What If... the New X-Men Died on Their First Mission?

What if Len Wein and Dave Cockrum thought it would be really funny to introduce a whole new cast of X-Men and immediately kill them off, along with the originals, ready to start fresh in the next numbered issue? What a twist! Let's just invent some disposable characters like, I dunno, a German guy who can teleport and looks like a demon, oh and an African weather "goddess", a Russian who turns into a robot, and while we're doing the ethnic thing anyway, let's make an American Indian who's, whatever, strong and fast, who cares, really? Any lame C-listers we can also throw into the mix? How about that Wolverine character we had clawing at the Hulk? He's pretty ridiculous. Aren't Banshee and Sunfire mutants? Nobody's going to miss them either. Let's shock those readers! Or so it went on Earth-105709.

What If vol.2 #9 (January 1990)
Based on: Giant-Sized X-Men #1
The true history: After the original X-Men are captured by Krakoa the Living Island, Professor X recruits an all-new mutant group to rescue them. They successfully save the original X-Men and send Krakoa into space. A mixture of old and (mostly) new heroes combine to become the most famous X-Men of all.
Turning point: What if the X-Men hadn't gotten off Krakoa in time?
Story type: Hockey trade
Watcher's mood: Big hands, I know you're the ones
Altered history: In this timeline, the X-Men screw with the Earth's magnetic field and throw Krakoa into space, but they don't get off the flying piece of real estate in time and suffocate. Professor X fels guilty for sending them to his death and falls prey to clinical depression. The X-Men's lone survivor, Hank McCoy - The Beast - invites Charles' ex-girlfriend Moira MacTaggert to come over and talk to him, and she brings a very young Rhane Sinclair with her. Still, he won't rebuild the X-Men lest more mutants die. But the Marvel Universe proceeds apace and Count Nefaria and his Ani-Men take over NORAD and threaten the world with nuclear missiles. It's up to the Beast to contact various mutants with Cerebro to face that threat. Among them, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.
Also: Namorita, Thunderbird's kid brother, and Syren (who will still herself the new Banshee). Then, Beast uses Cerebro's files on Nightcrawler to teleport all those mutants to NORAD mountain (it can do that?!). Twist: L'il Rayne is teleported along as well, proving she's a prepubescent mutant. And when the fight with the Ani-Men goes badly, Professor X finally comes out of his funk and remotely force-triggers Rayne's powers.
So where six superheroes (including three Avengers) fail, a teenage wolf succeeds. They defeat Count Nefaria without loss of life (which is still better than the original All-New team did), and though a couple of them leave straight away, it is these mutants who form the All-New X-Men.
Books canceled as a result: Even if Giant-Sized X-Men #1 had been all about introducing then killing off a bunch of new characters, they didn't die an irreversible death. Claremont could have come in a few issues later and plugged the Phoenix Force in there to save all their asses. Or given Krakoa its own atmosphere. Or have Iceman freeze everyone until they're discovered by the Shi'ar and thawed out. Whatever. If they really had died, it's doubtful there would have been so many mutant books on the stands over the next 30 years. X-Men would have probably continued to be a low seller unworthy of spin-offs, no matter what the Watcher says.
These things happen: Ever mutant Tom, Dick and Harry would eventually become a member of some X-team or other, including the group we're left with here. The all-new X-Men DID die at some point, but were immediately resurrected as Australian citizens who couldn't be captured on tape.

Next week: What if the Punisher's Family Hadn't Been Killed?
My guess: Frank Castle, Strict Father #1 coming to a newsstand near you!

1 comments:

Sleestak said...

That cover is hilarious.

 

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