tests, the Club and the aristocracy, fearing not only that this would lead back to them, but also fearful of what would occur had certain physical powers gotten into the genetic code of society’s lowest members, the prostitutes were executed.

The Club, still desperate for genetically gifted bloodlines, facilitate a process whereby Sinister can continue to satisfy his need for genetically anomalous test subjects, and reward him with the position of doctor for London’s upper class.

And so he finds a surprisingly flourishing trade as an obstetrician, and one patient in particular proves to be most helpful – the young woman by the name of Amanda Mueller.

Figure 14: Amanda Mueller was coerced into being a birthing factory for the genetic experiments of Dr. Nathan Milbury, an alias for Mr. Sinister(Gambit v3 #20, p.12)

Figure 14: Amanda Mueller was coerced into being a birthing factory for the genetic experiments of Dr. Nathan Milbury, an alias for Mr. Sinister(Gambit v3 #20, p.12)

In exchange for helping her deal with the unwanted products of her… extramarital activities, she allows Sinister to keep her… unwanted offspring.  Unfortunately, the arrangement is outed by a London gossip columnist, and becomes known as the “Black Womb murders.”

Figure 15_Black Womb Murders

Figure 15: Amanda was accused of murdering her in utero children, and was given the name Black Womb. In 1891 she was acquitted of the child murder charges against her due to the testimony of obstetrician Dr. Nathan Milbury (Gambit v3 #13)

He helps Amanda vanish, and she becomes his most productive source of genetic material in the coming decades.

After he helps Amanda hide from the London authorities, the Club decides it is time for them to take their show on the road, so to speak.

It was a time of great scientific curiosity on the other side of the pond, so the Club decide that the land of opportunity will be a wonderful place for Sinister to continue his work. The melting pot will not let them down…

During this time he founds his Nebraska base, among others.

He decides that he should try and gather widespread information on the genetic diversity of American mutants.  But how to do so without causing a stir?  And then he realises the perfect means: The US government is looking for anything that might help them advance their power on a global scale.

World War One is a terrible time, but it also provides him an opportunity to approach certain fellow members of the scientific community.  It also allows him an opening into their uppermost circles of power.

He uses this persona as he accesses the American branch of the Hellfire Club to seek government funding for what he claims is eugenics work.  It isn’t that far off the mark, and is actually welcomed by the foolishly bigoted WASP power structure. What he is able to found is no less than Operation: Black Womb.

The project is simple: He will give the US government tidbits of the promise of genetic engineering, and they will give him near-unlimited funding and access to less-than-desirable castoffs of society…

They are eager to do so!  The mentally ill, racially-undesirable prisoners – prisoners of all kinds, actually – the disabled … Black Womb hardly discriminates.  He also is able to channel genetic data taken from socially acceptable people, culled from doctors’ offices across the country.

The program begins in 1927, or at least the first phase.  Brian Xavier is assigned to work with him to examine the effects of radiation on successive generations of humans.  Sinister, of course, already knows the potential such mutagenic energy could have … but when Brian volunteers Charles’ pregnant mother for an ‘accidental’ exposure, Sinister is willing to oblige.

Charles and Cassandra are the first product of Black Womb research.  Sharon evidently miscarries Cassandra, but Sinister takes the still-living sister and places her with one of the foster families in his network – people he had indebted to himself through various means.

Brian is initially terrified of the potential of mutants.  That was part of the reason he wanted his children to be mutants – he hopes that Charles will be defence against rogue mutations.  The irony really is delicious.

Around the same time, Sinister is asked to make his initial findings of mutagenetic advancement available to certain doctors involved in a very hush-hush project.  When Captain America first appears, he knows that his work has finally borne fruit.

So Sinister is tangentially involved in the Super-Soldier Program.  The doctors involved take mere theory and make it living, breathing flesh. I wonder if the good Captain would see it that way … but again, I get off the track.

Black Womb funding becomes scarce as the war effort ramps up.  Sinister is reassigned to OSS work.  The Americans are worried that the Germans will use concentration camp prisoners in genetic testing, and possibly have breakthroughs on the scale of the Super-Soldier Program.  So, with the cooperation that always existed between the secret government of the United States and the Nazi government of Germany (lead by sympathetic secret societies via such aristocrats as Zemo and Strucker), he becomes a scientist in the camps, conducting his own highly secret scientific experiments … and making his own breakthroughs.

He is far more merciful to his… subjects … than many of the so-called ‘doctors’ in those hellholes.  He is the one who kills and replaces a certain German officer in Poland, and he transfers a young Jewish lad who was demonstrating unusual control over metals.

You see, he could tell that Magnus was something special.  If he could have, Sinister would have gotten him out of Auschwitz far sooner, but those damned Nazis were too attentive.  To him, the entire Holocaust was a sickening waste of potential.

Figure 16: (Excalibur v3 #7, p. 9)

Figure 16: (Excalibur v3 #7, p. 9)

After he leaves Germany, just as Berlin is falling, he loses track of Magnus… still wondering what might have been.  In any case, he returns to America in late 1945, and finds Kurt Marko and Amanda Mueller still running Black Womb.

The government has become quite aware of the potential of superhuman mutation, after witnessing the Invaders in action.  The Super-Soldier Program becomes its own project, spinning off into the hands of eventually-deranged madmen, but Black Womb is permitted a certain degree of autonomy.

Thanks to the precognitive advice of a certain British emigre’ whom Sinister had targeted as a “genetic aberration,” they are able to isolate the foundations of several remarkable bloodlines.  Part of that, of course, is for his own pet projects – he never took his eye off of Scott’s family – but he is gratified to be able to trace the Grey, Drake, McCoy, Worthington, and even Munroe bloodlines…

Only Storm’s father, that is.  Sinister regrets that he does not have time to diversify his analysis systems to a global reach.  This would not come until after a series of catastrophes begin to spell death-knells for Black Womb.

The first is the passing of Kurt Marko.  Amanda and Sinister, being British emigres, are considered to be risky, at best, by their “black-budget” overseers.  Also, they have a lack of tangible achievements following World War Two.  The occasional breeding success, masked as a “miscarriage,” tends to be a low-powered mutant here or there, with a couple of exceptions – who have to be given to foster families because of security concerns.

The second is, sadly, Watson and Crick.  When their independent work into the genome becomes public, it becomes fashionable for government moneys to go towards “legitimate” genetic research – never mind the fact that Sinister is already 50 years ahead of those showboats.

The third is the Red Scare. It’s difficult to recruit top scientific researchers when they’re being terrorised by obsessive right-wing paranoiacs.  Also, military funding, which had been the foundation of Black Womb’s financial support, is being shifted towards other biological research programmes.

Postscript: Did Apocalypse, perhaps onto Sinister’s scheme to betray him, secretly manipulate Brian Xavier at the Black Womb project, to smuggle its “Rejects” into the tunnels beneath Manhattan (?another of his abandoned bases?)?

But to what end?

To answer this question I cast my mind back to how, after the Great Cataclysm, the Deviant priesthood was determined to destroy the Celestials for obliterating so much of their race and civilisation.  Hence, the priesthood assumed a new function.  At times designated as “Purity Time,” the priests would attempt to weed out those Deviants who were born with the most extreme and grotesque genetic differences from the others by publicly condemning them to death in the fire pits.

Figure 17: Karygmax ordering Cataphrax to submit to Purity Time (Eternals v2 #1, p.30)

Figure 17: Karygmax ordering Cataphrax to submit to Purity Time (Eternals v2 #1, p.30)

Through this measure the priests asserted that they hoped to keep variation within the Deviant race’s genetic makeup within certain limits.

Figure 18: (Eternals v2 #1, p.31)

Figure 18: (Eternals v2 #1, p.31)

However, in actuality, the priests did not kill the Deviants they supposedly condemned to death at Purity Time.

Figure 19: Kro exposes "Purity Time" as a falsehood (Eternals v2 #7, 19)

Figure 19: Kro exposes “Purity Time” as a falsehood (Eternals v2 #7, 19)

Instead, the priests secretly placed them in a form of suspended animation called “cold-sleep.”  Moreover, the priests used technological means to wipe the sleepers’ brains clean of their original personalities and to indoctrinate them to obey the priests unquestioningly when they finally awoke.  Through this means the priests built what they hoped would be an army, loyal to them alone, with which they would one day challenge the Celestials.  Over the millennia the priests’ sleeping army grew to number in the thousands.

Could this not, in effect, be what Apocalypse was up to!

Recall how Caliban the Morlock became his “First Hound” (from Rob Liefeld interview by Cliff Biggers, Comic Shop News #142, 13th of April 1990) and would usher in the bleak apocalyptic future shown in the iconic Days of Future Past!?

Figure 20: X-Factor #51, p. 22

Figure 20: X-Factor #51, p. 22

Did Apocalypse use Brian to supposedly condemn Sinister’s Rejects, whilst in reality he manipulated Xavier to move them to a safe place where he could use them later to shape his “Hounds” from and build a mutant army?  This is even more chilling, when one thinks that Apocalypse intended, like the Deviant priesthood, to challenge the Space Gods themselves, so was this the purpose of his planned mutant army?  Had the technology he had pillaged in the Celestial Ship been left behind by the Dreaming Celestial, and this is where Apocalypse stole his idea from?  I wonder if Cerebro’s failure to detect the existence of hundreds of mutants underneath New York City for so many years, yet being able to detect a single mutant presence half a world away, was intentional in its design!  Did Brian have a hand in its initial design, and accounted for this as directed by Apocalypse?

Did Sinister then discover Apocalypse’s plan to use these Rejects to recruit his Hounds from, and upon doing so ordered the Massacre enacted by the Marauders.  Perhaps Sinister also found out about Brian’s treachery, and convinced Marko to punish him for his betrayal.  But Marko performed his assigned task too well, and killed Brian before managing to extract the information of where Xavier had hidden the Rejects.  Is this why it took so long for Sinister to initiate the Massacre?

To read more of my theories about his long-term plans check out …Apocalypse’s Twelve plot?

A very big thank you goes out to fnord12 for his invaluable assistance compiling the obscure scans for this post. Fnord has taken on the nightmarish project of trying to physically assemble every Marvel comic and then write reviews/ breakdowns of them in chronological order at the Marvel Comics Chronology, and is a far far better man than I to wade into such murky waters.

…the Origin of Xorn?

This fix comes from Percival Constantine, award-nominated author of New Pulp novels including The Myth Hunter and Love & Bullets. When he’s not obsessing over comics or movies (and we don’t mind if he does if we keep getting posts like this), Percival – an American living in Japan – also contributes to GaijinPot and JapanTourist. While waiting for Marvel to call him up, feel free to visit PercivalConstantine.com for more information or follow him on Twitter, @perconstantine.

Figure 1: Who was Kuan-Yin Xorn? (cover, New X-Men #146)

Figure 1: Who was Kuan-Yin Xorn? (cover, New X-Men #146)

Grant Morrison’s run on the X-Men, spanning New X-Men #114-154, has been met with mixed reaction from X-Men fans. There are people who view it as definitive as the classic Claremont/ Byrne run, others who see it as a total bastardisation of the X-Men, and every single view between those two extremes. For what it’s worth, as a longtime reader of the X-Men, I personally found it to be a successful revitalisation of a book that had been suffering in stagnation for years.

One aspect of his run, however, was met with great acclaim – the introduction of a new X-Man named Xorn. In the New X-Men Annual 2001, Morrison introduced Xorn as a Chinese man whose mutant power manifested itself while he was young, in the form of his brain transforming into a star. He was captured by the Chinese government and kept imprisoned in a prison called Feng Tu for “over half a century,” so it seems evident that Xorn’s powers also granted him longevity. After being sold to John Sublime, new age guru and founder of the U-Men, a group of humans who wished to graft mutant organs into their bodies in order to gain their powers, Xorn’s powers were unleashed and he was prepared to commit suicide by turning his head into a black hole.  The X-Men, specifically Cyclops, intervened.  Xorn said, “I could have built Heaven on Earth, if only they’d let me. I could have laid the foundation stones of paradise here on Earth.”  Cyclops told him there’s still time and invited him to join the X-Men.

Figure 2: Cyclops invites Xorn to join the X-Men (from New X-Men Annual 2001, page 39).

Figure 2: Cyclops invites Xorn to join the X-Men (from New X-Men Annual 2001, page 39).

Despite accepting the invitation, Xorn didn’t appear with the X-Men right away. Instead, he went to a Buddhist monastery for healing until Cyclops came to collect him right before Cassandra Nova manipulated the Shi’ar Empire into attacking the Earth (New X-Men #122).  Following the defeat of Nova, Xorn remained with the X-Men and became the teacher of the Xavier Institute’s “special class” – mutants who were outcasts even in a school of mutants.  For the most part, Xorn appeared to be a kind, spiritual man.  But a dark side was hinted to as well, such as when he foiled an attack by the U-Men by killing them and telling Angel Salvadore, who witnessed it, that it would be their little secret (New X-Men #136).

And then, in New X-Men #146, Morrison shocked readers by revealing that Xorn was not really Xorn – he was Magneto, claiming he had created Xorn as a ruse in order to infiltrate the Institute: “A man in an iron prison. A star for a brain? I kept thinking it was too obvious, but still you missed it. There was no Feng Tu mutant prison in China, Charles – I assembled it especially for the occasion. Xorn. Have you any idea how much I’ve hated this pretense?  His simpering homilies, his Zen diaries, his sickening New Age passivity?  How long I’ve waited to do this?”

Figure 3: Xorn reveals he was Magneto all along (from New X-Men #146, page 22).

Figure 3: Xorn reveals he was Magneto all along (from New X-Men #146, page 22).

Many fans criticised this turn of events, claiming that Morrison had simply chosen on the fly to turn Xorn into Magneto and that his earlier stories contradicted the revelation.  However, looking back, most of Xorn’s appearances did indeed contain hints and clues, as well as ambiguous uses of his powers.  The only real healing abilities Xorn displayed were in the Imperial story-arc, when he got rid of the Nano-Sentinels that had been infecting the X-Men (but given Magneto’s powers, it’s hardly beyond his capability to disable metal nanomachines).  And he stated that he used the Nano-Sentinels in Xavier’s body to repair his spine, enabling him to walk.  Most other times, Xorn claimed he was unable to heal for whatever reason.  New X-Men #138 actually provides more insight into the Xorn is really Magneto theory – Quentin Quire’s use of Kick triggered a secondary mutation and his powers were growing and Xorn was summoned to heal him.  Quire’s words here prove insightful: “What if we were both wrong, Professor X…and it wasn’t humans to blame at all? What if the real enemy…was inside all along?”  Xorn then uses his powers on Quentin, seemingly helping him to ascend to a higher plane of reality, but what he could have been doing was silencing the one man who had begun to see through his disguise. The real enemy being inside could have been seen as Sublime or Magneto, it works both ways.

However, Xorn as a disguise is problematic, even without everything that happened later (and I’ll get to that in a moment). Many people point to New X-Men #127 as proof that Morrison didn’t intend for Xorn to be Magneto, because it involves Xorn meeting an old friend of his uncle’s.  However, at the end of the issue, the narration states, “You wished to see my thoughts and were blinded by the sun beneath my mask, Professor Xavier…so I have tried to capture my feelings for you, in the form of symbols here on this book of paper leaves.”  The entire issue was a journal entry Xorn wrote for Xavier, so it’s the very definition of unreliable narration.  Instead, the most problematic issue is Xorn’s very first appearance.  In it, Emma reads psychic imprints off the keys to Xorn’s helmet and sees his memories.  Two, one of the U-Men present states that Xorn is opening a black hole, something that Magneto shouldn’t be able to do.  Three, Magneto said he constructed Feng Tu with the help of his supporters in China.  While it is possible Magneto could have had a telepath imprint the keys with false memories (he’s already shown to have supporters in China), the timing is suspect.  After all, Magneto was shown in a wheelchair during the Sentinel attack in Genosha, which occurred right before Xorn’s first appearance. In fact, Xorn’s appearance in the Annual could “only” have occurred immediately following the destruction of Genosha – Beast is present in the issue, and he was incapacitated by Cassandra Nova following that story-arc.  That’s not a lot of time for an injured Magneto to go from Genosha to China, construct a fake mutant prison, and arrange for Sublime to turn up.

Editorial was also not satisfied with the way Morrison left Magneto.  Many at Marvel thought Xorn was a great character and wanted Magneto to be around to tell more stories with.  And so, at the end of Excalibur (volume 3) #1, written by Chris Claremont, it was revealed that Magneto was alive and well, living in Genosha all this time.  He had no knowledge of the events of Planet X and was angered at the thought that people could believe he was capable of such murderous acts.  To add more confusion, in X-Men #157, written by Chuck Austen, a powerful mutant was detected in China and Polaris felt the magnetic fields tearing.  When the X-Men arrived, they discovered someone who looked a lot like Xorn and possessed similar powers.  Wolverine even noted that this Xorn was similar to the Xorn they knew, but different.  In X-Men #162, he told Emma that it was his brother, Kuan-Yin Xorn, who had been among them. And he, Shen Xorn, was Kuan-Yin’s twin brother.  Shen Xorn also added more confusion to the issue of who was responsible for the actions of Planet X: “You should know it was not Magneto who did the things you accuse him of. It was someone else…someone I still sense within your midst. I do not know the name of this individual… but I do know that they are fiercely hateful, and malevolent, have been hiding among you for some time – and even now seek to turn others against you… They intend to destroy everything Xavier has built.”

Figure 4: Shen Xorn attempts to explain the events of Planet X (from X-Men #162, page 3).

Figure 4: Shen Xorn attempts to explain the events of Planet X (from X-Men #162, page 3).

Chuck Austen’s run, which was also subject to profound criticism, was cut short with the conclusion of his Heroes and Villains story-arc, and his final issue, X-Men #164, ended on a cliffhanger that has (as of this writing) remained unresolved).  Shen Xorn removed the Brotherhood through the use of his black hole (all later turned up alive) and chose to leave the X-Men. In the final pages, the X-Men’s nurse, Annie, was leaving the school with her mutant son, Carter.  He was in the backseat talking with someone and Annie asked if he had an imaginary friend.  Carter replied, “Her. It’s a she. And she’s not imaginary, Mom.” The final panel of this issue showed Carter with a sinister grin on his face and psionic eyes hovering next to him.  Austen revealed in an interview that he planned to reveal this as Cassandra Nova.

It’s not hard to see that, given Austen’s original plan to bring back Nova, it seems that this hateful, malevolent individual Shen Xorn said controlled his brother was Nova herself.  Of course, this causes numerous problems.  For one, Morrison already revealed in New X-Men that Sublime was behind virtually everything, from the Weapon Plus Project to the Riot at Xavier’s to Magneto’s actions in Planet X.  Furthermore, Nova was mind-wiped at the end of the Imperial arc, placed in the body of deceased Imperial Guardsman Stuff, programmed to learn.  Shortly after Imperial, a new student, a young girl named Ernst, with facial features that resembled Cassandra’s, appeared at the Institute.  Magneto commented on this, stating that he always suspected there was more to her.  And in the future of Here Comes Tomorrow where Cassandra is redeemed and a member of the X-Men, she tells Martha, “Why of course you can still call me Ernst, dear.” Austen confused this in X-Men #155 when he showed Beast and Cyclops investigate Cassandra’s empty cell. However, as Magneto/ Xorn was unaware of Ernst’s origins, it’s quite possible that only Xavier and Jean knew of this.

Brian Michael Bendis did attempt to resolve this in House of M #7, when Doctor Strange says to Wanda: “Did you create your father as well? I’d heard rumors of his death last year, and his somewhat puzzling rebirth before all this became…what it became. I wonder, was that you as well? How long have you been playing with the world?”  The suggestion here is that Wanda watched her father’s actions in Planet X with horror and perhaps subconsciously used her powers to recreate him in Genosha the way she wanted him to be.  After all, despite fan objections to Magneto’s portrayal in Planet X, he had displayed genocidal tendencies prior to Morrison’s run, most-recently in Lobdell’s Eve of Destruction arc. Also in Magneto: Dark Seduction, he and Wanda had harsh words to exchange and this was (apparently) their final meeting before Planet X.  Could Wanda have attempted to undo all this by re-creating Magneto as the more honourable man he was instead of the despot he had become? There is precedence for this in the Marvel Universe – when Franklin Richards resurrected the Avengers and the Fantastic Four in the wake of Onslaught, he did so in forms he recognised, thus the Wasp was restored to human form instead of her mutated insect form, Tony Stark was now middle-aged instead of a teenager, and even Hawkeye’s hearing was restored (all covered in Avengers Annual 2001).  And Wanda has proven to have the ability to resurrect (or recreate) people, Hawkeye was restored to life in the wake of House of M as well.

Figure 5: Did the Scarlet Witch re-create Magneto following Planet X? (from House of M #7, page 6)

Figure 5: Did the Scarlet Witch re-create Magneto following Planet X? (from House of M #7, page 6)

On the surface, this seems to be a simple out, as it preserves Morrison’s story as intended – Xorn was a fiction created by Magneto, Magneto was manipulated by Sublime into his actions, and Wolverine did kill him. Then, Wanda subconsciously resurrected Magneto as the more honourable man he had been before he snapped.  But there are still problems with this theory.  For one, it strikes me as extremely lazy, given that it puts the “Wanda’s hex” explanation on a similar level as “Spidey’s deal with Mephisto” and DC’s “Superboy Prime’s punch” – it’s a “deus ex machina” used to provide a flimsy explanation for bad writing.  Two, even Wanda’s reality manipulations don’t work given what happened afterwards – we still have Shen Xorn as canon and his cryptic explanation for his brother’s actions.  And also, Bendis himself contradicted this in New
Avengers #20, when the energy of all the de-powered mutants, now called the Collective, was being guided by the consciousness of none other than Kuan-Yin Xorn (something that seems even more bizarre given that Kuan-Yin died long before House of M).

For argument’s sake, let’s say that Shen’s knowledge of his brother’s actions was due to them having a rapport, and perhaps Kuan-Yin’s consciousness survived inside Shen.  Taking this further, Shen was one of the de-powered mutants of M-Day, so this explains how Kuan-Yin could have existed within the Collective.

Figure 6: Xorn, controlling the Collective, re-powers Magneto (from New Avengers #20, page 6-7).

Figure 6: Xorn, controlling the Collective, re-powers Magneto (from New Avengers #20, page 6-7).

Now what about Planet X? It could be said that this was all part of Sublime’s plan. In New X-Men #145, the “Boss” of the Weapon Plus orbital facility says, “Our informant within the Xavier Institute tells us of a build-up of arms and soldiers, and a major new mutant threat to human security. …In less than two weeks from today the sleepers will wake from their tanks and mutantkind will be exterminated, humanely.”  Also in New X-Men #150, the Secretary of Defense tells the President while watching footage of Magneto, “do we need any more proof that mutants are our natural enemies? This is why they destroyed our Weapon Plus Super-Soldier Initiative. The human race must not go gently into the night, sir!”  Sublime, in New X-Men #154, states, “These mutations, with their potential to breed strong, invulnerable offspring, were the first real threat to our eternal dominion. … We had to infect them with aggression, had to divert their great energies into mindless conflict. Locked in perpetual struggle, they could never breed, their population could never grow to threaten us with extinction. The supermen fight and die and return in a meaningless shadowplay because we make them do it.”  It is clear that Sublime intended to keep mutants locked in war, and what better way to do that than by having the world’s most-feared mutant attempt global genocide?

But, neither Sublime nor Xorn ever appeared to possess the ability to change appearances.  And while Xorn’s gravitational powers could have easily been used to mimic magnetism, it doesn’t account for how he was walking around with Magneto’s face, and how even without his helmet on, no one died from exposure to the unshielded star that was his head.  There has to be another explanation.

While researching this, I stumbled upon an interesting line from Bishop in New X-Men #140.  While investigating the murder of Emma Frost, Bishop tells Xavier, “there’s something else I have to bring into the equation, Professor…you’ve been possessed before.  In a world of mind-readers, shape-changers and disembodied consciousnesses…crime takes on a whole new meaning.”  My first thought went to the Shadow King, but it was a recent event in Marvel’s new Uncanny Avengers that brought the whole thing into focus.

In Uncanny Avengers #1, a clone of the Red Skull takes the deceased body of Charles Xavier and removes his brain so the Skull can appropriate his psychic powers for himself.  And then, at the end of Uncanny Avengers #4, there’s a scene that takes place three months in the future.  In this
future, Havok, the Scarlet Witch, and Sunfire are running from Sentinels and discover the remains of Immortus and beside him on a wall, a drawing of the Skull with psychic waves emanating from his head.  Sunfire says, “that was it. The moment the anomaly began.” And then a fourth
voice says, “Yes, indeed, a historic time…the day the Onslaught began” and the last page is a splash of Onslaught with the face of the Red Skull.

Figure 7: Onslaught returns…but how? (from Uncanny Avengers #4, page 22)

Figure 7: Onslaught returns…but how? (from Uncanny Avengers #4, page 22)

This, to me, provides a solution to wrap everything up.  Xorn nor Sublime would have the power to make people believe they were seeing Magneto in place of Xorn, but Onslaught, being birthed from the consciousnesses of both Magneto and Professor X and possessing near-godlike powers in the past, could reshape reality to make it look like Magneto.  The events of Uncanny Avengers show that Onslaught does still exist in some form within Xavier.

Here is what I think happened.  In New X-Men #125, to save Xavier from Cassandra’s dying body (which she imprisoned him in), Jean stored Charles’ entire consciousness into her brain.  Parts were slipping away and she was having difficulty containing him, so in issue #126, she then used Cerebra to break apart Charles’ consciousness and spread it around to every mutant on Earth.  Thus, when Cassandra (in Charles’ body) connected to Cerebra, she inadvertently gave Charles the means to return to his own consciousness and force out Cassandra and the Mummudrai.  This was when Emma tricked Cassandra into putting her consciousness into the deceased form of Stuff, thus trapping herself.

But what if a part of the Mummudrai remained within Xavier?  After the events of Imperial, he seemed a little different.  In issue #128, he said, “It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this good. Or this…nervous. No more need to hide our mutant natures. No more human rules.”  Jean even warned him that he sounded like Cassandra and he said, “She was right to reveal us to the world. … In trying to do evil – in trying to expose mutants to their enemies, she freed us from a self-imposed exile. I see her now as an agent of nature, testing its own boundaries, forcing change into stalemated systems.”  And later, in issue #130, Xavier tells the authorities who arrive in the Eurotunnel, “We’re in no mood to play chimpanzee politics.”  That doesn’t seem like the kind of thing a man like Xavier would say, more like something Magneto might say.

Onslaught, or at least a part of him, had been reawakened within Xavier.  Confused, disoriented, not knowing who he was.  He’s not yet strong enough to pierce Xavier and the other X-Men are well-trained against an invasion of that sort.  But Xorn, the newest and perhaps most naive of the team?  Perhaps that’s a different story.  Onslaught, disoriented believes himself to be Magneto, and so Xorn begins to think of himself as Magneto.  Use of the Kick drug only enhances this feeling, as well as boosts Onslaught’s abilities, allowing him to affect the kind of manipulation to make himself physically become Magneto.  And after Xorn is killed by Wolverine, Onslaught finds a way to survive, either back within Xavier or within another X-Man temporarily.

Ideally, I would like to honour Morrison’s original idea, but the events following his run have made that difficult, so in an effort to reconcile all these problematic plotlines and half-baked conclusions, this is how I’ve decided to fix this.  And this solution manages a few things:

  1. The problematic first appearance of Xorn is clarified once and for all: it was really Xorn at Feng Tu;
  2. It addresses how Xorn could have made himself appear as Magneto;
  3. It explains the existence of Shen Xorn, as well as his statement that the force behind his brother’s rampage still exists among the X-Men;
  4. Carter’s imaginary friend could have easily been Onslaught.  Since Carter and Annie were never heard of again, let’s just assume that Onslaught no longer saw them as useful and this conversation was them saying goodbye;
  5. Xorn’s reverence of Magneto in The Collective makes more sense in light of all this; and
  6. And finally, all of this connects to an ongoing story-arc and helps to explain the re-emergence of Onslaught.

…Storm’s mystical heritage?

While Storm started out life as common street thief, her lineage is far from humble.

Chris Claremont planted seeds throughout his original run on Uncanny X-Men that she was descended from an ancient line of African sorceresses, including Uncanny X-Men #160 and the Magik mini-series where the alternate Ororo whom Illyana and the X-Men meet in Limbo says she’d turned to her magical heritage when her weather-control powers faded with old age.

Figure 1: the older version of Storm who is a sorceress from Uncanny X-Men #160

Figure 1: the older version of Storm who is a sorceress (from Uncanny X-Men #160)

Claremont builds on this plot further by revealing that this ancient line of sorceresses also possessed Storm’s trademark white hair and tampetumus eyes when, in New Mutants #32, he has Magik and Dani Moonstar teleport to Pharaonic Egypt while fleeing the Shadow King where they are aided by a mystic of high renown bearing an uncanny resemblance to Storm, including the blue eyes and white hair.  This mystic is called Ashake, and tells the new mutants Ororo is her granddaughter many times removed.

Figure 2: Ashake, dead ringer for Storm who turns out to be her ancestor from New Mutants #32

Figure 2: Ashake, dead ringer for Storm who turns out to be her ancestor (from New Mutants #32)

Then, in Uncanny X-Men Annual 2006 Claremont reveals that her mother, N’Dare’s brother Shetani had rebelled against the tribe’s traditions, feeling discriminated against within the female-led tribe.

Figure 3: The power in Ororo's family, going back to the dawn of humanity, passes from mother to daughter, leaving out those born male in the tribe (from Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 2006)

Figure 3: The power in Ororo’s family, going back to the dawn of humanity, passes from mother to daughter, leaving out those born male in the tribe (from Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 2006)

This is suggesting it is the females in the family that inherit the mystical power (the white hair and tampetumus eyes being the indicator manifesting every five generations).  Her uncle Shetani, while bald, had brown eyes so while he felt discriminated against, if he didn’t have the mystical-carrying genes he couldn’t contain the power anyway (unless it came from the females being put forward over the males to consort with some mystical race).

While Storm’s ability to control the weather, and her female ancestry, is obviously inspired by H. Rider Haggaard’s She which in turn was based upon the real-life dynasty of Rain Queens of Balobedu in South Africa’s Limpopo province…

Figure 4: She by H. Rider Haggard (author of King's Solomon's Mines)

Figure 4: She by H. Rider Haggard (author of King’s Solomon’s Mines)

…the explanation for this magic ancestry has been RIGHT THERE… and yet none of us saw it, but how in the hell could we have MISSED it?

  1. Faltine are entities composed of pure magic energy.
  2. Certain ones of them were able to take on human forms, Dormammu and Umar for example.
  3. When a Faltine and a mortal procreate, the product of this union results in the child having WHITE HAIR and BLUE EYES, with exceptional magic potential (Clea being the Marvel Universe’s leading example).
Figure 5: Clea possesses tremendous magical power due to her Faltine heritage (from Dr. Strange)

Figure 5: Clea possesses tremendous magical power due to her Faltine heritage (from Dr. Strange)

Now we all know Storm’s ancestry is priestesses and sorceresses, and they were exceptional magic users, and all those with such power had the tapetumus eyes and white hair.

Figure 6: Richard Leakey's Eve hypothesis from which Claremont drew inspiration

Figure 6: Richard Leakey’s Eve hypothesis from which Claremont drew inspiration

So has the secret to Storm’s magic ancestry, including her tapetumus eyes and white hair, all along been pointing to their being an inherited trait from a Faltine ancestor?

And just look at the similarity below between Clea when transformed into a Faltine magical energy creature (from Marvel Team-Up #77 by Claremont) and Storm’s powers out of control (from Uncanny X-Men #147 & #172).

DarkStorm

Figure 7: Can anyone say “Flames of Regency”?

With this in mind, we need Chris Claremont back to explain not only why Storm’s tribe denied its males from inheriting this power but the circumstances behind their alliance with the Faltine…

Note: Was it perhaps the Faltine who promised Storm to the Shadow King so long ago as he suggested in Uncanny X-Men #265? Why did the Shadow King REALLY want Ororo?

969204-beat_shadow_king_super

And who did Claremont intend the “Bright Lady” to be?

…Nightcrawler’s parentage? (prologue)

Claremont’s original idea for Nightcrawler’s father, proposed during his collaboration with John Byrne, was longtime Dr. Strange villain Nightmare (Claremont reasoned that the dimension through which Nightcrawler travels while teleporting is the same as the dream dimension Nightmare inhabits). This idea was ultimate quashed before it saw print (or really, before it was hinted at in any way in print) by then X-Men editor and Dr. Strange writer Roger Stern, who commented in Back Issue #29 that he wouldn’t let Claremont reveal Nightmare as Nightcrawler’s father because he didn’t like characters being revealed as secretly related to one another, preferring mutants to be revealed as having normal parents (yet hypocritically let John Byrne do it for Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver by planting the seeds that would lead to the Magneto-as-their-Dad retcon).

His initial one stymied, Claremont’s second idea for Nightcrawler’s parentage was that he was the son of Mystique and Destiny, with Mystique playing the role of the male in their coupling.

Figure 1: A connection between Nightcrawler and Mystique is first suggested by the villainess during the seminal “Days of Future Past” story, in Uncanny X-Men #142, and hinted at a few more times during Claremont’s run, but nothing concrete was ever established.

The understanding is that when Claremont first hinted at the connection in issue #142 he fully intended to reveal the Mystique/Destiny relationship, but was continually overruled by Marvel editorial, who at the time felt a relationship of that nature wouldn’t make it past the Comics Code Authority. As result, this particular origin of Nightcrawler remains nothing more than vague hints and out-universe discussions.

However, hints Claremont has dropped during a number of interviews suggest he isn’t being entirely honest with regard to his planned intentions for Kurt’s parents. And here’s why…

In the recent Chaos War: X-Men #1, written by Claremont, Moira MacTaggert reveals that Irene Adler’s quest to protect humanity led her to hire a MAN of mystery named ERIC RAVEN.

Figure 2: Mystique’s original identity of Eric Raven from Chaos War: X-Men #1

The two of them then join forces and in the X-Men: True Friends mini-series (set in Edinburgh, Scotland in the year 1936) Mystique is portrayed working alongside Logan and Irene Adler as a MAN called “Mr. Raven” (obviously the abovementioned Eric Raven).

Figure 3: Mr. Raven working alongside Irene Adler and Logan in 1936 from X-Men: True Friends #3

In addition, Claremont has repeatedly stated in interviews that Raven was born a biological female, yet he tripped himself up on Comixfan back in 2003, stating that: “Mystique abandoned him [Nightcrawler] because she was totally freaked by this indigo-furred creature with ‘deformed’ appendages and a forked tail! At that point, he stated, Mystique had no idea (s)he was a mutant, or a metamorph; (s)he simply reacted as many normal folks would in similar circumstances.”

If Mystique was not aware that (s)he was a mutant until AFTER Kurt’s birth, as Claremont above claims, and was portrayed as a male in 1936 (obviously prior to Kurt’s birth), the implication of all this is that Raven Darkholme was born a MALE and DID NOT metamorph into a female until after he impregnated Kurt’s mother.

So if Mystique was a male (i.e. Eric Raven) to begin with and was not aware “he” was a mutant when Kurt was born, this obviously means (s)he did not transform her identity into that of a female until after his birth, and was therefore his biological father, not his mother as previously claimed.

Now given her initial male Christian name was Eric, how coincidental is it that Kurt’s supposed father Baron Wagner also had the same Christian name?!

This would suggest that since Mystique was Kurt’s biological father, (s)he had assumed the identity of Baron ERIC Wagner at the time.

So since Kurt inherited the blue skin from his father Mystique, who was using the identity Baron Eric Wagner at the time, and his mutation is his ability to teleport, this would seem to suggest he inherited his fur from his mother and that this woman is someone other than Mystique’s leman, Irene Adler!

If so, who might it be?

While Meggan’s people were somewhat furry…

Figure 4: Meggan was shown to have a connection to the ancient race the Neuri (from Excalibur #46)

…I don’t necessarily want a fix that see’s Nightcrawler in another questionable, semi-incestuous relationship like he already has with Amanda Sefton!

However, with the later insertion of the Neuri into Stefan Szardos’s origin (he murdered their children), a connection is there that could reveal one of them to be the candidate.

Figure 5: Stefan Szardos, Kurt’s adoptive brother, murders Neuri children (from Marvel Comics Presents #103)

It’s interesting that the Neuri always made me think of the Wendigo (and its interesting how similar Narya/ Snowbird’s powers are similar to Meggan’s, in that they’re more powerful on their country of origin’s soil – plus there’s the pointy-ears:)  But I digress…

So what other otherworldly female might have attracted Eric Wagner’s eye?

The region of Kurt’s birth, Bavaria, is fraught with stories of visitation by succubi, often furred.

Now recall the succubus, Lilith was introduced in the early 90s Midnight Sons crossover, who had the ability to open portals stinking of brimstone.

Figure 6: Lilith, mother of demons, opening a portal from some “brimstone-stinking” dimension (cf. Ghost Rider #31)

Now the question is how she got there from her imprisonment by Atlantean sorcerers?

Well, who was there to collect baby Kurt?

Recall Margali Szardos tells two conflicting stories about how she found Kurt – first that she found him beside his father who was dead by the side of the road, then that she found him aside his dead mother.

On this note, recall Claremont’s claim that Mystique did not know (s)he was a mutant at the time of Kurt’s birth.

Therefore, are the circumstances behind Margali mentioning Eric Wagner was unconscious on the roadside a result of being knocked out, at which time his mutant power kicked in for the first time and he transformed into a female in an effort to prevent those who had beaten him from coming back and finishing the job when they realised they hadn’t killed him successfully?

Further recall that Margali’s claim to fame is her manipulation of the dark arts – she would certainly possess the knowledge to summon forth a demoness like Lilith.

So now the thing to be ironed out before this “Fix” is ready is:

  1. What the circumstances were behind Mystique hiding out in Bavaria as Eric Wagner;
  2. What the circumstances were behind Margali summoning Lilith forth;
  3. What the circumstances were behind Eric/ Mystique getting Lilith pregnant with Kurt (besides the actual act of copulation;) and
  4. What the circumstances were behind Lilith leaving the baby behind?

A very big thank you goes out to Austin Gorton for his proofreading of and input toward this post.  Writer and geek who particularly loves Claremont’s X-Men, you can check out his awesome blog, Gentlemen of Leisure, where he has taken on the yeoman’s job of doing an issue by issue analysis of Claremont’s 17 year X-titles run under the name Teebore. 

…Madelyne Pryor’s resemblance to Jean Grey?

This guest post kindly comes from longtime comic book fan and aspiring writer, Jack Fisher.  His favorite series include X-Men, Spider-Man, Saga, Y: The Last Man, Hulk, and Justice League.  He owns and operates the website, X-men Supreme, which is the site of his bi-weekly fanfiction series. He also operates the X-men Supreme Official Blog, which regularly reviews comics.

The conflict between Chris Claremont and Jim Shooter with respect to the events and outcome of the Phoenix Saga are well-documented.  Claremont made his original plan very clear.  He intended Jean Grey to survive, become de-powered, leave the X-men, and start a family with Cyclops.  It was Jim Shooter who mandated that Jean face punishment for being responsible for the destruction of 5 billion D’brai.  In some ways this made the end of the Phoenix Saga and its aftermath all the more emotional.  We can debate for ages which ending would have been better, but it is often the aftermath of this mandate that has triggered a great deal of controversy, some from Chris Claremont himself.

This controversy centres around the character of Madelyne Pryor. After Cyclops’s departure from the X-men following the Phoenix Saga, she conveniently emerged bearing an uncanny resemblance to Jean Grey.  Still reeling from his loss, Cyclops was quickly captivated by Madelyne and even thought she was Jean reincarnated (which earned him a punch in the face).  Despite this awkward introduction, Madelyne would go onto marry Cyclops and have a child with him that would later become Cable.  It was meant to be the happy ending that Chris Claremont originally wanted for Cyclops.  Unfortunately, it turned into something much more complicated and would end up having significant ramifications for the X-books for years to come.

It came as another result of an editorial mandate.  Jim Shooter wanted Jean Grey back for X-Factor, a new series that would be penned by Louise Simonson.  However, he wanted her to be absolved of the crimes committed by the Phoenix.  So as a result, the events of the Phoenix Saga were ret-conned so that Jean Grey spent the whole affair in a cocoon in Jamaica Bay while the Phoenix Force created a likeness of Jean Grey that committed those crimes.  It was convoluted, but it allowed Shooter and Simonson to bring Jean Grey back.  It also brought Cyclops back into the fold.  News of Jean’s return led him to seek her out against Madelyne’s wishes.  It culminated with Cyclops joining X-Factor while Madelyne and their son disappeared.

This eventually lead to Inferno, which was yet another ret-con.  By having Cyclops leave Madelyne, it put her and Cyclops’s character in a difficult position.  So her origin was changed.  Instead of being a woman that just happened to look like Jean Grey, she became a clone created by Mr. Sinister for the express purpose of falling in love with Cyclops and having his child.  This revelation along with many other events turned Madelyne Pryor into the villainous Goblin Queen.  She would eventually try to sacrifice her own son while taking on the X-men, including her former husband.  The X-men were able to defeat her, leaving Madelyne as one of the most twisted and dramatic characters during that period of the X-books.  While Inferno is often highly regarded as a quality story in the history of X-men, the circumstances and changes to Madelyne Pryor’s character have led to some convoluted and sometimes damaging effects throughout the X-books.

Chris Claremont himself was one of the most vocal critics.  He created Madelyne to give Cyclops the happy ending that he wanted.  That ending as well as the ending to the Phoenix Saga was completely undermined when Jean was brought back.  In addition, Claremont and many others would argue that Cyclops leaving his wife did irreversible damage to his character.  One could argue the circumstances and merits of this action, but it was certainly a morally questionable act.  Claremont would later use this act justify undermining the Cyclops/Jean relationship in favour of a Jean/Wolverine relationship, often to the detriment of the characters as some have argued.  It all stemmed from Madelyne and the impact she had on the X-men after the events of the Phoenix Saga.  This impact is in many ways the greatest flaw of her character and the direction in which the X-books would take as a result.

The first and most egregious flaw was just how contrived her character was from the beginning.  It helps to break it down into a very simple premise.  Cyclops just watched the love of his life die before his eyes.  He’s so distraught he leaves his friends and teammates behind.  Then he just happens to meet a woman who looks exactly like Jean Grey.  Anyone who knows the definition of the word ‘contrived’ should be able to figure out what’s wrong with that premise.  I get that comics are fantasy and things that don’t usually happen can happen.  However, in terms of storytelling this is just asinine.  Claremont just pulled this character out of thin air, put her with Cyclops, and essentially forced this happy ending he wanted him to have with Jean.  Good storytelling or even mediocre storytelling rarely results from forcing a plot.  I get where Claremont is coming from.  He wanted this ending and was probably upset that Jim Shooter denied it to him.  So he did his best to capture it, even at the expense of being overly contrived.

But that isn’t the only flaw with Madelyne.  In some ways the difficulties with her character are paralleled by what has been happening with Hope Summers in the recent X-men comics.  Because of Madelyne’s resemblance to Jean Grey, it makes it difficult for her character to develop a sense of uniqueness.  No matter what she does, she will be compared or associated with Jean Grey if for no other reason than because she showed up so quickly after Jean died.  But making her look exactly like Jean while at first having no apparent link to her is simply too much, even for a comic book.

Another flaw that may or may not be a flaw has to do with her being a clone.  For most comics, clones are often seen as a poor plot device.  They are often seen as agents of ret-cons and they often are.  Clones often complicate story-lines that are often complicated to begin with.  For Madelyne Pryor, it was a special case.  For her, being a clone actually made more sense for her character than just being some random woman who happened to look like Jean Grey.  That’s a lot of happenstance and being a clone actually helped rectify that in a way that was may have been convoluted, but it worked.  Her being a clone along with interactions with Mr. Sinister contributed to her becoming the villainous Goblin Queen.  She herself became a flaw that the X-men needed to defeat.  For her character and the overall scope of the series, it was overly complicated.

The final and most far-reaching flaw has to do with the long term effects of Madelyne’s presence.  As previously mentioned, Chris Claremont used Madelyne as an excuse to denigrate Cyclops’s character and undermine his relationship with Jean Grey. He wasn’t completely misguided in doing so.  Cyclops’s character was tainted by his marriage to Madelyne.  It didn’t just put him on a morally questionable level.  It turned him from the dedicated boy scout into an emotionally flawed man who would abandon loved ones.  This would play out in later stories such as him sacrificing Nathan into the future or him having a psychic affair with Emma Frost while he was married to Jean Grey.  It wasn’t restricted to his character either. Jean Grey herself became a victim of Madelyne’s impact.  She became more of an obsession rather than a beloved friend.  She became the emotionally confused woman that became a plot device for melodrama.  Wolverine also suffered as a character because Claremont’s insistence on forcing him with Jean Grey turned him from a loner into more of an obsessive stalker of sorts.  Between the characters and the convoluted plots in which they were involved, Madelyne’s presence did a lot of damage to the books.

So what’s the fix?  How could Madelyne Pryor have become viable?  Assuming that the ending of the Phoenix Force was unchanged, what could have been done to make her character more compelling without twisting the history of the X-men too much?

The Fix:

There are a number of ways this could be handled. One involves taking the ending Chris Claremont wanted and changing the circumstances.  Say Cyclops does leave the X-men and does meet Madelyne Pryor.  She can even look like Jean Grey.  However, in this fix she wouldn’t be a clone. Instead, she would be an agent from Sinister who had her appearance purposefully altered so that she would look like Jean.  Rather than be a victim of brain-washing, she would simply play the part of a con-artist that would get Cyclops to fall in love with her so she can have his baby.

Now this could create a problem for Cyclops.  Would he really be so gullible to just fall for someone who is actively conning him?  It’s one thing if Madelyne doesn’t know who she is or if Sinister implanted false memories.  It’s another if she’s actively lying.  This is where the true identity of Madelyne comes in.  Rather than being a clone, she could be a daughter of Jason Wynegarde.  It wouldn’t be without precedent.  Wynegarde has two daughters in the X-books (Martinique and Regan) and Madelyne could be one of them, perhaps one born out of wedlock that Sinister took under his wing.  She wouldn’t actually look like Jean in the same way Wynegarde didn’t look like he did during the Phoenix Saga.  She would use her psychic skills skills to create this elaborate illusion to Cyclops.  Seeing as how he would be so emotionally vulnerable, he could certainly be lured in to the point where she would take advantage of him.  And since her father was powerful enough to fool the X-men, she could maintain the facade even while under close scrutiny by his friends and teammates.

This solves a number of problems right off the bat.  For one, it makes Madelyne’s appearance far less contrived.  If her resemblance to Jean Grey is an elaborate illusion true to her Wynegarde heritage, then it becomes a mystery rather than a forced plot device.  It also maintains the theme of Cyclops being vulnerable after Jean’s death, thus leading him to set aside any doubts that Madelyne was too good to be true.  It also opens the door to a possibility that could help preserve Cyclops’s character in a way that would maintain his credibility.

Now it’s entirely possible that Cyclops wouldn’t have to marry Madelyne in this fix if it was just an elaborate deception.  However, in order to maintain the same elements that were done in the comics, the marriage still happens.  That way Chris Claremont could still get his happy ending on some levels, but it would be an elaborate ruse.  This would open the door to new stories that would drop hints that maybe Madelyne wasn’t who she appeared to be.  Perhaps there could even be scenes where Cyclops manages to pierce the illusion and see the real Madelyne, but she keeps him from finding out too much.  This way the readers also know that something is up with this woman so that when the revelation of her identity comes along, it doesn’t come off as a ret-con like the revelation about Madelyne being a clone.

It could go a few steps further.  In order to make this relationship to seem less forced, perhaps Madelyne could use another trick that Mastermind used and alter his mind further into falling in love with her while gradually forgetting about Jean Grey.  This could further push Cyclops away from the X-men and prompt him into having a kid with Madelyne.  Since she’s not the clone of Jean Grey, she could still coordinate with Sinister so that when she becomes pregnant he could use a random sample of Jean’s DNA (which he clearly already had in the comics since it allowed him to make Madelyne in the first place) to make Nathan Summers.  This way, the later stories about Nathan can remain intact without having to use clones.

This deception could go further still.  After the birth of their son, Madelyne could tighten her hold on Cyclops to the point where she starts drawing him into joining Sinister.  It would be a parallel of sorts to how Mastermind drew Jean Grey into joining the Inner Circle.  It could make for some difficult conflicts with the X-men, who sense something is wrong but cannot overcome Madelyne’s influence.  Then Jean Grey returns and the story takes on a new shift.

Just as in the original, Jean Grey returns after her cocoon is found by the Fantastic Four.  As soon as word gets out, it catches Cyclops’s attention.  This revelation would be so jarring that it could help undo or at least damage the illusion Madelyne has kept on him for years at this point.  And since this scenario has Madelyne working closely with Sinister from the beginning, she would be far more aggressive in trying to keep Cyclops away from Jean Grey.  As a result, Cyclops actually has to fight her to break free.  In doing so, he finds out that she had been conning him with a psychic illusion.  Devastated, he escapes from Madelyne.  In the process, he tries to retrieve his son.  However, in one last illusion Madelyne manages to trick Cyclops into believing that Nathan was an illusion as well and just a means of keeping him away from the X-men.  This would create an interesting conflict for the reader because they wouldn’t know whether Nathan is real or an illusion.  Cyclops wouldn’t know either, leading him to escape and meet up with Jean Grey so that the events of X-Factor could unfold.

With this revision, not too many events need to change.  Inferno could remain largely intact, but Madelyne doesn’t have to be a clone.  She could just be seeking vengeance on Cyclops and Jean Grey for ruining Sinister’s plan.  Sinister, having shown a low tolerance for failure in the past, could blame her for her failure and cast her out, leading to more resentment that would result in becoming the Goblin Queen.  It also maintains most of the drama between Cyclops and Jean Grey without damaging Cyclops’s credibility.  He didn’t just leave his wife and child.  They were illusions created by Sinister to control him.  At first, he may not tell her about Madelyne because he wouldn’t be sure if it was real or not.  As a means of repairing their relationship, she could help him undo the damage done by the deception.  It would be fitting since she had to go through something similar with the Hellfire Club.  It would also avoid the uncertainty Jean would feel after having absorbed Madelyne in the original Inferno.  Instead, she would just have to defeat her as a means of exposing the full extent of her deception, which could end with the revelation that Nathan was not an illusion after all.  It creates all sorts of new, more coherent dynamics for Cyclops and Jean without the baggage left from Madelyne being a clone or a wife that Cyclops walked out on.

There are many other ways to make Madelyne Pryor a more viable character.  There are just as many ways to handle the aftermath of the Phoenix Saga more effectively.  However, this fix allows for the fewest overall changes to the overall continuity.  It would have kept with Jim Shooter’s mandates.  It would have given Chris Claremont fewer reasons to resent Cyclops.  It could have made the whole affair surrounding Madelyne, Cyclops, and Jean Grey much cleaner and less contrived.  Madelyne Pryor still has merit as a character, but the circumstances surrounding her creation will ensure that much of that merit will go unrealised.

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