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Comic Book / X-Men: Grand Design

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"Dear reader, I hope you enjoy this love letter. It was made with you in mind."
Ed Piskor

A trio of two-issue comic books written and illustrated by Ed Piskor (Hip Hop Family Tree) seeking to reformat the convoluted history of the X-Men into a single, unified continuity dating back to their debut in the 60s all the way to the formation of their iconic incarnation of the 90s.

Each series covers a major period in the history of the X-Men and were released between 2017 and 2019:

  • X-Men: Grand Design was released between 2017 and 2018 and details the history of the "first class" incarnation of the team originally created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Issue #1 details Charles Xavier recruiting his first students like Cyclops, Iceman, Angel, Beast and Jean Grey while Magneto brings together his own Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Issue #2 sees the first clashes of the X-Men and the Brotherhood as well as a conflict with the Mutant Master, who has launched an alien invasion on Earth to prevent the Phoenix Force from finding its host and spelling cosmic doom. The series ends with Xavier ominously speaking the name "Krakoa..."
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  • X-Men: Grand Design - Second Genesis was released in 2018 and covers the "All-New, All-Different" incarnation of the team made famous by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and others. Issue #1 sees Xavier sending a new squad of obscure heroes like Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm, Wolverine and others on a mission to save the original team and then has them go through the events of the "The Dark Phoenix Saga". Issue #2 involves new members such as Kitty Pryde and Rogue joining as Cyclops quits and goes through major plotlines like Mystique's new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants working to stop a Mutant Registration Act, the Brood Saga, the formation of the New Mutants, the Morlocks and Forge's creation of a mutant power stealing gun.
  • X-Men: Grand Design - X-Tinction was released in 2019 and serves as the final part of the series, with Psylocke, Dazzler, and Longshot joining the team, the establishment of the Jim Lee team of the 90s, and a Grand Finale depicting the events of "Days of Future Past". Due to the nature of the series, other major storylines such as "The Mutant Massacre", "Fall of the Mutants", "Inferno", and "X-Tinction Agenda" are also represented.

The Grand Design subtitle is to be continued as Marvel announced a follow-up by Tom Scioli, this time about the Fantastic Four, due to be released in October 2019.

X-Men: Grand Design contains examples of the following tropes:

  • The Ace: Carol Danvers is portrayed as this on the first page of Second Genesis #2. It makes the sudden way in which she is defeated by Rogue all the more impactful.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The reason for the series' being, with Piskor taking the most important parts of X-Men continuity and combining or altering them in a way to follow a single, unified history. Prominent examples include:
    • The loss of Xavier's legs originally occurred at the hands of z-list villain Lucifer. Though Lucifer does show up later on in the story, his paralysis occurs when Cyttorak chooses Cain as his champion, causing the cave they are in to collapse.
    • Much of the alien villains fought during the Silver Age are updated to involve the imminent arrival of the Phoenix Force. The Phoenix concept wouldn’t be introduced until the “All-New, All-Different” era with most Silver Age villains like the Mutant Master and the Stranger coming to Earth in standard “take over the world” plots.
    • To cope with the massive flooding of X-Men connected spin-offs and crossovers that were dumped out all through the 1980s and 90s, Grand Design limits its focus on those decades almost exclusively on the flagship Uncanny X-Men monthly title, with all other titles getting nearly zero inclusion unless directly from within the pages of UXM (but get acknowledgement in the "Additional Readings" pages that end each issue). This exclusion even gets lampshaded a few times by the Watcher.
    • The below mentioned Meaningful Background Event of Madelyne manifesting the Phoenix Force is different in the comics, where it was Mastermind projecting this image into Scott’s head. This ends up serving no in-story purpose except as a wink to readers who know who she is and what will happen later.
    • Days of Future Past is shifted over from the John Byrne era covered in Second Genesis over to the latter half of X-Tinction #2 which covers the start of the Jim Lee era — an era in which time-traveling (regarding Cable and Bishop) would be the constant plotline.
  • Adaptation Species Change: Mimic is here depicted as a regular mutant instead of a normal person whose powers are activated by accident. He's also permanently brought down to normal after fighting the Super-Adaptoid, stripping him of his powers in a feedback loop.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance:
    • Xavier's futuristic, gold plated hover chair is first seen when he recruits Scott to join his first class. This chair was made most popular during X-Men that aired nearly three decades after this initial meeting between Xavier and Scott in the original comics.
    • Mesmero is shown here as a founding member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. He wouldn't debut in the main comics until issue #49 (45 issues after the debut of the Brotherhood) and wouldn't become a member until leading his own incarnation in X-Men: Gold in 2017.
    • Callisto appears in issue 1, set in the early days of the X-Men, when the character didn't appear until after the end of the Dark Phoenix Saga, in the mid-80s.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Though never the most pleasant figure in the comics, Nick Fury is shown to harbor anti-mutant prejudices here, outright telling the X-Men when Xavier goes missing that it "serves the little mutie sympathizer right..."
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • Xavier had his share of shady moments in the comics, though some of his more egregious ones are omitted here as he tells his students he's going to be faking his death and letting the Changeling take his place instead of keeping all of them (save for Jean, who he also no longer harbors squicky feelings for in this incarnation) in the dark on his journey to uncover the secrets of the Phoenix. His actions in X-Men: Deadly Genesis are also excised, as seen in Adapted Out below.
    • Early 90s Cable, being a '90s Anti-Hero, was an arsehole during X-Tinction Agenda, being rude and confrontational to the X-Men, and a little racist toward Forge. Here, he's grouchy, but his main concern is saving the New Mutants, who he sees as his "kids".
  • Adapted Out:
    • Charles and Moira's failed romance is excised, with Charles not meeting her until after his crippling and meeting with the Shadow King.
    • Due to Scott and Alex Summers' mother Katherine dying immediately upon being abducted by the Shi'ar, it is unlikely that their brother Gabriel Summers / Vulcan exists in this X-universe. Subsequently, nothing is said about his teammates Darwin, Petra or Sway, A.K.A. the "secret team" assembled by Xavier to save the first class from Krakoa before the All-New, All-Different squad was assembled, as depicted in X-Men: Deadly Genesis.
    • Though Xavier’s backstory is explored in the first series, no mention is made of his twin sister Cassandra Nova, whom he defeated in a mental struggle while in the womb, and it is unlikely that she factors in as a character in the series.
    • There are no leprechauns at Cassidy Keep when the X-Men fight Black Tom and the Juggernaut. This was one of the more narmier aspects of Claremont's run, making the excising understandable.
    • Misty Knight and Colleen Wing, who were frequent guest characters during the Chris-Claremont/Dave-Cockrum/John-Byrne eras, are absent from here since they were not really active participants in the stories back then.
      • Also from the same creators' runs, Arcade and Dracula are also excluded since both made no impact on the overall history of the X-Men.
    • The Silver Samurai's partner Viper, who fought with him against the X-Men and Mariko Yashida, is replaced with an anonymous, female Yakuza-assassin.
    • Any elements related to Rom: Spaceknight, such as Rom and the Dire Wraiths, which played a minor role in Forge's introduction to the X-Men, and Rogue's joining the X-Men, for the understandable reason that Marvel doesn't have the rights to the franchise anymore.
    • The Secret Wars (I and II) and the Beyonder are excluded as the X-Men's involvement was very peripheral compared to the rest of the Marvel Universe.
    • The Fenris twins and Jim Jaspers are removed from Magneto's trial. Instead, the attempt on his life is made by a human suicide bomber.
    • Wolfsbane getting brainwashed into a Mutate and forcibly bonded to Havok is excised from the events of X-Tinction Agenda.
    • The detail of Lorna Dane being introduced as a blonde, shortly followed by the reveal that her hair is naturally green after taking a shower, was extricated so that her hair was shown as green to begin with.
  • All Your Powers Combined: Mimic has the mutant ability to absorb the powers of those in his vicinity, making him a one-man X-Team when the guys visit Jean at college. The Mutant Master creates the Super-Adaptoid in response to Mimic, having it take the powers of The Avengers before sending it after the X-Men. Both lose their abilities when they fight one another due to a "feedback loop" of some sort.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Bobby Drake uses his powers to protect himself from a vicious bully, causing the other teen to lose an arm from frostbite. He's arrested for his trouble.
  • Apocalypse Maiden: Jean as Phoenix. Or rather, the Phoenix as Jean.
  • Art Shift: The art in #2 briefly shifts from the classic comic styling used throughout the series to a more fantasy-inspired dream of Jean's. This is part of Mastermind's plan to alter her thoughts to turn her against the X-Men.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • In Second Genesis #2, Carol Danvers gets an increased presence and function with the X-Men than originally, as her status in the comics has hugely elevated in the last decade or so (after being Put On The Bus for about 2 decades), and #2 coming out the year before Danvers' debut with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
    • Madelyne Pryor gets central prominence in X-Tinction #1 since it covers the period from Nathan's birth to Inferno. Jean Grey and Cyclops are Out of Focus and nearly Demoted to Extra until Inferno.
  • Bad Future: The last half of X-Tinction issue 2 deals with Days of Future Past, with some differences. This time around, the change comes with the X-Men getting nuked during the events of X-Tinction Agenda, and with no-one to fight it, Project: Nimrod passes, and the Sentinels take over America.
  • Baseball Episode: As per X-Men tradition the team is shown playing a friendly game while the Phoenix as Jean recovers from her ordeal of restoring the universe. As usually happens, the players immediately break the "no powers" rule when Nightcrawler, as the catcher, throws from home base to himself at second after teleporting in order to tag Wolverine out.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind:
    • Xavier's first meeting with the Shadow King is depicted as such. The parts of the battle shown within the psychics' minds includes warpholes, monstrous incarnations and brilliant explosions. To an outside observer, however, the only signs of a battle taking place are Charles' psychic nosebleed and Shadow King falling dead after the battle within proves too much for his mind to handle.
    • Cyclops attempts to duel Mastermind in their "Victorian" astral forms in an effort to free "Jean" from his control. Scott's "death" at Mastermind's hands causes the Phoenix to go berserk and manifest the Dark Phoenix.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Scott, Bobby and Warren get utterly thrashed by the Conquistador and his minions and Toad when they attempt to rescue Hank. In comes the fifth member of their squad whom none of them were previously aware: Jean Grey. She proceeds to Mind Rape the Conquistador and his goons (though leaves Toad be) and gives all five of them the chance to return to the mansion.
  • Big "NO!": Scott has one when the Phoenix (as Jean) sacrifices itself.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Warren Worthington saves his classmate Cameron Hodge from a burning building. Though the latter agrees to help him shape a superhero persona he secretly conspires with members of the Right to bring about the downfall of Warren and all of mutantkind.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The final issue. The horror that is Days of Future Past has been prevented, but all the elements the X-Men went through that were unrelated, such as Madelyne's descent into madness and the events of Inferno, are implied to still happen.
  • Body Horror:
    • In the first series, Magneto subjects the mayor of Santo Marco to an experiment that is meant to activate his latent x-gene. This only results in him spontaneously growing tumors all over his body to the point where he's only recognizable as being humanoid thanks to a grotesque, purple tongue protruding from what was once his face. Magneto makes Toad clean up the mess.
    • Jean agrees to pilot the failing space shuttle home after the X-Men escape the Right's space station. Though she tells them that she can take the radiation, it slowly eats through her defenses, causing her to gradually go blind, lose her hair and eventually shrivel to a skeleton. Luckily the Phoenix Force arrives just in time to keep Jean from disintegrating and places her in a restorative cocoon while it takes her place.
  • Broken Hero: Scott becomes this after Jean's Heroic Suicide. Though it seems like he's found a second chance with Madelyne Pryor but the narration outright states that he's only pretending to be happy as a means of survival.
    "As an act of self-preservation, he adorns the veneer of a happy man bginning a new phase in his life..."
  • Brought Down to Badass: Henry Peter Gyrich attempts to use Forge's power dampening gun on Rogue after she is framed for murdering several S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Forge tackles him at the last second, causing his aim to falter and hit Storm instead. Seeing her defeat of Callisto earlier on it's shown that she's no weak damsel without her abilities.
  • Burn the Witch!: A group of villagers attempt to burn Wanda Maximoff alive for using her mutant abilities. Though her brother Pietro saves her from the burning they are trapped in by a ring of more villagers carrying Torches and Pitchforks. Magneto appears to save them, making them his first recruits for the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
  • The Cameo: A number of major Marvel characters appear in small snippets:
    • Golden Age heroes such as Namor, the Human Torch and Captain America appear as important figures in the early days of human/mutant relations.
    • Kree and Skrull representatives witness the Phoenix Force taking notice of Earth, along with other important alien figures such as the Shi'ar.
    • Captain America villain Master Man is shown guarding a vault of Nazi gold in Argentina. Being a Nazi composed of cybernetic parts, he doesn't last long against Magneto.
    • As the series enters the Silver Age in #2 a number of Marvel heroes and villains like the Fantastic Four, Avengers and Galactus appear on the periphery of the X-Men's story.
    • Machine Man appears as another prisoner of the Stranger when Magneto gets captured.
    • Vindicator of Alpha Flight is shown when Wolverine quits Department H to join the X-Men.
    • Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew) is with Storm and Kitty Pryde when Caliban of the Morlocks is encountered for the first time.
  • Canon Immigrant: The Senator Stern killed in the Brotherhood's attack in Second Genesis is based on the character of the same name from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • Catchphrase Interruptus: Jean is berating Logan for slaughtering the Hellfire Pawns that captured he, Storm and Colossus. He begins with "well, Red, you know I'm the best there is at what I do. But what I do isn't... huh?" but gets cut off before Jean telekinetically throws him out of a window.
  • Chess Motifs: As seen in other depictions of Xavier and Magneto, Charles and Magnus are shown playing chess while discussing the differences in their ideology. Unlike other examples, however, there is no winner in their match as they reach a stalemate. Given the nature of comic books this could be seen on the never-ending battle between the two with neither ever gaining an advantage over the other.
  • Composite Character:
    • Nick Fury takes Agent Fred Duncan of the FBI’s place as the government liaison assigned to the X-Men during the Silver Age.
    • Madelyne Pryor takes the place of Lee Forrester as the ship captain Scott takes a job for after Jean's death. This closes the gap even further between Jean's funeral and Scott's meeting of her doppleganger, making his question about whether or not she's the Phoenix all the more understandable.
      • Though Forrester gets name-dropped as being of an alternate timeline at the conclusion of X-Tinction #2.
  • Continuity Porn: Every major storyline from the formation of the X-Men in the 60s to the end of the Chris Claremont run in the 90s is included and connected in loving detail.
  • Covers Always Lie: The New Mutants, Magneto, and Rachel Summers don't appear anywhere in X-Tinction #1, except for a cameo of Rachel on the credits page and an in-story cameo of Magik, who doesn't even appear on the cover with the other New Mutants.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Much like the original comic the X-Men get their backsides utterly handed to them by the Shi'ar Imperial Guard when the time comes to determine Jean's fate. The inevitability of it all is what leads the Phoenix to sacrifice itself to save her teammates.
  • Death Glare: Many associates of the X-Men are kidnapped, with Moira threatening retribution at the hands of the X-Men, the child Illyana crying for her brother and Stevie Hunter grumbling about getting dragged into the X-Men's nonsense. The only one who doesn't say anything is Mariko Yashida, who simply affixes her kidnapper with a deadly stare and showing why Logan has fallen for her so readily.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Magik's role in Inferno is excised and she is relegated to just an unconnected cameo in X-Tinction #1.
    • Rachel Summers and Bishop are limited to silent cameos in X-Tinction #2 when it covers both Days of Future Past and the start of the Jim Lee era.
  • Downer Ending: Second Genesis #2 has the bleakest ending of the series so far. While both issues of the first series ended in sequel hooks and the second had a moment of brevity with Kitty waiting at the school this issue simply ends with Storm losing her abilities and entering a depressive state at Forge's compound while Xavier searches for her mutant signature in vain.
  • Duel to the Death: Storm challenges Callisto to one to save her friends from the Morlock tunnels. She puts aside her weather controlling powers and stabs Callisto through the heart to take her place as the underground group's new leader.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Being an examination of a shared X-Men continuity, there are numerous examples of this thanks to retcons from the comics themselves:
    • Wolverine appears alongside Captain America in issue #1 witnessing a teenage Magneto will Cap's shield to strike at dozens of Nazi guards attempting to take him captive.
    • A very young Storm picks Charles Xavier's pocket in Cairo, acting on the orders of the Shadow King.
    • Someone plants hallucinations in a young Scott Summers's mind of his powers going out of control and killing a fellow classmate. Though the figure glimpsed by Xavier through Cerebro is only shown in silhouette the tattered cape and crimson diamond on his chest clearly indicate that it was Mister Sinister pulling the strings. He appears in full a page later when Charles gets the chance to scan Scott's mind in person, though it will still be some time before he enters the story in full.
    • Multiple Man and Legion appear as residents on Muir Island in the care of Moira after she berates Charles for cutting off Jean's access to her full powers.
    • Blob and Unus the Untouchable are briefly shown at the end of X-Men: Grand Design #1, before becoming slaves of the Mutant Master in #2.
    • Black Tom Cassidy (Banshee's cousin) appears in #2 in possession of Juggernaut's crimson gem of Cyttorak.
    • Forge appears in #2 in one panel that's meant to introduce him as developer of the Blackbird (which is subsequently destroyed). He's later shown to be the designer of Xavier's hover chair as well.
    • Yuriko Oyama, A.K.A. Lady Deathstrike finds the beaten and bleeding forms of Cole, Macon and Reece in the sewers after Logan has torn through them on his way to the Inner Circle. One of them reaches out for help as she stands over their bodies contemplating how close she was to catching Logan...
  • Expendable Clone: Proteus's ability to drain people of their life force is shown when one of Jamie's "dupes" is killed, telling the prime Jamie that "Mutant X" has escaped.
  • Fantastic Racism: A staple of X-Men comics, so it was bound to show up eventually. Mimicking the phenomenon of certain terror attacks leading to mass prejudice of minority groups in real life, the overwhelming hatred of mutants is said to have sparked thanks to Namor flooding New York City in a battle with the original Human Torch and leading to tens of thousands of deaths.
  • Framing Device: The entire series is presented as Uatu retelling the history of the X-Men to the Recorder.
  • Funetik Aksent: Rogue, even more so than it was the first time around.
  • Get Out!: Ka-Zar, after he's had too much of the X-Men fighting Magneto in the Savage Land:
  • The Golden Age of Comic Books: Major figures like Namor, Captain America and the original Human Torch are shown operating in the early days of mutant prejudice, made worse by the actions of the aforementioned Atlantean mutant. Younger versions of characters like Magneto and Wolverine are also shown operating during this period, as per their backstory in the comics.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Much of Rogue's story is concerned with her coming to terms with stealing Carol Danver's abilities and wanting to turn her life around. It takes the word of Charles Xavier and her Taking the Bullet for Mariko for the X-Men to trust her.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: The X-Men are on the receiving end of this when they are all knocked out of commission fighting the first group of Sentinels and take time to recover, giving the Mutant Master the chance to dress up Blob and Unus in copies of their uniforms and send them on a crime spree. Even the likes of The Avengers declare that they will take them down, falling for this ruse.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Jean commits one when she pilots the X-Men from the exploding satellite back to Earth. She dies from the radiation shields breaking on their shuttle, but is placed in a restorative cocoon at the bottom of Jamaica Bay by the Phoenix Force, while it takes her place.
  • Heroic Suicide: The Phoenix (in the guise of Jean) commits one when she sees that the X-Men have no chance of defeating the Imperial Guard and that her dark side will come back to wreak more havoc.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: A Sentinel does this while the team is skating at the Rockefeller Center. Somehow it and another of its comrades are able to sneak up on the team and make off with Jean, Logan and Banshee.
    • Making this extra hilarious is the fact that this is true to the comics. Among the revisions made by Piskor to update the X-mythos to fit a more mature, modern sense of storytelling he decides to leave in the giant Killer Robot hiding behind a Christmas tree.
  • The Illuminati: Two major versions:
    • The Right, a council of anti-mutant humans appear in the first series. Their membership includes Bolivar Trask, Larry Trask, Stephen Lang, Mayor Robert Kelly, Cameron Hodge and Donald Pierce, who is explicitly mentioned to be a member of the second group:
    • The Hellfire Club, a group of aristocratic mutants intent on bending Jean Grey to their whims. Among their roster is the classic grouping of Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost, Harry Leland, the aforementioned Pierce and Mastermind as a probational member.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Charles Xavier's mother re-marries shortly after her husband's death and introduces her son Charles to his new step-brother Cain. After Cain verbally insults him by saying his head looks like a lollipop Charles enters his mind to see him picturing multiple gruesome scenes such as hanging, stabbing and decapitating the young Xavier. Cain does not get better as the story goes progresses.
  • Kill Me:
    • Scott and Jean find the results of Wolverine's attack on the Hellfire Club after he, Storm and Colossus are kidnapped. The only surviving Hellfire Pawn is laid up against the wall muttering this as the rest of his comrades lay dead around the room.
    • Xavier moans this to Wolverine after he's turned into a Brood.
  • Lampshade Hanging: When Rogue is gravely wounded by bullets from a conventional Glock pistol, a little note helpfully points out, "Vibranium Bullets".
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After helping institute the Mutant Registration Act, the Sentinels, and Project: Nimrod, President Kelly is done in by the Sentinels when they learn he has dormant mutant genes as well, and promptly blow up the entire White House with him in it.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: A scumbag mutant by the name of Jack O' Diamonds recruits the runaway Scott Summers to help him break into a lab to use a machine that will boost his power to turn into diamond. Being an uneducated crook and murderer, Jack has no idea what the machine will do and it overloads his powers, causing his diamond form to break into millions of fragmented pieces.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The X-Men were already the trope codifiers of this in comic books, so tons of characters show up in major, minor and cameo roles throughout the series, even with numerous cases of composite characters and figures being adapted out along the way.
  • Logic Bomb: Beast installs the second group of Sentinels with a directive to "attack the very cause of all genetic mutation." For some reason the Sentinels think that this means they have to attack the sun itself.
  • The Phoenix: The cosmic entity approaches ominously throughout the first series, making its appearance in full in Second Genesis. Though it keeps its typical portrayal as a harbinger of doom it also serves as an agent of life, bolstering the willpower of the X-Men and Starjammers to recreate reality after the destruction of the M'Kraan Crystal reboots reality.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Scott proposes to Madelyne, Jean's Suspiciously Similar Substitute and then makes the bone-headed mistake to ask her if she's the Phoenix? Madelyne slaps the glasses off of him, causing him to cover his eyes and scramble for them on the ground. While Scott is blinded Madelyne briefly transforms into the Dark Phoenix before reverting back when Scott lays eyes on her once more and berates him for comparing her to Jean.
  • Megaton Punch: Rogue approaches the X-Men to help her control her powers. When Carol Danvers sees the young woman responsible for draining her of her powers she goes Binary and punches Rogue into orbit.
  • Multinational Team: Compared to the WASPs of the first class, the "All-New, All-Different" team of Second Genesis is far more diverse. With only Cyclops remaining from the first squad there is Banshee (Irish), Storm (Kenyan), Nightcrawler (German), Colossus (Russian), Wolverine (Canadian), Sunfire (Japanese) and Thunderbird (Native American). As Moira tells Charles:
    "Glad ye have yer passport."
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The first page of Second Genesis #1 mentions that the X-Men return on the screens of the Hellfire Club "after 27 months of darkness." The 27 months are in reference to the 27 issues of reprints that occurred from X-Men #67 - 93 when the series was originally cancelled.
    • Wolverine is wearing his original costume seen in his first appearance from The Incredible Hulk #181 instead of the more modernized ensemble seen in Giant-Size X-Men #1 when Xavier recruits him. Vindicator is also seen in Wolverine's recruitment panel, calling back to his history with Alpha Flight.
    • John Proudstar/Thunderbird's younger brother James, who will later be known as Warpath, is seen in his introductory panel.
    • Scott, Jean and Kurt go to recruit Dazzler at a Manhattan nightclub in a recreation of her introduction in The Dark Phoenix Saga. Though the club matches the same seedy punk aesthetic of the original comic Dazzler's outfit has been updated to resemble her less Fad Super ensemble of the 80s so that she's less out of place in disco gear and roller skates.
    • When Doctor Doom turns Storm into a weather machine strange phenomenon can be seen across the globe. One of the people who recognize the oddities of this are Black Panther, who simply asks himself, "Ororo?" Given their history in the comics, his recognition makes sense.
    • The depiction of Days of Future Past takes a few cues from the version of the 90s animated series, having Forge and Bishop being part of the remaining X-Men, and Forge being the one who invents the means of sending Katherine back, rather than the X-Men breaking into the Sentinel's inner sanctum.
  • Nightmare Face: Unlike most depictions of the Dark Phoenix, which usually depict "Jean" as largely the same except for an Evil Costume Switch to red and Glowing Eyes of Doom, Jean's appearance is greatly altered with her features growing far gaunter, her red hair billowing out into a lion-like mane and her posture growing far more disjointed and crooked.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Mimic unleashes one of these on a brainwashed Banshee. It shows how he's too aggressive to serve as a proper member of the X-Men.
  • Oh, Crap!: Jean and Scott when they learn Wolverine was the first and only one Kitty managed to free from the Hellfire Club. The very next panel is them finding a bloody room full of slaughtered Hellfire Club mooks, with one still barely alive enough to beg them to kill him.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Peter Parker manages to get the first photo of the Brotherhood, and judging by the photo managed to get the drop on them and get away with it, the only casualty being his camera (but not the photo itself).
  • Out of Focus: X-Tinction #1 begins at the year of Jean Grey's return and the Original Five creating X-Factor. But except for Cyclops, Grey and the other three Originals don't appear until near the issue's end, as the focus is exclusively on Uncanny X-Men (with Madelyne Pryor included).
  • Put on a Bus: X-Tinction issue 2 has Rogue, Colossus, and Psylocke go through the Siege Perilous. Psylocke comes back later on in the issue, but Rogue and Colossus stay gone.
  • Retgone: As proof that Katherine Pryde has successfully averted the events that led to her timeline's creation, she vanishes from existence the minute she's done.
  • Retraux: Piskor’s artwork is done in a style that intentionally mimics Silver and Bronze Age comic books, using a simplified color-scheme and even being printed on the same newsprint-style paper of the re-examined issues first printed in the 60s, 70s and 80s.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Wolverine has two of these against the Hellfire Club. The first is when they capture he, Storm and Colossus and Scott and Jean arrive later to find that he's slaughtered everyone responsible for their kidnapping. The second is when the X-Men assault the Hellfire Club's base to save Jean and he is thrown through several floors by Harry Leland and winds up in the sewer, climbing his way up and tearing through some Pawns named Cole, Macon and Reece. It's implied by the figure who finds them bleeding out in the sewer (Yuriko Oyama in an Early-Bird Cameo) that they too will get to take their own revenge against Logan.
  • Say My Name: The original conclusion of The Dark Phoenix Saga had "Jean Grey" screaming Cyclops' name the moment she "dies". Grand Design twists that around with Phoenix not doing it here, but Madelyne Pryor being the one who screams the name when she perishes, which didn't happen in the original Inferno.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Sunfire isn't even seen telling the team he's quit, instead bailing out of the Blackbird as the rest fly back to the X-Mansion after their ordeal with Krakoa.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: At the end of X-Tinction, Katherine Pryde travels back in time to prevent Senator Stern's murder, and therefore stop the chain of events that led to Days of Future Past occurring. She succeeds.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • The first series ends with the Mutant Master defeated thanks to the X-Men, but Xavier is bedridden from the exertion and sees glimpses of a strange, helmeted figure (later revealed to be Lilandra) and whispering the word, "Krakoa." The Phoenix Force is still approaching as well, with the Watcher all but spelling things out in his final words to Recorder:
    "Of course I have many more observations that require transcription. Until the universe blinks out, there is always more to the story..."
    • There are two major ones in issue #1 of Second Genesis. The first involves a mysterious woman finding a bleeding Cole, Macon and Reece in the sewers below the Hellfire Club, setting up the Reavers' appearance in X-Tinction. The second is shown after the funeral of "Jean" where a cocoon is shown gestating at the bottom of Jamaica Bay; a cocoon containing the real Jean Grey.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Signs of the End Times: The Phoenix's arrival is spoken of this way by the Watcher. The entire universe takes notice and realizes that the Force's march towards Earth can only spell doom for their civilizations.
  • Sinister Silhouettes: Mister Sinister is literally shown in silhouette when first glimpsed by Xavier, making this a practically literal trope.
  • Snap Back: This happens In-Universe when the first fight between the X-Men and Imperial Guard leads to the M'Kraan Crystal to be shattered and set the Reset Button on the universe itself. Unlike typical examples of this trope where the rest is outright ignored, the Phoenix outright tells everyone trapped in the White Void that they will have to combine their wills to rebuild the universe. And they'll feel every second of it. All seven billion years worth...
  • Spiritual Successor: To Marvels, which examined the Silver Age of Marvel Comics through a modern lens in an attempt to create a more unified sense of past continuity. Though the X-Men played a brief (though symbolically significant) role in Marvels, they are the focus here, much like the The Avengers and Fantastic Four were in that series.
  • Starfish Aliens: The Mutant Master and Lucifer are depicted as being this under their human disguises, resembling octopuses more than anything else when their true form is revealed.
  • Superhero Speciation: Averted in the case of Magneto's first Brotherhood. Both Mastermind and Mesmero have the ability to alter the minds of others, though there is some small difference in that the former is a Master of Illusion and the latter specializes in Mind Control. Interestingly, this wasn't the case in the original comics, as Mastermind was the only mental manipulator in the original group with Mesmero not joining the group for decades.
  • Tagalong Kid: The team recruits Kitty Pryde in the first issue of Second Genesis. She helps the team track down those members kidnapped by the Hellfire Club and accepts their offer to join the school. While everyone else is mourning the loss of "Jean" after the events of the The Dark Phoenix Saga she's sitting on the stoop of the mansion wondering why everyone forgot her first day of school.
  • Taken for Granite: The Stranger (another alien attacking Earth in anticipation of the Phoenix's arrival) unleashes an explosion against the Brotherhood that leaves Mastermind encased in stone. The X-Men take him back to the mansion, commenting on the creepiness of his unblinking stare.
  • Taking You with Me: Stephen Lang attempts to do this when the X-Men come to save Jean, Logan and Banshee. Exploding the satellite doesn't kill any of them but does compromise their escape shuttle enough that Jean has to use her telekinesis to hold things together on their trip home, leaving her vulnerable to being possessed by the Phoenix.
  • Team Pet: Lockheed takes his place as Kitty's constant companion in Second Genesis #2.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Stranger manages to seal Magneto in a cell that he can't manipulate with his powers. He then proceeds to throw Machine Man into the same cell, with Magneto now having access to an entirely metal robot to control and make his escape. Lampshaded by the Watcher:
    "It was an act of folly to put a metal machine man near Magnus."
  • Unexplained Recovery: It's not shown how Mastermind escapes his Taken for Granite fate during the Juggernaut's initial attack on the school, but he's up and working for the Mutant Master trying to entrance Jean after she's left the team to attend college.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: Xavier keeps seeing images of a bug-eyed helmeted figure starting on the last page of the first series. It's revealed to be Lilandra, coming to warn Earth of her brother D'Ken's impending attack.
  • The Watcher: The Trope Namer appears in the first page of issue #1, narrating the events of the series to a Recorder on the Moon as a comprehensive history of the mutant race.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Right sees the X-Men have boarded a decommissioned S.H.I.E.L.D. satellite under their control. Though Stephen Lang is on board Donald Pierce decides he's low enough on the totem pole and tells Hodge to detonate the satellite if it means getting rid of the X-Men.

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