[Contains SPOILERS for Inhumans vs. X-Men #6.]
The Marvel Universe’s X-Men/Inhumans feud has been building piece by piece over the past year. Tensions between the two groups simmered through the events of Civil War II, as mutants bided their time, trying to figure out a peaceful solution to the Terrigen Mists problem - the Inhumans' evolutionary mist that proved toxic to mutant-kind (a.k.a the M-Pox). All the while, everyone’s favorite morally gray mutant Emma Frost was hatching a plan... after the heartbreaking loss of Cyclops in Death of X.
During the early phases of the conflict, the X-Men used the element of surprise to sweep most of the major Inhuman players – including Black Bolt, Medusa, and the other Royals – off the table. At the same time, they failed to contain a handful of powerful Nuhumans, including Iso and Inferno, who managed to wrangle up a few heavy-hitting reinforcements, including Moon Girl, Ms. Marvel, and Mosaic.
However, when Emma Frost sets her mind to something, she’s practically an immovable force (especially in her diamond form). And with the battle over, we're reminded that The White Queen's plans for the Inhumans aren’t nearly as charitable as the rest of the X-Men's.
Escape from Limbo
While many X-Men were wary of a war against the Inhumans, their backs were against the wall. As a result, they fell hook, line, and sinker for Emma’s plan. Credit where credit’s due, though. Ms. Frost put together a devious and nearly foolproof plan, as capturing all the major players gave the mutants an instant advantage. If it wasn’t for some flame-on action from Johnny Storm, which allowed Iso and Inferno to escape, the battle may have ended before it began. The element of surprise did allow X-Men enchantress Magik to trap the Inhuman Royals inside Limbo for a spell (sorry), while Jean Grey, the Stepford Cuckoos, and Fantomex kept demolitions expert Karnak busy in The World, a pocket reality of the Weapon Plus Program.
But with powerful opponents like the Inhumans, as well as some clever Nuhumans on loose, the battle was far from over. Karnak eventually escaped his psychic and corporate prisons, and thanks to some coordinated planning, Medusa, Gorgon, Crystal, and their crew manage to break free of their the force field holding them. From there, they liberated Black Bolt and escaped the X-Haven, with some surprising "help" from Havok, catching Lockjaw-ride back to their proper dimension.
Now, both groups face off on the final battlefield in Iceland. With the Terrigen approaching critical levels, the X-Men and the Inhumans reach a crux in both their lifelines – one which offers no easy solutions.
An End to the Conflict?
As Emma Frost is about to overwhelm the small band of X-Men-Inhuman collaborators, the Royals teleport onto the battlefield, evening the odds. Still, Emma manages to sow confusion behind the lines by possessing the minds of several non-Royals and forcing them to attack their own people. Since Black Bolt’s voice has been rendered mute temporarily, he charges Emma, but she quickly turns into diamond and runs her arm through his shoulder. Just as things seem to be falling into place for the White Queen and her less-zealous cohorts, Inhuman reinforcements arrive.
In a bit of a shocker – even for some fans following along – a small fleet of steampunk zeppelins, courtesy of the Ennilux, as well as Ahura, Black Bolt and Medusa’s son arrive. Although his parents assume he's ostensibly there to assist them (which, to a degree, he is), he admits that he's mostly there to help the X-Men. Iso tips off the Royals to the mutant's true motivels, which somewhat explains their rash action. Moon Girl also hands the queen a device that will destroy the remaining Terrigen cloud, ending their ability to evolve, as well as the struggle between their peoples.
Although it isn't an easy decision to make, Medusa pushes the button, dissipating the Terrigen rather than watching mutant-kind suffer and die en masse.
As the fog lifts, so to speak, the X-Men breathe a sigh of relief. The war is over... but the battle has just begun.
Emma’s War Rages On
The X-Men's year-long struggle for existence is finally over; they even managed to survived without personally harming the Inhumans’ other cloud. Jubilation rapidly turns to tragedy, though, as Emma Frost refuses to stand down. At the beginning of the issue, Medusa echoes the words of Havok (from IvX #5) as they escaped limbo: “this isn’t about the Terrigen. This is about Emma…Emma and Scott.” The X-Men’s fight may have begun with a need for survival, but for Emma, it was less about living and more about vengeance against the Inhuman-kind for inadvertently killing the man she loved. Like all Captain Ahab-inspired stories, it doesn’t end well for the obsessed.
It turns out Emma mesmerized mechanical mutant Forge, forcing him to create an army of Inhuman-hunting Sentinels. The White Queen may recognize the irony of mutants killing Inhumans with giant robots, but her desire for revenge far outgrew any inherent subversion of poetic justice. Fortunately, after watching the Inhumans sacrifice their ability to evolve, the rest of the X-Men revolt against Emma, aside from Magneto, who's been possessed by Ms. Frost (an act that won’t go unpunished once Erik regains control of his faculties).
Her Sentinels do some major damage, destroying all of Ahura’s blimps and killing countless numbers of the Ennilux group, but the joint X-Men and Inhuman forces turn the tide against Ms. Frost.
In a rally cry of sorts, Black Bolt flies Medusa onto the giant robot. Unable to penetrate the Inhuman leader’s mind, Emma finds herself wrapped up in Medusa’s auburn locks, which even start to crush her diamond exterior. Before things escalate any further, though, Havok “saves” Emma as a favor to his brother (Cyclops), and they vanish from the battleground.
After the battle, both teams pick up the pieces and slowly begin to mend their frayed relations. Without their evolutionary trigger, the Royals decide it’s time to get in touch with their roots, heading back to the Kree home world. Medusa and her family abdicate the throne and leave Iso in charge of New Attilan indefinitely. Meanwhile, Black Bolt's brother, Maximus the Mad, is on a quest to restore Terrigen to the Inhumans in the forthcoming epilogue, Uncanny Inhumans #20. The IvX finale also perfectly sets up Marvel's spring "ResurreXion" reboot, which includes X-Men Prime and Inhumans Prime (check out our interview with Marvel about the future of the Inhumans), hitting stores at the end of March.
At the end of a long period of strife, here’s hoping the X-Men and the Inhumans can get back to regular old adventuring and even enjoy a little peace, uncover further insights into their peoples, or at least find a little piece of mind.
Inhumans vs. X-Men #6 is currently available. Inhumans Prime and X-Men Prime both arrive on March 29, 2017.