X-Men: Endangered Species

Writers: Mike Carey, Christopher Yost, Christos Gage
Artists: Scot Eaton, Mark Bagley & Mike Perkins
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Starting with a one-shot issue, this series then continued as a back-up story across all 4 main X-titles from July to October, but to do what? Is it to act as a set-up for the Messiah CompleX crossover or is to be a story in itself? For considered one way leads to the conclusion that Endangered Species is either a failure, considered the other it’s an adequate success.

X-Men

The story is quite simple: Following the funeral of a mutant Hank McCoy obsesses over the nature of the decimation of the mutants, he decides he will find the means to reverse the process, no matter what – even if it means selling his soul. In the process he crosses paths with his dark opposite, the Dark Beast from the Age of Apocalypse timeline. The two forge a reluctant partnership, despite Beast fearing where it will go; he’s right to be fearful.

From exploring a shut down Weapon X facility, to considering grave-robbing and all the way up to the infliction of experimental compounds upon an unknowing victim, Beast goes along with much until an innocent nearly dies. This is the most predictable and least interesting section of the story, we know he’ll end up being burnt, that Dark Beast will inevitably betray him.

No, where Endangered Species succeeds is where it goes after this part of the tale: Beast visits Forge who tells him he’s scanned alternate timelines for mutant activity. All have gone flat. From there he visits Dr Strange, for he recognizes science is not able to solve a situation caused by magic. He sees dimensional others also trying to solve the problem by different means, then Strange shows him the nature of the spell cast by the Scarlet With. It permeates reality, Strange could not remove it without destroying everything – there is nothing to be done. As one final play he visits Wanda in Europe, or rather the woman she is now, who recalls nothing of her past life, it is a fruitless endeavour.

What these later sections demonstrate is the thought that has gone into considering the consequences of the spell cast in regard to the X-Men mythos. The effects extend beyond our reality, they encompass all futures known and the spell itself is woven through the very fabric of space and time. It’s almost as if the writers set out to locate and close off every loophole and potential solution they could to stop fans working out the solution. Where the story also succeeds is in small observations, like a dealer in Mutant Growth Hormone finding that his stock is worthless as it’s gone inert overnight. Finally, it really emphasizes the incredible selfishness exhibited by the Scarlet Witch in destroying the mutants, everywhere, everywhen.

Where Endangered Species fails is as an engaging story in itself, unless you seek a tale with a somewhat depressing anti-climax. It is clearly a story designed in response to another, and to prepare the way for yet another by narrowing the possibilities and solutions, to render the reader as blind to the solution as the characters. Perceived in this fashion the story is a success, but it is one that is utterly dependent on what follows it.

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  • Ben Crofts Ben Crofts is resident in Essex, works in London and has found comics and philosophy mix surprisingly well.