Friday, January 19, 2018

X-men Supreme Issue 163: Crimes Against Inhumanity Part 2 PREVIEW!

When it comes to messy family drama, the X-men have more than their share with some characters having more than others. Throughout the history of the X-men comics, characters like Cyclops, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and even Charles Xavier have shown just how messy these family affairs can be. I’ve made an effort to capture those throughout the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Early on, it was Mystique’s constant clashes with Nightcrawler and Rogue that set the standard for family drama. I like to think that since then, this fanfiction series has escalated those conflicts on multiple fronts.

Among X-men fans, it’s often debatable whether Cyclops or Wolverine has the craziest family drama. In the X-men comics, Cyclops would probably win that debate more often than not. In X-men Supreme, however, I think recent events have given Wolverine the edge in the family chaos department. I’ve been complicating Wolverine’s family for quite some time, going all the way back to X-men Supreme Issue 21: Chasing a Memory. Those complications only really began escalating when I brought X-23 into the mix with the Time Bomb arc. It gained even more complexity after he learned about his connection to Mystique in X-men Supreme Issue 120: Sinister Revelations. From there, Wolverine has steadily been developing a sense of family.

Having a sense of family, though, hasn’t tempered Wolverine’s propensity to get into messy fights. That happens to him regardless of any family ties. It has throughout his history in the X-men comics and this fanfiction series. However, family ties add give even more weight to those conflicts, especially when they end up affecting the other X-men. Before the Crimes Against Inhumanity arc, Wolverine was pretty good about keeping those personal conflicts from affecting the team. Even his clash with Lady Deathstrike in The Lotus and the Warrior only had a minimal impact on the X-men, as a whole. That is not the case now that his father, Romulus, has entered the picture.

While he’s a controversial, if not infamous, character in the X-men comics, he’s one of those characters who always finds a way to frustrate or complicate Wolverine’s story. He’s also one of those characters who has never had a chance to maximize his potential. I always felt that Marvel mishandled him whenever he showed up and I wanted to do something different with the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. With Crimes Against Inhumanity, Romulus isn’t just a master manipulator for the sake of it. He has genuine motivations to go along with his powerful ties to Wolverine.

I’d always intended to bring Romulus into the mix somehow in X-men Supreme. My plans for doing so didn’t really take shape until after the revelations with Wolverine and Mystique took place during the Dark Legacy arc in X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths. I’ve been steadily guiding this fanfiction series towards a major clash with Romulus ever since, one that also incorporates the plot involving White Cell, which I introduced all the way back in X-men Supreme Volume 2: War Powers. These connections are all starting to finally converge and that convergence will shake the X-men Supreme fanfiction series to its core.

How it does this and how Romulus will leave his mark is still unfolding. The Crimes Against Inhumanity arc is just beginning and is poised to be the biggest of X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided to date. Whether you’re a fan of Wolverine or still despise Romulus for whatever reason, I intend to make the payoff both satisfying and revealing. The direction of both the X-men and X-Force will be very different when all is said and done. As always, I’ve prepared a preview of the upheaval that lies ahead.

“Professor Xavier! General Grimshaw! We need to talk!” said an irate Captain Freeman as he stormed into the main conference room.

“Nice to see you too, Captain Freeman,” said Piotr dryly, “Was knocking first not part of your training?”

“We should consider ourselves lucky. At least this time he didn’t bust through the door,” said General Grimshaw with an exasperated sigh.

What was scheduled to be a regular, boring meeting had been abruptly shattered. Captain Freeman’s outburst disrupted what had been three days of unusually uneventful activity. Professor Xavier immersed himself in meetings involving the case against Sebastian Shaw.

He also kept his X-men busy, especially Piotr and Betsy, with operations that involved cleaning up what was left of Shaw’s shady operations. After having made such a scene about White Cell, he dropped his concerns with unusual ease. It was only a matter of time before someone got suspicious.

Professor Xavier didn’t pretend to be startled as Captain Freeman stormed over to the conference table. General Grimshaw and Colossus stood up to restrain him. The Green Beret was in one of his anxious moods and he didn’t need to telepathy to figure out why.

“What seems to be troubling you, Captain? I thought you were coordinating the escort convoy for Shaw’s trial,” said Professor Xavier, trying to sound reasonable.

“There’s only so much grunt work I can handle before I start to get suspicious. If a guy as dumb as me can see the signs, then you must not be trying very hard,” said Captain Freeman sternly.

“Bloody hell, this better not be what I think it is,” groaned Betsy, who was sitting next to Professor Xavier.

“And what exactly do you think it is, Miss Braddock? Would you say it’s worth the Captain barging in on us like this?” said General Grimshaw, shooting the Green Beret an irritated glance.

“Why don’t you ask the Professor, here?” quipped Captain Freeman, “Ask him why Storm, Gambit, and Rogue didn’t answer my calls through the secure line that they’re obligated to answer? Ask him why Jean Grey has spent an unusually long time working on upgrades to Cerebrum? Or if you want to skip all that, ask why the Velocity’s tracking gear shorted out over District X of all places?”

Now even General Grimshaw was curious. He shot Xavier a stern glare. It wasn’t anger as much as it was disappointment. It was almost as if he was asking him how he could be clumsy when it came to covering his tracks.

“What do you say, Professor? Care to address the Captain’s concerns?” asked General Freeman.

“If there’s a problem with the Velocity’s equipment, then that’s something you’ll have to take up with Hank. He’s more familiar with such hardware last I checked,” said Professor Xavier, who did his best to maintain an innocent tone.

“He didn’t answer his line either. Agent Brand is already yelling at me,” said Captain Freeman, “So why don’t we skip the part where you play dumb? You’re not very good at it.”

“I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about,” said Professor Xavier.

“And here I was hoping we were done with this,” groaned Betsy, “Guess I really was hoping for too much.”

“By this, I take it you mean White Cell again, yes?” said Piotr.

“You mean the same White Cell that’s supposed to be a dead issue?” said General Grimshaw.

“Is there any other?” said Captain Freeman dryly.

The Professor maintained his silence. He couldn’t afford to say anything too foolish or incriminating. He had a feeling something like this would happen eventually. Jean must have found something with Cerebrum. Neither she nor the others were all that concerned with remaining subtle about it. He assumed that was because she discovered something.

Captain Freeman leaned over the conference table and stared down Professor Xavier. As the field leader of the X-men, it was his job to confront issues like this. When the very team he was supposed to lead started going behind his back it was a problem both for him and for the Mutant Monitoring Initiative.

“I don’t if all of you are trying to live in the same fantasy land, but this is a serious problem if it’s exactly what I think it is,” said Captain Freeman.

“And what do you think it is, Captain?” asked Professor Xavier stoically.

“You’re still investigating White Cell, aren’t you? Despite the President of the United States and every other high-ranking official at every level telling you to drop it, you’re not letting this go. Do I even need to tell you how much damage you could do with this? Assuming, of course, that you even care!”

“Of course I care, Captain,” said Xavier, “You know as well as anyone how important the Mutant Monitoring Initiative is to me.”

“Then tell me with a straight face that it isn’t true,” said the Green Beret, “Tell me you didn’t allow your X-men to go rogue and confront White Cell on their own.”

Professor Xavier remained dead silent. It was the only response he could give without lying in front of his X-men and the General. Lies and deception had hurt him before. He wasn’t willing to risk it again with something this sensitive.

“Professor, I thought we were committed to convincing everybody that White Cell was a clear and present danger,” said Piotr, “You told me this yourself. Was that also a lie?”

“I didn’t lie, Peter,” said Professor Xavier in an only partially assertive tone.

“Bullocks! Lying isn’t required to simply avoid the truth,” said Betsy, “So you let the others work behind our backs? I thought we were a team!”

“We are a team,” said Xavier.

“Then quit avoiding my question and act like it!” said Captain Freeman, pounding his fist on the table, “I’m not doing this because I’m trying to bust your balls. I’m doing this because this can only end in disaster. I don’t want that. And if we’re really a team, you’ll come clean and let us help you!”

“Calm down, Captain. We’re not going to address this in a reasonable manner if you keep using an unreasonable tone,” coaxed General Grimshaw.

“I’m amazed you’re not as outraged as I am, sir. Did you know about this? Or at the very least suspect it?” said the Green Beret as he turned back towards his superior officer.

“Don’t start a witch hunt, son. I know as much as you do and I was as suspicious as anyone. I was just hoping it wouldn’t come to this,” said General Grimshaw.

There was a silent admission in his tone that told Professor Xavier that he had been operating under the same willful ignorance. If Captain Freeman was this worked up about it, then others in high places already suspected it. If Agent Brand started talking to the President or the UN, then the whole Mutant Monitoring Initiative was in jeopardy.

Captain Freeman turned back to Xavier, who still hadn’t given him an answer. No matter what he said, it would do great damage to his own credibility as well as his initiative. Even Betsy and Piotr were looking at him apprehensively. He knew he couldn’t stay silent forever. So with a deep, solemn breath he prepared to answer.

“The truth…is rather complicated, Captain,” he began, “I’ll tell you what I know.”

“I’m all ears, Professor,” said General Grimshaw.

“Me too,” said Captain Freeman sternly, “For all our sake, I hope you have some damn good reasons…”

Professor Xavier was about to continue when another uniformed MSA officer stumbled through the vacant doorway. Since Captain Freeman already destroyed it earlier, he didn’t have to knock as he came running up to Professor Xavier and the General.

“General Grimshaw! Professor Xavier! We have a situation!” said the officer.

“Is there even an infinitesimal chance this can wait?” groaned Captain Freeman, “We’re kind of in the middle of something here.”

“I’m afraid it can’t!” said the officer breathlessly, “It happened so quickly and it’s getting worse by the second.”

“Catch your breath, soldier. Tell me what this is about,” said General Grimshaw, who was all too eager for a distraction.

“Twenty bucks it’s related to this,” sighed Betsy.

“No deal,” said Peter.

The officer took a brief moment to gather himself, but he didn’t take long. It looked like he had just seen the ghost of Magneto. He was a high-ranking officer, yet his hands were trembling. That hinted that this was big.

“We’re under attack!” the officer said without fully catching his breath, “Our military installations here and aboard are being hit. They just appeared out of nowhere and…”

“Wait…slow down for a sec,” said General Grimshaw, “Which installations are we talking about here?”

“And who is they?” asked Captain Freeman.

“It’s everywhere! Every base we have! And it isn’t just us either. We’ve been getting reports from China, Africa, South America, the Middle East, and Europe. They’re all facing the same attacks! Every weapon, every system, and every combat vehicle is being wiped out! As for who’s behind it…”

This arc is far from over and will likely span a couple more issues. In that time, I hope to win over those who were disappointed or dismissive of Romulus after his shortcomings in the X-men comics. X-men Supreme gives me opportunities to take concepts that didn’t work in the X-men comics and make them work in this fanfiction series. I see it as a challenge and one that will help make X-men Supreme awesome. In order to ensure I’m meeting those challenges, it’s critical that I continue to get feedback. Either contact me directly with your comments or post them directly in the issue. Either way is fine and I’d love to chat. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


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