The X-men have always been a representation of the Civil Rights movement. When originally conceived, Xavier was Martin Luther King, Jr. To Magneto’s Malcolm X. This changed to incorporate the Gay Rights movement, and culminated in Grant Morrison’s run, in which it reflected the more organized movement of today. In many ways, the movement is still the underdog, yet it often doesn’t feel that way, and so Marvel tried to bring it back to an underdog sort of situation. The problem is, they removed it from the civil rights metaphor to do so. I feel the answer is to restore the metaphor, but to incorporate a new group whose rights are being trod upon: the Muslims and Arab Americans.
See how this grabs you: A large group of individuals, some of whom with radical views. Those radicals commit acts of terrorism in the name of the larger group, causing the general populace to fear everyone belonging to that group, even peripherally. The group is ostracized from society, and finds it easier to live in segregated communities, with makes the general populace fearful of what they might be doing in those communities. Intrusion into these communities (by undercover authorities and by citizens with a vendetta) cause more in the community to see the radicals as right, especially the youths of the community (as hormones and emotions come into play). Some of these even join the terrorists, starting the whole viscous cycle over again.
I would start with an altered initial confrontation between Magneto and Xavier (the one that ended their friendship and set them down the path of being enemies). I say altered, because I would have it happen in Manhattan, and it would be televised. Xavier would win, but lose the use of his legs in the confrontation, and would be regarded as a hero by the public thereafter, though mutant-kind in general would be viewed as potential Magnetos, and ostracized (especially since, before Magneto is defeated, he’ll have killed thousands of people, and called on all his mutant brothers and sisters to join him in claiming their place as the leaders of society – a new nobility for a new age.)
This will lead to the passing of the Mutant Registration Act. Mutants must report their name, address of residence, and power(s), and are issued a license that must be renewed yearly and presented whenever a police officer asks for a driver’s license or identification (akin to the carry conceal license issued in Texas). Being caught failing to register will result in arrest and detention at a special containment facility (the basic function of which is to educate the mutant on the importance of registering and observe them for what powers they might have. It would have a three strikes system – their first term would end with being issued a license and being sent back out into the world, with a parole officer that they need to check in with and a GPS locator chip secretly implanted. Failure to do so, or failure to renew their license, will result in being sent back to the containment facility, and a third strike would result in becoming a permanent resident there.)
Banking on his popularity and hero status, Xavier gets a special exemption from the Mutant Registration Act. Students must still register, but their address is listed simply as “Xavier’s School for Gifted Students,” without an address for the school. (This is acceptable, since S.H.I.E.L.D. has the address on file.) Xavier is specifically tasked with training young mutants to “not become terrorists” and has S.H.I.E.L.D. liaisons who check in on the school periodically. Xavier, for his part, is more interested in teaching the young mutants both to control their powers (so as not to be a threat to themselves and others) and to learn from one of the finest academic programs available.
After showing the initial confrontation that presented mutants to the world, the passing of the Mutant Registration Act, and the foundation of Xavier’s School for Gifted Students, the next scene in the story would jump ahead several years and show the first graduating class of students. This would NOT be the first class we’re accustomed to, as graduating from High School is required before anyone is permitted to join the X-men, and Cyclops and Phoenix (Jean Grey) have been functioning in that role prior to the first class graduating (they were 18 when the school was founded). The graduating class will show the various options for available to them: some will go on to pursue their own dreams in the world (Thunderbird, Dazzler), some will join the X-men (more on this later), and some will stay with the school to teach the next generation and/or continue their education (haven’t decided on anyone specific for this yet).
From here, each of the X-titles would be showcased, rounding out the special.
The X-Men, backed by Xavier and led by Cyclops, would include Phoenix, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Northstar (many of whom were part of the graduating class). In the special, they would confront the self-named Brotherhood of Mutants (though the media presents them as the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants). In the series, the team would be employed as administrators for the school when not out on missions. Cyclops and Phoenix would be a couple. Rogue would later join the X-men, though she would start out as a member of the Brotherhood of Mutants. Magneto would create a new Atlantis – a VERY large island in the Atlantic Ocean – as a peaceful place for mutants to come and live (and a staging area for his acts of terrorism). This title would focus on the difference between moderate and radical ideals through the guise of over-the-top action/adventure stories.
The New Mutants will focus on the school itself (containing 25 to 30 teachers – most of whom are normal humans – and over 500 students, and continues to grow). Teachers would include Emma Frost (been teaching since the beginning), Aurora (part of the graduating class), and Dr. Cecilia Reyes (functions as school nurse, and is on site when dangerous training is being conducted – ie. Danger Room exercises.) Students would include Shadowcat, Iceman, Jubilee, all of the original New Mutants and Generation X characters, plus many, many others. Emma Frost, while one of the original teachers, is going to quickly break off and form her own school, also sanctioned by the government, stealing a large chunk of the student body (convincing their parents to send them to her newly formed school). This will happen after two storyarcs, so characters on both sides of the divide will have time to become friends before being split up. This title would focus on the changes and difficulties involved with being a teenager (another big aspect of the original comics).
X-Factor is a street level team that bears the brunt of the anti-mutant hatred, and consists of Mimic, Morph, Strong Guy, Karma, Stacy X – all led by the Beast. Beast got a bachelor’s degree at an online university before fighting (and winning) the right to get his doctorate from Harvard, only to lose face by experimenting on himself, turning him blue and furry and ostracized from academia (who were looking for any excuse to do so anyway). Karma will be underage, though no one is aware of this fact, and this will cause problems in the future. The team lives in “Mutant Town,” and have connections with the Morlocks (who live in the tunnels beneath New York City, and are led by Callisto). This title would focus on the relations between humans and mutants, and would be one of the darkest of the titles, as the characters must fight for even common courtesy… (Most people will assume they’re either terrorists posing as heroes, or destined to become terrorists.)
X-Force would be the government team working for Nick Fury, led by Wolverine, and consisting of Havok, Forge, Gambit, Domino, and Blink. Forge functions more like Q to James Bond than as a regular member of the team. Nick Fury has given him the authority to turn down a mission if he determines he needs to be working on a tech project, and he takes advantage of this status regularly, though he always outfits the team with cool gizmos and gadgets. Gambit and Domino (who he calls his “lady luck”) are an item. Deadpool is a mercenary that will often have assignments that coincide or oppose the team (so while he’s not a member, he’ll often be in the book – sometimes working with the team, sometimes opposed to it). I would also like to tie Cable into the title, though I’d keep him as a mysterious player, acting behind the scenes more often than not. This title will focus on clandestine operations – giving a view of how the government and military interact with other nations such as Genosha (which is how it was originally conceived – Mutants being property, not citizens) and Atlantis (Magneto’s “nation”).
Excalibur would be sponsored by Moira McTaggart (a former lover of Xavier’s) and led by Captain Britain (who, while not a mutant, fights for mutant rights on behalf of his sister, Psylocke, also a member of the team). Megan, Psylocke, Banshee, and Peter Wisdom (who really needs a codename) will comprise the team. Captain Britain and Megan will be a couple. Peter Wisdom will be a not-so-secret spy for the British government. The title will focus on another country’s perspective on human/mutant relations.
In any case, that’s what I’d do with the X-titles, if I were in charge of a complete reboot of the Marvel Universe. Next week: S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers!