Friday, December 8, 2017

X-men Supreme Issue 161: Capital Corruption PREVIEW!

Certain plots take a great deal of patience and build-up. It’s easy to forget, sometimes, that the original Phoenix Saga that played out in the pages of Uncanny X-men unfolded over the course of three dozen issues. That kind of story is hard to tell today, whether it’s with X-men or any other comic book characters. That hasn’t stopped me from trying with the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Since its inception with X-men Supreme Volume 1: Mutant Revolution, I’ve taken my time to develop stories in what I hope is a sufficiently awesome manner.

I don’t claim to be as skilled as Chris Claremont, but I’ve made a concerted effort to develop the various plots of X-men Supreme in a way that has a solid payoff. Events like Overlord, the Outer Limits, and even the X-men Supreme version of the Phoenix Saga unfolded over the course of multiple volumes of this fanfiction series. Some stories had the seeds planted very early on in a very specific way.

The best example of this happened in the Overlord arc in X-men Supreme Volume 2: War Powers. In that event, there was a telling moment between Wolverine and Mystique that hinted at a deeper connection between the two. It wasn’t until much later in X-men Supreme Issue 120: Sinister Revelations when Sinister revealed that Mystique was actually Rose, one of Wolverine’s former lovers from before he joined Weapon X. That moment took a long time to build, even with the major hints I dropped in arcs like the Cambrian Explosion. I like to think that kind of build made the culmination that much more satisfying.

Now, the X-men Supreme fanfiction series is about to reach another moment. Coincidentally, this one also involves the mysterious pasts of Wolverine and Mystique. When I revealed their connection at the end of X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths, I did so with a much larger plan in mind. I had every intention of making their shared history part of a much larger story, one that incorporates a conflict involving a character that Wolverine fans should recognize. Developing that story has taken time, especially after the events of X-men Supreme Issue 148: New Divide. All that build and energy is finally about to culminate.

The events of the Drug War arc acted as the first shots in a much larger conflict. That story may have been centered around Sebastian Shaw and the emergence of Mutant Growth Hormone, but it also revealed the presence of other powerful forces that threaten more than the X-men and the Mutant Monitoring Initiative. Wolverine definitely sensed that threat and it took the form of someone that X-men fans should recognize as a major complication. It’s hard enough working against the X-men with Cyclops as a member of X-Force. Once again, Wolverine’s mysterious past will come back to haunt the X-men in a big way.

The biggest arc to date in X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided is starting to take shape. This is one of those stories that will leave scars. Like Dark Legacy or the Cambrian Explosion, this story will leave a powerful impact on the X-men, X-Force, and everyone in between. It all starts with a prelude of sorts, one that will add some very personal stakes to Wolverine, X-Force, and many others. I’ve prepared a preview of that prelude that I hope gets X-men fans of all kinds excited, some more than others.

“Thank you, Julian. You’ve been very helpful. Even if your maturity is constantly in question,” said Laura as she finished her snack.

“You’ve been talking to Sam and Roberto again, haven’t you?” teased Julian, “I thought I told you that half of what they say about me is total bullshit.”

“That still leaves half, but I don’t hold it against you,” she assured him, “You’ve done more for me than anyone at the Academy. I know I don’t make it easy for you. I’m surprised you haven’t quit on me a few times.”

“Well after that incident where you sliced through my bedroom door while I was watching a movie with one too many explosions, I did consider it,” he joked.

“And I can’t promise there won’t be more incidents like that,” she said in a more serious tone, “Logan told me that trying to be a normal teenage girl is important. I’m inclined to believe him. But it’s difficult when I still have these powerful instincts.”

“You’d be surprised how many other teenage girls struggle with instincts. Tabitha and Amara can’t seem to control themselves at times.”

“These instincts are different. I live every day with the assumption that I’m still being hunted. Wolverine told me himself that this mentality will never disappear completely. The problem is my instincts keep telling me that the threats are there and I need to attack them. Most of the time, nothing is there. Even if there was, it limits my ability to be normal. Sometimes I wonder that even after I do everything I can to rebuild my life…I’ll still be a monster.”

Laura led Julian away from the main boardwalk to a quieter part of the harbor. Having finished her snack, she needed a moment to collect herself. They found themselves standing between a closed food hut and couple of storage containers.

She was still not comfortable with crowds, especially when she got worked up. She had to pull away from Julian for a moment. He gave her some space as she hugged her shoulders. He stood awkwardly behind her, staying silent for a moment before trying to console her.

“Uh…is this one of those times where you need some space?” asked Julian.

“No. Please don’t leave,” she told him, “I just…”

“You don’t need to explain yourself,” he said, “I get it. Old scars have a way of re-opening themselves. There’s nothing I can say to make it go away. So I won’t try.”

Laura tensed as she felt Julian’s concerned eyes on her. It was one of those limits that made it difficult for her to relate to him or anyone for that matter. To his credit, Julian was patient with her. That didn’t make it any less frustrating.

An awkward silence lingered for a moment. Laura took deep breaths just as Logan and others at the Academy taught her, trying to collect herself before her instincts got the better of her. Just when it seemed as though the feeling had passed, a mysterious new scent filled the air. It was a scent that triggered an entirely new set of instincts.

‘That smell. It smells like…no, this is different!’

Clenching her firsts, the former living weapon snarled at more scents followed.

“You need to leave, Julian,” she said sternly.

“What did I do wrong now?” he groaned, “If talking about instincts is really that stressful, then I’ll…”

“It’s not that. We’re being watched,” said Laura intently, “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll start running!”

“Well I’ve never been known for my judgement, so you mind giving me a better reason?”

Laura grunted in frustration. Julian clearly wasn’t going to just walk away from her and she didn’t have time to convince him that this wasn’t mere paranoia. As he looked at her in confusion, she noticed an ominous shadow come over him. Reacting on pure instinct, the former living weapon lunged towards Julian and tackled him to the ground.

“GET DOWN!” she exclaimed.

With only a fraction of a second to spare, Laura shoved Julian out of the way just as a dark figure passed over. He landed flat on his back, getting the wind knocked out of him in the process. While he was stunned, Laura instinctively shot up and drew her claws.

As she took in her assailant, she noticed an ominous similarity between them. Like her, he also had a set of claws protruding from his knuckles. He wore a black body suit not unlike the one her creators had her wear. He also had a dark helmet covering his entire head. However, the helmet didn’t hide a familiar scent.

“You…you smell like, Wolverine. But you’re not him!” she seethed.

“Weapon X-23,” said the figure in a voice that sounded like it came from a computer.

“My name is Laura! Laura Howlett!” she barked, “Get it right or I’ll carve it into your skull!”

“You must come with us. Your must fulfill your purpose.”

“Who the hell is us?” Laura snarled, “I killed every last asshole that took part in my creation!”

“No. You have not,” said the figure in a mechanical tone.

As soon as he said these words, Laura picked up more scents. In a series of flashes, four more mysterious figures appeared. They looked completely identical, bearing the same black suits and mask. As soon as they appeared, they each drew their own set of claws. Within moments, they surrounded her.

“Hnn…Laura?” groaned Julian, still trying to get his lungs working again.

“Do you need a better reason, Julian? Run!” roared Laura.

“I’m not leaving you!” he exclaimed.

“You can and you will. This is my fight. I can handle it!”

The dark figures surrounded her, their claws drawn as they prepared to attack the feral young mutant. They moved in perfect synchronicity. They surrounded their target from all sides, but former Weapon X-23 was ready to take them on. It promised to incur a great deal of violence and bloodshed. For that reason, the figures instigated special tactic that promised to mitigate this situation.

While X-23 was preparing to attack, another presence emerged from behind one of the storage crates. However, his was different from the other figures in that he wasn’t wearing a mask or a special tactical suit. Instead, he bore attire that ensured Laura and everyone related to Logan knew who they were dealing with.

Like a predatory animal stalking its prey, he snuck up to the still stunned Julian Keller. Just as he was about to get up, the imposing man pulled him into a powerful choke hold. Once the young mutant was in his grasp, he made his presence known to Laura.

“Ack!” choked Julian, once again unable to breathe.

“Care to rethink that, little miss runt?” snarled a bemused Victor Creed.

Laura tensed upon hearing that voice. She never heard it before, but it sounded familiar. When she turned around she recognized him as someone Logan had told her about. He was even more repugnant than she imagined. Worst of all, he had Julian in his grasp.

“Sabretooth!” she growled, “Logan was right. You stink worse than a thousand toxic waste dumps.”

“Good to know Logan told you all about his old buddy. Did he also tell you what I do to the people he cares about?” quipped Sabretooth, holding his claws closer to Julian’s neck.

“If you so much as breathe on him…” she threatened.

“Blah blah. You’ll cut me to pieces. Yada yada. You’ll kill me a dozen times over,” laughed the feral mutant, “Jeez! You really are his clone. Hope that means you’re not as stupid as him. Otherwise your boyfriend here is gonna regret ever wanting to bone you.”

Laura snarled with murderous rage. This man knew Logan very well. That meant he knew her too, possibly in ways she couldn’t imagine. Between him, the five masked figures, and Julian’s predicament, her decision was clear. This was one instance where her instincts and her humanity were in agreement. Despite a determined look from Julian, she withdrew her claws.

“What do you want from me, Sabretooth?” she said flatly, “How many more reasons are you going to give Logan to kill you?”

“I’ve yet to decide,” grinned Sabretooth, still maintaining a firm grip on Julian, “Cooperate and we’ll both find out soon enough. We’ve got an overdue reunion to get to. And you’re gonna make sure my old buddy ain’t late!”

I get that it’s difficult to be patient these days with the X-men. However, it can and does pay off. Most recently, Marvel finally announced the return of Jean Grey after nearly 14 years of being dead. While I don’t intend to make readers of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series wait quite that long, I still want to reward the patience of those who have supported X-men Supreme throughout its development.

To ensure that reward is truly worthy, it’s still important that I continue to get feedback. Even if you’re just impatient and want more clues as to what lies ahead for X-men Supreme, I still want to hear from you. Please contact me directly with your comments or post them directly in the various issues. Either way is fine and I’m always happy to chat. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


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