Friday, July 10, 2015

X-men Supreme Issue #125: Loss and Lament PREVIEW!

The world of X-men Supreme has been devastated. Over 300 million people are dead. Millions more are in a state of shock and horror. The Dark Legacy arc may be over, but the destruction it has wrought is on a scale that’s difficult to imagine. When Sinister unleashed his Legacy Virus, he didn’t care how many died. He didn’t care how many suffered. Humans and mutant alike were all equally vulnerable because they all had something he wanted. In the end, the X-men made sure he didn’t get it. But the damage has been done.

As with the previous volumes of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, I made sure the final arc is a major event with a major impact. Previous arcs like Overlord and Uprising create upheaval the nature of the conflict that the X-men face in their pursuit of Charles Xavier’s dream. That upheaval is usually caused by the actions of their enemies, like Magneto. However, the X-men have never faced upheaval like the kind Sinister unleashed with the Legacy Virus. This goes beyond Charles Xavier’s dream and strikes at the very foundations of the world they try to protect. It ensures the world of X-men Supreme will be very different moving forward for the X-men.

In moving forward, the X-men will have to deal with one of the few major deaths I’ve carried out in this fanfiction series. Back in X-men Supreme Issue 31: Memory Musings, I told the story of John Proudstar’s role in this fanfiction series. I gave him a role far greater than the one he briefly had in the X-men Comics. He wasn’t just another strong mutant who could add muscle to the team. He was the one who trained the X-men and taught them how to fight. In addition, he was Jean Grey’s first lover. His place in the X-men within this fanfiction series is much more personal. That makes his death at the hands of the Legacy Virus in X-men Supreme Issue 124: Dark Legacy Part 4 much more powerful.

Thunderbird joins the over 300 million other deaths that the Legacy Virus has claimed. While the X-men were able to prevent millions more, thanks to the bold and reckless efforts of Charles Xavier, the world is still traumatized. Humans and mutants alike will need time to heal and time to mourn their dead. When tragedies on such a large scale strike, it has a way of making every superficial difference seem more trivial. In some ways it will bring humans and mutants closer together. But in others, it will make them vulnerable for the next upheaval. From Genosha to the White House, everyone is vulnerable. So what kind of world will emerge from the ashes?

That world will start to take shape in the final issue of X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths. Like Overlord and Uprising before it, the X-men will work with allies like President Kelly, General Grimshaw, and Wanda Maximoff to chart a course forward. At the same time, they’ll have to contend with the losses they’ve suffered. For a brief moment, they’ll stand together to soak in this tragedy. But don’t expect that moment to last long. Even so, that moment is going to be central to this issue and I've prepared a preview of just one part of that moment.

“This feels wrong. I’m not sure we’re doing the right thing,” lamented a conflicted Wanda Maximoff.

“I don’t think there is a right way for something like this, Wanda,” said a distant Alex Summers, “I consider this the lesser of many evils.”

“I still don’t like it. These were our brothers…our sisters…our friends. They die from this virus and the best we can do for them is burn their bodies?”

“As opposed to digging a mass grave for them to rot in?” questioned Alex, “Explain to me how that’s more fitting.”

Wanda had no response. She was the leader of Genosha and she was horribly short on ideas. She could change probabilities, but there was no chance of making this any easier. She and an entire island of mutants were at a loss.

As terrible as the Legacy Virus had been, cleaning up from it was just as bad. Genosha’s population had been decimated. Nearly a third of their citizens had perished. Mutants of all ages and abilities had been afflicted. Their efforts to treat them with the advanced technology at their disposal failed. It wasn’t until Charles Xavier came along that the sick were healed. That still left a mountain of dead bodies to deal with. After the shock wore off, there was a debate over what to do with them.

It was decided (albeit reluctantly) that the bodies would be piled up on the north shore and burned in a ceremonial fire. Some wanted to dig graves. Some wanted to cast them out to sea. It seemed so wrong, disposing of their bodies like this. But it had to be done.

Much of the island had gathered for this moment. Atop a ridge overlooking the north shore, hundreds of Genoshan citizens watched solemnly as Wanda and the Brotherhood carried out the grim task of piling up the bodies. Pietro, Blob, Pyro, Lance, and Mellencamp did much of the heavy lifting. Alex, Lorna, Wanda, and a number of acolytes stayed back and watched. They were almost ready to begin this grim memorial.

“So much senseless death,” said Lorna sadly.

“And for once it didn’t come from the humans,” said Pietro, rushing over as he delivered the last body, “I want to be pissed at the world, but they lost a lot of people too.”

“Everybody lost someone. This was a fight nobody won,” said Alex in a flat tone, “It’s no use pointing fingers.”

“That doesn’t mean no one will,” added the speedster, “My father used to drone on and on how the holocaust changed everything. When millions die and the depths of human depravity are exposed, the world gets pretty damn uncomfortable.”

“As it should,” said Wanda, struggling to hold back her emotions, “There’s no going back to the way things were. It’s going to be a different world tomorrow…one where our problems go beyond selling alien technology in exchange for peace.”

“So what will we sell?” questioned Pietro.

“I don’t know. I honestly have no idea where we go from here,” said Wanda, hugging her shoulders anxiously, “I’ve been listening to reports from Charles Xavier all day. Every country on the planet is struggling to recover. The story of this man, Sinister, is hitting every major media outlet.”

“Yeah, my brother told me about that asshole. Says he’s even been keeping secrets about our family,” said Alex bitterly, “Damn, I wished I could have been there to kick his ass!”

“Whatever secrets he had are probably lost now. Sinister is dead and so is his virus,” Wanda went on, “A number of nations are collapsing. The global economy is pretty much at a stand-still. And mutant communities seem to be the hardest hit.”

“No surprise there,” muttered Pietro.

“Based on Xavier’s reports, the Morlocks have disbanded. Mutant ghettos around the world have been deserted. There’s even talk of a mass migration of displaced mutants.”

“I’ll bet some of them will find their way here,” said Lorna, “Do we have any idea how we’re going to deal with them?”

“I don’t know!” said Wanda in an outburst of frustration, “For the first time I don’t have goddamn idea how to deal with humans, mutants, or this island!”

“That’s a dangerous state of mind to be in, Wanda,” said Alex.

“I know that! You think I’m not bothered by it?”

“Calm down, sis. We’re all a little shell-shocked,” coaxed Lorna, “Give it some time. But at least try to appear strong for your people. A lot of them are watching, remember?”

Wanda took several deep breaths. She forgot she had an audience. If the mutant citizens on Genosha saw her in this state, they may question their confidence in her. She wouldn’t blame them either. Even with the support of her siblings and the Brotherhood, she never felt so lost. If her father were here, he would scold her for being so weak.

But for the moment, the focus was on their fallen brethren. Lance and Pyro set the last of the bodies down in the pile while Mellencamp and Blob arranged a series of sandbags around them. They were all feeling the strain of having to carry out such a grim task.

“That’s the last one. I’m so done with this,” said a beleaguered Lance Alvers.

“I hear you, Lance. Carrying all these bodies has killed even my appetite,” said Blob, “I couldn’t even eat my second lunch this afternoon.”

“If only everyone could eat their problems away,” sighed Mellencamp.

“Watch it, pretty boy. I may have carried one too many bodies, but I got no problem getting pissed,” said Blob.

“Easy, big guy,” coaxed Lance, “Everybody came here to pay their respects. Let’s not make light of mass death by acting like assholes.”

Blob grumbled a few curses towards Mellencamp. Even with his size and strength, standing next to a pile of dead bodies was disconcerting to say the least. He was ready to end this. Now that the final body was in place they could get on with it.

“We’re ready, Wanda. Give us the final word and we’ll get this over with,” said Lance.

“And not a moment too soon,” said Wanda anxiously, “I’m really not ready for this.”

“None of us are,” said Lorna, “Go on…say what needs to be said.”

“We’re with you every step of the way…whether you find us annoying or not,” added Pietro.

Her siblings helped Wanda gather enough strength to face the masses behind her. Hundreds of mutants had gathered. They were expecting her to say something. She was not a charismatic speaker like her father, but they needed to hear from their leader.

Scanner and Mercury set up a series of loudspeakers all along the ridge so everyone could hear. One of her acolytes came in and gave her the microphone. Her hand shook as she looked at so many saddened faces. After taking a deep breath, she addressed the citizens of Genosha.

“Thank you all for coming,” she said over the speaker, “We’re here today to say goodbye. I know many of you lost someone. We all lost friends, neighbors, family…none of whom deserved to die. For once, our powers and our technology did not protect us. We were as vulnerable as the humans. In this sense we’ve been humbled. So I ask on this day that we not let tragedy tear us apart. We need to be stronger if we’re to move on. So in that spirit, we bid farewell to our fallen brethren.”

I’m determined to end X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths on a strong note. I’m treating it as another critical turning point in the unfolding story that is X-men Supreme. At the same time, I’m going to leave room to make it the final entry in this fanfiction series. However, I am not currently leaning towards such a course. There’s still more story I want to tell. And if I do decide to continue X-men Supreme, I’ll make it official after the final issue for X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths is posted. I’m still somewhat disappointed by the lack of feedback, but I’m still encouraged by the extent to which some have followed this fanfiction series and I hope to continue doing so. To all those who want to see more of X-men Supreme, please feel free to contact me at any time. I’m always happy to chat. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


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