In part 1 I briefly looked at the X-Men’s first foray into the crossover: the Mutant Massacre, which saw Angel get his wings destroyed, Wolverine fight Sabretooth, Psylocke join the X-Men, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Shadowcat leave the X-Men. Not normally known for resting on their laurels when they find something that resonates with the fans, Marvel got with the X-office and told them to do another big summer crossover. They ended up giving us…
The Fall of the Mutants
Took Place In: Uncanny X-Men 225-227, X-Factor 24-26, New Mutants 59-61
Written By: Chris Claremont (Uncanny X-Men), Louise Simonson (New Mutants, X-Factor)
Art By: Marc Silvestri (Uncanny X-Men), Walt Simonson (X-Factor), Brett Blevins (New Mutants)
Featured Characters: Colossus, Dazzler, Havok, Longshot, Psylocke, Rogue, Storm, Wolverine, Forge (the X-Men), Cyclops, Beast, Phoenix, Iceman, Caliban, Archangel (X-Factor), Cannonball, Cypher, Magik, Warlock, Sunspot, Mirage, Wolfsbane, Magneto (New Mutants), Avalanche, Blob, Crimson Commando, Destiny, Mystique, Pyro, Spiral, Stonewall, Super Sabre (Freedom Force), Apocalypse and his four Horsemen, Cameron Hodge, the Adversary
The Story: Calling “Fall of the Mutants” a crossover is really a bit of a stretch, considering that not only do the titles not cross over (part 1 isn’t in one title, part 2 another, etc), but the teams don’t even have to deal with the same menace/disaster, like in the Mutant Massacre. Instead, the stories in each title share similar themes. Sort of. It really just seems that they published the issues they were going to publish without a crossover, and decided to label them as a crossover. It’s weird.
Anyway, in Uncanny X-Men they are dealing with the ramifications of the previous few months in that title. Forge, whose power is to invent (much cooler than it sounds), had some bad experiences as a soldier in an unnamed Pacific war (clearly Viet Nam) concerning magic. He, as a Native American in a Marvel comic book, has ties to the spirit world, and as such, knows a little bit about magic. He performed a spell to stop the Adversary, essentially a Native American trickster God (think Loki), not knowing that by performing that spell, he was stealing the souls of his unit. Eventually the Adversary got back to our world, and now is making things interesting in Dallas, Texas. He’s got reality and time going nuts, which results in things like dinosaurs fighting calvarymen, and cavemen fighting cowboys. Shit’s wild.
To fight this, the government sends in Freedom Force, a team of mutants and special operatives sanctioned by the USA. The X-Men show up because that’s just what they do. After a bunch of fighting, the X-Men learn that by allowing Forge to cast the same spell as he did in the war and sacrificing themselves willingly, as his unit did unwillingly, they can stop the Adversary for good.
The entire time this madness has been happening, the government has been trying to pass the Mutant Registration Act, which would require blood tests and screening of babies, kids, and teenagers all over the country to try to find out who is and who isn’t a mutant. The movement, predictably in the racist-ass Marvel universe, has a lot of support behind it.
The media showed up to the scene in Dallas right after the X-Men, so everything that has happened to this point: the fighting, the madness, the X-Men putting themselves in horrible situations to save people, has been broadcast live on television all over the country on numerous channels. The cameras also film the reluctant Forge’s spell, the X-Men dying, the destruction of the Adversary, and the fixing of the chaos that was going on. Everyone all over the country- the X-Men’s friends and family, their villains, their allies, and pretty much anyone with access to a TV- saw the X-Men give their lives willingly to save people that hated their guts.
What none of them saw, however, was the X-Men being saved. Roma, the daughter of Merlin, reconstructs the X-Men’s bodies and puts their souls into them, then sends them back to Earth (with the X-Men’s knowledge). They feel like they can now act with anonimity, and all of their villains think they’re dead, so nobody will ever see them coming.
Over in New Mutants, the kids are tied up in a ridiculous case involving the Ani-Men, who are unnaturally evolved animals, and are even more annoying than they sound. Think of an entire civilazation of Jar-Jar Binks’, and you’re about there. Anyway, the Ani-Men’s leader has gone mental, and the New Mutants are trying to save the day, against the wishes of the Xavier School’s headmaster, Magneto! The only thing of note that happens in their part of the story is the death of Douglas Ramsey, aka Cypher, who is shot in the gut and dies while his teammates fight around him, none of them even knowing he was shot until well after he is dead.
Finally, over in X-Factor, the original X-Men are in deep shit. They’re the only heroes in New York City that are dealing with Apocalypse and his four horseman, the final of which, Death, is revealed to be the thought-dead Angel! Now calling himself Archangel (as in the Archangel of Death), he is a freaking killing machine, with metal wings in place of his formal angelic ones. They can even fire off ‘feathers’, which are razor sharp knives that have a particularly nasty paralyzing neurotoxin on them. He also flies insanely fast. As if that weren’t bad enough, they also have to deal with the other three Horsemen: War, who can create massive explosions by clapping his hands; Famine, who can emaciate you with a touch to the point that you’re starving to death, and likes to destroy crops and food sources; and Pestilence, who is a nasty bitch. Oh yeah, there’s also the small matter of freaking Apocalypse!
X-Factor is incapacitated and taken captive by Apocalypse, where they fight their way free and start fighting the Horsemen and Apocalypse onboard big A’s sentient spaceship. The Horesemen bug out and start destroying New York, and they’re followed by Cyclops and Phoenix (Jean Grey), who have serious issues between them, ie. they’re still both insanely in love with each other but each are too stubborn to admit it. That leaves Iceman and the Beast to fight Apocalypse, which doesn’t go so well. Phoenix gets messed up by Famine, which leaves Cyclops to fight the other Horesemen. Well, that is, until Pestilence is killed by falling debris while battling Power Pack, of all people (four kids with super powers, essentially). So Cyclops takes War out, in typical subdued mega-badass style, and he and a rejuvinated Phoenix follow Death back to Apocalypse’s ship. Caliban has agreed to become a servant of Apocalypse, and Beast and Iceman could use some help. So the four reunited mutants start to fight Apocalypse and their friend turned killing machine.
Iceman comes up with a pretty sneaky move off the top of his head, pushing Archangel into a killing rage by reminding him about everything that made him Warren Worthington, the Angel, and not this monster. When Archangel rages out and destroys Iceman, he kind of snaps to, and his head clears a bit. He thinks what Apocalypse has done to him has just made him murder one of his best friends, and he can’t take it. He turns on Apocalypse and joins the fight. Unbeknownst to X-Factor, Iceman had been manipulating a fake body, constantly freezing and unfreezing the air in the body’s shape to create the illusion of movement!!!!! Holy hell, Iceman is awesome.
With the original five X-Men finally reunited together, even Apocalypse has to admit that they’re going to win, and he teleports out with Caliban. X-Factor then saves the crashing ship from destroying a huge portion of New York, which the ship thanks them for and offers that they come live inside it, as it has plenty of room (the damn thing is humungous). They agree, and convince Warren to stay with them so they can help him get back to some piece of normal. Cyclops is interviewed by a reporter, and he tells them the truth about who X-Factor is.
Previously, in the last 2 years of this book’s publication, the premise was that the original X-Men got back together and decided they wanted to keep helping mutants. Using Angel’s company, they started X-Factor, a ‘mutant hunting’ service. If you had a ‘mutant problem’, you gave them a call and they fixed it. In reality, they would take these calls and go help the mutant in question. Cyclops destroys that illusion for good when he gives his interview, and reveals that they are in fact the first X-Men, and that they’re not going to stop fighting, even if people hate them enough to pass the Mutant Registration Act.
OK, the fallout from these stories was pretty huge. Thinking the X-Men are now dead, Colossus ‘retires’ temporarily to travel and paint, and Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, and Rachel Summers (the daughter of Cyclops and Phoenix from an alternate future), now directionless, join up with Captain Britain and his wife, Meggan, and joing Excalibur. The X-Men change their base of operations to the Australian outback, using a mutant named Gateway to teleport to their destinations. The New Mutants soon decide they’re done listenting to Magneto, and they part ways. The death of Doug Ramsey hung over the members of this team like a dark cloud, even when they went on to other titles when they ‘graduated’. X-Factor lived in Apocalypse’s ship for about 40 issues. Due to some things he learned, Cyclops believes there is a chance that his son, Nathan (one day to become Cable), is still alive, and becomes determined to find him (which he does, which plays a big part in the next crossover). Cyclops and Phoenix rekindle their relationship like two minutes after the fighting stops, and pick up where they left off. Archangel joins the team and tries to kind of keep the monster inside him under control, which has affected him drastically to this very day. The Mutant Registration Act doesn’t pass, but it does eventually influence a little something called the Superhuman Registration Act, which of course caused the superhuman Civil War. So while this isn’t exactly the greatest collection of comics, they are all pretty important in the history of Marvel comics, and the X-Men books in particular.