Spoilers for Uncanny X-Men #600 and Extraordinary X-Men #1.
What’s going on with the X-Men?
It’s been a familiar refrain from fans ever since Marvel’s post-Secret Wars plans started coming to light. Putting aside the conspiracy theories that some fans seem to embrace, mutantkind seems to be in dire straits in the "All-New, All-Different Marvel" era. In the 8-month gap between the in-continuity end of Secret Wars and the starting point of the new Marvel U, a lot has happened to the X-Men, from a plague caused by the Terrigen Mists, to Cyclops apparently committing some act so heinous that it turns the world against mutants, to the X-Men splintering even further. It’s a rough time to have an X-Gene.
This week, Marvel released two X-Men books that serve as something of a bookend for each other. Both Uncanny X-Men #600 – the final X-Men story that takes place prior to Secret Wars – and Extraordinary X-Men #1 – the first post-Secret Wars X-Men story – hit shelves this week, giving readers their first clues as to just what went down in that 8-month window.
Though Uncanny X-Men #600 was delayed since the end of May, releasing it to coincide with Extraordinary X-Men may have been a smart move on Marvel’s part, as it allows readers to see both the catalyst of this as-yet-unidentified tragedy befell the X-Men in the 8-month gap, and the result, building quite a mystery in the X-Men’s corner of the Marvel Universe. Illustrated in pieces by Sara Pichelli, Mahmud Asrar, Stuart Immonen, Kris Anka, Chris Bachalo, David Marquez and Frazier Irving, in Uncanny X-Men #600, the X-Men – past and present – stage an intervention for the adult Hank McCoy over his abuse of super-science. Hank quickly decries the intervention as a “trial,” and despite the protestations of his fellow mutants, winds up sulking in his laboratory.
Scenes of the “trial” are intercut with the moments leading up to the start of the intervention, beginning with a reunion between former lovers
Colossus and Kitty Pryde. In their conversation, Kitty reveals that her engagement to Peter Quill is “uncertain,” though she remains in space, as seen in the recent Guardians of the Galaxy series, where she’s taken on the mantle of Star-Lord. It’s quickly revealed that the real reason she’s there is to reunite Piotr and his sister Illyana, who reconcile almost immediately.
Meanwhile, the original five X-Men (along with X-23) lounge in the wilderness while young Jean makes a confession – she’s taking a leave of absence from the team. While Cyclops protests, the others are on board with a hiatus – all except for young Beast, who fears that separating at that moment means they’ll never be together again. This leads to Jean confessing her love for Hank, and a mid-air kiss, which takes place while young Scott watches in dismay.
Speaking of the young X-Men, there’s also a key moment between young Bobby Drake and his older self, when they finally confront their sexuality. Once again, the moment is made uncomfortable at best thanks to young Jean’s psychic intrusions, but the younger Bobby gets the older Bobby to admit that he is gay, culminating in a moment where they both confess their crush on Angel.
Finally, the intervention/trial of the elder Beast is interrupted by Cyclops summoning all the world’s mutants to Washington, D.C.. There, he declares that this peaceful gathering, designed to show that mutants are not a threat, is the mutant revolution he’s been calling for. Magneto arrives, telling Scott what he’s doing is insane – but that the deceased Charles Xavier would love it.
There’s one final scene, with Beast sulking in his lab. As Hank sits there contemplating what he feels is his betrayal by his friends, Cyclops’s time-traveling student Eva Bell appears, and tells Hank that she’s been told several times to watch out for “the trial of Hank McCoy.” She asks Hank if this is what the warnings were talking about. Hank peers out the window as he contemplates her question, before leaving the school.
Uncanny X-Men #600 wraps up many of the threads of Brian Bendis’s X-Men run, but also leaves a lot of questions on the table – questions only partially answered over in Extraordinary X-Men #1, in which Jeff Lemire and art team Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba, and Edgar Delgado pick up the baton of the new flagship X-Book. Extraordinary X-Men #1 is all about getting the band back together, with many scenes echoing those of Giant-Sized X-Men #1 in which Professor X and Cyclops travel the world recruiting new mutant heroes.
Of course, in Extraordinary X-Men #1, it’s Storm and her team that are doing the traveling. The issue opens with Storm talking to none other than Professor X – who it turns out is just in her imagination, still dead after the events of Avengers vs. X-Men. However, Storm’s moment of reflection leads her to begin seeking out mutants in earnest, and bringing them to the mysterious “X-Haven” – more on that in a minute.
It’s revealed early on that mutants are now officially endangered once again, with the Terrigen Mists that unlock the Inhumans powers spreading across the globe, not only sterilizing the X-Gene in potential mutants, but causing some sort of sickness called the “M-Pox.” This, combined with some heinous act by Cyclops in the 8-month gap, have mutants being actively hunted by humans in many countries. “X-Haven” is apparently a place where mutants can be protected from persecution by the X-Men. It’s also revealed that Beast is working with the Inhumans to cure the problems caused by the Terrigen Mists, hence his presence in the cast of Uncanny Inhumans.
In a montage of scenes, we’re shown Illyana traveling to Russia to recruit her brother Colossus back to the team, in a scene that echoes his
original introduction to the X-Men. The now bearded Colossus is living as a farmer, saying he is a fighter, not a humanitarian. But Illyana convinces him the time has come to fight for mutants again. Colossus is hesitant, partially because of whatever it is Cyclops did, but he comes along anyway, when Illyana tells him they’re going to get his best friend – Nightcrawler.
Then we find Nightcrawler fighting some strange beings while quoting scripture. The fight doesn’t go well however, and the monstrous people capture Nightcrawler saying that they must not let any harm befall their master’s “test subject.” Nightcrawler on the run echoes the way Professor X found him when he first recruited him. We don’t see Colossus and Illyana reach him in this issue.
All of this is intercut with scenes of Storm and the older Iceman trying to convince young Jean Grey to rejoin the X-Men. She staunchly refuses, citing Cyclops’s terrible misdeed, mutants being hunted, and her fear of her own death if she rejoins the team. Storm assents, allowing Jean to remain away from the team as a university student, but not before telling her all about the woes that have befallen mutantkind. Jean asks where X-Haven is, and Storm, somewhat cryptically, tells her maybe someday she can visit and “see for herself.” Before they part, Jean tells Storm there’s “someone” in the world who doesn’t belong there.
It’s Old Man Logan. The book’s final scene shows Storm confronting him in the wilderness, just as Professor X found Wolverine in Giant-Size X-Men #1, with Old Man Logan confessing he may not be the Wolverine she’s looking for.
So where is X-Haven? What did Cyclops do in the 8-month gap? The latter seems to have something to do with the results of his peaceful gathering at the end of Uncanny X-Men #600. As for the former, there are those rumors going around that the X-Men will wind up off-planet – or even in another reality altogether. As for now, your guess is as good as ours.