Friday, April 13, 2018

X-men Supreme Issue 167: Uncivil Disobedience PREVIEW!

It seems that every time a superhero team undergoes a major schism or divide in the comics, there comes a point where both sides eventually clash with one another. The X-men Supreme fanfiction series is similar in many respects. As soon as I set up the division between Charles Xavier and Cyclops back in X-men Supreme Issue 148: New Divide, I essentially set the stage for their respective teams to clash at some point. Well, as X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided nears its culmination, that clash is almost here.

The division between Charles Xavier and Cyclops is not born out of outrage or hatred. It’s nothing like the schism we saw in the X-men comics with Cyclops and Wolverine. Their divide centers on the vision for what the X-men should be and how they should go about helping mutants in a world that hates and fears them. It’s one of the most fundamental components of the X-men’s story, going all the way back to the days of Uncanny X-men with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. I’ve always tried to make that the focal point of X-men Supreme, going all the way back to X-men Supreme Volume 1: Mutant Revolution.

Even with that most basic guiding tenant for the X-men, there are many complications. Everything leading up to the events of X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided was a confluence of complications. From Magneto’s destructive actions during events like Overlord and the Cambrian Explosion to mutant uprisings in District X and terror attacks by the Mutant Liberation front, the X-men dealt with a lot of tough battles. Eventually, those in positions of power, like President Kelly and General Grimshaw, had enough. The X-men had to change their approach or someone else would change it for them.

It led Charles Xavier to make a hard choice to form the Mutant Monitoring Initiative, which required the X-men to work with the government and operate under government scrutiny. Xavier believed that he could make that arrangement work. Cyclops felt otherwise, believing that there would be an unseen cost that neither Xavier nor the rest of the X-men could foresee. That cost played out in a major way in the Crimes Against Inhumanity arc. It left deep scars on both teams and the future of the Mutant Monitoring Initiative is in question.

In such a tense environment with so much uncertainty, it’s only a matter of time before someone tries to take advantage of the X-men’s vulnerability. In X-men Supreme Issue 166: Trial By Fire, Magneto reared his head again and the prospects of another attack has everyone on edge. Xavier’s X-men and Cyclops’ team, X-Force, have to make a move. This time, however, they won’t be able to avoid one another. The collision course I set up in X-men Supreme Issue 148: New Divide is about to happen.

This isn’t just going to be a pivotal moment for X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided. This is going to be a defining moment for Charles Xavier, Cyclops, and the dream they both proport to fight for. Hearts will be strained. Scars will be left. It’s not entirely certain whether the X-men will ever be truly whole again, but there’s no avoiding it. The X-men and X-Force are about to finally clash. As always, I’ve prepared a preview that should help set the stage for that clash. Enjoy!

Black Tom Cassidy made a name for himself by taking huge risks. Dealing heavy arms was a hazardous trade to begin with. It forced aspiring businessmen to travel to exotic locales that no sane person would dare travel while dealing with people that no sane person would dare consort with. Black Tom considered himself plenty sane. He was just more ambitious than his competition. When confronted with an opportunity to take it, he never hesitated to take it. This was one that may be his biggest yet.

“This is as close as we can get,” said the anxious captain of his yacht, “These waters are choppy and I don’t think our signal jammers will maintain our cover much longer.”

“Quit acting like you’re about to have a stroke. They’ll hold up. They better after what I paid for them,” said Black Tom, maintaining a calm demeanor, “We’re safer than you think. The naval blockade around this island is gone. Nearly every ship that was stationed here has been redeployed.”

“Then why are we dropping anchor at one of the most hazardous parts of the coast?” asked the captain.

“Are your ears not working? I said nearly every ship,” said Black Tom, rolling his eyes, “There are still a few UN boats patrolling the waters. They tend not to come to these choppy parts of the coast. They don’t get paid enough to take those kinds of risks.”

“I hope it’s more than you paid me for this.”

“I promise you’ll be very nicely compensated for your efforts. Your entire crew will once I’ve secured the merchandise.”

“By you don’t you mean me?” said Frenzy, who was standing right next to Black Tom.

“I like to think our efforts will complement one another,” said Black Tom, “They’ll have to if we’re to secure our reward.”

Black Tom shot the captain of the yacht a stern glare, ensuring that he wouldn’t defy orders. The captain nervously nodded and issued the command to drop the anchor. They were close to the coast and the waters were pretty rough due to large reefs in the area. The weather did little to put him or his crew at ease. Around an island like Genosha, the danger was always magnified.

Black Tom continued to ignore that danger as he led Frenzy out from the main deck and towards the starboard side of the vessel. The crew was already hard at work securing the ship, keeping an eye out for any disturbances. After the incident in Istanbul, everyone was on high alert.

It wasn’t lost on Black Tom either. He was still fuming about his daughter being left behind. Since they had to maintain radio silence during the five-day trip to Genosha, he couldn’t check in with her. He remained confident that she found a way to deal with the situation. If she managed to get into any trouble, he should be able to buy their way out of it once this deal was complete.

“Explain to me again what this merchandise actually is, Mr. Cassidy,” said Frenzy as she followed closely.

“Please, Frenzy…call me Black Tom. For what you’ve agreed to, we can afford to be a bit less formal,” he said in a friendly tone.

“Whatever I call you, I think I have a right to know what we’re stealing,” she said, maintaining a tough tone, “I’m assuming it’s rare and dangerous. It has to be if it can only be found on a wasteland like Genosha.”

“You’re right on every account…except the last one,” said Black Tom, “Genosha may have been abandoned, but it is hardly a wasteland. While it was still occupied, I did a lot of business smuggling Genosha technology from their ports. It was by far my most profitable venture. As such, I made a few friends on the island. They had some interesting stories about the kind of tools that Magneto developed, some of which weren’t for sale.”

“Sounds fancy,” commented Frenzy, “How do you know they’re still there?”

“Because unlike the governments of this world, I haven’t been that eager to forget about Genosha,” he replied, “Recently a few well-paid associates detected some new activity on the island. Based on past intelligence, I think I know the source. Magneto may have lost his mind, but he was competent enough to hide his secrets. That’s where your strength and durability comes in. Hardware like this is difficult to handle, but with the right strategy it will fetch a handsome profit.”

“How much of that profit can I expect to end up in my pockets?”

“More than the Frost sisters would have ever paid you. That, I’m sure of.”

Frenzy scoffed to herself. It wasn’t like the Frost sisters were going to pay her much to begin with. For all she knew, they were going to screw her over from the beginning. They were just too greedy. Black Tom wasn’t much of an improvement, but he had gone through a lot of trouble to enlist her services. For the kind of money he was offering, it was just too great an opportunity to pass up.

“Take comfort in the knowledge that I need you more than you need me,” added Black Tom as they reached the starboard side of the ship, “To locate this merchandise, we must traverse this radiation-soaked island and venture into the capital city. The source of the activity is within Magneto’s citadel, which we can assume will still have plenty of hazards.”

“Sounds like fun,” said Frenzy, rolling her eyes, “How long will it take us to get there? You’re not going to make me carry you, are you?”

“Oh come now, Frenzy. A man of my means prefers a more efficient means of travel,” said Black Tom wryly.

As they looked out towards the rugged coast, Black Tom signaled some nearby crewmen. They moved with urgency and retrieved two large metal cases from the stern area. Several men had to work together in order to move two refrigerator-sized containers. Once they were in place, they proceeded to open them. They revealed advanced jet-packs. They looked like something that could only be found on the black market.

“Jet packs,” said Frenzy with a grin, “I’m starting to like your style, Black Tom.”

“The black market is a beautiful thing, my dear,” said Black Tom with a confident grin, “Where logistics fail, ambition succeeds!”

Throughout the history of this fanfiction series, I’ve played the long game, setting up big moment and steadily building towards them. Whether it’s with a major arc or a particular moment within a particular issue, I make it a point to maximize the drama and impact of that moment. I knew that the X-men and X-Force were going to clash at some point in X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided. I had this moment in the story mapped out in my head before I wrote the first issue. Now, it’s finally happening and I want it to strike all the right chords with X-men fans.

In my effort to make these kinds of moments the most rewarding parts of X-men Supreme, it’s important that I continue to get comments and feedback. These are tense, volatile times for this fanfiction series. It’s going to get even more tense as the series nears another climactic clash. I need to know that I’m utilizing that tension in all the right ways. That’s where readers and commenters come in. Please, if you can, take the time to leave a review or provide feedback. Either contact me directly or post your comments in each 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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