…Apocalypse’s “Twelve” plot?

The TwelveThe 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?

18 Responses

  1. Hmm.

    Well, I know you said this question doesn’t interest you, but I am too curious not to ask:

    WHO do you think the Twelve were? Or rather, give your theory as to what their purpose was, who are the twelve most logical candidates, in your mind?

    I like the idea of the ultimate purpose being apotheosis. I wonder, could one construct a cosmology for the X-verse that saw the macro-entity not only as the destination, but also the beginning? This massive god-head was the original being, who then split into two entities (Phoenix and Shadow King … ?), then further split and congealed into various different races?

    (Perhaps with the Shi’ar being directly desceneded from the Phoenix — hence the Phoenix looming so large in their mythology, and this could also tie in to their avian physical characteristics.)

    • My closest guess for WHO the Twelve are would be the Qabbalistic gestalt, and that it changes from time to time, as did the list of “The Twelve”. To learn the real truth, we’d probably need to speak with Louise Simonson.
      As for their purpose, again I’d tie it back to my gestalt theory since the storyline was obviously intended to bring back the Phoenix as part of Jean’s arsenal, and in fact Apocalypse refers to himself as the ultimate Black King and Jean as the White King.
      It can’t be a coincidence that Apocalypse had established a base in the same locality where Marvel Girl had fled down tunnels from the Shi’ar Imperial Guard to destroy herself as the Dark Phoenix, and you’ll in fact recall Beast suggesting that the weapon Jean had used being placed there by Apocalypse himself.
      Did Apocalypse require the Twelve to trigger the emergence of the Phoenix which he would utilise to siphon their powers to become the macro-entity I discussed. I’d suggest that he planned to replace Xavier’s location in the tree and position himself at its lofty crown.
      One alternative idea I’d given consideration to was the idea for Apocalypse to become the next host to the Shadow King? Imagine how unbeatable the Shadow King would be in the body of an immortal mutant. During the Shadow King saga Reisz had mentioned his destiny was to reach the stars, so would he do this by taking possession of a mutant forged by Celestial technology? How apt that he take the body of another Egyptian mutant to ensure this. Mind you, he could have used Ahmet Abdol much earlier.
      But the remaining mystery behind this saga is what the true story behind Askani was all about, since it was never Chris’s intention for Rachel to evolve into “Mother Askani”?
      With regard to your Gnostic suggestion, I would alternatively suggest that the Godhead ruptured to become the Phoenix and the First Fallen, not the Shadow King. In my opinion, I think Claremont was going to link Jamie Braddock to the First Fallen as Jean is linked to the Phoenix. Wasn’t that the point of the whole arc that the First Fallen was supposed to be made into flesh?
      As for the Shi’ar, you make an interesting point about their being directly descended from the Phoenix. Were Sharra and K’ythri meant to represent both the female and male versions of the Phoenix? Was the “male version of the Phoenix” perhaps more dominant when a male sat on the Shi’ar throne, and vice versa?
      I have entertained the alternate idea that the married couple of Sharra and K’ythri whom the Shi’ar worshipped seemed to suggest some connection with the dual nature of Stakar and Aleta. Were the gods intended as an earlier incarnation of the Stakar/ Aleta template? Given both the golden-coloured skin of the Hawk-God AND THE Shi’ar, were the Aerie perhaps sired by the Hawk-God?
      Re: your suggestion of the entities then further splitting and congealing into different races, given Claremont’s suggestion that the Phoenix was the fuel for stars, and their being nuclear creation factories that might not be too far from the truth.

  2. Okay, so the Twelve are the quabbalistic gestalt – that makes sense, should’ve made that connection myself, I guess. But there are ten spheres of the Quaballah, yes? There is an eleventh one that – at least according to Promethea – is kind of a “lost” sphere, between 3 and 4. What is the twelfth mutant, then, I wonder?

    I still would like to fill that in with specific people, but I guess it does make sense that wouldn’t have to be the same twelve participants every time this phenomenon might manifest.

    Who was Askani, indeed? She claims in the story to be related to little Nathan, right? So, assume she is also a descendant of Scott Summers … could her lineage go back to an affair between Scott and Psylocke? (I know those two had their romantic tension post-Claremont, but I read somewhere that Claremont had plans to put Scott and Psylocke together as well. And didn’t Askani have a psychic knife?)

    What is the First Fallen? I don’t know what that term alludes to, I must ignorantly confess.

    • With regard to the Qabbala gestalt, were the X-Men meant to represent the Qlippoth and not the Tree of Life? As for the Twelfth mutant I’d suggest the combination of them all, i.e. Apocalypse after he has absorbed their power.
      As for who Claremont intended Askani to originally be, I’m not sure but I doubt a connection with Psylocke given the red hair. She mentioned a talent in the family for time-flying which seems to indicate a connection with Rachel but… If Claremont intended the Sinister-child to inhabit Scott and Madelyne’s son, when she was referring to Lord Nathan was she referring to Mr. Sinister? Is Askani therefore a future clone of Madelyne?
      The First Fallen was introduced by Claremont in his Uncanny X-Men run after he X-Treme X-Men, and was referred to as the “male version of the Phoenix” which along with it being “fallen” would seem to suggest it is some evil gnostic demiurge, which is interesting when you consider Claremont tied the Qaballah into the manifestation of the Phoenix.

  3. Strange that Askani had a psychic knife, though. Askani as a future-version of Madelyne is a pretty awesome idea. We know Claremont didn’t like the idea of turning Madelyne evil, so redeeming her through a “future” version is pretty interesting. I like that a lot.

    Although if she was working for Sinister, I guess she is not really redeemed at all. I don’t know — I like the idea of her being a future-Madelyne, but I am attracted to the notion that she was a benign version, somehow. Could that be made to work?

    Regarding what you said about the Qlippoth … Not long after you suggested the Quabbalistic connection to the Phoenix, I started thinking that if Phoenix was the Tree of Life, the natural assumption was that Dark Phoenix was the Qlippoth.

    So the First Fallen is Jamie Braddock? Interesting. What are your thoughts on Jamie Braddock? I am occasionally struck by Claremont’s interest in these strings of “reality-altering” villains: Proteus, Jamie, and of course we know Claremont was interested in reviving Mad Jim Jaspers, from Alan Moore’s “Captain Britain” run.

    Hm. When Proteus’ human body was smashed against a wall by Colossus, what was left was a being of pure, white energy. Colossus disrupted it with his metal body (weakness to metal, hmm, much like the Adversary and Nastirh), and it was scattered throughout the world. Might it have come to later possess Mad Jim Jaspers? And upon his defeat by the Fury, he perhaps briefly tried to recreate Jaspers (which is why we see him at Magneto’s trial), before hitting upon a different host: Jamie Braddock.

    I suggest that perhaps Proteus is the First Fallen. According to Wikipedia, the word proteus ‘suggests the “first”, as protogonos (πρωτόγονος) is the “primordial” or the “firstborn”.’

    Hot damn, that linguistic connection seems too good to ignore!

    Does the Shadow King have a connection to the First Fallen, in your opinion? You suggested in the other thread that the Shadow King influenced events to make Magneto into a terrorist. If the Proteus Force deliberate reconstituted Jim Jaspers just so that he could be present at Magneto’s trial, this suggests a bit of an aligned agenda between Proteus and the King …

    • Given the later power switch between Jean and Betsy, she’d have undoubtedly come to possess Psylocke’s psychic knife, so was Askani just another iteration of Jean?
      Was Sinister truly evil or was just trying to perpetrate that image, and he was actually some amoral saviour of mutantkind?
      With regard to the Qlippoth, the Shi’ar had legends of other people being tainted by the Phoenix even during DPS so that rules out Jean being the first Phoenix host even without the Excalibur stories.
      Now cast your mind back to the Black Queen, Selene.
      You’ll recall Kulan Gath was vying for membership in Thoth-Amon’s Black Ring, so did he seduce Selene down the dark path, as Jason Wyngarde had with Jean Grey?
      To achieve this I suspect he made a pact with the N’Garai, Selene comes to manifest the phoenix power but becomes the Dark Phoenix, Amon shuts her down and her power to drain the life energies of her victims in order to sustain her own life is the parting gift of her mixing it up with Qemtiel, the crown of the Qlippothic negations.
      Does one descend the Tree of Death on their path to becoming the Dark Phoenix?
      I’ve likewise noted the pattern of Claremont utilising “reality-warping” villains.
      I love your suggestion that Proteus is connected with the First Fallen and do recall thinking something similar when I heard about this new character. I suspect Claremont only brought Jamie Braddock in as a replacement to James Jaspers when he was prevented from further utilising the character. Did you know Claremont & Byrne originally intended Proteus as the child of Moira and Charles? When this is changed he later introduces Legion, a character with similar probability-altering abilities.
      I’m not sure of a connection between the First Fallen and the Shadow King though.
      With regard to Magneto becoming a terrorist, recall the Shadow King did influence events to make Mystique and Destiny terrorists, so it does sound like his M.O. doesn’t it?

  4. I did know about the original plan for Proteus. Fascinating: Charles would’ve been the father of the First Fallen.

    As it stands in continuity, the birth of Proteus is indirectly responsible for Charles’ meeting Farouk for the first time. Uncanny #117 tells us that Xavier started bumming around the world because Moira suddenly caught herself off from Charles. I always read that as being because of what happened between Moira and Joe, which is also what led to Proteus’ birth.

    So, your vote is for no connection between the First-Fallen/Proteus figure and the Shadow King?

    It is interesting that — if we grant the theory that the Shadow King was influencing Mastermind during his seduction of Jean Grey, and if we grant that Proteus is the First Fallen, the “male” half of the Phoenix — then that means the Shadow King and the First Fallen pretty much overlapped back during Uncanny 125-128. Proteus actually almost possessed Wyngarde, but the later had a “mental shield” around him, protecting him. And it was a distracting illusion cast by Wyngarde that allowed Proteus to sneak up on Phoenix in issue 125 or 126.

    What do we make of this?

  5. You know it’s interesting that Xavier only makes the decision to recruit the all-new, all-different X-Men while under the mental influence of Krakoa, and is similarly influenced into recruiting the New Mutants by the Brood egg growing inside him.
    Does it therefore go without saying that he decided to recruit his original X-Men not out of concern to protect humanity from the threat of evil mutants such as the Shadow King, but rather that Farouk influenced him to recruit them so he could have fresh superhuman hosts?
    Has Xavier always been a tool for these alien entities, unknowingly assembling together mutants with “omega” potential so they could have the legendary “Twelve” gathered all in one place to gain some power arising from a combined gestalt? Is this what the game is that Sinister talks about in UXM #239?
    So we have the Shadow King, the Shi’ar, the Brood, the Adversary, Mr. Sinister, Apocalypse and who knows who else all vying for this power (as well as this Proteus energy).
    So when Charles repelled the Z’Nox he further alerted all these races to his existence thus heightening the threat to our planet?
    With regard to Wyngard being shielded from Proteus, it is interesting that he wasn’t from the Shadow King. Although given he was imprisoned by A.I.M./Secret Empire during Englehart’s Captain America run and since that’s where the crystal was stolen from, does this suggest that what repelled Proteus was mental shielding from Farouk, since prior to this Mastermind was only an illusionist, he was not a telepath?

  6. 1.
    “Has Xavier always been a tool for these alien entities, unknowingly assembling together mutants with “omega” potential so they could have the legendary “Twelve” gathered all in one place to gain some power arising from a combined gestalt? Is this what the game is that Sinister talks about in UXM #239?
    So we have the Shadow King, the Shi’ar, the Brood, the Adversary, Mr. Sinister, Apocalypse and who knows who else all vying for this power (as well as this Proteus energy).
    So when Charles repelled the Z’Nox he further alerted all these races to his existence thus heightening the threat to our planet?”

    ***** Fascinating theory, especially combined with your earlier discussions about the Shi’ar being responsible for human mutations in the first place. So when they were seeding mutations, they were — perhaps — specifically aiming to eventually create the right combination of mutated humans to form the Qaballistic gestalt?

    Hmmm. Could the whole Z’Nox invasion been a gigantic hoax initiated by the Shi’ar specifically to goad the required telepathic mutant into broadcasting a beacon that would let the Shi’ar find him? Lilandra says that not only did Xavier’s thought-blast signal her, but it also signalled “D’Ken’s telepathic spies.” The implication is that they were spying on Lilandra, but perhaps these spies were tasked specifically with monitoring whether their mutational experiment had created an Earth-based telepath.

    “With regard to Wyngard being shielded from Proteus, it is interesting that he wasn’t from the Shadow King. Although given he was imprisoned by A.I.M./Secret Empire during Englehart’s Captain America run and since that’s where the crystal was stolen from, does this suggest that what repelled Proteus was mental shielding from Farouk, since prior to this Mastermind was only an illusionist, he was not a telepath?”

    *** Definitely. Perhaps a further implication is that the Shadow King was aware of the existence of the Proteus force, and knew how to shield himself from it.

  7. Yes, I’ve entertained the idea that the Z’Nox invasion was an elaborate hoax aimed at having Xavier telepathically come out of the closet, though I’m not sure of it signalling D’Ken since he’d already been on Earth much earlier as we know stealing away parents of mutant children.
    The question with regard to the Proteus force though is why would the Shadow King be shielding himself from gaining reality-warping ability?

  8. Was “The Twelve” plot really begun by Louise Simonson in X-Factor #13, or much earlier by Claremont?

    While scanning for mutants in Central Park, Nimrod makes a subtle hint to the Twelve in Uncanny X-Men #208?

  9. I noticed that, but I assumed it was a coincidence … He says he senses twelve X-Men, which would add up if X-Factor were there.

    Of course, this is a little off because Nimrod says this as soon as he arrives at Central Park. Yet the timeline in the X-Factor issues suggests that X-Factor were not called to Central Park until there were reports of a “robot” on the scene. So Uncanny suggests X-Factor were already there when Nimrod arrives; X-Factor suggests the exact opposite.

    But I took it to be just a continuity error. Still, it is a suggestive one, given that less than six months later, Simonson seized on the “twelve” idea. Did the continuity gaffe *give* her the idea?

    • This would then suggest that if Nimrod pursued Rachel back in time that she would also know the details of who ‘The Twelve’ were. Did she come back to gather them? Has anyone asked Rachel about the legendary group?

  10. I’ve been thinking about your “gestalt” theory regarding the Phoenix – the idea that there had to be a team of X-Men to summon it. We had started tying this in with The Twelve and the Qabalah in some of our other conversations. You had suggested that there is no definitive twelve mutants comprising “the twelve,” implying there are several combinations that could, in fact, bring about the Phoenix. One thing that occurred to me about this idea, that I find kind of cool, is that “X” is Roman for ten, which is the number of sephiroths in the Qabalah. I guess Morrison already did the “X means 10” ret-con in his Weapon X thing that he did (which itself seemed blatantly influenced by the reveal in “V for Vendetta”). But I am kind of taken with the idea that the real reason they were called “X-Men” had to do with them forming the ten-person gestalt that summoned Phoenix.

    Here is my question, though: Why then was Apocalypse interested in “The Twelve” rather than “The Ten”?

    Or to come at it from the other side: There were only EIGHT mutants on the shuttle when Jean first called the Phoenix. Why not ten?

    When Rachel summons the Phoenix Force in Uncanny 199, that’s at a point when there are eight X-Men hanging at the mansion, coincidentally (or not). Actually, nine if one counts both Cyclops and Magneto. Still not ten, though. Storm and the New Mutants were out of the country at the time, either fighting Farouk or getting kidnapped by the Enchantress (or hanging out on the beach in between). Plus, when Rachel summoned the Phoenix, wasn’t she at the Greys’ house, not the mansion?

    Any thoughts on this?

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

  12. That’s awesome! Your discussion with Jason Powell is great, too. All the interrelation among Xavier and the alien races, Shadow King, the Adversary, Mr. Sinister and Apocalypse, all that as a tool to summon omega mutants is fantastic!

    As well the Asimov’s ideas correlated with Sentinels… all of that is genius.

    The thought that everything is connected in X-Men Universe gives some deep at the stories and turn it much more interesting!

  13. This is a fascinating discussion. I’m curious why the “Apocalypse: The Twelve” crossover storyline from 2000 (http://uncannyxmen.net/db/crossover/showquestion.asp?fldAuto=210) itself hasn’t really been explored here.

    Also with the mention of reality warping mutants… how does Franklin Richards fit in? He has been shown to be able to warp reality in extreme situations and has been connected with “The Twelve”.

    • @Jay: If you read my About you’ll understand why with most of my posts!

      I try to work from the original unresolved plot and attempt to theorise what the original writer might have intended before other writers came along and did something completely different to what was intended (and sometimes come up with abandoned plot fixes that are better than the resolutions later written).

      Hope you enjoy my blog and check out my Call-Out here: https://fanfix.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/call-out/

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