Friday, March 23, 2018

X-men Supreme Issue 166: Trial By Fire PREVIEW!

Whenever a major, Earth-shaking event unfolds in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, I take supreme satisfaction, if that’s not too fitting a word, in how it reshapes the narrative. When I started this fanfiction series, I didn’t just want every issue to involve the X-men fighting Sentinels, Magneto, Mr. Sinister, and men like Robert Kelly. I wanted the story to have a sense of direction. I wanted to do the same world-building that has helped make the X-men comics what they are. Part of that process involves building a story around the aftermath of a major event, which can be satisfying in its own right.

The Crimes Against Inhumanity arc was a huge game changer for X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided. This arc was the culmination of numerous tensions that had been building since X-men Supreme Issue 149: Law Abiding Bind demonstrated the strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities of the Mutant Monitoring Initiative. On paper, Charles Xavier’s intent was good. He wanted the X-men to work alongside President Kelly and General Grimshaw to improve the standing of mutants while also gaining valuable allies. It came with risks, but after the damage the Mutant Liberation Front did in X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation, it was a risk he had to take.

It may have paid off at first in arcs like Drug War and Unholy Man, but Romulus effectively changed the cost structure of the Mutant Monitoring Initiative. In many respects, Crimes Against Inhumanity was a worst-case scenario for both Charles Xavier and X-Force. It was one of those conflicts where everything that could’ve been used against the X-men was thrown at them. The divisions the Mutant Monitoring Initiative had created finally caught up to them. The X-men weren’t in a position to do their job. X-Force didn’t have the resources or manpower to end the conflict sooner. As a result, Romulus did untold damage.

That damage goes beyond the X-men and X-Force, though. Unlike Magneto, he didn’t just target mutants with his ultimate plan. He literally attacked the entire world, striking every major defense system he could. From big national armies to local police forces, he used the legacy of Weapon X to wage a war to end all wars. The fact he came so close to succeeding has left everyone, human and mutant alike, in a state of uncertainty and fear.

The aftermath of every major event usually brings added upheavals. It’s one thing to stop the damage. It’s quite another to adapt to the world that emerges. Charles Xavier must now confront a world where the Mutant Monitoring Initiative was exposed and his X-men were unable to do the job. Cyclops and X-Force have to confront the harsh truths that Romulus exposed in his effort to end all war. In both cases, the X-men Supreme fanfiction series faces a new host of challenges and it’s not going to take long for someone to exploit their vulnerabilities.

That’s exactly what the next couple of issues deal with. Many major events in X-men Supreme, going back to Uprising and Overlord, create a situation in which someone exploits the aftermath. The impact of Crimes Against Inhumanity will be no different and the names of those who do the exploiting should be very familiar. Some are fairly new. Others have done plenty of damage to the X-men in the past. In any case, the aftermath will set the stage for the next major conflict. As always, I’ve prepared a preview on the foundation of that conflict.

“Mr. President, please! We still have much to discuss and time remains a factor,” urged a desperate Charles Xavier as he tried to catch up with President Kelly.

“I’m a busy man, Charles. We’ve got a global security crisis on our hands and you can’t expect me to make meeting with you my top priority,” said President Kelly, who was going over CIA reports.

“And you can’t expect me to formulate a long list of necessary reforms within an hour,” retorted Xavier.

“Why not? I thought you were the most powerful mind in the world,” said the President dryly.

“The power of my mind has nothing to do with such unreasonable logistics. You make it sound as though fixing what led to this global security crisis doesn’t matter.”

President Kelly stopped walking, allowing his frustration to surface. He was already late for a conference with several important ambassadors from the Middle East and Asia. Charles Xavier wasn’t making his job easier by pestering him. In fact, he hadn’t stopped pestering him since the dust settled from the White Cell attack.

Professor Xavier tried to ignore the burning frustration that the President was projecting with his mind. He managed to catch up with him, but that was difficult due to the thick packets of paper he was carrying. He only touched on a fraction of what he hoped to address during their meeting. With many lingering issues, he was intent on confronting the damage done to the Mutant Monitoring Initiative.

“I’m don’t mean to annoy you, Mr. President,” said Xavier as he caught his breath, “I’m just asking for some added consideration.”

“When you put it like that, it sounds an awful lot like annoyance,” retorted President Kelly.

“I apologize if that’s how it comes across, but I think we’ll make both our lives easier if we take care of this now,” he said as he sifted through some of the thick packets, “We can both agree that our inaction played a significant role in allowing White Cell’s attack.”

“Only to a point, Professor,” the President replied with folded arms, “Our inaction was only one of many contributing factors.”

“But it’s a factor we’re capable of correcting,” Xavier noted, “I’ve put together a number of reforms to prevent this from happening again. There is plenty of disagreement over the language, but the general theme is the same. The X-men must be able to work more independently. This way they can address threats like White Cell without going through so many layers of bureaucracy.”

“If that’s the general theme, it isn’t very original. Do you have any idea how many other agencies make that same request? You don’t think the Department of Energy would love being able to craft their own energy policies without federal approval?”

“I’m sure every agency would enjoy being a power unto themselves, but they weren’t directly involved in this crisis.”

“I’m sure they made that same argument after the oils shocks in the late 70s or the BP spill in the Gulf. Like everyone else, they had to adapt.”

“Did they? Or did the people involved just stop trying?” questioned Xavier.

“I can’t speak for them, but I can speak for the office that you decided to partner with,” said the President apprehensively, “There will be reform. There’s always reform after a mess like this.”

“I understand that, Mr. President. But I’m concerned it won’t be enough to stop the next crisis.”

“You’re getting ahead of yourself Xavier…and greedy for that matter,” said the President more forcefully, “There’s a lot riding on our shoulders and to be honest, I’m not comfortable trusting you to handle it. Unfortunately, neither of us has a choice.”

“Choice isn’t the issue here. It’s about making sure no one hinders the other from doing the right thing.” said the Professor, maintaining an urgent tone.

“We’re not in the business of doing the right thing, Xavier. We’re in the businesses of managing the impossible so normal folk don’t have to. If you can convince every legislative body and federal judge to go along with all these reforms, go right ahead. I’ll be happy to implement them at that point. If not, take some time to understand that the reasons for these procedures. Remember, you’re the one who signed up for this so I expect you to honor those procedures. Understood?”

Professor Xavier had much more he wanted to say, but the President of the United States made his position clear. He was not in a position to make major changes to the initiative at the moment. His primary concerns were security. He even projected some hostile thoughts to further dissuade Xavier from making further arguments. They were enough to silence any psychic from probing further.

Having made his point, President Kelly adjusted his suit and calmed down. He then turned to his Secret Service agents, who were prepared to escort him to his next meeting. They even shot Xavier a stern glance, warning him not to run after them.

“I’ll assume you heard my thoughts and we’re back on the same page,” said the President, “Whatever reforms you have, send them through the proper channels. In the meantime, I have a lot of anxious world leaders to reassure.”

“Can I also assume they’ll be as understanding if these reforms are passed too late to make a difference?” questioned Xavier.

“They have a myriad of other concerns at the moment. This may be hard to believe for a mind like yours, but there are other conflicts aside those involving mutants.”

President Kelly rushed into the VIP elevator. He left Xavier behind holding his thick stack of papers, still clearly frustrated by having his concerns tossed aside. The President of the United States didn’t have the luxury of focusing on reform. The current state of the world demanded action and for once the X-men were not a priority.

‘You’re putting us in grave danger, Mr. President. Yet somehow you make me feel selfish for trying to fix what is clearly broken. What am I supposed to tell my X-men? If they have to keep breaking the law to do their job, then I fear for more than just their well-being.’

This fanfiction series is entering uncharted territory, as it so often does after a major event. Certain characters are going to undergo major changes. I know X-men fans are somewhat sensitive to change, especially given how the X-men comics have handled them poorly in the past. I hope to avoid those mistakes with this fanfiction series, but the aftermath of an event like Crimes Against Inhumanity will bring more than a few big moments.

That’s why it’s so critical that I continue getting feedback for this and the rest of this fanfiction series. Please, in the interest of making X-men Supreme as awesome as it can be, take the time to review. Either contact me directly or send post your comments directly in the issue. Either way is fine and I’m always happy to chat. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


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