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Literature / X-Men Mutant Empire Trilogy

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Published between 1996 and 1997, Christopher Golden wrote three X-Men novels collectively known as the Mutant Empire Trilogy. Individually, they were known as X-Men: Siege, X-Men: Sanctuary, and X-Men: Salvation.

The novels focus on two plots concurrently: the main plot centers around Magneto and his Acolytes hijacking a fleet of Sentinels and using it to seize control of Manhattan, while the secondary plot focuses on a secondary squad of X-Men led by Cyclops and Jean Grey in space battling the Shi'ar Empire. They take place in the mainstream Marvel universe, and though published in the late '90s they are set in the early '90s era of that universe, just prior to Fatal Attractions.


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X-Men: Mutant Empire Trilogy provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: There's superpowered females among both the X-Men (Rogue, Storm, Jean Grey, Psylocke) and the Acolytes (Voght, Unuscione, Cargill, Scanner).
  • Adaptational Jerkass: While Unuscione was always a villain the comics, and a Would Hurt a Child villain at that, her crazy is dialed up several notches by Golden, far surpassing even her worst moments in the comics. She's so Ax-Crazy here that she attacks her rival Voght practically every chance she gets, even when doing so would incur Magneto's ire, and clearly prioritizes her feud with Voght over Magneto's plans, and indeed gets dangerously close to becoming a Spanner in the Works for his Evil Plan (it doesn't work only because Voght soundly defeats her in every encounter).
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In contrast to Unuscione above, Senyaka isn't half as murderous in this trilogy as he is in the comics, and while he doesn't come anywhere close to hero territory, he does come across as significantly more sane and trustworthy than the likes of Unuscione and the Kleinstock brothers.
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  • All-Powerful Bystander: Exodus in retrospect, considering his high power level established in the Blood Ties event. Magneto probably would have held Manhattan easily had he just bothered to bring Exodus along, but he remains on Avalon throughout the entirety of the trilogy.
  • Arrogant Mutant Guy: Bishop is written this way, being described as wading into a squad of soldiers trying to shoot him with plasma weapons arrogantly and treating Iceman with disdain (Iceman, of course, saves his life despite this).
  • Ax-Crazy: Several of the Acolytes qualify, most prominently Unuscione (who does not even try to hide it) and Cargill (who is calmer than Unuscione but affects Dissonant Serenity as she murders a pair of innocent humans).
  • Badass in Distress: Between Sanctuary and Salvation most of the X-Men are captured by Magneto.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Amelia Voght might be the Only Sane Woman in the Acolytes, but don't let that make you think she's a pushover. Several characters find this out, including a mob of rioting humans, Unuscione and even Wolverine.
  • Big Bad: Magneto on Earth and Deathbird in space.
  • Big Good: Professor X on Earth and Lilandra in space.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: As comics fans known, the Shi'ar Imperial 'Guardsman' Warstar is actually a symbiotic being made up of two individuals: The Big Guy, C'Cil, and little B'nee who is The Smart Guy of the duo.
  • Blond, Brunette, Redhead: The Acolytes have this going for them with Scanner (blonde), Unuscione (brunette), and Voght (redhead).
  • Broad Strokes: The trilogy takes this approach with its setting. Magneto leading the Acolytes places the novel prior to Fatal Attractions, but there are some inconsistencies such as Senyaka still being with the team (despite Magneto killing him off shortly after accepting the Acolytes into his service) and Colossus not being a member of their ranks yet. The novel seems to take place after the Acolytes desert Fabian Cortez, but before they and Magneto crash Illyana Rasputin's funeral (both events take place in Uncanny X-Men #304), suggesting that it takes place in an Alternate Timeline.
  • Canon Foreigner: Being a novel trilogy with an original plot, a few of these sneak in:
    • In Siege there's Candide, a half-Kree/half-Shi'ar smuggler and associate of Corsair who exists to play the Distressed Damsel alongside Corsair's Distressed Dude.
    • In Sanctuary there's Major Ivan Skolnick, a US Army officer and secret mutant who defects to Magneto. He eventually comes to regret his decision and rejoins the good guys in time for the final battle.
  • Character Development: Many of the Acolytes are more developed in this trilogy than they ever were in the comics.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: Colossus is conspicuously absent from the entire trilogy. Given his relevance in Fatal Attractions, there's no way this wasn't intentional.
  • Crapsack World: Hala, the Kree homeworld, is this, as the trilogy takes places after the "Operation: Galactic Storm" Crisis Crossover.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Magneto's Wide-Eyed Idealist nature gets the better of him again, as he focuses most of his attention on the actual conquest of Manhattan and gives little serious thought to the And Then What? after. He has plenty of grandoise ambitions for his mutant city, but either doesn't consider or just ignores several potential impediments (mutants not being as lawfully-minded as he thinks they'll be, not all mutants rallying to his cause, the reality of trying to defend a lone outpost surrounded on all sides by enemy territory, etc. etc.)
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Cargill murders Trish Tilby's cameraman Kevin and his girlfriend Caroline for no reason other than "They pissed me off."
  • The Dragon: POV Acolyte Amelia Voght finds herself in this position, being promoted to Magneto's Number Two after her successful leadership of the Acolyte squad that seizes control of the Sentinel facility.
  • The Dreaded: Wolverine is this to several of the Acolytes, most notably POV Acolyte Amelia Voght.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Joanna Cargill and Sven Kleinstock aren't at all onboard with Unuscione's plan to kill Amelia Voght and Make It Look Like an Accident.
  • The Extremist Was Right: Obstructive Bureaucrat and Fantastic Racism-fan Henry Peter Gyrich firmly believes Professor X is in league with the X-Men. He is, of course, not wrong.
  • Fantastic Racism: In ''Siege' Kree citizens taunt the Shi'ar-born Raza by calling him "birdy". Which is a bit strange, since Raza's hair (bald with a long ponytail) is nothing like the vestigial head feathers common Shi'ar have.
  • The Gloves Come Off: Storm really cuts loose in Sanctuary fighting Magneto, to the point where even the Master of Magnetism wonders if he can win without killing Storm. He does, but it's a close thing.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: As this trilogy was written before the Marvel smoking ban, Wolverine lights up every chance he gets.
  • Heroes Gone Fishing: Or rather playing volleyball, which is what the X-Men are doing when we first meet them in Sanctuary.
  • Inner Monologue: The preferred form of exposition in the novels. Characters think about past things such as Magneto's stint with the Hellfire Club, Wolverine's fight with the Marauders during the Mutant Massacre, etc.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": A villainous version, as Cargill is delighted when Magneto recruits her favorite novelist to the ranks of the Acolytes. That novelist? Pyro.
  • Last Plan Standing: Magneto's plan to use the Sentinels is made possible because of his time in the Hellfire Club as its White King, during which Sebastian Shaw was manufacturing said Sentinels for his own Evil Plan. Magneto simply slipped in an override function into the Alpha Sentinel that only he could use, then patiently waited for the right time to use it.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Though hinted at in the comics, it is established in Sanctuary that Unuscione's father is in fact classic Brotherhood member Unus the Untouchable.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Attempted by Unuscione on Amelia Voght in Salvation. It fails, with Voght soundly defeating her rival and out of exasperation teleporting her back to Avalon for Exodus to deal with.
  • Master Computer: The Alpha Sentinel, which controls all other Sentinels (and is unrelated to Master Mold, a Sentinel which does the same thing and is a Mook Maker).
  • Noble Top Enforcer: Exodus is this for Magneto and Gladiator is this for Deathbird. Interestingly, this trilogy is the only known work to date in which both of these characters appear within the same story, though they never encounter each other.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: The Juggernaut shows up in Salvation, but instead of helping Magneto solidify his control over Manhattan he opts to help the X-Men instead, reasoning that a city ruled by mutants will be a hard place for a guy like him to do business.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Henry Peter Gyrich, who shows up in all three books to play his usual odious government official role.
  • Pet the Dog: The Blob has a surprisingly tender moment with Unuscione when he meets her, recognizing her as his old buddy Unus's daughter and telling her what a great guy he was. It's notable for being the only time in the trilogy where the otherwise Ax-Crazy Unuscione acts like a human being.
  • Playing with Fire: This is the specialty of Imperial Guard member Starbolt.
  • Praetorian Guard: The Shi'ar Imperial Guard, who are the primary foes for the space-bound X-Men.
  • Recruiting the Criminal: Magneto recruits the Blob, Pyro and Toad for Haven in Sanctuary, despite Exodus rejecting all three for citizenship on Avalon. POV Acolyte Amelia Voght takes note of this, remarking through her Inner Monologue that it's her first indication that Exodus does not necessarily know Magneto's every whim.
  • Running Gag: As in the X-Men 90's cartoon, Wolverine is the party pooper who pops a ball with his claws mid-game.
  • Series Continuity Error: In keeping with the Broad Strokes nature of the trilogy detailed above, a few of these slip in.
    • In Siege Storm notes that she and Wolverine are the only remaining members of the second generation of X-Men, with Thunderbird dead and the others all having gone on to other teams. This isn't strictly true, as Colossus was still an X-Man at the time, but the trilogy pretends he doesn't exist for the sake of preserving the spoiler that he defects to the Acolytes in Fatal Attractions.
    • Later in Siege Beast considers Mr. Sinister as one of the potential hijackers of the Colorado Sentinel facility, forgetting that he was believed killed off post-Inferno by Cyclops.
  • Shoot the Messenger: Deathbird goes from zero to psycho in five seconds and drops a Shi'ar captain to his death in Siege, once she realizes the 'rebels' he failed to capture are actually the X-Men.
  • Shout-Out: In Siege Cyclops tells Ch'od they have six minutes to "beam down." Ch'od, not being familiar with Earth sci-fi, merely stares until Archangel clarifies what he meant.
    • Later in Siege a Real Life example gets dropped when Bishop faces down a tank, a situation which reminds Iceman uncomfortably of Tiananmen Square.
  • Sixth Ranger: Juggernaut, who pulls a Villainous Rescue twice in Salvation.
  • Strange-Syntax Speaker: Hepzibah the Starjammer speaks with a Object-Subject-Verb word order that's more than a little reminiscent of Yoda.
  • Super Supremacist: Magneto and his Acolytes have this attitude. Their Evil Plan is to establish Manhattan as a mutant-ruled city, with the remaining humans as an underclass.
  • Take Over the City: Magneto takes over Manhattan and re-titles it as Haven, the titular Mutant Empire the trilogy is named for.
  • Tempting Fate: Wolverine confidently taunts Magneto at the end of Salvation after the Master of Magnetism is defeated and remarks that he doesn't think there'll be a next time. Come Fatal Attractions...
  • Took a Level in Badass: Amelia Voght demonstrates offensive uses of her mutation that she never gets in the comics.
  • Torture Technician: Deathbird is introduced torturing Corsair and Hepzibah more or less For the Evulz.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: The Sentinels are turned against mankind by Magneto thanks to a secret override command he slipped into the Alpha Sentinel's programming.
  • Unreliable Voiceover: In Siege Cyclops assures the reader through his internal monologue that neither Professor X nor Jean Grey alter minds without consent, apparently forgetting the dozens of times Xavier did just that during the Silver Age.
  • Villain Decay: The Marauders show up in Salvation, though as a Quirky Miniboss Squad rather than the pants-crappingly dangerous Murder, Inc. they were when the X-Men last encountered them.
  • Wolverine Claws: The Trope Namer himself sports these, of course, along with Deathbird.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Raza the Starjammer talks this way, though his "nearly Shakespearean" dialect is the result of a Shi'ar-to-English voice translator parsing out his "archaic Shi'ar" speech.

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