Friday, September 7, 2018

X-men Supreme Issue 174: Disillusion PREVIEW!

The biggest, most significant upheaval in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series is complete. The High Evolution arc concluded and so too did Magneto’s story. What began in X-men Supreme Issue 3: Competition effectively ended in X-men Supreme Issue 173: High Evolution Part 5. Magneto made his choice and his sacrifice. His vision for the mutant race is no longer his to pursue. That burden now falls upon the shoulders of his daughter, the Scarlet Witch, and a reunited Brotherhood of Mutants. While his vision will continue, Magneto’s story has ended.

Make no mistake. This is not a case where the fate of a character is left ambiguous, as is often the case in the X-men comics. I will confirm without ambiguity that Magneto is dead. He will not be returning in future issues of X-men Supreme. I never intended or wanted his story to drag out over time, constantly fluctuating between the role of villain and anti-hero. It’s an aspect of the X-men comics that I think is overdone. I had planned as far back as the Overlord arc to give Magneto a definitive end in this fanfiction series. That end is now here.

As such, the end of Magneto’s story represents a significant change for that of Charles Xavier and the X-men. After the world once again came to the brink of annihilation, one thing is clear. The X-men can no longer remain divided. The schism between Charles Xavier and Cyclops that unfolded in X-men Supreme Issue 148: New Divide cannot continue. The events of High Evolution and Crimes Against Inhumanity both show that the world needs a united X-men, now more than ever. As the dust settles from this latest conflict, and all the lost that came with it, a new era for the X-men will begin out of necessity.

What does this mean for Charles Xavier? What does it mean for the Mutant Monitoring Initiative that both General Grimshaw and President Kelly worked so hard to create? What does it mean for Captain Freeman? What does it mean for Cyclops, Wolverine, and X-Force? What does it mean for Jean Grey now that she has her Phoenix powers back? What does it mean for Issac and the impact that his death will have on those he influenced? These are just some of the loose ends that I intend to resolve in the final issue of X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided.

It has been a tense, dramatic journey. When I began X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided, I knew I was taking a chance. Stories about divided X-men have been overdone in the comics in recent years. However, I felt like this was a story that needed to happen, if only to raise the stakes for Charles Xavier’s dream and the obstacles the X-men face. I didn’t intend for it to carry beyond this volume. The X-men were always going to reunite, but the scars left by the division will remain.
Nothing can be the same. Relationships will change. The very idea of what it means to be an X-man will change. Some parts of the process will be bittersweet. Some will be heartfelt and humbling.

Some will reflect the losses and gains that come with any conflict. In the end, the X-men will continue doing what they’ve always done, fighting for a world that hates and fears them. It’s just a matter of how that fight will evolve in a world after Magneto’s sacrifice. That world will take shape in this final issue. As always, I’ve a preview of that emerging world for the X-men, their allies, and their enemies.

“So how’s that helmet and cape treating you?” asked Frenzy in a coarse tone, “It sure doesn’t mesh with your style.”

“Beat it, Frenzy,” said Alex, who was standing next to Wanda with Lorna, “Don’t you have some rubble to bury yourself in?”

“Excuse me for voicing concerns about my new home,” she quipped dryly, “I think I have a right to be a little crass when Magneto’s chosen successor looks like a deer in headlights.”

“We’re not in space anymore. No one is forcing you to stay,” Alex pointed out.

“I’m a wanted fugitive from White Cell who also got caught up in shady dealings with Black Tom. It’s either here or prison and I don’t do prison.”

“And whose fault is that?” quipped Alex.

“It’s no one’s fault,” said Wanda flatly, “Frenzy was caught up in this like the rest of us. She has as much right to stay here as any other mutant.”

“I still don’t see why that makes her qualified to join the Brotherhood,” said Alex.

“We’re low on manpower and she’s got the strength of fifty. Besides, I think I need the harsh criticism. I can’t afford to be arrogant at a time like this.”

Frenzy sneered at Alex, who was held back from further remarks thanks to Lorna. She had a legitimate reason to be critical. She had been working with Blob, Unus, Pyro, and Kid Omega for the past few days now. They were part of a large-scale cleaning effort for City X and the rest of Asteroid M. From the crippled citadel, Wanda could see the extent of the devastation. Many buildings had been damaged. Some collapsed. Every mutant took part in the effort, but it wasn’t without complications.

During the High Evolutionary’s attack, the million former humans did more than drive mutants into hiding. They created an atmosphere of mistrust. Hundreds had been injured during the attack. There were even reports of multiple deaths. That kind of hostility would make it difficult to rebuild. They had already failed on Genosha and Asteroid M was much bigger. They couldn’t afford to fail again, especially Magneto’s sacrifice.

Wanda had been contemplating plans for Asteroid M all morning. The X-men helped them reestablish order, but they could not stick around. They had their own rebuilding to do. Someone needed to explain to the rest of the world what had happened here. For once the X-men had the easier task. At least they were united again. The same could not be said for Asteroid M.

“Got some big news, sis. Looks like it’s worse than we thought,” said Pietro in his usual rushed tone as he came running in at high speeds.

“I assume it’s bad news because it always is when you come running in like this,” said Wanda dryly.

“It has the potential to be pretty fucking bad,” said the speedster, “All these pissed off former humans now have a new name. They’re calling themselves the Neo and they don’t seem interested in cooperating with mutants.”

“The Neo? What kind of a name is that?” scoffed Frenzy.

“It’s the name their new leader gave them. Remember that asshole, Vargas?”

“Vargas? That guy was once a few levels below your typical junki?! Why the hell would anyone follow him?” questioned Alex.

“It’s not terribly surprising. He was the first of his kind. He embodies what those 999,999 other humans once struggled with,” said Wanda distantly, “The High Evolutionary linked every one of them on a biological level. I wouldn’t be surprised if that link runs much deeper now that he’s gone.”

She turned her attention towards the plaza just below the citadel. The area was set up as a makeshift medical area where Mellencamp, Mercury, Senyaka, and Scanner worked with their healer, Elixir, to treat wounded mutants. There was already a strong sense of animosity. One part of the plaza was reserved for mutants that had been in the crossfire during the High Evolutionary’s attack. The other was reserved for the Neo, who had few injured and no reported deaths. Neither group felt comfortable around one another. The Neo already seemed to be leaving City X in droves. It was a clear sign of things to come.

“Before the X-men left, Professor Xavier warned me that growing into an ability was very different from simply gaining it,” Wanda went on, “Most mutants like us had to work at mastering our abilities. It helps us use them and appreciate them. But these Neo had everything done for them. The High Evolutionary just gave them their power without contemplating what it could do to them.”

“Makes me feel even sicker that we didn’t find much of his body,” grumbled Pietro, “I would have loved just throwing it out into the ocean and feeding it to the sharks.”

“In some ways they were the biggest victims,” added Wanda, “They were desperate people who were taken advantage of. They don’t know the value of their own power yet. I don’t see any of them helping us rebuild City X.”

“I heard they may even build a city of their own,” said Pietro, “There are a million of them and only a few thousand of us, give or take. Asteroid M is a big place and they’re already drawing battle lines.”

“Then I guess we’ll have to split time between fighting them and the humans that don’t like the idea of a new mutant continent,” said Alex.

“Continent? I thought we were a country,” said Frenzy.

“Genosha was just an island. Asteroid M isn’t just bigger. It has its own ecosystem. And unlike Genosha, we won’t have the luxury of Warlock technology to help us run it.”

“Yet another reason why we should have let the X-men stay just so we could beat them up a bit,” said the speedster.

“They also saved our lives in case you’ve forgotten,” Wanda pointed out, “Perhaps it’s a good thing that stopping the High Evolutionary also shut down the Warlock technology. We were growing too dependent on it. If mutants are to survive, we must rely on what makes us strong. We must show the Neo and the rest of the world that mutants can stand united. Father would have wanted it that way.”

The mention of Magneto evoked a solemn tone in her voice. Pietro and Lorna shared her sorrow. The loss of their father was still sinking in. Even though Wanda wore his helmet and cape, his presence loomed large.

“I like to think that Father trusts us to carry on his legacy…minus the wars and mass extinctions, of course,” said Lorna.

“It’s not like he left us with nothing to build on,” said Alex, “We have a whole continent at our disposal along most of the world’s mutant population.”

“That alone wouldn’t impress, Father. Maintaining it and making it stable for future generations would go much further,” said Wanda.

“And you think we can do that with the Neo and the humans breathing down our neck?” said Frenzy.

“We’re going to move forward under the assumption that it’s possible,” said Wanda, “More importantly, we’re not going to shut ourselves off. We still have allies that we can lean on for support.”

“Are you talking about the X-men?” scoffed Pietro.

“Or more specifically a certain X-man with blue fur, a tail, and an exotic German accent that you seem to find so alluring?” said Lorna with a slight tease.

“I really hope you’re being sarcastic, Lorna,” groaned Pietro.

“Sarcastic or not, I learned a lot while I was with X-Force. I learned the most from Kurt and not in the way you’re probably thinking,” said Wanda, her voice shifting again as more emotions overwhelmed her.

“Still makes me sick to the very pit of my stomach,” grumbled Pietro.

“Above all, he taught me that having faith in a vision and taking action are two sides of the same coin. You can’t rely on one alone. You also can’t compromise one for the sake of the other. That was Magneto’s greatest mistake. Charles Xavier made that same mistake with the Mutant Monitoring Initiative. Now, we have a chance to learn from it and if this world is going to succeed, we damn well better.”

She had a strength in her tone that superseded the emotional strain. It was the kind of strength that commanded respect and leadership. Wanda had been away from the Brotherhood for a while. The influence that Kurt and the X-men had on her was apparent. As a result, she would have to earn the trust of every mutant and Neo on Asteroid M. Perhaps. It seemed daunting, but that was good for her. It would make her work that much harder to honor her father’s sacrifice.

“So what’s the next step, Wanda? Or should I call you Madam Maximoff now?” asked Frenzy dryly

“The next step is too far ahead to contemplate,” she said, “We need to focus on the present right now. That involves cleaning up City X, assembling resources, and establishing relationships with allies.”

“I hope those relationships don’t involve inviting Nightcrawler to join,” muttered Pietro.

“You can rest easy, Pietro. Kurt has some loose ends to resolve with the X-men. But he knows our door is open to him.”

“Speak for yourself,” he groaned, which earned a scold from Lorna.

“I know it’s not going to be popular. I may make myself a target as well. But we can’t let old rivalries get in our way anymore. We need to be loved, respected, and feared,” Wanda went on, “Xavier and his X-men are strong enough to keep the world in one piece. We need to show that we’re strong enough to make our new world a part of it.”

“Speaking of which, are we going to keep calling this new world Asteroid M?” asked Alex, “We’re not in space anymore. I think if we’re going to be viable, we need a name that’s not quite as loaded.”

Wanda continued to scrutinize the cityscape of this new world. Down below, the Brotherhood just pulled the body the rubble. It was a mutant who had died during the High Evolutionary’s attack. It appeared to be the body of a young mutant woman. The grim sight horrified many of the mutants that were getting medical treatment. It also further intensified their mistrust of the Neo, who looked indifferent to this death.

This was the atmosphere in which she would have to lead. It seemed so daunting. Asteroid M had a very morbid ambiance. She tried to imagine Kurt being by her side, lending the support he had given her throughout this whole crisis. She would need it and so much more to succeed in the way their people deserved.

“I’ve thought of that too, Alex,” said Wanda, “This isn’t the High Evolutionary’s world anymore. It isn’t Magneto’s either. It’s our world. That’s why from this day forward I’m calling this new mutant continent Avalon.”

“Avalon? Sounds like a Renaissance fair,” scoffed Frenzy.

“It’s actually a land from mythology. One father told me about while I was a child,” she explained, “It was a mythical land that housed King Auther’s sword, Excalibur. It was said to be a land that produced everything that was necessary for it’s inhabitants to survive.”

“Well technically that was true before all our Warlock technology was shut down,” Pietro pointed out, “We’ve still got hardware, but I doubt we can produce everything we need.”

“That’s not the point, Pietro. Avalon was special because it was a land that was only limited by the people that utilized it. We need to go beyond those limits for our people. Not just for the dangers we know we’ll face, but for the dangers that have yet to emerge.”

I’m very proud of how far I’ve taken X-men Supreme over the past eight years. The end of Magneto’s story in the High Evolution arc is something I found very satisfying. I hope others feel the same way. However, I also crafted that ending with the idea that I may not continue X-men Supreme after X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided. While I do have ideas for more stories, the lack of feedback and energy have left me to consider whether it would be best to leave this fanfiction series where it stands.

I haven’t quite made my decision yet, but I’m already leaning in a particular direction. There’s a very real chance that the next issue of X-men Supreme could be the last. However, you can still influence that decision by providing comments and feedback. Either post them directly in the issue or contact me directly. I can’t guarantee that what you say will change my mind one way or another, but I will take them seriously as I render this critical decision. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


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