Earth X

Earth X

:"This article is about the Marvel Comics miniseries "Earth X" and its sequels. For the universe in the DC Comics multiverse, see Earth-X."

"Earth X" is the collective name for a trilogy of comic book series published by Marvel Comics beginning in 1997, and based on Alex Ross's re-imaginings of a dystopian future for the Marvel Universe.

The "Earth X" comics, written primarily by Jim Krueger based on Ross's notes, include "Earth X", "Universe X", and "Paradise X" (each comprised of fourteen issues: issues 1-12, issue X; with "Earth" and "Universe" also containing an issue 0, while "Paradise" has an issue A); two mini-series "Heralds X" (three issues) and "Ragnarok" (two issues); and several tie in one shots: "Xen", "Beasts", "Devils", "Spidey", "Iron Men", "4", and "Cap". Each issue features a fully-painted cover by Ross; the covers of each series combine to make up one large image. The interior art is provided by John Paul Leon and Bill Reinhold based on Ross' designs.

In September 2005, Marvel released a 592 page hardcover deluxe edition of "Earth X". This new edition includes 12 issues of the "Earth X" regular series, the #0 and #X bookends, the #1/2 issue, and the Epilogue. It also contains extras pulled from the Graphitti hardcover, Marvel's trade paperback and the sketchbooks. It is the first collection of the entire story in full color and in hardcover.

The "Marvel Encyclopedia Volume 6: Fantastic Four" designates the universe of "Earth-X" as Earth-9997 (in comparison to the main Marvel Universe, which is Earth-616). This designation was later confirmed in the "Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe: Alternate Universes 2005".

"Earth X" began in 1997 when, in the wake of DC Comics' "Kingdom Come" miniseries (created by Alex Ross and Mark Waid), "Wizard Magazine" asked Ross likewise to imagine a possible dystopian future for Marvel. Ross sketched out some ideas of what some of the most well-known Marvel characters (including Spider-Man, Captain America and the Incredible Hulk) might be like in a future where all ordinary humans had gained superpowers, and what would become of the heroes who had once been set apart by abilities which were now commonplace. The issue of "Wizard" which contained the Ross article (accompanied by his characteristic illustrations) sold out rapidly, and demand was so extensive that in 1999 (in affiliation with Marvel), they republished the article as a separate booklet, the "Earth X Sketchbook", which likewise sold out. Taking this as a clear indicator of fan interest, Marvel commissioned Ross to create a full series based on his notes.


Earth X

Earth X is one of a number of planets implanted with a gestating Celestial egg, and the histories of many inhabitants vary widely from their Marvel Universe counterparts. About ten years after the end of the heroic age, Black Bolt secretly releases the mutagenic Terrigen Mists into Earth's atmosphere, seeking to transform humanity into Inhumans so that his people will not suffer persecution. He has already blinded Uatu the Watcher to prevent the lunar-dwelling alien from witnessing his actions. As the Terrigen Mists become a permanent component of the planet's polluted atmosphere, Black Bolt and the Inhuman Royal Family leave Earth. Unable to operate his observation equipment, Uatu transports X-51 (Machine Man), who has long since given up super-heroics to imitate the life of his human creator, to the Moon to act as Earth's new Watcher. After finally killing the Red Skull, Captain America quits the Avengers, considering himself unfit for the team. Shortly afterward, Reed Richards constructs a worldwide network of vibranium power centers to solve the looming energy crisis, but the experiment fails when one of Reed's scientists falls into the reactor, causing a worldwide explosive chain reaction.

The Terrigen Mists begin mutating Earth's human population, although much of the world blames "Plague X" on Richards' failed experiment. Benny Beckley, the young son of Comet Man, gains the ability to control the actions of others and becomes known as the Skull. Nearly all of the world's telepaths are killed by the backlash caused by Beckley's power manifestation. Sentinel City in the Savage Land serves as a safe haven for mutants. Meanwhile, Doctor Doom and Namor the Sub-Mariner attack the United Nations, where they fight the Fantastic Four. Doom is killed, along with Susan Richards, and Johnny Storm. A distraught Reed Richards dons Doom's armor and exiles himself to Castle Doom in Latveria, while Ben Grimm marries Alicia Masters and sires two sons, Buzz and Chuck. Soon after, the Absorbing Man absorbs the properties of Ultron, gaining a new synthetic intellect that enables him to transform into any substance at will. He attacks Washington, D.C., where he battles the Avengers. The Vision ultimately defeats the Absorbing Man by using a computer virus. Attempting to isolate the virus by turning into stone, the Absorbing Man is shattered by the Vision, who takes him out with a swift punch. During the battle however, several Avengers are killed and Washington, D.C. destroyed. Lord Sunfire, Emperor of Japan, forms a secret pact of superheroes, entrusting each with a piece of the shattered Absorbing Man so that he can never be reassembled.

In the aftermath of Washington's destruction and the subsequent decline of industry, Osborn Industries becomes the dominant U.S. business, controlling America's food supply. Norman Osborn, whose mutation makes his face and head resemble his old Green Goblin mask, (if a bit more refined and less insane in appearance) is thus able to assume the Presidency of the United States without an election. To secure his political power, Osborn uses alien DNA to create the Hydra, a parasite collective that mind-controls its host bodies, and grants Tony Stark (one of the last unmutated humans) political asylum in exchange for constructing robotic replicas of the fallen Avengers to battle the Hydra menace. Under Czar Colossus, Russia becomes the world's predominant food producer while Great Britain, ruled by King Britain, uses its navy to distribute Russia's surplus grains around the world. The Black Panther, now a man-panther hybrid, rules Wakanda (a refuge for the mutated Ani-Men) as king alongside his wife, Queen Storm.

Captain America and his partner, Redwing, learn that the Skull is gathering a mind-controlled army. After Redwing is overcome by the Skull's powers, Cap retreats and joins forces with the circus performer Daredevil, who can recover from any injury as a result of Plague X. The duo travel the world, recruiting allies to fight the Skull. Meanwhile, the Inhuman Royal Family return from space and contact Reed Richards, hoping to reunite with their people. While trying to find the lost Inhuman nation with Cerebro, Richards discovers the true cause behind the mutation of Earth's population. The Skull's army reach New York, destroying the Hydra, killing President Osborn, and decimating Luke Cage's police forces. In the process, the Skull also telepathically enslaves the aging and disillusioned Peter Parker's daughter. Defending the city, Captain America and his allies quickly fall to the Skull's powers; but while the Skull is distracted by Alicia Grimm's animated clay constructs, Captain America kills the would-be child dictator and liberates his unwilling followers. Before the heroes can celebrate, the cosmic Celestials arrive on Earth to germinate the embryo they had implanted within the planet eons ago. As the Celestials prepare to attack New York, Tony Stark sacrifices himself in an attack on the aliens, while Black Bolt performs a last-minute cry for help into the galaxy. The call is heard and the Celestials are repelled by the new Galactus (formerly Franklin Richards), who consumes the Celestial embryo. Reed converts his vibranium power network into "Human Torches," hoping to burn off the Terrigen Mists and restore Earth's human population.

Universe X

With the Celestial embryo gone, Earth's mass is reduced, causing a shift in orbit and polarity as well as drastic worldwide climate changes. One-fourth of New York's population dies as temperatures plummet. The Tong of Creel, a cult dedicated to reassembling the Absorbing Man, begins killing those who hold his fragments. Under Mephisto's influence, Pope Immortus founds a church advocating mutant dominance of the galaxy and the destruction of Reed's Human Torches. Meanwhile, Mar-Vell is reincarnated as the child of the synthetic Him and Her while his soul remains in the Realm of the Dead. Captain America becomes the Mar-Vell child's guardian and embarks on a worldwide quest with his new ward to obtain various items in order to deal with Earth's restless mutant population and prepare for an impending war in the Realm of the Dead. Arriving at Zero Street, the duo is attacked by the Night People, and Captain America sacrifices his life to save the Mar-Vell child.

When the Tong of Creel finally reassembles the Absorbing Man in New York, he attacks the city's Human Torch. Battling New York's heroes, the Absorbing Man absorbs Manhattan itself, adding its buildings and streets to his being, but Loki and Iron Maiden convinces the villain to transform himself into vibranium and use his mass to stabilize the planet's fluctuating orbit and polarity. Meanwhile, in the Realm of the Dead, Mar-Vell leads an army of deceased heroes and villains against Thanos and Death itself. Using the assembled artifacts finally in his possession, Mar-Vell shows Thanos how Death has manipulated him, convincing him to use the Ultimate Nullifier on the entity.

Paradise X

With Death destroyed, Mar-Vell constructs a Paradise in the center of the Negative Zone for the dead to inhabit—but those among the living find themselves unable to die.

Meanwhile, X-51 decides that the inhabitants of alternate Earths should be warned about the Celestial embryos he believes were growing within their planets. He spreads the alarm across the multiverse by recruiting and dispatching Heralds from alternate timelines such as Bloodstorm (Ororo Monroe, Earth-1298), Deathlok (Luther Manning, Earth-7484), Hyperion (Earth-1121), Killraven (Earth-691), Iron Man 2020 (Earth-8410), Spider-Girl (Earth-1122), and Wolverine (Days of Future Past Earth-811). After banishing the Watchers of Earth-9997 to alternate worlds so their presence will lead to the discovery and destruction of each Celestial embryo, X-51 takes his Heralds to his Earth, where he will aid each in achieving his or her wishes. In Mar-Vell's Paradise, the High Evolutionary's equipment transforms the souls of Black Bolt, Captain America, Daredevil (Matt Murdock), Dr. Doom, Giant-Man, Phoenix (Jean Grey), and Tony Stark into the Avenging Host, charged with ushering souls from the Realm of the Dead to Paradise. Those who enter Paradise consume a piece of the Cosmic Cube, enabling them to create their own, seemingly perfect pocket reality. But as more souls enter Paradise, it begins to expand and consume entire worlds within the Negative Zone, causing Blastaar and Annihilus to attack the Baxter Building in New York.

Reed Richards, Bruce Banner, the Beast, and several other brilliant scientists convene to discuss a solution to Death's absence. They decide to access the imprisoned Jude the Entropic Man, who can turn others to dust on contact, and synthesize his essence into a chemical in order to duplicate Death. With the chemical complete, Reed, growing suspicious of Mar-Vell's motives, plans to use Pym Particles to slow Paradise's rapid growth within the Negative Zone. But Mephisto frees Jude from captivity, convincing him to go on a massive killing spree. Mephisto then steers Jude to Britain, where Mephisto hopes to find the Siege Perilous so he can traverse the multiverse. But with the help of Merlin, Dr. Strange, and Psylocke, King Britain is able to slay Mephisto with the sword Excalibur. Meanwhile, in Paradise, Reed and a legion of heroes confront Mar-Vell. After Paradise is nearly conquered in the name of the Supreme Intelligence by the arriving souls of the Kree military, Mar-Vell explains to Reed that he was to become the new Eternity.

Using his new role as Eternity, Reed is able to stop the confrontation and free the remaining heroes from their dream-worlds in the shards of the Cosmic Cube, Johnny Storm being the final one. Once this is accomplished, Mar-Vell explains to Reed that his whole plan is in fact to build a galactic wall around their universe, preventing any more influences from the Celestials. Feeling that his work is not yet complete, Mar-Vell tells the people of Paradise that he is going to the source of Excalibur, which is strongly implied to be the original universe.

Characters ("Earth X" and "Universe X")

*Uatu has been blinded and hasn't been able to watch the Earth for twenty years.
*Captain America is a broken, haunted man who struggles to maintain hope in defending the city. He bears an A-shaped scar on his forehead.
*The Fantastic Four no longer exist. Invisible Woman, Human Torch, and Doctor Doom are dead. Reed Richards wears Doctor Doom's armor and inhabits his castle. Ben Grimm married Alicia Masters, and they have two children, Buzz & Chuck (Brothers Grimm).
*Namor was cursed by Franklin Richards to burn when in contact with air.
*Black Panther mutated and now is a "Panther-Man".
*Professor Xavier died at the beginning of the mutations, and The X-Men disbanded:
**Scott Summers becomes the leader of a new team of X-Men to help Cap.
**Iceman is trapped in his ice form and was forced to move to a colder climate. He built a city at the North Pole.
**Archangel lost his fortune and became a "guardian-angel".
**Beast's fur became white, and he moved to Wakanda to work under Black Panther.
**Jean Grey lost her psychic powers and married Wolverine. However, it is later revealed in Earth X #11 that the person who married Wolverine was actually Madelyne Pryor. The Real Jean Grey joined with the Phoenix Force and both reside in the afterlife.
*Luke Cage still fights crime as a police officer.
*The Hulk has been separated from Bruce Banner, and Bruce is now a child, while the Hulk has devolved into an ape-like creature. The Hulk serves as Bruce Banner's eyes as Bruce is now blind.
*Daredevil is dead. A man with a remarkably powerful healing factor (who the Thing believes to be Deadpool, later revealed after 'The Devils' one-shot to be an original character) has taken his name and performs as a circus stunt-man, using his powers to overcome even the most horrific of injuries.
*Peter Parker was publically revealed as Spider-Man and retired, figuring he was no longer needed in this world of powers. He has become the rotund model of his late Uncle Ben.
*May "Mayday" Parker has bonded with the Venom symbiote.
*Dr. Strange is killed in his astral form by Clea, who then allies herself with Loki.
*Loki has figured out that the Gods (of this Marvel Earth) are nothing of the sort, but are instead long-lived mutants of incredible power who are mentally mind-locked by the Celestials into believing that they are immortal, never-changing gods so that they won't evolve further as mutants and potentially become a threat to the Celestials in the future (as was the case with Reed Richard's son Franklin, who had grown so powerful as a mutant that just by "believing" himself to be Galactus, gained the powers and abilities of Galactus).
*Thor is now a woman, due to Loki tricking Odin into thinking that Thor did something wrong, and thus wanting to humiliate him.
*Mar-Vell is reborn as a child and goes on a crusade to gather various powerful artifacts in order to create a paradise. Captain America joins him on his quest.
*Kyle Richmond's (Nighthawk) eyes, given by a disguised Mephisto, allow him to see into the future. He dictates what he sees to his colleague, Isaac Christians, so that a record can be kept of what will become history.


Initially, the "Earth X" storyline was purported as being the future of Earth 616. However, the series often substantially retconned the origins and workings of characters to better suit the story, to the point where they were no longer reconcilable with their counterparts in the mainstream Marvel Universe. One example was the revelation in "Paradise X" that Wolverine is not a mutant at all, but instead one of the few remaining "pure strain humans," free from the genetic manipulations of the Celestials (as well as a descendent of Moon-Boy). Marvel editors solved these discrepancies by officially declaring that anything stated in "Earth X" would not be considered canonical. It was also later revealed in issue #11 of "Paradise X" that the events shown in the series are not set in an alternative future, but rather an alternative present (the issue reveals that "Paradise X" is set in 2003, the year of publication).

The "Paradise X" series was never properly concluded, due to editorial interference midway through its publication. Due to dwindling sales, the "X" and "A" specials, which were intended to be double-sized issues, were both reduced to 22 pages and the intended ending was never used as a result. Writer Jim Krueger expressed dismay at the loss of pages and not being able to use the original ending. In the intended ending, Captain America, suspecting Captain Marvel's treachery, would have killed Marvel just as Marvel put the energy wall around the universe to keep out the Celestials and Elders. At this final moment, having ascended to the throne of Paradise, Captain America would have realized that Marvel's intentions were good. "Cap would have sat on the throne, completely unworthy of it. And this, this would have been the final testing necessary to make Cap worthy of it." []

Additionally, a planned limited series, "Tales of Earth X", was proposed but never greenlighted. The series, set before the events of "Earth X", would have revealed the final days of characters like Professor X before the mutation that turned the world into mutants and killed all of Earth's psychics.Fact|date=April 2007

A one-shot called "The Earth X Companion" was released in 2008, containing production notes and sketches by Jim Krueger and Alex Ross.Fact|date=May 2008

ee also

*Marvel Comics Multiverse
*Recalled comics for details of a Universe X comic recall


External links

* [ Jim Krueger] - Official Website
* [ Alex Ross] - Official Website
* [ Read Earth X #1 online]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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