[3 February 2010]
There is something very scary about not knowing what happens next, that whole ‘fear of the unknown’ idea. While comicbooks are suspenseful, there is always a certain amount of predictability in them. The Amazing Spider-Man will not see Spider-Man die at the hands of Mysterio. Surprises (like the death of Captain America in his own monthly title) often end in the inevitable (like his inevitable return from the dead). However, comicbooks that do not follow ongoing continuity are the true wild cards. These are an outlet for the writer to make some incredible statement, with no regard for what may come next. Standalone stories provide the storyteller with a way to totally disregard responsibility to the character. Loose ends are left hanging, and no one has to pick up the pieces once the story ends. Truly, no subject or character is untouchable.
That being said, I want to look at one of my favorite non-continuity titles from the 90s: Earth X.
When I originally sat down to read this series, I was overwhelmed with the amount of information that was thrown dealing with the history of the Marvel Universe. Because of this, I understand the Eternals, Celestials, and characters like Namor and Reed Richards much better. Admittedly, these are not characters I typically concern myself with, but getting to know them through Earth X was very enlightening. It is one thing for a writer to be able to deliver a great story. It is something else for a writer to fill a comicbook with that much history while delivering a great story. My hat goes off to Jim Krueger.
Issues #0-6, do little more than establish the groundwork for the rest of the story. There is a lot of back-story to cover. It is interesting to see what familiar Marvel characters are up to in this possible future. Captain America is still fighting for change, Thor has been turned in to a woman, and Tony Stark and Reed Richards are still trying to save the world with their technology and grand ideas. A drunk and overweight Wolverine, seems to be a subtle comment on the character being overused by Marvel’s corporate structure.
Despite issues #0-6 focusing on informing us of the new status quo, the story does begin to make progress in issue #6. Cyclops begins training his new X-Men at the urging of Captain America, while the Captain attempts to reach New York City before the Red Skull. But that is just the beginning.
The next This Was Then continues with Part 2 of this extended look back at Earth X as I review the second half of the series, as well as focus on the artwork