[Warning: contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Death of X #1.]
In the X-world, there are few bigger concerns right now than the ravages of the Terrigen Cloud. Since the Marvel Universe rebooted after “Secret Wars,” nearly a year has passed and things are looking bleak for mutantkind. At the same time, the Inhumans are experiencing a renaissance of their own. Wherever the cloud hovers, new members of their clan emerge.
The long awaited X-Men miniseries, Death of X #1, has finally arrived, and with it a slow burn revealing the goings-on between the end of the Secret Wars and the soon to hit “Inhumans vs. X-Men” event. Although the first issue doesn’t get to the nitty gritty details right away, it does tie up some loose plot threads. Fans are also finally getting a better impression as to what caused Scott Summers and Emma Frost to wage war, and what could happen to mutants everywhere.
What Happened on Muir Island
As Death of X gets rolling, we find the Uncanny X-Men’s Cyclops, Emma Frost, Iceman, Magik, the Stepford Cuckoos, and Goldballs soaring in the Blackbird to investigate a disturbing SOS sent by Dr. Jamie Madrox (the Multiple Man) from his Muir Island mutant research facility. By the time they arrive, though, the entire facility is surrounded by the eerie green mist. Although they don’t realize it at first, the cloud, which makes Cyclops and Goldballs cough is the Terrigen mist. The young hero even admits to feeling nauseous – a harbinger of things to come.
After finding the few staffers dead, they investigate the grounds. Dead duplicates are littered around the true form of one-time X-Factor leader Jamie Madrox. As he slowly fades away in Scott Summers’ arms, he announces his findings, and his mistake. The Terrigen cloud is responsible for the death of his doppelgangers and his staff, something he realized too late to save his staff and himself (Of course, this wouldn't be Madrox's first death. He’s already died and come back twice).
Summers and Frost send the younger team members back to the Blackbird while they seek to confirm Madrox’s research. However, Summers seems to be suffering a bit from the mist himself. As he gets Beast on the horn, he collapses from a dizzy spell.
Rebirth of the Inhumans
The first issue, much like its wraparound variant, tells the story of the X-Men’s downfall and the Inhumans’ renewal. While Summers and company slowly confirm their worst fears, the Uncanny Inhumans, consisting of Crystal, Gorgon, Grid, Flint, Naja, and Iso jubilantly follow the mist to Matsumoto, Japan, hoping to aid newly formed converts adjust to life as an Inhuman.
As they await the fresh batch of Terrigenesis converts, they get an unexpected visit from some HYDRA goons. It appears that HYDRA is very interested in attaining the unhatched cocoons, to further their nefarious research on the empowered band. The striking art from Aaron Kuder and colors from Morry Hollowell highlight the differences between the mutants and Inhumans, with darker shades representing the potentially doomed former and cheery pastels painting the latter, even as they fight.
The battle for new Inhumans doesn’t go quite as planned for HYDRA (it rarely does, does it). As they have the gene-spliced troupe seemingly outnumbered and outgunned, a fresh cut pops out of his cocoon, blue mohawk charged and all. He immobilizes each and every HYDRA member with snaking beams of white. His new kinfolk, on the other hand, seem entirely unaffected and quickly dispatch their adversaries.
The Death of X Revealed
Back on Muir Island, Scott and Emma delve into Madrox’s findings. Seeking a second opinion from another brilliant scientific mind, they contact Beast. Doc McCoy confirms their initial and disturbing findings – the Terrigen cloud is responsible for the deaths of Madrox and everyone on the island. It’s also toxic to all mutants.
Summers concludes that “the Inhumans lied” to mutantkind about the possible effects of the mists. He also concludes that, in the interests of self-preservation and perpetuation, they chose themselves in favor of aiding the X-Men with their own survival. While relating these facts, parallel Inhumans panels show the Uncanny crew welcoming their newest member into the folds. The final panels tie the two oppositional threads together, as both Cyclops and Crystal state “we protect our own” – shades of the ongoing Civil War II which will wrap up as "Inhumans vs. X-Men" heats up.
A Declaration of War
After such a buildup, the first issue of Death of X doesn’t disappoint. It provides a bigger picture of the events which lead to Cyclops’ death (or disappearance) as he finds himself at the vanguard of a struggle for survival. As one of the frequent leaders of the X-Men, Summers unquestionably feels a larger sense of responsibility to his team and mutantkind in general than most. The first issue gives us a better picture of his reaction.
It’s true that the X-Men and the Inhumans don’t always see eye-to-eye, but both teams have often fought side-by-side. Summers and his cohorts have considered the Attilan-dwellers and their new arrival friends, or at least allies, until this point. In his eyes, their deception isn’t mere safeguarding, it’s tantamount to genocidal betrayal. His anger and fear at the possible demise of his brethren is certainly understandable, and it may be the kindling which fuels his furor and causes his ‘death’ and the impending war.
As the cloud continues along its path, bringing equal parts illness and rebirth, Summers’ actions will likely grow more frantic as the mutant situation worsens. His desperation to save mutants will lead him down a path which, it would seem, is closer to Magneto's than the generally benevolent one of his mentor Professor X. Death of X stacks up some of the building blocks which lead him to his course of action which, over the past eight months, turned the name Cyclops into a curse word for some and a rallying cry for others.
The future of the X-Men and the Inhumans is still vague at this point. With an epic battle brewing between the two genetically altered factions, the events of eight months ago will comprise the crucial link between the future conflict between those renewed by Terrigenesis and those destroyed. Strap yourselves in, readers, it looks like a bumpy ride.
Death of X #1 is currently available. Death of X #2 hits stores and the web on October 19.