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Comic Book / Earth X

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"All these years I thought it was power that brought responsibility. It's not. I was wrong. It's responsibility that brings power. It's knowing what needs to be done that brings strength. And courage. That's my daughter... And I won't let her remain a mindless slave of the Skull."

Earth X is a 1999 Marvel Comics series of books. Based off of ideas by Alex Ross, it was written by Jim Krueger and drawn by John Paul Leon. This was originally created by Ross when asked by Wizard: The Comics Magazine to create a Marvel counterpart for DC Comics' legendary series Kingdom Come.

Flash Forward the Marvel Universe circa 1999-or-so 20 years in the future. Aaron Stack, the Machine Man, is awakened by a Monolith.note  The black slab rips away his synthetic skin and human appearance and transports him to a lost city on the moon. There he is greeted by Uatu, The Watcher, who has been blinded. There, Aaron is told that he is to be the new Watcher, and to release all aspirations to be human.

Meanwhile on Earth, civilization has crumbled, and prominent heroes as well as villains across the world have risen to power to save their nations. America is under the control of Norman Osborn, the Goblin King. Across the world, people are enslaved to the parasitic Hydra. Tony Stark has armored himself in a sanitary skyscraper. Half of the Fantastic Four are dead. Marching up to the streets of New York is the mysterious Skull, who has built an army by controlling all he meets.

Oh, and everyone (and we mean literally EVERYONE on Earth) has super-powers. Nobody knows why.

And thus begins a journey from the dawn of the universe to its twilight, exploring the themes of heroism, empowerment, life, death, afterlife, and the cosmos.

The story continues in two other mini-series. In Universe X, the resurrected Captain Mar-Vell teams up with Captain America to help wage war with Death herself as the heroes deal with Earth's magnetic axis being shifted. Finally, in Paradise X, Earth's heroes try to hunt down a new Death as war is preparing to brew within the Negative Zone.

In 2019, it was announced that a prequel, Marvels X, will be released. Issue #1 hit the shelves January 1st 2020.

Not to be confused with the DC Alternate Universe that operates under Godwin's Law and Alternate-History Nazi Victory.


  • Animorphism: Black Panther, Wakanda's Ani-Men, Dog-Face of the new X-Men, Ka-Zar and Shanna, and many others of the mutated humanity.
  • Assimilation Plot: Before the start of the comic, much of the Inhuman population began leaving the Hidden City and Black Bolt along with Inhuman Royal family planned on leaving for space. Black Bolt knowing many of them would be weakened by the pollutants outside of the Inhuman home and targeted as being mutants or being too different, decides to release a weapon, of his brother Maximus' design, that would release Terrigen Mists all over the world mutating the entire population of the world so that no one would be able to tell who was originally human, Inhuman, a regular mutant or not.
  • Awful Wedded Life: The Wolverine/Jean Grey/Cyclops love triangle has been settled in Wolverine's favor, but their union appears to be a very miserable one, with them fighting constantly.
  • Bad Future: Not as bad as, say, Old Man Logan or Marvel 2099, but nonetheless a lot of our favorite heroes have retired to become shells of their former selves, died, or sunk into depression. The Avengers, X-Men, and Fantastic Four are no more, as almost all of Earth’s telepaths, even Professor X, died when the Skull was born, the Avengers (Giant-Man, Wasp, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and a four-armed Hawkeye) were all killed by the Absorbing Man, and a disastrous final mission by the Fantastic Four ended with the Human Torch, Doctor Doom, and the Invisible Woman dead, Namor cursed by Franklin Richards to burn on his left half, and Mister Fantastic moving to Latveria and donning Doctor Doom’s armor, while the Thing married Alicia Masters and started a family. Spider-Man is overweight, widowed, and his daughter possesses the Venom Symbiote. Wolverine is a drunken fat slob married to Jean Grey, Captain America is bald, despondent, and wearing a tattered American flag as his new costume, Thor was changed into a woman by Loki, Iron Man has sealed himself inside his fortress and created Iron Avengers based off his dead teammates, and the Green Goblin is now the president of America.
  • Batman Gambit: Magneto calls his Brotherhood "Evil", which places the X-Men as being the judges of mutantkind, at the same time portraying Xavier as a bigot, thus winning converts by the score around the world.
  • Beware the Superman: While most of Earth's populace tries to carry on their lives like normal after getting superpowers, some try to use their newfound powers for selfish purposes.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Tony Stark and Reed Richards have both grown white beards.
  • Become a Real Boy: Aaron Stack really wants to be more human.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: It's a three way between The Skull, Osborn and The Celestials, though the Skull and Osborn are pretty much Big Bad Wannabes in comparison to the Celestials.
  • Big "WHAT?!": From Uatu of all people when he and Aaron discover that Galactus is actually Franklin Richards.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Skull's attempt at world domination is stopped, and the Celestial threat to Earth is gone, but the destruction of Earth's Celestial embryo has resulted in worldwide catastrophes, Iron Man died saving the world, and the Celestials are still out there.
  • Body Horror: The Monster Generation, which includes a woman with a spider for a head and a man whose bones grew too fast for his muscles to keep up with.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Tony Stark goes into battle against the Celestials. They blast his armor into scrap (actually shooting off an arm). But he only needed to slow them down...
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": Steve now sports scars on his forehead in the shape of an A. The Skull calls him Alice.
  • Character Filibuster: All three series have huge lengths of prose (usually dialogue between Aaron Stack and Uatu) explaining every little secret of the Marvel Universe in minute detail from the origin of superpowers to why in God's name did Magneto call his band of mutant revolutionaries "the Brotherhood of EVIL Mutants."
  • Crisis Crossover: Everybody gets involved in this. And we mean everybody.
  • Death Seeker: Daredevil. Plagued by his Healing Factor, everything he does is done with the hope that it'll finally kill him. When Iron Man dies, he's not mourning, he's wishing it was him that bit the dust.
  • Doing In the Wizard: The Asgardians are revealed to be Sufficiently Advanced Alien Shapeshifters.
  • Doing in the Scientist: The Marvel universe mutants never really squared up with science to begin with, but in this continuity they're the result of experimentation by the godlike Celestials. The above case of killing the wizard is also, oddly, an example of this, because the means by which they became Sufficiently Advanced Alien Shapeshifers is also by Celestial manipulation.
  • The Dog Bites Back: When Toad and Magneto involuntarily exchange powers, the former becomes one of the mightiest mutants on Earth, ousts the latter from control of Sentinel City and makes him his personal court jester, abusing him every chance he has.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: What happens when the growing Celestial hatches.
  • Elseworld: Set in a dark future for the Marvel Universe where humanity gained superpowers en masse.
  • Enfant Terrible: The Skull starts out as a disaffected teen, but becomes an egomaniac conqueror once he gains superpowers.
  • Epic Hail: Black Bolt calls for help and dies.
  • Everyone Is a Super: The story begins with all of Earth's population gaining superpowers.
  • A Fate Worse Than Death: In retaliation for killing his uncle Johnny, Franklin Richards uses his Reality Warper abilities to make it so that half of Namor's body is constantly burning for as long as he lives.
  • Formerly Fit: Wolverine is sporting quite a beer belly, even though he insists that his Healing Factor means that he can't get fat. Jean Grey and Peter Parker have also put on quite a bit of weight, albeit not to the same extent.
  • From a Single Cell: The second Daredevil can do this.
  • Gender Bender: Thor is a woman due to a curse by Loki, and she is unable to reverse the spell without leaving Earth vulnerable to attack in the meantime. He only reverts to male at the end of Universe X, when he realizes Loki was telling the truth.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Thor would rather kiss Hela than have to speak with Loki again. Loki admits that the image would be pretty enticing.
  • A God Am I: Ubiquitously deconstructed.
    "Why did they hide? Wouldn't they be treated as gods?" "Yes. But mankind always turns on its gods. Isn't that right, Uatu?"
    "And I wondered... could a goddess lose her faith? And what does a goddess put her faith in?"
    "The Celestials made us gods, so who do we pray to now?"
    "(Hank) Pym's first creation as a god was to make a monster."
  • Godiva Hair: Medusa, several times. (Later averted for no apparent reason, all things considered. Scenery Censor with shadows replaces it.)
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Seamstress: Inverted (and used seriously). When Daredevil drops into the Realm of the Dead, he leaves his judge's cassock on a clothesline and lands in his old yellow-and-red costume.
  • Heroic Mime: Black Bolt, due to his destructive voice.
  • Homage: Inspired by Aaron/Machine Man's origins in the 2001 comic book, and the theme of human evolution, there are several homages to 2001: A Space Odyssey, most notably when Aaron wakes up to find a monolith at the foot of his bed.
  • Humongous Mecha: Tony Stark's tower is a gigantic robot made from the remains of the Red Ronin, whose guns fire IRON MEN SUITS.
  • Identical Stranger: Spiders Man happened to mutate in such a way as to very closely resemble Spider-Man when he was, you know, still Spider-Man.
  • Incendiary Exponent: + Half of Namor = Even MORE Badass.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Alicia Masters, and with good reason.
  • Infodump: It's not an exaggeration to say that about a third of the book is Aaron Stack asking Uatu for exposition on the Marvel Universe and the backstory behind current events.
  • Informed Ability: In the sketchbook special, Ben Grimm is said to be a voice of wisdom in a world still in shock. It doesn't show.
  • Inherent in the System: All of Mankind's ills are because of the Celestials.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Norman Osborn dies pretty much the same way Gwen Stacy did. To further twist the knife in, due to Spiders-Man messing with his mind, he sees Gwen pushing him to his death when it's actually the Skull (who wasn't really satisfied; he actually wanted him to hit the pavement).
  • Lens Flare Censor: Mar-Vell, via the big star on his chest, the bottom ray of which covers his unmentionables if they'd be visible.
  • Merlin and Nimue: The backstory shows this relationship between Doctor Strange and Clea. Clea got fed up with being Strange's student, decided he was just using her for sex, then betrayed and killed him.
  • Meta Origin: It's all the Celestials' fault. Everything in the universe.
  • Mr. Exposition: Machine Man starts every issue by explaining the backstory of the issue's main character and the circumstances that led them to their state in the current world, at Uatu's behest.
  • Mythology Gag: Pretty much every character's altered appearance is meant to be a Mythology Gag of some sort. For instance, the fact that half of Namor's body is now on fire is apparently a reference to the original, Golden Age Human Torch. Alex Ross had depicted a fight between Torch and Namor in his Marvels series.
  • Neck Snap: How Cap defeats the Skull.
  • Never Gets Fat: This trope is spoofed, featuring a very fat and balding Wolverine who married Jean Grey (also immensely overweight). As the couple snark with each other, Logan insists that his Healing Factor prevents him from getting fat (despite the ample evidence to the contrary).
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Reed Richards turned Galactus into a star, which allowed the Celestials to run around and impregnate entire planets.
  • No Matter How Much I Beg: Cap gave the Black Panther the Cosmic Cube, capable of reshaping reality. He's not going to give it back.
  • Old Superhero: Many of Earth's heroes are feeling their age catch up to them. Particularly egregious cases: Spider-Man (who returns to action in a Halloween costume that can't conceal his spare tire), Mr. Fantastic (bearded, and living as "Dr. Doom" out of guilt), Captain America (still in good shape — time doesn't affect the Super-Soldier Serum, it seems — but bald, despondent, and wearing a tattered American flag as a costume), and Wolverine (a drunken slob married to a disgusted Jean Grey).
  • Palette Swap: Costumes in in the afterlife are colored inversely to what they'd be in the world of the living (white becomes black, blue becomes orange, red becomes green, yellow becomes purple etc. and vice-versa).
    • Also, the Venom symbiote somehow became black and red after bonding with May, instead of the usual black and white.
  • People Puppets: The Skull uses his powers to control other people's bodies to make them do his bidding.
  • Planetary Parasite: It's revealed that Celestials gestate their young inside of planets, and genetically manipulate the dominant species to turn them into superpowered protectors for their child.
  • Power Perversion Potential: The Skull uses his mind control to force Venom (Mayday Parker) into becoming his "lady".
  • President Evil: Norman Osborn uses the Hydra to both eliminate S.H.I.E.L.D. and rally the people of America behind him. He then declares himself President of the United States and rules as a dictator until the Skull takes over.
  • Ret-Canon: The plot point of Black Bolt releasing the Terrigen Mist across the globe to create a new race of human/Inhuman hybrids was later brought into the mainstream Marvel canon during Infinity and its follow-up, Inhumanity.
    • Other plot points like a female Thor, Norman Osborn in a position of high power over America, and Loki going through a moral identity crisis all became canon storylines.
  • Screw You, Elves!: "You know what your problem is, Uatu? Your head's too big." (Aaron proceeds to pull the plug on Uatu)
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Captain America wears a toga made from a flag. Nobody minds.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: It's never really explained just what is uniquely useful about Dogface, Double-Header, or Mermaid's powers, particularly in a mutant-dominated world.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: That's easy. No one's human now.
  • Winged Humanoid: Wyatt Wingfoot/Red Wing, Luna, as well as many other unnamed characters, including one who might be Betty Ross. Angel also appears in Universe X.
  • Writer on Board: A mild case, but you get the feeling that all involved (especially Alex Ross) really don't like Wolverine. By Paradise X, the hate had severely waned and the creators even note it in the linear notes, giving Logan some un-vitriol.
    • Also, Peter Parker's One True Love was Gwen Stacey, and he only married Mary Jane out of guilt. Explored further in the sequel series, which had Peter Parker's "perfect world" depicted as one where he was married to Gwen with a son named Ben, rather than what happened in his real life where he married MJ and had a daughter May (who was this reality's Venom). Again, another mild case but you do get the feeling that the creators (again, especially Alex Ross) definitely had their own feelings on who Spider-Man's OTP was.
  • Ye Olde Butchered English: The Asgardians, of course. Lampshaded by Loki, who tries to tell the others they don't have to talk like that.

Universe X contains examples of:

  • Arc Welding: Sometimes it worked, like making all bestial powers related. And sometimes it didn't, like saying Colossus went back in time & became Mister Sinsiter.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The Absorbing Man, once reanimated, becomes simply humongous.
  • Autocannibalism: Multiple Man eats a duplicate of himself while lost in the frozen wilderness. This results in him becoming the new, endlessly multiplying Wendigo.
  • Batman Gambit: Mephisto offers the key to Limbo to Cap, knowing full well that Cap will throw it back in his face, sending Belasco back in time to his first appearance in the Savage Land.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The Cosmic Cube is speculated to specifically grant wishes in a way that avoids this trope, by stopping the user before they can be destroyed by the consequences of what they want.
  • Chessmaster: Mephisto's been manipulating everything.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The Marvels of the dead who don't know they're deceased have their costume colors rendered negative. Those who do know - and have ascended to Paradise - retain their natural color. Usually, anyway.
  • Dead to Begin With: The many dead heroes fight for paradise. They can only be defeated if they believe they're alive.
    • Also, Moon Knight, Marlene Alraune, the Living Mummy, and everyone else brought back by the Reanimator Stone. They just never knew it.
  • Death Seeker: In addition to Daredevil, there's Marc Spector/Moon Knight, the Sons of Set, and by extension, Red Ronin and the Tong of Creel.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "Mar-Vell will be reborn as the perfect child of Him and Her. And the child's name will be Mar-Vell."
    • Also; "He was hidden with the person I would least likely be thought to ally with. I put him in the place people would never think to look. I gave him to the man who killed Susan's brother. I gave him to the man who killed Susan's brother. I gave your son to Namor, king of Atlantis. And hid him far beneath the eyes of man."
  • Face–Heel Turn: Multiple Man. Nightcrawler. Wong (half of him anyway).
  • Genius Loci: The Absorbing Man, after being resurrected, goes on such a rampage that he ends up assimilating most of New York City.
  • Humongous Mecha: The Seven Silver Samurai and the Iron Avenger Monolith, all built by Tony Stark. He certainly has a penchant for them.
  • I Always Wanted to Say That: "Welcome, (Isaac) Christians. You can't know how long I have wanted to say that."-Mephisto
  • Interactive Narrator: Now taken over by Kyle Richmond/Nighthawk and the Gargoyle.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: A particularly convoluted example—Rom (the Spaceknight, not the Ferengi) is a Marvel character, but he was originally created as a toy—which flopped. But the rights to the character have reverted to the toy creator anyway. Rom appears de-cyborged in Limbo using the chestpiece of his cyborg armor as a shield, and is referred to only as "the greatest of the Spaceknights".
  • Loss of Identity: This is what happened to Asgardians before they were Asgardians, and what would happen to Earth.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Spiders-Man traps Peter in a world where he actually saved Gwen's life. For a while, he doesn't want to leave.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Mephisto reveals that Death is his daughter. Except not.
  • Mr. Exposition: Nighthawk takes over Machine Man's role, thanks to his piece of omniscience that allows him to do so.
  • Pro-Human Transhuman: Once the truth about humanity being genetically manipulated by the Celestials and mutated by Terrigen mists is revealed, Richards creates massive torches to burn the mists out of the atmosphere to allow people to become human and fertile again. Inhumanity does not like this, and starts destroying the torches.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Eons ago on the moon (long story), the primitive Kree slaughtered the peace-loving, star-crossing Skrulls.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Super Civil Services: The New York City Police Department is composed of superhumans (mostly former superheroes) that maintain law and order in this universe. Older versions of Peter Parker, Luke Cage, May Parker (as Venom) and Bobby Drake are part of the NYCPD, all of them using their superpowers in the service of the public law.
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham: An interesting attempt to justify one of the bigger examples of this in the Marvel Universe; one character suggests that the reason the X-Men and the other superheroes kept on butting heads rather than working together more often is that the major dark forces of the world - strongly implied to include Mephisto, and other such demonic entities - manipulated events to play up anti-mutant prejudices so as to keep them apart.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The Absorbing Man when he absorbed Ultron's A.I., allowing him to compute and catalog the substances he's touched, making him a shapeshifter on a God-like level. In fact, he destroyed a third of the world's population. (The Avengers keep it quiet.)
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Not really, but the new Inhumanity works very hard to keep their new power, and are prepared to kill anyone who would take that away.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Subverted, as he's hardly in the story at all.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Subverted. The Black Knight tells this to the Tong of Creel as they assault Windsor Castle, but enough of them manage to get by King Britain's army to achieve their objective.

Paradise X contains examples of:

  • And I Must Scream: Thanks to the destruction of Death, people who would normally be dead from their extremely severe injuries are kept alive to suffer in agony.
  • Anti-Anti-Christ: Inverted by Loki, who decides to bring about Ragnarok; because it's the right thing to do.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Those who live in Paradise, and further yet, the Avenging Host.
    • Reed Richards becomes the new Eternity.
  • Batman Gambit: Aaron/X-51 plucks heroes and villains out of alternate realities to warn other Reed Richards' about the growing Celestials in their planets' cores. The Watchers come out of hiding to judge Uatu, and Aaron sends them to alternate worlds (by way of portal-spamming) to let those Earths know that they are being watched, thus setting the infinite war against the Celestials in motion.
    • Another one; Thor, Loki, Dr. Strange and Xen trek to Asgard to find Clea. When they get to Yggdrasil, they find out that she's in Hel. Odin then appears, and they make a deal, trading one of their band in Clea's place (them's the rules). Loki volunteers to be the substitute, but Odin rejects the offer, and chooses to take Thor instead. After returning to earth and killing zombie Fin Fang Foom, Thor teleports back, revealing that he had freed everyone in Hel with a speech, and that was the plan all along. If it was Loki who did it, they wouldn't have believed him. But Thor... who wouldn't believe Thor? As Loki put it; "Ain't I a stinker?"
  • Captain Ersatz: Hyperion, referred to repeatedly as a "super man". His storyline is meant to be the Alternate Company Equivalent of Kingdom Come, and the expanding Paradise that's devouring the Negative Zone is an affectionate parody of the "white wall" effect in Crisis on Infinite Earths.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Thor, Loki, and Sutur can change forms at will. Just by thinking real hard.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: Belief holds the Asgardians together. Without it, they wouldn't even have an identity.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Iron Man 2020. Blastaar and Annihilus. Phoenix. The artificial Hyperion. Jude. Surtur. The Skull.
    • Doctor Doom's turn from the previous series is fully completed by his membership in the Avenging Host.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Bobby Drake, Iceman's entire role. Peter Parker even Lampshades it.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Zatanna (or her cousin, Zachary Zatara).
  • Merged Reality: What the Elders of the Universe try to create. They don't succeed.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: After Mar-Vell destroyed Death, hospitals are filled to the brim with people who cannot die, existing in a state of perpetual suffering.
  • Old Superhero: When the new X-Men attack Cyclops to prove they can hang, Scott mops the floor with them despite being outnumbered five to one and fighting people young enough to be his kids, one of whom is a giant.
  • Plague of Good Fortune: Mephisto's curse on Doctor Doom, the defining reason behind his hatred for Richards.
  • The Problem with Fighting Death: The old and sick start piling up, needing the help of Jude to fix.
  • Progressively Prettier: Jude's features look softer after it is revealed that he is not malicious, and only spreads entropy as his own measure of mercy.
  • Scenery Censor: Angel Steve always has an American flag curled around his body. It's just floating there, right above his groin.
  • Shapeshifter Weapon: Along with the revelation that Asgardians are actually beings that assume the appearance and abilities of whatever is willed upon them comes the same revelation for Asgardian artifacts. Once Thor realizes what he is Mjolnir becomes molded from his hand.
  • Shooting Superman: Fully lampshaded in the last issue, with Hyperion standing in for Superman. Especially egregious because all parties are already dead and in an afterlife dimension.
  • Stripperiffic: As usual in comics, but applied more than usual to the males as well. See Lens Flare Censor above; also, Captain America in his angelic incarnation has only a strip of red-and-white bunting that streams around his body at a distance.
  • Take That!: Noticeably inverted since last time. Remember how Wolverine was shown in the first series as a no-good lazy bum who sat around watching TV all day? The Wolverine that appears in this series is from Days of Future Past and is portrayed as being far more dignified and badass than Earth-X's Wolverine (Alex Ross had been won over by the X-Men Film Series at this point).
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Really, who can die now?
  • You Bastard!: "We fought and died and were brought back to life over and over again for your damned comic book need for excitement!"