Earth X TPB cover

Earth X TPB cover

Well if you didn’t know this you do now. I love Alex Ross. I buy comics that he did the cover of just because his painting is amazing. The comic Marvels is my favorite book ever. But Marvels has enough praise, this review is of something else he was involved in. Earth X is Ross’s theory of the end of the marvel universe. This was inspired by DC’s Kingdom Come at Ross painted for. Ross was asked in 1997, in Wizard, what his vision for the end of Marvel would look like when everyone had super powers. What will the characters be like when everyone has superpowers?

Based of Ross’s notes and sketches Jim Krueger wrote Earth X (first issue came out in 2000), a 14 issue series (12 issues, a 0 issue and one issue numbered X). Earth X is a compelling story that whips around from the beginning of earth, to WWII, to the beginning of the Fantastic Four, and to the present–years into the future from the present Marvel universe. The story explains everything from why people have powers, to how Galactus chooses which planets to devour. My favorite part of the story is how it ties everything together from the beginning of time, to the end. It makes this world, where all these characters are invincible and all powerful, quite believable.

After the break I’m going to divulge some of the plot so beware.

Issue 0 begins with the old hero Machine Man. A Jack Kirby character who is seldom used (he is in Ms. Marvel in regular continuity right now). The Watcher abducts Aaron Stack ( Machine Man or X-51 as the watcher refers to him as his serial number) to be the new Watcher, and watch for him. 20 years ago the Watcher went blind, and could–obviously–no longer watch, so he abducted X-51 to watch for him because X-51, being an android, was the only person on Earth capable of doing this.

So X-51 watches and tells the Watcher everything he sees. He sees things from the past and present. He sees the beginning of the Earth as the Deviants and Eternals duke it out. And he sees the Celestials, creators of the Deviants and Eternals, creating a “seed” of sorts in the human genome. A seed that is set to triggereventually as time passes.

This seed, as it turns out, is the reason someone like the Hulk can live a lethal dose of deadly Gamma Rays. The seed is triggered by the rays and makes the Hulk. The same is true for the Fantastic Four and Cosmic Rays. All the heroes are a byproduct of the seed the Celestials left in them at the beginning of man.

X-51 tells the Watcher of the present as well. A world where heroes no longer exist. When everyone has superpowers the world has no purpose for heroes. Spider-man got fat while his daughter travels with the Venom symbiote and the title to go with it. Captain America is a crumb of the man he once was. America is little more and he has little more left to do about it. He’s lost too many partners, seen too much blood. Tony Stark remains the last normal human on the planet. He lays in seclusion in his house, never letting anyone or any contaminated air inside.

X-51 talks with the Watcher

X-51 talks with the Watcher

Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic’s story is the worst of all: In an attack by Dr. Doom and Namor, Sue and Johnny Storm both die. Franklin (son of Sue and Reed) lights Namor in everlasting flame and Dr. Doom is killed. Reed goes into seclusion in Doom’s castle with Doom’s armor on, never leaving. He broods and tries to find a way to reverse the fact that everyone is now–as he believes–a mutant. He blames himself for this. He thought that everyone transformed into mutants by his theory of using vibranium as a power source. Believing that the vibranium’s energy was a catalyst that transformed everyone into mutants. He was mistaken.

The human race did not become extinct only to become mutants. They became extinct to become Inhumans. Black Bolt, king of the Inhumans, released the terrigan mists–the source of the inhumans powers–into earths atmosphere giving everyone powers, and turning them all into Inhumans.

The Celestials, it seems, gave all these people “the seed” so that they could protect the planet. They created in them “the seed” that would one day germinate into the Skull: A mere child with the power to possess anyone with a mind. The Celestials planted seed had created this child so that he would be born and control all of earth, eradicating war and therefore keeping the planet safe. One day, the planet would rise and become a Celestial itself, and in the process kill all its inhabitants. The problem was that the humans were not supposed to all get powers that the had so quickly. It all happened hundreds of years to early. The brewing Celestial wasn’t ready to rise from earths ashes and the humans of earth were going to destroy the planet in the process of defeating the Skull. The Celestials arrive to destroy earths inhabitants as Captain America has finally killed the Skull.

As X-51 learns all this he realizes that the Watcher is going to do nothing to stop it. So X-51 heads to Earth and warns Reed Richards of all his findings. Reed forges a plan from all this knowledge. He would call someone, the only one that could possibly stop the Celestials plan and save the planet. At least save it until the dormant Celestial rises in a century or two. I won’t give it all away here, so you’ll have to read it yourself.

There are several smaller twists as the book goes on that I didn’t mention as well as a couple more big ones at the end that I just can’t ruin for you. If you are a big superhero nut that just loves action, this isn’t the book for you, for that’s my only beef with the book: lack of action. But if you enjoy how the Marvel universe is all interconnected and plain old superhero drama or if you love dystopias and post-apocalyptic Earth stories, go buy this now and learn a lot of dark secrets of the Marvel U. The series continues in Universe X and again in Paradise X. Both of which i have not read yet but I will definitely get around to and let you know how they both go.

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