Time Travel and Mutants – Thoughts on Marvel’s “All New X-Men” Vol. 1

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**Spoilers ahead on a whole bunch of mutant related goodness. You’ve been warned nerds!**

The last few years have not been kind to Scott Summers, the former leader of the X-men known as Cyclops.

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His “fall from grace” started when the mutant population was decimated by the Scarlet Witch in the “House of M” storyline (the infamous, “No More Mutants!” finale). Cyclops went from being the leader of a band of mutants fighting for acceptance in a world that hates and fears them, to being the leader of a dwindling number of mutants fighting off the very real threat of extinction. Various writers have explored this fascinating evolution in Scott’s character which has led him to a darker and more militant personality. Gone is the wide eyed idealist fighting for Xavier’s dream of mutants and humans living in harmony, replaced with a general that will do anything, including bend or break his morals and ideals to ensure the survival of what remains of  his race.

It was this Cyclops that put together a clandestine team of mutant assassins led by Wolverine to permanently deal with specific threats to mutant-kind (The excellent Uncanny X-Force series). It was this Cyclops that eventually had a violent falling out with Wolverine because Logan was opposed to Scott training up the remaining mutant teenagers to be soldiers ready to strike against a world that hates mutants, resulting in Wolverine opening a new school, the “Jean Grey School for High Learning” (The “Schism” storyline). And it was this Cyclops that led the X-Men against The Avengers to gain possession of the returning phoenix force (In “Avengers vs. X-Men), in the hope that it’s power could save mutants.

A mutant militant leader willing to get blood on his hands to ensure the survival of the “dominant species.” You realize what he’s become don’t you? Scott Summers is the new Magneto of the Marvel Universe. In fact, a much tamer and less villainous Magneto had been a part of Scott’s team of X-Men. Crazy right?

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Yet, despite all those developments Scott wasn’t what I’d consider a bad guy. However it was during the “Avengers vs. X-men” story where Cyclops crossed the line that did transform him into a villain to much of the Marvel universe. Five mutants, including Cyclops, were possessed by the Phoenix force. They were granted god-like power that easily rivaled that of Thor, but in return the Phoenix polluted and twisted their thoughts. Scott decided to unleash the “Phoenix Force Five” as they were now known to create a new world order – one that ensured the safety of the mutant race but through Scott and the Five ruling the world with a tyrant’s fist. When Cyclops’ mentor and father-figure Charles Xavier confronted Scott face to face in the hope of getting through to his surrogate son, Scott responded by murdering Xavier.

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Eventually, Cyclops was defeated and the Phoenix force fractures were spread out across the globe which resulted in the reboot of the mutant gene, sparking new mutants to be born for the first time since the Decimation. When looking back on his actions, Scott regretted the killing of Xavier yet said he wouldn’t change what he had done because it was for the good of mutant kind.

What a jerk, right?

Anyway, this leads us to “All New X-Men” Vol. 1. Cyclops has broken out of prison and has formed his new leadership team, consisting of Magneto, Emma Frost and Magik. They travel the world recruiting new young mutants that have surfaced and are preparing to lead a new mutant revolution. Meanwhile, as the X-Men over at Wolverine’s school try to figure out how to respond to Cyclops, The Beast makes a very bold and desperate move to stop Scott and perhaps save his old friend in the process.

Like any good (and crackpot) scientific genius making a hail mary play, the Beast turns to time travel. He travels back to when the original X-Men were teenagers, gives them his version of the “Marty, we have to go back to the future,” speech and brings them all to the present, specifically to have the young Scott confront the present one. The Beast hopes that if older Cyclops sees himself back when he had hope and belief in Xavier’s dream of co-existence, then maybe Scott will remember who he once was and attempt to restore that which he’s broken.

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I was very intrigued by this book when I first heard the premise. I’m a sucker for time travel and mutants, so of course I was in. Plus, it gave us an inventive way to bring Jean Grey back into the current Marvel universe without opting for yet another canned resurrection. When I finally got my hands on this first collection I had an absolute blast! Brian Michael Bendis (the writer) excels at writing teenage voices (read anything he’s done in the Ultimate Spider-Man universe for further proof) and he gives the teenage X-men a great combination of child-like wonder and confusion as they step foot into a darker future. Bendis also injects a healthy dose of his snarky humor throughout and in particular he’s written very entertaining interactions between the teenagers and their adult counterparts.

I very much enjoyed this first introductory arc. Additionally Bendis introduces subplots that interest me to see how they develop as the series continues, such as: Cyclops and his team having problems with their powers due to the Phoenix, the introduction of new mutant characters, the teenage X-men discovering what their adult counterparts have grown into (particularly Jean being exposed to her death and expansion of powers), and Wolverine dealing with Jean returning as a teen.

I highly recommend that you pick this series up! If you haven’t been following the X-Men for the last few years, this book does build off of those developments and you may not fully understand what is happening at first, but it’ll start to make sense soon enough.

That’s my humble (yet correct) opinion on “All New X-Men.” What’s yours? Do you like/dislike the idea of the original teenage X-men joining the current Marvel universe? Do you think this will create the world destroying paradox that Doc Brown warned Marty about? SOUND OFF in the comments below!

This has been a NERD ALERT!

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