…the outcome of the Celestial Messiah saga?

Celestial Messiah SagaDuring Fantastic Four #323, written by Steve Englehart, the Cotati deemed they were the only ones fit to raise the Celestial Messiah, and thusly removed the powers his mother Mantis had bestowed upon her when she became the Celestial Madonna, stealing away the pod that was their offspring. The High Cotati travelled within a pyramid to Earth, standing alongside Kang and revealing the pod that would become the Celestial Messiah. They asked Mantis to cease her vendetta to reclaim her son. She refused, and a battle involving Mantis and the Fantastic Four against the Priests of Pama and Kang ensued.

The High Cotati, unable to stand up to Mantis’ mental assault, fuelled by her burning desire to be reunited with her son, fled with pod supposedly to their chosen realm, a realm of pure thought.

Despite Steve’s later revelation, during Avengers: Celestial Quest #2, that they had in fact taken him to the planet Tamal, I suspect that had he not been forced off West Coast Avengers he would reveal that the Cotati had NOT returned with the pod to their chosen realm, but rather engaged the services of Immortus, with whom they had a covert alliance, to deliver the pod back in time a few years. Otherwise, why else form an alliance with a Master of Time unless you’re going to request use of his time-travel abilities!

I would posit that the Cotati had Immortus deliver the pod into the hands of the scientific complex called The Beehive.

What I’m suggesting here is that the cocoon Him awoke from was not a chrysalis, as previously explained, but instead a seed pod.

Recall that the Enclave described Warlock as the PERFECT HUMAN, and there was a prophecy that one day the Celestial Madonna would join with the Elder Cotati and from their union would spring the PERFECT CHILD…

…the Celestial Messiah…

…who was destined to change the universe!

I would reveal that Mantis’s son, Quoi, would go on to become Adam Warlock, and his destiny as a force for ‘Life’ to defeat Thanos, the champion of Death, further explains why the Cotati had been active on Titan for so long.

Postscript
This might further explain the matter of Mar-vell and Rick Jones encountering a temple of the Universal Church on Kree-Lar toward the end of Englehart’s run on that title, in Captain Marvel #41, a location previously dotted with Cotati temples.

Was this meant to suggest that Adam’s devolution into the Magus began altering events backwards in time, and temples previously established for worship of the Celestial Messiah were being transformed as a subtle indication of this?

If Quoi fell into the wrong hands, would he grow up to be the flipside of Adam Warlock, the Magus?

Tom Brevoort previously claimed that the Celestial Messiah was originally intended as the *Great Terror*/*Crossing Menace*, so perhaps this is how it could have been revealed…

…the true origin of the Eternals and Deviants in the Marvel Universe?

This fix arose due to the fact I always thought that the whole ETERNALS cosmology, with its evolutionary aspect, just didn’t fit well over the Marvel Universe.  I thought it weakened the Eternals concept by sticking it into a context that already had plenty of hidden races and evolutionary oddities, and it hurt the Marvel Universe by imposing a cosmology on it that didn’t fit terribly well.  That is, while aliens seeding the human genome is a fairly neat explanation for the way superheroing works, it doesn’t fit the Marvel Universe that well, and the occasional linking of Marvel’s mutants to some sort of Celestial meddling plays merry havoc with that aspect of the Marvel Universe too – they should be mutants, pure and simple, not the side-effect of some genetic tampering by space gods who were up to something else entirely – doing that reduces them from a simple, clear, emotionally-compelling concept to a murky, complicated afterthought.

To be frank, I’m not going to try to connect every last bit of Marvel lore into this backstory.  It’s not 100% compatible; it was built to be self-consistent more than anything else.  Okay, you probably figured this out already, what with my focusing so much on Claremont’s X-Men here, so I’ll admit from the outset this is what happened when I thought too hard about Marvel’s Merry Mutants. So it’s not exactly new. I just gave the ‘mutant’ genome time to evolve and a rational explanation for why it just popped into existence one day in the 60s with a gazillion unrelated variants. You might spot references to Phoenix, Hulk, Apocalypse, Wakanda, the mutant tendency to form into teams, and even an explanation for the novel physiology of Wolverine’s claws and Angel’s wings. I even explain why so many mutants are blue, which has long puzzled me.  So without further ado:

Over the past fifty years or so, rare teenagers have begun manifesting uncanny powers. Some can emit beams of concussive force. Others can read your mind. Several are blue. Hailed as the next step in human evolution, these ‘mutants’ fight against prejudice and mutant separatists who hold that humans and mutants can never coexist.

Sound familiar?

Don’t be fooled. These powers are not the novel result of mutations. ‘Mutants’ are not the next step in human evolution. They were here all along, but never realised it.

To understand why, we must turn back the clock to human origins in Africa.  Millions of years ago, many hominids roamed the plains and forests. Different branches specialised in different areas; the Paranthropus line is often cited as a human genus that didn’t make the cut, with no modern descendant species.

***

One such group of hominids settled in a unique area. Vibranium deposits exposed to the air created a hazardous local energy field, culminating in a number of rips in spacetime itself.  Most living things suffered physiological damage and high infant mortality in the field.  But the protohumans were different. Child-carers, tool-makers, they regarded the shimmering energies as they would any new resource, and gradually they came to master them.

Make no mistake, this was no civilisation. The protohumans slept in trees and carried sharp sticks; their most sophisticated vocalisations were a subtle sort of screaming. But they, unique amongst all creatures, learned how to use the mineral for their own benefit. They used it to keep warm at night; they added it to their spears; they learned to create energy resonances akin to music.

Like all humans, the archaeovibranians evolved through several species. Ultimately, two won out, each living in a different part of the energy fields.

The Border Vibranians were clearly cousins of Homo sapiens: cultural, intelligent, sometimes friendly. Constant interbreeding with outside groups kept the gene pool from stagnating. Border Vibranians were, nevertheless, a different species, benefiting from the Vibranian Heart (about which, more in a moment).

The Core Vibranians lived in the heart of the fields. Their core territory was small, and their population tiny.  However, a Core Vibranian feared nothing. Standing nine feet tall, only nominally intelligent, it had more in common with bears or lions than with humans. Individuals or pairs ranged far beyond the fields, rampaging and eating as they liked. The Core Vibranians drew their power from the Vibranian Heart, and interbred with the Border Vibranians, who inherited a lesser version of this power.

***

This unique organ developed over millions of years as a response to the energy fields, and feeds most of the other changes visible in a vibranian. At its core, the Heart is a biological reactor sitting high in the chest, but its support systems extend through the rest of the body.

The Heart is a portal to the realm from which vibranium spilled, or perhaps to which it tunneled, long ago. The realm is highly energetic, and the rest of the Heart’s abilities are based on this high ambient energy.

Those abilities are as follows:

  • Nerve Spear: Vibranian nerves are laced with metallic ions, allowing them to conduct Heart energy and emit it in semi-coherent bursts. This is usually done through the hands or eyes, where many nerve endings are available. Nerve Spear is the oldest vibranian ability.
  • Adaptive Flesh: Vibranians bred themselves for millions of years to endure the harsh conditions of the fields. They heal at a visible rate, and can with effort crystallise their epidermis in a series of metallic plates with the power of the Heart. They are almost completely unharmed by mineral poisoning and radiation hazards.
  • The Third Hand: Vibranians have very strong spatial perception centres in the brain. This (somehow) allows them to channel the power of the Heart to create force effects: some are little advanced from the Nerve Spear, but others can lift themselves from the ground or manipulate fine objects. Unlike the idiosyncratic effects of the Nerve Spear, the Third Hand always creates a bright purple aura around objects.
  • Blue Folk: Because of the uptake of rare minerals into the body, vibranians are an unusual colour. Their body hair is very thick, almost pelt-like, and dark blue. Head hair is usually blue or black, sometimes green or red or white, and grows very long. The skin, if visible, is usually blue as well.
  • The Stimulus: Vibranian power comes at a great cost. A vibranian infant simply cannot care for itself. Some will be consumed by their own power, while others will shut it off and grow without their full potential. Vibranian parents, both Border and Core, care deeply for their children, and instinctively act to protect and mentor the young of the community. This ‘mentoring’ process involves moulding and tending the physiology of the young, permitting the Heart to mature at a safe rate and the body to adapt to its energies. As a consequence, vibranians are at least partly crafted, and often display extreme physical characteristics.

The Core Vibranians tend to gain astonishing strength and speed from their Hearts, while the Border Vibranians augment their Third Hand and use it for mind-to-mind communication. These differences are mostly based in the Stimulus, which magnifies the differences between the two groups.

***

Border Vibranians had interacted with other human groups, back into the prehuman mists of time. As culture emerged, they too became civilised. But their culture was not like ours.

Able to control and endure great force and heat, the vibranians excelled at building and at war. The Border Empire forged towers of titanium, and individuals cowed whole human armies. Vibranian rulers led expeditions to the ocean depths and to the far side of the Moon from their cities surrounding the core vibranium fields. Vibranian scientists pondered the secrets of the atom at the same time as they invented writing (they were not particularly sophisticated, just much, much stronger than humans).

But all was not well, particularly for the human subjects of the Border Empire. Just as intelligent and ambitious, they had not evolved in a high-radiation zone, and some felt this unfair. This led to the tyrannies of the God-Kings, and a backlash from pro-human groups (both vibranian and human).

***

The vibranians could never win. Humans could be born anywhere, and grew in number constantly. Vibranians could only be born and raised in the energy fields. Even with captured Core Vibranians released as terror weapons, the Border Empire was doomed.

The God-Kings decided to postpone their fall through bloody purges. Their opposition was disgusted, and vibranian citizens plotted to end their reign of terror forever. They triggered an earthquake that rocked East Africa, burying the vibranium deposits (and the monstrous Core Vibranians) beneath a mountain and sealing off the power forever.

The last of the God-Kings vanished in furious battle somewhere near Egypt. The rest of the Border Vibranians were absorbed into the human population; their genes diffused into the population, inactive for thousands of years with neither vibranium nor the Stimulus to activate the power of the Heart.

Eventually, the vibranians disappeared into prehistoric legend, their wonders dismissed as the longing myths of prescientific humans dazzled by the dawn.

***

On July 16, 1945, the first atomic bomb was detonated in New Mexico.

Radioactive elements from nuclear tests soon coursed through the atmosphere. The planet was once again exposed to strange energy fields, immeasurably weaker than the vibranium fields of Africa, but still enough to trigger latent genes in the general population.

These ‘mutants’ rarely had a complete set of active genes. Fewer still developed a functional Heart. But those that did manifested strange powers.

Some could shatter boulders by looking at them, or hurl objects just by thinking about it.

Others could heal from any wound, or shrug off the most vicious attacks with their bare skin.

Some grew blue hair in their teens, or trained themselves to change shape.

They thought themselves a new step in evolution. Experts wondered; why would mutations suddenly convey entirely new abilities upon an entire generation? Evolution does not, generally speaking, work that way. But what other explanation could there be?

***

Some ‘mutants’ declared themselves separate from humanity, ostracised and hated by their former communities. Others declared themselves superior, the logical next step in evolution, the masters of the future. They thought themselves gods amongst men.

They were wrong.

Three threats emerge that dwarf all that came before.

The last God-King never died. Great in Heart and keen of brain, he withdrew from society and prepared for the return of his people. Thousands of years old and filled with contempt for humans, he is as unstoppable as a mountain. His weapons have no human names. His threats are remembered by many ancient cultures as the prophecy that shall end the world.

Modern science, pollution, and population mixing will reactivate the Border Vibranian genome in its entirety within a handful of generations. Unguided, they may be saints or villains. The God-King would have them as his own, but they may be more than a match for him. The ‘mutants’ will indeed take over from the humans.

And, somewhere beneath Africa, the vibranium deposits throb and tear at space. On the other side of the rifts, energy surges. Things live in that hot beyond. The last of the Core Vibranians survive there, growing ever more bestial and powerful to endure – for they are invaders, and the local lifeforms do not take kindly to their presence. Hunger descends upon wings of white-hot flame…

Now to the Inhumans who are defined by their caste system, their high technology, and their deliberate pursuit of mutation. Again, they have a grab-bag of powers, no two quite alike, and a reliance on a localised phenomenon: the Terrigen Mists.  Meanwhile, the Deviants/ Eternals I’m not so confident about. They’re really, really alien, demigods walking amongst mortals for millions of years. As their own story, they’re pure Kirby goodness, but there’s so much baggage in the concept of high-evolved humans before humans even existed, that it just bounces off any evolutionary narrative I can construct.

So here’s my approach.

***

A group of protovibranians left Africa about a million years ago and settled in Attilan.  Without energy fields, the vibranians did not retain their powers, and instead melted into the population as successive waves of humans entered the region.

This changed about 18,000 years ago when something fell out of the sky and exploded in Attilan Valley. It was probably an alien spaceship, engineered for immense voyages and immense stresses.  Radiation leaking from its engines triggered the dormant vibranian genes of the population, and various pieces of the craft remained useful. Tool-users and instinctive manipulators of high energy phenomena, the locals dragged the wreckage together and constructed the world’s first city, the fortress of Attilan.

The Attilani were never a threat to the Vibranians. Their powers had been eroded a hundred times more than those of modern humans. Only a few manifested anything particularly useful. The fortress-city of Attilan was virtually impregnable, however, so aside from a few ill-intentioned skirmishes, they stayed out of each others’ way.

Attilan continued on into the modern era, a self-contained fortress against the world. Its society is bizarre: the natives use hyper-advanced technology as a matter of instinct, but have no innovative drive. The Attilani were using videophones when other humans were inventing agriculture, but even today regard writing as a peculiarity. They have long lived under a caste system; most of the population react poorly to the Mists (actually drive radiation), and become sterilised worker drones with little time to live.

It’s a weird place, where time stands still. A visitor is never quite sure whether they’re talking to ancient and wise gods, to apes prancing in the ruins of the profound, or to both at once. Fortunately, the Attilani are ferociously devoted to staying in their fantastic home, and can be safely ignored by the world at large.

***

The Eternals claim to be descended from star gods. To their credit, they actually believe this; it was the dominant religion of the Border Vibranian city-state of Titanos. Vibranian scientist-priests never understood geology or evolution; they told the same stories of creator-gods that all humans do.

Vibranian physiology was capable of tremendous feats. A few were able to render themselves immortal, although most perished in battle or in accidents or in ‘accidents’. The God-King who promised the death of humanity is the last such Eternal, and possibly the greatest, but there were others.

Eternals are true Border Vibranians, and tremendously talented. They have near-perfect body control, able to shapeshift and heal even the rigours of aging. They can enter telepathic rapport using the Third Hand faculty, and are often tremendously experienced at forming psychic gestalts; before and during the Empire, Eternals were shamans and leaders, uniting their people through pure thought.

But today, the Eternals simply try to get by. Most have dismissed their empire as a brief flirtation with disaster, and regard themselves as human. Some maintain the Star God myths, but nobody listens. Eternals can produce offspring, but without the vibranium fields, they never develop a Heart and remain apparently human.

As the years went by, and vibranian influence waned, some Eternals decided to carve out their own little kingdoms. These tyrants were labeled Deviants by any of their peers who knew and cared. Many took on the form of beasts, or reverted to true vibranian physiology, in an attempt to cow the populace. Few Deviants remain today, as even Eternals must sleep, and humans react poorly to tyrannous monsters.

Neither group has the knowledge to recognise the modern ‘mutant’ phenomenon as the reemergence of the vibranians. They think it’s something altogether new, although a few are starting to get deja vu.

Both groups are particularly excited by recent trends in space travel. While the God-Kings of the Border Empire did reach the Moon (largely under their own power), they never had much luck with deep space exploration. The prospect of finding the Star Gods, somewhere out there, speaks to ancestral beliefs of the Eternals.

Will they be disappointed? That depends on what’s actually out there…

the ending of Steve Englehart’s “The Occult History of America” storyline?

Occult History of America

During the 1970’s Steve Englehart began a time-travel story in which Dr. Strange meets a variety of historical figures including Sir Francis Bacon, whom he revealed not only as having been assigned to choose the Englishmen who colonised the “New World,” but as a telepath and the leader of a secret society of English and European elites, the later leader of whom would become Benjamin Franklin.

“The Occult History of America”, as the story was titled, was written by Englehart for two issues before his deteriorating relationship with Marvel forced him off the book and Marv Wolfman was brought in to finish the storyline in a way that didn’t use Steve’s ideas.

So what were Englehart’s intended ideas for remainder of “the secret occult history of America” storyline?

I’m not sure, but it is interesting that in real life, Benjamin Franklin was infamously associated with the Irish Hellfire Club. So why not in the Marvel Universe proper?!

I would reveal that the initial colony that Francis Bacon was said, in Englehart’s two issues, to have handpicked candidates for, were mutants shipped out of Britain to secretly avoid persecution, since the “secret society” that was the Hellfire Club realised the existence of such beings becoming public knowledge would result in another break-out of witch-hunts, what with their opponent King James acceding the throne.

With all this talk of “secret societies” I would further reveal those Bacon handpicked to settle the “New World” as the Roanoke Colony and that the colony of New Salem are not the “witches” they proclaim to be, but rather the remainder of the Roanoke “mutant” colony. Their reason for not admitting to being mutants is a result of their having experienced the dark times for mutantkind, and fear of again being persecuted.

I would suggest this is why the Scarlet Witch approached Agatha Harkness for tutelage in the use of magical energy, despite the fact that her ability to channel it existed as a result of her mutant powers. How else would Agatha know how to train someone in the use of their powers if its basis was due to their mutation? I would reveal that Agatha Harkness was able to assist Wanda due to herself also being a mutant… as are the colony of New Salemites.

Their being mutants would better explain why all of the town’s inhabitants have powers, and would better explain why Reed and Susan chose Ms. Harkness as Franklin’s governess. That is, it made no sense why they would choose someone who was a practitioner in black magic, when the origin of Franklin’s ability was due to his being a mutant.

However, with Reed and Sue’s knowledge of the emerging prejudice towards mutants at the time, they would have been reluctant to enrol their son in Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.

But if Agatha was secretly a mutant, she would seem a sound choice, since not only would she have the required skills to train a being of Franklin’s potential, but she would realise the importance of keeping his mutant nature a secret, after having first-hand knowledge of humanity’s prejudicial nature towards mutants.

This could provide a more conclusive explanation for what Agatha was doing mixing it up with the ancestors of the Hellfire Club in that mini from a few years ago. That… and I would love to perhaps make Agatha analogous to the missing Virginia Dare. Now, why on Earth a writer of Neil Gaiman’s calibre never took this approach when he wrote his “1602” series, I’ll never understand, since Agatha would have fitted his “no character created after 1969 will appear in 1602” rule, perfectly.