Friday, October 31, 2014

X-men Supreme Issue #107: Civilization No Longer Lost Part 2 PREVIEW and New Commission

Happy Halloween from the X-men Supreme and in that spirit, I think it's only fitting that the current state of this fanfiction series, we deal with some pretty scary topics. It's not like the X-men haven't fought some pretty scary monsters since X-men Supreme began. They've taken on aliens like the Shi'ar, ancient primordial creatures like the Cambrian, and the walking horror show that is Sinister. In that respect, Sinister is the perfect enemy for the X-men to go up against during Halloween. He can always be expected to unleash something terrifying within this fanfiction series. He already has with what he did to Rogue and the secrets he revealed to Wolverine. Now, with the aid of Selene, he's prepared to unleash a new kind of horror.

But as scary as the threat posed by Sinister might be, there's another horror waiting for the X-men and it has nothing to do with monsters. A major theme of X-men that has persisted throughout its history involves the notion of family. Many of the X-men come from diverse backgrounds. Some come from different countries, like Nightcrawler and Colossus. Some come from different socioeconomic classes, Angel. The challenge has always been getting this diverse group of characters to work together and function like a family. That has been one of their strengths, even as members of that family like Rogue and Angel have left. But like a real family, certain problems bring them together and few problems are as dire as Sinister and Selene.

However, this story doesn't just involve problems surrounding enemies. There are other family issues to consider during this terrifying time for X-men Supreme. The issues surrounding the Sefton family have been a constant theme for this fanfiction series since they were introduced in the Family and Fiends arc. Amanda and Margali have guarded their secrets closely, including from Nightcrawler. Now, with Sinister and Selene on the warpath, they must return to their homeland, Nova Roma, to stop them. It's an exotic new locale for X-men Supreme and it promises to expose more family conflicts on top of those the X-men are already facing. The nature of those problems are going to have impacts that go well-beyond this arc. For this fanfiction series, those same themes of family and the conflicts that bind them will be vital moving forward. As always, I've prepared a preview that explores the world that the X-men will need to survive in order to get through this.

“I’ll say it once and I’ll keep saying it until it stops being so appropriate…wow,” said an astonished Bobby Drake.

“I would tell you to give it a rest already, but for once I’m not compelled to slap you,” said an equally astonished Kitty Pryde.

“It’s like being in a History Channel documentary and one of those Final Fantasy games,” added Scott.

“Didn’t know you had time for video games, homme. But I ain’t got a better analogy,” said Remy.

“Now I know Beast would go into seizures if he saw this,” said Jean.

The X-men were used to being astonished, but not like this. They were led into the city of Nova Roma on a special transport, courtesy of Senator Aquilla. This transport was a large hovercraft, providing a platform on which they could stand and take in the view of the city. It was clearly designed with the intention of impressing visitors with the glory of Nova Roma. Whether it was done out of arrogance or practicality, there was certainly plenty to admire.

The city was about the size of Manhattan Island and very reflective of its Roman past. To the north was Mount Anton, to the east was a large lake, and in every other direction there was dense jungle. Each of these natural barriers surrounded a vast urban landscape. The architecture, style, and layout of the city looked like it had been taken right out of a history book. It was elaborately planned, the buildings and streets laid out in a grid-like formation. The center of the city had all the government buildings and various temples to the Olympian gods. Moving out from this central area were more typical and modern structures that included office buildings, markets, and residential areas.

While the city itself was very Roman, there was also a very modern feel to it as well. The streets, buildings, and layout had plenty of technology to display. There were cars, traffic lights, and pretty much everything any ordinary city would have. For Nova Roma, however, it seemed like the technology was more polished. It was like the city was a decade or so ahead of everyone else. This could have been the result of integrating magic into the mix. Whatever the case, it was quite impressive.

“This city is incredible,” said Charles Xavier as he looked over the landscape.

“It’s Roman, Charles. It’s obligated to be incredible,” said Margali with a touch of sarcasm.

“It’s so isolated yet it looks so modern. It even feels more than modern,” said Ororo.

“Like I said earlier, the founders of Nova Roma saved a lot of the technology that was lost when Rome fell centuries ago. That extra boost has always given the city a leg up when it came to engineering and innovation. It’s still not completely ahead of the curve. It never pulled too far ahead of the rest of the world.”

“I’m under the impression you’re a bit cynical of our heritage, Margali,” said Senator Aquilla.

“I’m sorry, Lucius. Exile will do that to a person,” she sighed.

“Then allow me to fill in the blanks because there’s a lot more to Nova Roma than your less-than-flattering assessment.”

Margali was tempted to be bit more cynical with her old friend. She was held back by Shaman and Kurt. They did not need her to push their already tenuous luck.

“Easy, Miss Sefton,” said Kurt, “Ve are zheir guests after all.”

“You may be guests, but I’m still a traitor,” she said distantly.

Margali turned her attention back to Kurt and her comatose daughter, leaving Lucius to answer the X-men’s burning questions. His subordinates maneuvered the hover platform over some of the busiest parts of the city so that the X-men could see the grandeur of Nova Roma. They were able to make out cars, people, and culture from their vantage point. It was quite foreign to them in addition to being awe-inspiring.

“Much of what Margali says is true,” said Lucius, “In the same way Rome maintained a technological advance when it dominated in ancient times, Nova Roma sought to do the same. This is a big reason why we have thrived for centuries. However, we have not completely cut ourselves off from the outside world. We still import ideas and innovations such as TV, electronics, cars, medicine, and pretty much everything you would find in a other cities.”

“Including reality TV? Because that would really sour the whole deal,” said Betsy.

“Like I said…pretty much everything,” said the senator, not cracking a smile, “We’ve always managed to remain a step ahead. We make our computers run faster, our cars more efficient, and our medicines more sophisticated. It’s part of our Roman heritage. We strive to be better than the barbarians around us.”

“Forgive me if I say that sounds somewhat arrogant,” said Piotr Rasputin, who was one of the few who was less than amazed.

“It is. We Romans have never been known for our humility. It takes a certain level of arrogance to maintain a city of this caliber in secret for so many years. There are times when it does more harm than good. But we try to maintain a certain level of social and cultural progress.”

“Except when some of those traditions come before family friends,” said Margali under her breath.

“We don’t always make the progress we wish we could, but that doesn’t stop us from trying,” said Lucius, ignoring Margali’s comment, “Rome has always been willing to adapt. The old patriarchal order has waned over the centuries. Nova Roma has been quick to adopt more liberal philosophies like capitalism and human rights. In some instances our republican form of government has made it easier. That’s why we often made those advancements before most other societies.”

“You sound so dang proud, Ah can’t help but think there’s a catch,” said Rogue dryly.

“Think what you want. We’ve worked tirelessly to make Nova Roma a beacon of civilization.”

“Guess that means he’s not going to reveal what that catch is,” said Betsy, rolling her eyes.

“However, we have not completely cut ourselves off,” the senator continued, “Over the centuries, we have allowed outsiders from surrounding lands to join our city. That’s why you’ll see a variety of mixed races within our populous. That’s also why you’ll notice our language bearing traces of Latin, Spanish, and Incan.”

“Yet a lot of you seem to speak pretty good English,” said Professor Xavier.

“Part of maintaining Nova Roman’s status requires that we be well-educated. You would never know it, but for generations the most gifted of Nova Romans have left the safety of this city to learn about the outside world and import their knowledge. Every citizen is bound by duty to protect the sanctity of our city. It is among our highest laws and for centuries, it was upheld. For the last few decades, however, such trips have become far more limited.”

“Which I guess would explain why you were able to keep a secret like this in the age of the internet and TMZ,” said Jean Grey.

“I imagine my past transgressions are partially to blame for that as well,” said Margali.

“Not as much as you think, but more than I’m sure you’re comfortable with,” said Lucius.

“What do you mean?” asked Professor Xavier.

“There are other reasons why Nova Roma has had to become more isolated in recent years and it has nothing to do with the difficulty of keeping a secret in this day and age.”

“This be where the whole magic mojo comes into play, non?” surmised Remy.

“In a manner of speaking,” said Lucius cryptically, “I would rather save the details for my fellow senators. They’ll be very interested in hearing about Selene’s recent activity.”

The senator’s tone sparked deeper curiosity. There were definitely a few details he wasn’t telling them. Looking over towards Margali, Charles Xavier sensed she didn’t know either. She was too focused on her daughter to get excited about a meeting with the Nova Roman Senate.

They should would get their answers soon enough. The hovercraft arrived at the center of the city and touched down just outside the Curia, the main house of the Senate. The building was one of the most prominent in the city. It looked like a much fancier version of the Capitol in Washington DC, adorned with an elaborate landscape and various statues of Roman gods. It was surrounded by gates and guarded by various legions. Once they landed, the legions surrounded the area and provided a clear path for Lucius. The presence of Margali and the X-men earned some unfavorable looks. Never-the-less, they maintained their disciplined poise.

“We’re here,” announced Lucius as he stepped off the hovercraft, “We must hurry. The senate should be gathering in our secure chamber as we speak.”

“Not to get too ahead of ourselves, Mr. Senator. But what are the chances they will help us in stopping Selene?” asked Piotr, still deeply concerned about his sister.

“I cannot say. This matter must be debated first,” said Lucius.

“Debated? A bitch as crazy as Selene is threatenin’ this city you love so much and you wanna debate it?” said Rogue.

“Make no mistake. We take every threat to our city seriously. But there are procedures for this sort of thing,” said Lucius in a more frustrated tone.

“Not to knock your legal traditions, but you do know this is Selene we’re dealing with, don’t you?” reminded Jean, “She’s never been one to offer her enemies certain advantages…like time.”

The Nova Roman senator stopped walking for a moment and turned to face the X-men.

“I’m fully aware of the threat posed by this woman. More so than any of you can possibly imagine,” said Lucius firmly, “However, we are a city built on law. I’ve already pulled my share of strings to get you and an exiled citizen back into our graces. Don’t expect me to work miracles when I’m already risking my status and my reputation for you.”

“Translation, prepare to be disappointed,” said Kitty.

This remark earned Kitty a stern look from Lucius. The rest of the X-men spared her the same scorn. Harsh or not, they had enough experience in these matters to know when she had a point. For those like Piotr, who were eager to get their hands on Selene, it did not bode well.

“While they debate, Illyana could be suffering!” he said under his breath, “Why can’t we simply borrow one of those hovering machines and go after Selene?”

“I share your concern, Piotr,” said Professor Xavier, “However, we’ll only do her a disservice if we try to confront Selene without a plan. Like it or not, the Nova Romans are our best hope.”

“He’s right, Peter. You can’t beat an enemy like this without a plan,” said Scott, “We’ve tried that in the past and it usually fails spectacularly.”

“Just keep biding your strength, Peter. You’ll get your shot. We all will,” assured Jean.

“That in turn requires having a little faith in these people,” said Kurt, who was intent on getting back at Selene as well, “The Nova Romans have survived for 2000 years. Zhey must be doing something right. Who knows? Zhis senate of theirs may be more efficient zhan zhe one ve’re used to dealing vith.”

“I’ll believe that when I can make snowballs on the sun, Kurt,” said Bobby.

The X-men clung to whatever hope they could as they followed Lucius to the main entrance of the Curia. Scott, Jean, Bobby, Ororo, Rogue, Remy, Betsy, Kitty, Piotr, and Kurt couldn’t help but be a little defensive while surrounded by all these armed soldiers. Margali and Shaman tried to ignore them and focused primarily on the comatose Amanda. Professor Xavier sensed plenty of hostility in these people, but he also sensed a desire to save their city from any major threats.

They reached the large doors of the Curia, which was guarded by more soldiers. They all acknowledged Senator Aquilla while casting their suspicion on the X-men. Sensing this could be a problem, Lucius gestured towards his Praetorian Guard.

“I believe we can take it from here,” he told them, “The Curia is a place of politics, not a barracks.”

“Yes sir, Senator Aquilla,” said the lead captain, “Please let us know if these outsiders become a problem.”

“Leave diplomacy in the hands of professionals, Captain,” said the senator as he opened the heavy doors to the chamber, “The return of the Black Queen requires hard work and a level head on every front so I expect every ranking official in Nova Roma to…”

Senator Aquilla’s words stopped the moment he stepped into the Curia. Upon entering, he was met with an unexpected and infuriating sight that went against every last bit his rhetoric. To make matters worse, it involved an all too familiar figure.

“By the fire of Hades…AMARA!” bellowed the senator.

In addition, I have an exciting announcement for the X-men Supreme pics section. It's been a while since I've commissioned new artwork for X-men Supreme. Then at Baltimore Comic Con 2014, I had the privlidge of meeting a talented artist named Mack. He and I discussed X-men Supreme and he expressed an interest in doing work for it. I'm glad he did because he submitted a wonderful piece for X-men Supreme Issue 68: The Phoenix Saga Part 6. He brought one of the most defining moments of this fanfiction series to life and I can't thank him enough for it. I hope more pieces like this follow. Remember, if anyone is ever interested in submitting more artwork for X-men Supreme, please contact me and we'll discuss the details.

X-men Supreme Official Panels

There are so many elements to capture within the X-men mythos and after over 100 issues, I feel like I've captured plenty here with X-men Supreme. However, I want to keep exploring these themes and I want to keep developing this fanfiction series. I'm still not quite decided on whether I'll continue X-men Supreme beyond Volume 5. I have gotten some promising feedback. I also do have plans for X-men Supreme that go beyond Volume 5. Even if I do continue, I might have to slow them down. But readers can influence this decision-making process. Please take the time to contact me and send me your feedback. I'm always happy to listen and help make X-men Supreme more awesome. Until next time, take care and best wishes. And again, have a safe and happy Halloween. Excelsior!


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