Marvel Events Part VI: Wars and Covenants

by GregFahlgren

Continuing with my special series talking about Marvel's Crossover Events.

Welcome back True Believers! Are you ready for the next installment of the series that is probably way too much work for one man? I THOUGHT SO!
When we left off, the Infinity Saga had concluded, leaving the Marvel U in a state of recovery. This would have been great, but peace and harmony don’t make for good stories, and Marvel wasn’t exactly about to rest on their laurels. Marvel’s creators set to work, bringing back old villains and heroes, creating new teams, and starting the long and winding road to Marvel’s biggest and most popular event of the decade that we’ll get to in part VII. For now, let’s start this episode with the return of the greatest grey character in the history of comic books.

Fatal Attractions

Return of the Master

If you caught my last entry in this series, you would have read about the event X-Cutioner’s Song. If not (you SUCK!), you may not know that that event was intended to be the vehicle for Magneto’s return, but was later scrapped. The Master of Magnetism had not been seen since Asteroid M had crashed into the ocean, and X-Fans were chomping at the bit for him to return. Fatal Attractions did just that, but not in the way that anyone could have predicted...

The story begins with Magneto’s Acolytes attacking Camp Hayden, the headquarters for the government’s latest Sentinel program (jerks). Lead by Fabian Cortez, they are engaged by X-Factor. During the battle Cortez offers Quicksilver a place among the Acolytes since he is Magneto’s son. Quicksilver refuses, and the Acolytes are pushed back.

Meanwhile, Exodus approaches X-Force and offers them a place in Avalon (secretly Cable’s former base Graymalkin) where they would serve a higher power. That higher power turns out to be Magneto, and once X-Force finds out they refuse the offer (big surprise). X-Force manages to escape while Cable attempts to activate the stations auto-destruct system. Magneto intervenes however, and Cable is barely able to escape with his life.

No longer able to hide in the shadows, Magneto gathers his Acolytes and goes to the X-Mansion during Magick’s funeral. Tensions run high, but in a strange gesture he offers Xavier and his people to join him. Everyone refuses except for Colossus, who in his grief over his sister’s death at the hands of the Legacy Virus, feels the X-Men’s mission has failed.

In response to Magneto’s return, the UN Security Council activates the Magneto Protocol, enveloping the world in a barrier that prevents Magneto from using his powers. Enraged, Magneto responds by activating an electromagnetic pulse that sends the world’s electrical systems into chaos. The X-Men attack Avalon, Wolverine going straight for Magneto in an attempt to end the X-Men’s greatest enemy once and for all. Unfortunately, Magneto uses his restored powers to rip the Adamantium from Wolverine’s skeleton, nearly killing him. Horrified by Magnus’s actions, Xavier finally realizes how far his old friend is willing to go to complete his goals. Reluctantly, Xavier mind wipes Magneto, rendering him harmless. Despite the fact that Xavier saved countless lives, Charles would be haunted for many years by his actions, always questioning whether or not he should have done it.

The events of Fatal Attractions had dire consequences for the X-Men. Magneto’s horrific attack on Wolverine revealed that his claws were a part of his mutation, not the experiments Weapon X had performed as it had always been assumed. Additional, the mind-wipe of Magneto would eventually lead to the Onslaught Saga, and would not be fully resolved until Eve of Destruction.

Bloodties

War for Genosha

Following up on Fatal Attractions, the story starts with Magento’s chief Lieutenant, Fabian Cortez. Cortez, who is unaware of his former master’s fate, is kicked out of the Acolytes for his failure against the X-Men and their allies. Cortez, wishing to prove himself, goes to Genosha, and quickly assumes leadership over the island’s Mutates, the former slave population that had been horribly used by the Genoshan government (see Part IV of this series featuring the event X-Tinction Agenda). Using this to his advantage, he incites them into a rebellion, driving the nation into civil war. In response, the UN sends Professor X (to try and find a peaceful solution. Cortez reacts by kidnapping Luna, Magneto’s granddaughter, and uses her as a hostage to keep his various enemies at bay. The X-Men and Quicksilver, Luna’s father, head to Genosha in secret to rescue the child and deal with Cortez. The Avengers wish to follow with Crystal, Luna’s mother, but the UN forbids it. The Avengers go anyway, unwilling to abandon a team member’s child.

As the civil war rages, Exodus arrives to challenge Cortez. The Avengers try to stop Exodus but can’t. Out of desperation Cortez tells the X-Men he will hand over Luna if they kill his rival. Exodus however proves too powerful, defeating the X-Men before forcing Cortez to give Luna back, killing him afterwards.

Exodus then rallies the mutants on Genosha, and tells them to kill every human on the island. The Avengers and X-Men rally, attacking Exodus in full force, but the mutant is too strong for them. Finally, Professor X unleashes a powerful psionic attack, weakening Exodus enough to allow Black Knight to ambush the villain, and run him through. Wounded but alive, Exodus flees to Avalon, while the Avengers and X-Men try to pick up the pieces.

Bloodties was written as a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Avengers and X-Men, and one of the few times the two teams would work together against a common enemy. It established Exodus as a major threat, and also ended the Avengers association with the UN. Though seemingly unimportant at the time, the Genoshan Civil War would set the stage for a few major events some years later, but we’ll get to that...

Child's Play

Playing Games with Life

A small event surrounding X-Force and the New Warriors, Child’s Play details the deadly competition organized by the Upstarts, the small group wanting to prove themselves to the Gamemaster. X-Force and the New Warriors had already encountered the Upstarts numerous times already, but this time the ante was upped, the Upstarts capturing as many former New Mutants and Hellions as they could before pitting them against each other in a battle to the death.

During the course of said battle, Husk managed to convince the Gamemaster that the only way for the Upstarts to prove themselves was to train new mutants to use their powers effectively. The Gamemaster agrees, stops the competition, letting everyone go home. This is 90s comics guys, it was THAT bad sometimes.

The event however did serve as the vehicle for Dani Moonstar’s return from the dead, working undercover for Shield as a part of the Mutant Liberation Front. Though Moonstar hadn’t revealed to her former teammates that this was the case, it would set the stage for her to eventually rejoin the former New Mutants at a later time.

The Phalanx Convenant

Machines vs Mutants

The biggest X-Men crossover before Age of Apocalypse, Phalanx Covenant follows the various X-Teams in desperate fight against the Phalanx, a group of anti-mutant humans lead by Stephen Lang and Cameron Hodge. Shortly after their formation, this anti-mutant group managed to get a hold of Warlock’s body, and using its technology to morph their bodies into techno-organic hybrids with the ability to assimilate any human that comes into contact with them, adding them to their Collective.

Much like Fall of the Mutants (see part IV of this series), Phalanx Covenant was split into three stories, each one loosely connected to the other. The first centred on the main X-Men team, entitled Generation Next. The story begins with Banshee returning to the X-Mansion, and noticing some rather strange behaviour from his fellow X-Men. After some digging, he takes a scan with the mansion’s computer, and discovers that there are only four mutants present in the mansion: himself, Emma Frost, the captured Sabretooth, and Jubilee.

The four are attacked, and in the course of the battle, Banshee learns that the Phalanx have found a list of new mutants, intending to capture or kill them. Banshee sets off the mansion’s self-destruct sequence, destroying the mansion and all those constructs inside to allow them to escape. The four reluctant teammates agree to find the new mutants before Phalanx does.

Meanwhile, several of the new generation of mutants are captured, including a young Monet Yvette Clarisse Maria Therese St. Croix (yes, that’s her full name, say it five times fast). They manage to escape their capture, only to encounter Phalanx member Harvest. A battle ensues, and when the young mutants are on the verge of defeat, Banshee’s group arrives and turns the tide, destroying Harvest and his ship, allowing the both groups to escape.

The second part, entitled Life Signs, starts on Muir Island, where the Phalanx launch an attack on Excalibur and Professor X. The heroes barely manage to escape, and contact both X-Factor and X-Force for help. The two teams arrive at the meeting place, a secure location in Europe, and after scanning their bodies to make sure they were not Phalanx, they sit down discuss the situation. Douglock, a member of the Phalanx race himself, tells them everything he can about their new enemy. Afterwards however, he knocks out Forge and teleports himself, Forge, Cannonball, and Wolfsbane away.

Once safely away, Douglock explains his actions, as well as his intentions to infiltrate the Phalanx. Cannonball is loath to trust him, but Wolfsbane convinces him, and they head towards a Babel Spire which serves as a “Nursing Conduit” for the Phalanx. Once they arrive, Douglock betrays his friends to Phalanx member Shinar. Meanwhile, Xavier manages to find them with his telepathy, and leads the X-Teams to the Spire. In the midst of the battle, Douglock frees Wolfsbane and Cannonball, revealing this was all a part of the plan. They join the fight, where Douglock sacrifices himself to destroy the Spire.

The third and final part of the story centres on the main X-Men team, entitled Final Sanction. Cyclops and Jean Grey heading to Muir Island to see Professor X after their honeymoon, and are immediately attacked by Phalanx constructs. Wolverine arrives soon thereafter to help them, the three fighting desperately to hold the Phalanx at bay. The Phalanx, who were trying to download all genetic data on the mutants, were forced to split their numbers to deal with the X-Men. This strategy worked for a time, until Cable arrives to even the sides, forcing the Phalanx members to retreat inside the Muir Complex.

Meanwhile, Jean and Cable, join their minds to enter the Astral Plain in order to infiltrate the Phalanx Consciousness while Cyclops and Wolverine attempt to get to Cerebro. Though both pairs falter a bit, they manage to defeat the Phalanx constructs and get the information they need. Finding the Phalanx main base in Tibet, the four set out to stop the techo-organic villains once and for all.

Once in Tibet, they battle Stephen Lang, Hodge, and a brainwashed Psylocke. Eventually Psylocke is freed, and together with Cable and Jean Grey, they destroy the Phalanx psi-net that kept the constructs connected to each other. In response, Hodge drains the power from all Phalanx nests across the world, becoming nearly unstoppable. However, Lang betrays Hodge, destroying the Phalanx completely, including himself.

The Phalanx Convenant was not the biggest or the most spanning X-Men crossover, but was an instant fan favourite, and one of the last big stories the X-Men are remembered for. After the event, Banshee formed the team Generation X from the mutants he rescued, Emma Frost joining him along with Jubilee. It was also the last event before the march towards Age of Apocalypse, arguably the biggest event in X-Men history, which we will look at in our next installment.

Conclusion

Mutants Reign Supreme

By the mid-90s, the X-Men and their affiliates had truly taken centre stage in Marvel, nearly every major event surrounding the mutant teams. There is a larger story there that I won't get into, but needless to say Marvel had fully embraced their top-selling property. However, these events were largely just a prelude to the two of Marvel's most famous story lines, featuring the return of one of the X-Men's greatest enemies, and the destruction of their greatest friend...

But, that's for next time. Until then True Believers, HAPPY READING!

Read the Complete Series!

First chapter of a series of blogs detailing the Events and Crossovers of the Marvel Universe.
Continuing from Part I, I explore the important cross-over events of Marvel's Silver Age
Examining the major Marvel Crossovers and Storylines from the 70s into the mid-80s.
Returning to the Marvel U, and examining the BOOM of crossover event comics.
Continuing study of the biggest events in Marvel's long history.
Updated: 12/13/2015, GregFahlgren
 
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