Marvel Events Part XIII: Road to AVX

by GregFahlgren

Continuing my series on major Marvel Events in the lead up to the company's biggest event to date!

Welcome back True Believers!! When last we spoke, we getting right into the Heroic Age, where Marvel was wrapping up some of its longest running storylines. This episode is the next step, Marvel surging forward into uncharted territory, believe or not.

The company was riding on an all time high by 2010. Sales were up, the movies were rolling in, and the talk of new TV shows based on their characters had started up again. But behind the scenes, something was brewing, a culmination of the last decades stories, step be step leading to possibly the biggest moment in company history.

Today’s episode will look at the road to that moment, in particular looking at the Avengers and the X-Men, and how their march towards destiny would shape the teams and the rest of Marvel forever. We’ll also make a few pit stops along the way, checking in with some of Marvel’s most popular characters in some massive stories that will reshape them as well.

We’ve got a lot to cover True Believers, so let’s get to it!

Second Coming

War for a Messiah

The third and final installment of the Messiah Trilogy, Second Coming was the culmination of a half-decade worth of stories, every one of them since House of M leading to this. Hope Summers, the mutant messiah, has grown to a young woman, and is ready to come to the present to being the fulfillment of her destiny. Following her however is the most powerful and dangerous Sentinel in history, Bastion, intent on finishing the X-Men off once and for all.

The moment Cable and Hope return to the present, Bastion gathers together a cadre of anti-mutant villains from the X-Men’s past, including William Stryker, Graydon Creed, Cameron Hodge, Stephen Lang, and Bolivar Trask, and orders them to kill Hope. They first strike at Cable and Hope at a motel, the two holding them off until the X-Men Alpha team, lead by Wolverine, arrive to help. As the battle rages, Magick takes Hope back to Utopia under Wolverine’s orders. The New Mutants arrive next, and tell Cable someone is tracking him. The group splits up, Cable staying with a few others to fight the Purifiers and their allies, while Rogue and Nightcrawler got to protect Hope.

The New Mutants meanwhile launch an attack on Cameron Hodge’s base. Though Karma is wounded, they managed to destroy the base and Hodge’s cyborg armies. After informing Cyclops the locations of Bastion’s towers, the X-Men are hit again, Bastion targeting the mutants’ teleporters in an effort to keep them in one place. Bastion manages to find Hope, and brutally beats Rogue into submission. He extends his bladed arm to kill Hope, but Nightcrawler jumps in the way, impaling himself as he teleports her to safety. As he dies, he looks up at a tearful Hope and tells her, “I... believe... in you.” As Bastion regroups, Colossus and Pixie go to retrieve Magick from Limbo, while the X-Men grieve over Nightcrawler’s death. Beast puts the blame solely on Cyclops’s shoulders, a weight that Scott already bears for himself.

Not long after, the X-Club finds a bomb on an oil rig just off the coast of San Francisco. When it goes off, Cyclops realizes that the X-Men’s Blackbirds were destroyed. He leads Alpha team to investigate, and they find Donald Pierce. Cylcops blasts him, but the damage was done. With no teleporters, no jets, and no Cerebra, the X-Men are now trapped on Utopia. To make matters worse, another explosion goes off, surrounding San Francisco in a giant sphere. The various X-Teams converge on the sphere, but when they try to attack it, Nimrod strikes with a legion of Sentinels from a portal at the centre of the sphere. Bastion’s group joins them, and a massive battle ensues. The X-Men manage to win out, but not without cost, many too wounded to be able to fight.

As the wounded are taken back to Utopia, Cyclops gathers the X-Men’s core members. It is deduced that the portal is a time portal to a specific future, and when Prodigy looks into it, he tells them that 170 000 Sentinels were waiting on the other side. Against his better judgement, Cyclops reveals the existence of X-Force, much to the dismay of the others. He sends Cable and X-Force, the former using his last time-slide, into the future to deactivate the Sentinels, while Cyclops prepares every mutant left standing for a final stand.

Utopia soon comes under siege, the X-Men fighting desperately to hold the Nimrod Sentinels at bay. In the future, X-Force succeeds in their mission, but when they try to return to the present, X-23 is badly burned. They deduce that the portal will only work for non-organic matter. Seeing no other way, Cable sacrifices himself to keep the portal open, allowing the others to escape.

Despite their victory, Bastion, along with Creed and Lang, still have the mutants trapped in San Francisco, and declares that they will destroy them all, with or without the Sentinels. Hope, tired of seeing the mutants die for her, comes forward, using her powers to mimic those of the other mutants, and enters the fight. She kills Creed and Lang, and with the help of the other X-Men, she destroys Bastion and his sphere, freeing the city. However, as the battle concludes, Emma Frost sees the Phoenix flames rise around Hope, forcing her to remember Jean Grey’s warning to her years before, “prepare”, and in that moment realizes what Hope is destined for. Emma tries to warn Scott, but before she can, he tells her that Cerebra has detected new mutants, and that Hope’s arrival has heralded a new age for the mutant race, and Emma elects to stay quiet.

Second Coming was the end of an era for the X-Men, the mutant teams going through hell and back after the events of M-Day. Hope Summers was indeed the messiah for their race, and many of the mutants most dangerous enemies had been eliminated. However, the cost was great, Nightcrawler’s death hitting the X-Men hard. Not only that, Hope’s destiny was apparently not over, the shadows of the Phoenix being cast as the X-Men begin a new journey towards the single biggest event in Marvel Comics to date.


The Children's Crusade

Return of the Witch

In the wake of Siege, the Avengers were finally starting to recover from the devastation of the last few years, coming back together even stronger than before. However, one key member, the woman who had started that dark road, was still missing. The Scarlet Witch, Wanda Maximoff, had not been seen since the tragic events of House of M. The time had arrived for her to return, starting a new journey for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

The story actually takes place in the Young Avengers book by Allan Heinberg, beginning with Magneto, who discovers that Wiccan and Speed may be reincarnations of Wanda’s dead children. Their deaths had been the catalyst to her madness, a madness as you’ll recall caused the events of Avengers Disassembled and House of M (see part IX). Magneto goes to the children, both to get to know his grandchildren, and to hopefully find Wanda. The Avengers get wind of this, and not trusting Magneto’s intentions, go to stop him. They fail to capture him, and Wiccan teleports the Young Avengers and Magneto to Wundagore Mountain. They find Quicksilver there with his sister, and upon seeing his father, Quicksilver tries to kill him. During their fight, the Young Avengers discover that this Wanda is a Doombot in disguise. With this new information, Magneto and the team go to Latveria to question Doctor Doom, Wonder Man, Quicksilver and the Avengers following closely behind.

Before they can leave however, the Avengers arrive, sparking a fight between them and the X-Men over what to do about Wanda. She and the Young Avengers flee back to Latveria to meet with Doom. Once she arrives, Doom explains that her increase in powers had been a result of her and Doom drawing energy from the Life Force to resurrect her children. But, the power had been too much, overtaking Wanda and driving her mad. With Wiccan’s help, Doom and Wanda attempt to use the same technique to under the No More Mutants spell, but are interrupted by the Patriot, who stops the spell before it could be completed, transferring the powers to Doom, raising his own magical powers to god-like levels.

Doom, now healed of his scars and omnipotent, offers to both the Avengers and the X-Men to fix all their problems, repower mutant-kind, and bring back all their dead comrades. Both teams refuse, joining with the Young Avengers and X-Factor to fight him. During the battle, he reveals that he was responsible for Wanda’s actions in the years past, and that she is innocent of her crimes. Wanda and Wiccan join forces to strip him of his powers, after which he flees, but not before fatally wounding Young Avengers Stature.

The battle finally over, the X-Men demand that Scarlet Witch be turned over to them, claiming mutants deal with their own problems. The Avengers refuse, stating that she is an Avenger, and that they will deal with her. Cyclops eventually concedes, agreeing to leave Wanda alone, but promising he would kill her if she ever turned on the heroes again. The Avengers offer Wanda her place on the team again, but she refuses, stating that she needs some time alone to find herself, having been so long defined by those closest to her.

Children’s Crusade, though not strictly a cross-over event, does bring to a close the story of Scarlet Witch that had started with Avengers Disassembled. However, despite Doom being revealed as the true culprit, many in mutant-kind would never trust her again, her crimes too terrible to forgive. More importantly, the story showed the growing friction between the Avengers and X-Men, the two teams growing closer and closer to coming into conflict.

Curse of the Mutants

Vampires vs Mutants

Jubilee has been a member of the X-Men since the early 90s, a mainstay for the team and one of the most popular characters from that era. Unfortunately, Jubilee was left depowered by the events of M-Day, along with thousands of other mutants. In the years that followed, Jubilee attempted to find out who she is without her power, eventually joining the also depowered New Mutants for a while, before leaving the hero life altogether despite an offer from Cyclops to join the X-Men on Utopia.

Worried about her, Scott sends Pixie have lunch with her and see how she was adjusting to civilian life. As the two were enjoying a quiet lunch, a man exploded in the middle of the restaurant, his residue hitting people all around, including Jubilee. Pixie takes her back to Utopia to get checked out, where the X-Men discover that she has been infected with a manufactured virus that it is turning her into a vampire. The X-Men are distraught, and  realize that the other people that were hit likely were already turning. Blade soon arrives, helping the X-Men capture a vampire in the X-Club before telling them that Dracula has been killed by his son Xarus, who has taken leadership of the vampire clans and is uniting them for an all out war on humanity.

Seeing little other options, Cyclops decides that the best course of action is resurrect Dracula. While Blade and he argue over this, Dr Kavita Rao goes to check on Jubilee, who attacks him before fleeing Utopia. She goes to Xarus, called to him by the virus, where he bites her and turns her. He then reveals that the entire plan has been to lure the X-Men into a rescue mission so he could trap them, especially Wolverine.

The X-Men set out to complete Cyclops’s plan, despite Blade’s objections. While the team locates the various pieces of Dracula’s body, Wolverine attempts to rescue Jubilee, only to be bitten by her and turned. The X-Men do succeed in resurrecting Dracula, but he refuses to help them, declaring he will handle his son himself.

With Wolverine now in their ranks, the vampires launch an all out attack on Utopia, and the X-Men desperately attempt to hold them back. Wolverine enters the fray, plowing through everyone, until Cyclops activates a special devise in Logan, reactivating his healing factor that Doctor Nemesis had switched off, and curing him of his vampirism. He turns on the vampires, turning the tide for the X-Men and driving them away. Xarus demands a second wave be launched, but Dracula arrives then, killing his son and regaining control of the vampire clans. The X-Men arrive, and after a tense stare down, Dracula agrees to leave them alone. The X-Men leave, earning Blade’s anger, and return to Utopia with Jubilee, where she is put in isolation. Blade argues that killing her would be the most merciful fate, but Wolverine will have none of it, leaving her fate undetermined. Wolverine meanwhile is a upset with Cylcops that he and Dr Nemesis had turned off his healing factor without telling him, not liking how Scott had used him.

Curse of the Mutants is not the most famous X-Men story, but it did serve a major purpose in bringing Jubilee back to the team, albeit through unconventional means. This move was met with some resistance from fans, many thinking that doing this to her was unfair and “fridging” her to a degree. I won’t comment on that, not my place, but the story did get her back in the mix, becoming an important figure for the X-Men over the next few years. More than that though, Cyclop’s treatment of Wolverine, using him as an unknowing Trojan Horse, was one of many decisions that began to drive a wedge between the two men, Scott becoming more calculating since M-Day, leaving Wolverine to wonder if Cyclops was truly worth following anymore.


Daredevil Falls into Darkness...

Over the years, Marvel has created heroes from virtually every imaginable theatre. Space, sorcery, espionage, myth, science, and more have been used by the comic book giant to create some of the most memorable heroes and teams in the history of the medium. In one area however, Marvel has shined above all others, and that’s the ability to create ‘street-level’ heroes, men and women who fight crime at the base level. These heroes have been a centre-point for the publisher for decades, but strangely, a large-scale event has never been created solely for them. Shadowland was to be the first of those, taking the best street-level heroes Marvel had and throwing them into a desperate fight against evil in the heart of New York City.

The story begins with Daredevil, just returned from Japan and now the head of the Hand, the evil group of ninjas that had long been one of his worst enemies. Matt believes that under his leadership, he can turn the Hand into a force for justice, building a temple in called Shadowland in Hell’s Kitchen amidst the ruins of a building Bullseye had destroyed. Once Shadowland is established, Daredevil tracks down Bullseye, and kills him the same way Bullseye had killed Elektra in their first confrontation. This move horrifies those closest to Matt, murder a line the lawyer had sworn he would never cross. Even Punisher, a man that has killed hundreds of criminals himself, is shocked by Matt’s sudden change in methods.

The other street level heroes begin to investigate, Luke Cage and Iron Fist finding a new Power Man, discovering that he was a survivor of Bullseye’s attacks. Meanwhile, Misty Knight leads a small group to fight against Hand ninja’s that had begun killing mafia members under Matt’s orders. After seeing what Matt is becoming, Master Izo goes to Murdock’s former lover Elektra for help. At first, she refuses, wanting Matt to become as cold-hearted as she is out of spite for everything that had happened between them. However, once she sees the broadcast of Daredevil killing Bullseye, she can’t stand by and let the Hand corrupt Matt like this, and agrees to help. She joins the Hand, working as a spy to get close to Matt, and do what she can to save him.

As the situation escalates, Luke Cage and Iron Fist hold a meeting of the other street-level heroes to discuss the situation. During the meeting, Kingpin arrives, stating that they have to take Daredevil down, but the heroes refuse his help. Kingpin leaves, later meeting with Lady Bullseye to perform a ritual to resurrect a warrior the Hand would “fear”. The heroes, lead by Cage, go to confront Matt, who states plainly that they can either join the Hand, or stand against them. Suddenly, Shadowland comes under attack from Kingpin’s warrior, the Ghost Rider! Matt accuses Cage and company of being a distraction for the Rider, and even when Luke denies it, Matt orders the Hand to kill them. The heroes begin to fight their way out, and manage to do so when Punisher arrives to provide cover fire so they could escape. Once away, the heroes meet with Ghost Rider and Moon Knight, the former stating he was being forced to do this. Moon Knight elects to stay behind while the others leave, giving the heroes time to get away from the Hand.

In the days following the fight at Shadowland, Hell’s Kitchen descends into chaos, the citizens turned against each other by some dark magic. The heroes (with the help of Master Izo), discover that Matt is being possessed by the demon known as the Beast of the Hand. Discovering that Daredevil and the Hand are performing a dark ritual at Bullseye’s grave that is the source of the darkness in Hell’s Kitchen, they attack the cemetery. As the battle ensues, Punisher and Wolverine work together to try and take down Daredevil, but fail. Eventually, Spider-Man webs him up, giving Elektra the chance to try to reason with Matt, but the voice that comes out of Matt’s body declares that Daredevil is gone, and breaks free of his bonds, defeating the heroes easily.

Finally, Foggy Nelson arrives, and is brought before Daredevil by White Tiger. Foggy tries to speak to him, but to no avail, Matt deciding that Foggy needs to die. Iron Fist uses the distraction to try and heal Daredevil with Chi, forcing the Beast to transform Matt’s body into a more demonic appearance as it takes urther control. This move gives Matt a moment of freedom, and looking at the destruction that the Beast had unleashed, he takes his own life, ending the threat. Matt’s body disappears however, and is later revealed that Elektra had resurrected him, allowing him to leave New York, and begin his road back to redemption.

Shadowland was a different kind of cross-over as you can tell. Instead of having the fate of the world or some such hanging in the balance like most crossovers, Shadowland instead focused on the fate of one man. Daredevil has been one of Marvel’s most stalwart heroes, never crossing the lines he had given himself. By making him fall, Marvel got to show just how far friends will go to save a loved one’s soul, no matter what it costs them. The sacrifice Matt showed in the end proves why he is one of Marvel’s greatest heroes, making Shadowland an important and essential story for Marvel readers.

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Age of X

Darkest Future

Written just after Curse of the Mutants, Age of X attempts to follow up on the story of Legion, Professor Xavier’s delusional son. Extremely powerful, Legion is plagued with multiple personality disorder, which Doctor Nemesis attempted to cure at one point. As you can guess, it doesn’t go according to plan, and thus, the Age of X was born.

The story takes place in an alternate timeline, the X-Men of Utopia finding themselves in a horrible place, their memories of their true lives erased. Through a series of events, the world had slowly turned against mutant kind, mutants being hunted down and imprisoned for their powers, most executed after being declared “too dangerous”. Those that remain evacuate to Fortress X under the leadership of Magneto, where he hides the comatose body of Professor X, in the hopes that the humans will leave them alone.

1000 days after the mutants arrived at their last bastion, the human strike force, lead by Graydon Creed, attacks, forcing the mutants to fight for their lives. As more mutants are killed, their memories are kept by Legacy (this reality’s Rogue), who stores them within her own mind after she had fled Fortress X to escape X, the computer intelligence controlling the base. During one of these reapings, he sees a vision of Shadowcat being captured by the humans while she was returning from a mission. Legacy breaks into the X-Brig to speak to Shadowcat, who gives her a camera filled with pictures of the outside world, only to find that they are blank. As Legacy tries to leave, she is seen by the mutant Blindspot, who tells her to go to Professor X and asked about the “scar tissue”, declaring their reality is “wrong”. Legacy follows the advice, finding the comatose Xavier, and upon touching him, she absorbs his power, and begins mental attack on the mutants in the fortress. However, she is seen by Danger, and becomes a fugitive. Dani Moonstar’s Cadre is sent out to find her, but she is saved by Gambit before they are attacked by Magneto, who tells them that he had sent Shadowcat outside the fortress because he felt their world was wrong.

Magneto and his people return to Fortress X to rescue Xavier and Shadowcat, but the voice controlling the Fortress (known only as X) sends the Cadre after him. Legacy and Gambit head to the centre of the Fortress, and discover that their true universe had been stolen and put into some kind of box. Once Magneto frees Charles, he finds his son Legion, and along with everyone else shows them that the Age of X was created by Legion when Doctor Nemesis had attempted to restore his sanity. In order to protect his various personalities, Legion created another version of himself known as X, which took the form of Moira MacTaggert to confuse his father. This version confronts Gambit and Legacy, before being cornered by Xavier. In reaction, she removes the walls of the fortress, allowing the humans to storm the mutants’ last refuge. As the battle rages on, Moira is cornered by Xavier, Legion and Magneto, and tells them that she created this reality so that Legion could be the hero he had always wanted to be. Legion reluctantly reabsorbs her, ending the Age of X and returning the X-Men to their home on Utopia.

Age of X was a return to a previous plot devise for the X-Men, an alternate reality that they have to put right. It was as successful as its predecessors, but it did plant some seeds of doubt in the minds of some of the X-Men, even if Professor X and Emma Frost had offered to wipe their memories. Age of X may not have been the most important event in X-Men history, but it’s events did give fans a window into a world where the X-Men never existed, and how terrible it would have been if that had happened.

Fear Itself

Thor's Nightmare

Since the events of Siege, Marvel had entered the Heroic Age, a time where the heroes of Marvel had stopped fighting each other, and attempted to forge a new path towards a better future. In that time, the Avengers had been putting back the pieces after a half decade of constant conflict, and had settled into a time of relative peace. That peace would be broken however, when ancient evil would awaken from the shadows of myth...

Years ago, during WWII, the Red Skull had been ordered by Hitler to perform a ritual to make the Hammer of Skadi to fall to the earth, landing in Antarctica. Red Skull goes to retrieve it, but finds he cannot lift it, and instead sets a guard over the area, hiding it until such time as he could discover how to use it. Decades later, his daughter Sin and Baron Zemo find The Book of the Skull, which includes the location of this hammer, and set out to find it. They locate it, and upon touching it, Sin discovers she can lift the hammer, becoming becomes Skadi, the Herald of the Serpent, an ancient Norse God of Fear. The Serpent calls for seven hammers to fall to Earth, signalling his return to Odin. The King of Asgard his realm Asgard from the Earth in response, much to the dismay of Thor.

The seven hammers are found by Hulk, Titania, Attuma, and Juggernaught, turning them in members of the Worthy, the Serpent’s most powerful servants. The Worthy and Skadi go on a rampage, hitting both Washington and The Raft, breaking free dozens of supervillains. Along the way, Absorbing Man, the Thing, and Grey Gargoyle join the Worthy’s ranks, giving them even more firepower.

The situation desperate, Odin prepares to raze Earth in order to destroy the Serpent, an action Thor opposes, returning to Earth before his father could stop him. The current Captain America, Bucky Barnes, is mortally wounded during the battle in Washington, forcing Steve Rogers to take up the mantle once again. Thor finds and attacks the Serpent, who reveals himself to be Odin’s brother, who claims that he is the rightful owner of the throne of Asgard. He dispatches Thor, before ordering Hulk and Thing (Nul and Angrir respectively) to finish him off. Thor kills Angrir (the Thing), but thankfully Ben is brought back and cured by Franklin Richards. Thor then knocks Nul half way around the world, before collapsing of exhaustion.

Elsewhere, Iron Man travels to Asgard and asks Odin allow him use of his armoury so that he may create weapons to defeat the Serpent. The Avengers attempt to fight back, but are outmatched and beaten into near submission. During the battle, Captain America’s shield is broken, stealing the Avengers’ moral while New York is devastated. Iron Man finishes his weapons, eight for eight Avengers, and Odin gives Thor the Odinsword in a last ditch effort to defeat the Serpent. Captain America meanwhile rallies the people of Broxton, taking up Thor’s hammer, one of the few men alive that would be worthy.

Iron Man arrives in his uru enchanted armour with a team of Avengers, each one wielding a weapon of Asgard, and a rejuvenated Thor. The heroes rally, and enter into a desperate fight. Slowly, the Worthy are defeated when Odin summons their hammers away from them, and Thor manages to slay the Serpent with the Odinsword, but at the cost of his own life. The heroes mourn the loss of their friends, and Odin seals Asgard off, retrieving the weapons Tony had forged. Before the story closes, Tony presents Steve with his re-forged shield, a small gesture that did nothing to stem the grief of their loss.

Fear Itself was a monster event, the first of its kind since Siege, and was the first time since the Secret Invasion where the Earth’s heroes found themselves so close to the brink of defeat. Thor would return, as would Bucky, but their losses were felt by the Avengers keenly at the time. The book did bring Steve Rogers back to the role of Captain America however, an event that many fans had been waiting for, even if they didn’t want Bucky’s death to be the vehicle.


The Breaking of the X-Men

Wolverine and Cyclops have a storied history. Long rivals for the affections of Jean Grey, they became reluctant partners, and in the years that followed, became something close to friends. They never really liked each other, but Wolverine would follow Scott as a leader, knowing that he would take the X-Men down the right path, while Cyclops trusted Logan to always be loyal to the team, who he knew Logan viewed as family. Together, they kept the X-Men going, the cornerstones to the mutant team through all the highs and lows of their long and tragic history. However, recent events had begun to show some cracks between the two men, their personalities and ideologies changing as their lives have, and soon it would not take much for it explode in their faces.

The story begins with Cylcops going to the UN, making an impassioned speech demanding that all Sentinel programs be shut down, an action that would end a long-standing threat to mutants everywhere. However, as his speech concluded, a powerful young mutant Quentin Quire (who had been held prisoner by the X-Men on Utopia) attacks the building, leading to a group of Sentinels attacking as well, creating chaos. Quire had been released by Kade Kilgore, who used the attacks on the UN as a cover to kill his father and take control of his company, earning him the position of Black King within the Hellfire Club.

The attack forces several UN member countries to begin mobilizing their own Sentinels in order to defend themselves against the “mutant threat”. However, once activated, the Sentinels begin attack everyone, human and mutant. Cyclops sends out every available X-Men team to deal with the Sentinels, save for a small group to escort Utopia’s students to the Museum of Mutant History where he thought they could be safe. All sound actions, but he also takes Quentin Quire prisoner, keeping him from the authorities. Wolverine objects sternly, but Cyclops orders him to lie to SHIELD and the Avengers, wanting to handle Quire himself.

The Hellfire Club soon attack the Museum, forcing the students to defend themselves. Wolverine and Cyclops both manage to telepathically contact the student Oya during the battle. Wolverine tells her to get out, while Cyclops orders her to “do what she has to”. During her escape, she ends up killing most of the Hellfire Club soldiers, much to her and everyone else’s horror. Wolverine argues with Cyclops, angry that he had not told her to avoid killing them, but Cyclops again refutes him, claiming that Oya did what she had to.

Before Cylcops and Wolverine’s disagreement could escalate, a massive Sentinel attacks Utopia. The two try to fight against it, but they are overmatched and alone. Hope Summers and her fellow students offer their aid, but Wolverine tries to tell them to leave, thinking it too dangerous for the children. Cyclops however tells them to stay, insisting that anyone who can fight, should. Wolverine grabs a detonator, threatening to blow up Utopia to get the children to leave, telling Scott he was going too far. The two continue to argue, until Scott brings up Jean Grey, stating that this was why she was always afraid of Logan, and why she never loved him. Logan looks him in the eyes, and states, “If she were here right now, who do you think she would be more frightened of?” Cyclops becomes enraged, and blasts Wolverine. Logan recovers quickly, and the two fight each other in a violent rage while the Sentinel continues its rampage.

Hope and the other young mutants take the fight to the Sentinel, but it is out of their league. Eventually, the Sentinel’s attack forces Cyclops and Wolverine to stop fighting each other, and helped their students take the Sentinel down, ending the threat. However, Logan realizes that he and Scott can no longer coexist, Scott no longer the man he was willing to follow, and Logan no longer the man who could be the animal he once was. He leaves Utopia, telling the X-Men that anyone that wanted to come with him was welcome.

Schism was a landmark event for the X-Books, probably more so than anyone realized at the time. This split divided the X-Men into two factions, many such as Gambit, Rachel Grey, Kitty Pryde, Rogue, Iceman and Beast going with Logan to found the Jean Grey Academy on the site of the old X-Mansion. Cyclops stayed on Utopia with Colossus, Magick, Namor, Emma Frost, and Magneto, intending to continue their mission to help mutant-kind and teach the students that remained (including Hope Summers). Speaking of Hope, her leadership of the students during the battle against the Super-Sentinel led to the formation of the team Generation Hope, which would get its own book for a little while.

Most importantly however, the ramifications of Wolverine leaving Utopia would have long-term effects on how the mutant teams were viewed by the rest of the world. In addition to that, Schism was a major cause of the coming conflict between the X-Men and the Avengers, a conflict that was growing ever closer as Marvel continued its march towards a war that would change everything, forever.


Spiders of New York

Over the last ten years, Spider-Man has had a bit of a rough ride. The events of Civil War had revealed his secret identity, causing no short amount of problems. Conversely, the events of One More Day had re-established it, but at the cost of his marriage to Mary-Jane. Dan Slott (who had penned One More Day), was attempting to reinvigorate Peter, and for the most part, was doing a pretty good job. Sales were up, critical reception was mostly positive, and there were even some new movies coming out. All this gave Marvel all the motivation they needed to have Slott pen the first big crossover centering on Spider-Man in the character’s long history.

The story begins with the Jackal gathering together spider-powered villains with the help of a mysterious benefactor known as the Spider Queen. Their intentions are unclear at first, but soon, hundreds of New York citizens being to claim developing spider-powers, starting with Peter Parker’s new girlfriend Carly Cooper. Peter investigates, finding multiple Spider-Men committing crimes across the city using his costume. The various New York heroes meet, and once Shang Chi confirms that Peter is the real Spider-Man, they ask him to stay out of it so they don’t mistake him for one of the imposters. Peter gets involved anyhow, rallying the citizens of New York to take down a number of the villains.

Meanwhile, Mr Fantastic and Anti-Venom being curing the people affected. Spidey further investigates the situation with Peter’s girlfriend Carly Cooper, but as Peter and Carly fight a spider-powered Shocker, Shocker and Carly begin to mutate into giant spider-like creatures! The Avengers quarantine Manhattan, trying but as the spider-monsters’ numbers grow, the Spider Queen takes control, sending the infected against the heroes.

Mr Fantastic and Anti-Venom find a cure for the virus, and take it to Horizon Labs where Peter Parker works (YAY! PETER ACTUALLY GOT A JOB!). Tarantula, the spider-clone Kaine, attempts to steal it, but Spider-Man intervenes. Without his Spider-Sense however (he lost it a little while ago), he is outmatched, and soon brought to the brink of defeat. Mr Fantastic goes to help him, discovering that he can restore Peter’s lost Spider-Sense with a counter-frequency. The frequency works, and with his Spider-Sense restored, Peter get’s the edge over Tarantula and takes him down, knowing him into a cat of the spider-cure serum and holding him under until Kaine is cured. Free of the virus, Kaine agrees to help Spider-Man fight the Spider Queen.

Along with a spider-powered Mary Jane, an armoured Kaine, and every other hero available, Spider-Man leads the attack on the Spider-Queen. She proves too powerful however, the heroes pushed back at every turn, and Peter begins to lose hope. Mary Jane reminds him of her faith in Peter Parker and Spider-Man, prompting them to leave the battle and recover a stash of Doctor Octopus’s Octobots, and convert them into a small army of Spider-Slayers, each one carrying a dose of the cure. Using the Empire State Building as an antenna, Peter sends out the bots, and cures the majority of Manhattan in a matter of moments. The loss of the Spiders weakens the Spider Queen, Kaine takes his opportunity and destroys her. In the aftermath, Carly Cooper breaks up with Peter, having discovered his identity and furious that he hadn’t told her. Distraught, Peter goes to Mary-Jane with the spider-cure, and she shows him the Empire State Building adorned with his colours, showing him that for once, New York City was grateful for Spider-Man.

Spider-Island was Dan Slott’s first big event since taking the pen for Peter Parker, and for all intents and purposes, he knocked it out of the park. One of the main themes of Slott’s run was trying to establish Spidey as a respected hero in New York, after years of being maligned and considered a menace (Jameson is a jerk). The storyline also helped lay the ground work for the future of Slott’s run, which has been widely regarded as one of the best on the character in a long while. Spider-Island also gave the fans a chance to cheer for Peter Parker as well as Spider-Man, the now grown up Peter shaking off the identity of a young kid trying to be a hero. Slott’s run would continue this theme, and as you’ll see in future episodes, things are only going to get more interesting for our Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man.

Avengers X-Sanction

Cable's Last Stand

A prelude to the larger event, X-Sanction follows the story of Cable (who had been presumed dead after Second Coming), returning from a desolate future, with the knowledge that the Avengers would be responsible for the death of his adoptive daughter and mutant messiah, Hope Summers. Slowly dying due to the techno-virus he had been infected with for so long, he decides that he couldn’t allow this to happen, and before he died, he would destroy the Avengers.

Shooting down a prison plane, Cable lures the Avengers into the open, and kidnaps Falcon, putting him an old mutant-holding facility. Captain America gives chase, but his ambushed and restrained by Cable. Next were Iron Man and Red Hulk, both narrowly defeated by the renegade mutant. Hope and Cyclops soon arrive, and try to reason with him, but Wolverine and Spider-Man interfere, demanding answers. Cable goes after them, and realizing that he has gone too far, Hope and Cyclops free the Avengers. Together they bring the fight to him, but it was the techno-virus that finally took him down, nearly killing him. Cyclops and Captain America converse briefly, where Cap agrees to let Cyclops take his son back to Utopia, while Cyclops agrees to let the Avengers take possession of Cable’s equipment.

Once returned to Utopia, Hope desperately searches for a way to cure her father. Suddenly, she becomes engulfed in flame, and using it she burns the techno-virus from his body, saving his life. Cyclops saw it all, and realizes that Hope was destined to become the next host for the Phoenix!

X-Sanction was a small story, only a few issues long, but was the final, vital step towards the conflict between the Avengers and X-Men. The discovery of Hope as the next Phoenix host was the spark that lit the flames of war for Marvel Comics, and would burn everything the Marvel U had come to know in the single biggest event in the company’s long and storied history.


This... is just a Prologue

Many of the stories of the last two episodes of this series, as big, and as important as they are, were for the large part a prelude to a larger and more devastating conflict in Marvel’s future. The X-Men and the Avengers, the two flagship teams of comics’ biggest company, were on a collision course, step by step heading towards a war neither would walk away from unscathed

To put things in perspective, the company was on a serious role by this point, leading the industry in sales, notoriety, and public approval. In the wake of this unprecedented success, Marvel was about to embark on its greatest journey to date, and if you’ve been paying attention to anything in this series, that is saying something.

But, we’ll save that for our next episode True Believers. Until then, HAPPY READING!!

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.
Continuing with my special series talking about Marvel's Crossover Events.
Continuing ongoing series talking about major Marvel Events as we hit the mid-90s!
Continuing Marvel's journey through it's major crossover story lines as the company enters the new Millenium.
Part IX of my ongoing series examining the major crossover events in the history of Marvel Comics.
Continuing my series on Marvel's biggest crossover events as the company releasing some of it's biggest yet.
Continuing my series on major Marvel Events, covering the Dark Reign era of the Marvel U.
Continuing my series on the history of Marvel's crossover events, talking about the finales to two of the most revered runs in recent history.
Updated: 01/04/2016, GregFahlgren
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