The plot of “The Twelve” first emerged in X-Factor #13-14. Firstly referred to by the Master Mold, the Twelve were thought to be the group of mutants who would lead mutantkind in a war against humans, Power Pack #36 revealing nine of those members as Professor X, Apocalypse, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Storm, Moonstar, Cannonball, and Psylocke, with Franklin Richards being named as “the twelfth”.
The next issue to pick up the plot, also penned by Louise Simonson, was issue 39 of X-Factor. While this issue reiterated Storm and Psylocke’s membership, it also added Havok, Wolverine, Colossus, Rogue, Longshot, Archangel, Beast and Iceman to the list. However, this now increased the list to seventeen.
Then in X-Factor #68, the line-up of the Twelve was reverted back to include Apocalypse, the five original X-Men, Professor X, Storm, Cannonball, and now Cable.
But here I am not interested in the membership of “The Twelve” so much as I am the purpose.
It was also during the Endgame storyline that inklings of “The Twelve” legend emerged as a plot orchestrated by Apocalypse in an effort to gather together the 12 most powerful mutants so he might siphon off their power to grant himself omnipotence.
So where to begin?
I would start by revealing that previous leader of the Hellfire Club, White King Edward Buckman, introduced in the backup story of Classic X-Men #7, uncovers the underlying plan of parties within the Club to increase strife around the world, preparing the world for Apocalypse’s eventual return (as revealed during The Further Adventures of Cyclops & Phoenix Limited Series).
But I would suggest that this isn’t all Buckman uncovers. Following “Endgame” I’d further reveal that he uncovers Apocalypse’s plan to absorb the powers of “The Twelve” most powerful mutants in order to challenge the Space-Gods and survive to be reborn as a Celestial.
It is this knowledge which propels Buckman to throw his financial and technological support behind Stephen Lang’s Sentinel programme, and possibly earlier with Master Mold in the hope of ensuring the human race’s survival.
While the X-Men originally introduced the concept of good and evil mutants, Magneto was later given a degree of moral ambivalence by Claremont, but this new angle would provide an opportunity to explore the anti-mutant rhetoric in a more positive light.
But I’m not finished yet.
Since we have been exposed to Magneto’s moral ambivalence, we could go one step further by shedding a more positive light on Apocalypse’s motivations as well. This could provide an additional layer of tragedy to the multi-faceted mutant conflict.
To enable this perspective I would reveal that Apocalypse has been preparing the strong for battle against the Celestials on Alpha Day, the day upon which the Celestials will judge mankind, first mentioned in Eternals v.1 #7.
As for how he learned about Alpha Day, I would suggest that he gleaned the knowledge while inside the Ship left behind by the Third Host of Celestials, and would further reveal that his awakening, despite what other stories have shown, occurred upon the Fourth Host’s arrival on Earth.
Once awakened, Apocalypse begins devising his scheme to gather enough power to challenge the Space Gods and prevent them from destroying life on earth.
But I’m not done yet!
In relation to the Sentinels, like Isaac Asimov, I would posit that Bolivar Trask originally anticipated a potential menace in these robots, and so developed fundamental rules for these intelligent machines in order to protect humans. These rules, like Asimov’s, were:
a) that a Sentinel may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm;
b) that a Sentinel must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law; and
c) that a Sentinel must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First and Second Law.
Where I would explain the Sentinel programme as having come unstuck, however, is when, like Asimov, Trask added a further rule to combat a more sinister prospect: “A robot may not injure humanity, or, through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.”
I would then equate Apocalypse’s vision of mutant evolution to Tielhard de Chardin’s apotheosis – the notion that we will all combine into a single macro-entity, almost literally godlike in its knowledge and perception. Tippler speaks of such a destiny in his book The Physics of Immortality, and Isaac Asimov offered a similar prescription as mankind’s long-range goal, in Foundation’s Edge.
Taking this path I would pen the Sentinel program as a sort of unofficial sequel to Asimov’s famous novels, making more explicit what Isaac was painting all along – the image that conservative robots who fear human transcendence, might actively work to prevent a human singularity for thousands of years, fearing that it would bring us harm. This I would reveal is why they become mutant hunter-killers, as they see the destiny of homo-superior as eventually destroying humanity, just as homo-sapien killed the last remnants of the Neanderthal species.
One could even add in here that Machine Man (X-51) was a corrected version of the Sentinel program, having had the Fourth Law erased from his programming.
Now just picture a Sentinel title:
Sentinels are developed to protect mankind from evil mutants, heroes hated by a world that fears machines. Their enemies include a right wing group supporting eradicating the machines and look upon bots, “robosexuals”, and other human collaborators as the enemy. But these folks aren’t traditional racists. In fact, they’ve embraced all of humanity, including mutants – they’ll need as many organics as they can to defeat the metal ones.
Actually while I loathe the far right wing, and who wouldn’t, there might be a kernel of truth in their argument. Hans Moravec makes the argument that we are branching and that we’re going to lose. Big Time! Unless we take the Kurzweil route and integrate peacefully into our machines, we’re dust. I could see where organics might not like either option.
Contrarily, another group emerges that wishes to afford these artificial intelligences human rights. Can you see the potential?