Greetings from the Odinson,
Over the last few months the Odinson has been discussing a lot of “What If” battles (see Rogues of the Marvel U vs. the Rogues of the DCU and The Villain War). It’s really not surprising since big battles seem to be the motif of the day (i.e., AvX). Besides who doesn’t get excited when the next issue featuring a Thor vs. Hulk brawl or a Superman vs. the Flash foot race comes out? If the Olympics remind of us of anything every four years it’s that we love competition.
Marvel has announced MARVEL NOW, not a reboot, restart, or re-imagining of the Marvel Universe, but the ultimate jumping on point. Much like DC Comics The New 52, the Marvel line of books will all re-launch with issue #1. The flagship title of this undertaking will be Uncanny Avengers. For the first time in comics history, the two greatest super powers in the Marvel Universe, the Avengers and X-Men, will merge into one uber fighting force for justice. And the Odinson, for one, says it’s about time.
For one reason or another, these two teams have always seemingly been at each other’s throats. Going all the way back to the misunderstanding in Uncanny X-Men #9 to the warrant for Magneto’s arrest in X-Men vs. Avengers to the difficult decision on what to do about the Scarlet Witch in House of M and The Children’s Crusade, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the Children of the Atom just never seem to be on the same page. And that is very strange since they both seemingly want the same things, a world free from tyranny and injustice, and their histories are so heavily intertwined that they are practically one big family by default.
Steve Rogers and Logan’s friendship goes all the way back to the harrowing days of World War II (see Uncanny X-Men #268 and Our War). Magneto, once the X-Men’s greatest foe, is the father of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, both longstanding members of the Avengers. The Beast, a member of the X-Men First Class, is just as recognized as a member of the Avengers due to his longstanding membership with both franchises and his best friend is Wonder Man. Rogue made her debut in the pages of Avengers Annual #10 and actually forced Ms. Marvel into temporary retirement when her mutant ability stole Ms. Marvel’s Kree-born powers. Later, in Uncanny X-Men #164, the former Ms. Marvel is transformed into the cosmic heroine Binary through alien technologies of the Brood, a perennial X-Men villain. And because Rogue absorbed so much of Ms. Marvel’s psyche, from time-to-time Ms. Marvel’s will can assert itself within Rogue’s mind (see Uncanny X-Men #269).
The connection between these two storied franchises does not end there. During The Asgardian Wars, Loki, god of mischief and half-brother to the mighty Thor, challenged the X-Men and their understudies, the New Mutants, in new ways. Alpha Flight, a Canadian super team that played a role in the campaign against Loki, has a member in their ranks known as Marrina. For a time, Marrina was the consort of Prince Namor, a former Invader and Avenger and current member of the X-Men. Captain Britain, the UK’s greatest champion for justice, is the older brother of Psylocke, the X-Men’s telepathic ninja. During the Mutant Massacre, it’s Thor that rescues Angel from the torturous clutches of the evil Marauders (see Thor #373-374). Wolverine, the most popular X-Man in history, debuted in the pages of Incredible Hulk #180-181, and he has had a longstanding feud with the Hulk, a founding member of the Avengers, since then. The Black Panther, King of Wakanda and longtime Avenger and ally of Captain America, is now married to Storm, next to Cyclops the recognized leader of the X-Men. Rachel Summers, the daughter of Jean Grey and Scott Summers, is from the Days of Future Past timeline where she is romantically involved with Franklin Richards, the son of Reed and Sue Richards. Ice Man, Beast and Angel (all X-Men) were teammates with Hercules and Black Widow (Avengers) in the San Francisco based super team The Champions.
Even when it comes to their foes, the Avengers and X-Men’s histories are intertwined. The diabolical Count Nefaria started as an Avengers foe in Avengers #13, but it wasn’t long before he was plaguing the X-Men in Uncanny X-Men #22. He would return many times to challenge our heroes, most famously in Uncanny X-Men #94 and Avengers #165-166. Doctor Doom, the Marvel Universe’s premiere Big Bad, has crossed swords with both franchises (see Uncanny X-Men #145-147 and Emperor Doom) and was a big player during his courtship of the Scarlet Witch in The Children’s Crusade. Apocalypse, one of the X-Men’s greatest foes, once brainwashed the Incredible Hulk and made him one of his Four Horsemen (see Incredible Hulk #456-457). The Black Knight and Exodus have history together. During The Dark Phoenix Saga, the X-Men fought the Shi’ar Imperial Guard for the fate of Jean Grey. During Operation: Galactic Storm, the Avengers fought the Shi’ar Imperial Guard for the fate of the galaxy. Plus, in Avengers #263, it’s Earth’s Mightiest Heroes that discover a strange object at the bottom of the Hudson that leads to the Return of Jean Grey to the Marvel Universe proper. The Mighty Thor has had knock-down drag-out brawls with both the Juggernaut and Gladiator, two of the X-Men’s strongest adversaries. Iron Man and Captain Britain are both members of the Hellfire Club, a private rich man’s club with an Inner Circle that secretly plots world domination. Emma Frost, former member of the Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle and Cyclops’ current squeeze, has been romantically linked to both Tony Stark and Prince Namor. It was while fighting Onslaught, an X-Men foe, that the Avengers and Fantastic Four both got transported to the Heroes Reborn Universe. And, upon returning from the Heroes Reborn Universe, Captain America’s very first sparring partner was none other than Lady Deathstrike (see Too Serve and Protect), Wolverine’s longtime foe and coincidentally the daughter of Lord Dark Wind, the criminal genius that developed the process of bonding Adamantium to bone (see Daredevil #197-200).
There is no doubt that the Avengers and the X-Men share so much. And these are just the connections I can think about off the top of my head. I’m absolutely positive that there are many, many more that I didn’t list. That’s why the long over due merging of the two franchises is brilliant. It just makes sense.
One thing that has always bothered me is when in the pages of New X-Men the psychotic Cassandra Nova unleashed an army of Sentinels that laid waste to the mutant island nation of Genosha. There is no way Earth’s Mightiest Heroes would stand idly by and allow an entire nation of human beings to be obliterated. It just wouldn’t go down like that. I really can’t stand the direction Cyclops has been heading in lately, but I do have to agree with his argument to Captain America that the Avengers have not done enough when it comes to the safety of mutants, a race on the verge of extinction.
In the aftermath of AvX, Marvel Now will start the healing and bond these two great franchises like never before. The Avengers, Justice League of America, and the X-Men are THE premiere super hero franchises in comic books. These are the Major Leagues. Marvel has two of the three in its stable and now that they are merged, the Uncanny Avengers will set the standard for the rest of the world to follow.
This merging opens the doors up to so many possible storylines, relationships, platonic and romantic, that we’ve never seen before can be explored. How does the teaming up of the Avengers and X-Men affect the world around them? Will the populace, that has so feared mutants, project that fear onto their heroes? How will this merger affect the super villain community? Will Apocalypse, Ultron, Kang, and Mister Sinister feel the need to consolidate their power? In Time and Time Again, the time-traveling villain Kang visits a future where the ranks of the Avengers consist of Captain America, Hercules, Wasp, Storm and Colossus?! Was this merger already foretold over two decades ago? Let’s hope though that it ends better for our heroes this time around than it did for that group.
What an exciting time to be a comics fan, and it all starts with MARVEL NOW.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell