Earth X

Distributed by Marvel Comics
Created by Alex Ross and Jim Krueger
Page Count: 472
Price: $19.75

by Jon Minners

Right now, the big story on everyoneís lips as it pertains to the Marvel Universe is the Civil War saga, stemming from the House of M.  The storyline has made for some incredible changes that have affected the Marvel Universe in ways never before imagined.  Even Spiderman has been affected.  The main character of the Marvel company has revealed his true identity in a groundbreaking story that has brought back the spark comic books needed. 

I love the big storylines, such as Secret Wars, which actually led Spiderman to the black costume and the creation of VenomInfinity Gauntlet was ok, but nowhere near as good as the Secret Wars or any of the countless X-Men mutant crossover events.  One of my favorites is a series that started with Earth X.  Unlike Civil War, the events in Earth X never impact the Marvel Universe, but it surely made for great reading. 

Marvel's Earth X is another alternate universe spin from the mind of comic book great Alex Ross, who was behind the uniquely and somewhat similar DC title, Kingdom ComeRoss derived this story's concept and with him was Jim Krueger.  The duo put together a 14-part series that debuted in 1999 and was bounded in an astounding 472-page volume, complete with all the original art, dialogue and exciting adventure. I love Manga, but after reading this wonderful story driven tale, I quickly went back to my roots of comic books and on a path that led me to Civil War.  If I didnít pick up Earth X, I would never have been a part of the comic book event of the century.  

Earth X, like Kingdom Come, is about a time where super heroes rule the world. With the exception that Earth X contains very few humans at all. In the DC Universe, there were humans caught in the conflicts between the vast amounts of superheroes battling for control of the planet. Here, all the humans have become superheroes. J. Jonah Jameson, the publisher of the Daily Bugle becomes a wretched looking creature with super powers, as does every non-sequential human that we have seen in the pages of Marvel comics. The only human alive is Tony Stark, who has built his armor to prevent the super powers from coming out. Night Crawler, who as a mutant was laughed at, attacked and discriminated against, actually turns human, and is killed for being different from the other heroes. How's that for irony?

The concept for this story is that a group of beings known as the Celestials planted a seed inside every human being. These seeds give every human being super powers. The seed manifests itself in different ways, for instance Spider-Man's seed germinated when the radioactive spider bit him. Bruce Banner's transformation came about due to the gamma rays that ran through his body, and the Fantastic Four's powers came to life thanks to that fateful trip in space. The whole idea is that something happened to speed up what was inevitable. Without these seeds being planted, Peter Parker would have just died from the bite and the others would have died, too, from the various disasters they encountered. To make matters worse, Reed Richards may have contributed to all this when he used vibranium, a meteorite, to create energy for the planet. The vibranium may have been a contributing factor to species developing new powers. Also, a mist was spread across the Earth, inevitably enabling everyone's powers to manifest themselves. Now, Earth is a place of super heroes and nothing to protect.

Captain America is an old hero who is still battling such baddies as the Hydra, but is starting to realize all his work is for naught. The Red Skull comes back in the form of a boy who is starting to take over the minds of heroes and leading them in a quest to take over the world, first with the President, Norman Osborne (Green Goblin). Many heroes join Skull's faction even though they admittedly don't want any part of the group. They are powerless to stop him, but often times speak freely about their hatred of the Skull. This new battle with the Skull reinvigorates Captain America who now seeks answers to why all the chaos is occurring.

The answers lie in several people. Tony Stark, Reed Richards, who has assumed the identity of Dr. Doom, The Inhumans, The Watcher, and Machine Man are the keys to possibly ending the chaos.

Many other characters from the Marvel Universe take on surprising and interesting roles in the story. Scott Summers, aka Cyclops, leads a new group of X-Men to help Captain America against the Skull. Ben Grimm, who has twins, helps his former Fantastic Four leader. The Hulk has outgrown being Bruce Banner's alter ego, and has become a character all his own, with a young Banner leading him along the way. Thor has been transformed into a woman, and Doctor Strange has been killed. Wolverine, himself, has become an out of shape bum, who sits at home watching TV and drinking beer as his wife Jean Grey hates the day she ever chose the Canadian X-Man. Spider-Man is out of shape and everyone knows he is Peter Parker, which foreshadowed the events of Civil War. He vows to never fight as Spider-Man again as his daughter, named after Aunt May, has been transformed into his arch rival, Venom. There is a new Daredevil around who reminds me of Ghost Rider. Storm has married the Black Panther. Colossus is in control of Russia and Captain Britain is now the ruler of England. Even Namor has gone crazy again, fighting those he believes to be trying to destroy his sea kingdom.

Everything is no longer the way it once was. There is a place where the dead heroes reside, believing themselves to be alive, and the others, dead. Invisible Girl attacks Doctor Doom, believing he has killed her husband, when in fact, he had killed her. This dead zone plays an important role in the whole affair as the late Kree warrior, Captain Mar-vel, may be resurrected to save the Earth. In addition, many readers may be shocked to discover that the Earth may be saved from destruction by the likes of Loki, the God of Mischief, and Galactus, the creature who once tried to eat the Earth.

The characters interact so well, the dialogue is wonderful and the epilogues between each chapter read like a novel. The artwork is fantastic and the story itself is so well planned out. The writers masterfully interweave the history of every character to update you on how their lives changed and how everything goes back to the Celestial plan. There are surprises at every corner, wonderful little jokes and commentary placed throughout the book and some really great ideas that readers would have never thought of before. I would say this is actually a great jump on point to the Marvel Universe. Discover the origins of the heroes, some of their epic decisions that shaped the world and then see what could have happened had certain events gone a different way.

But there is more.  Earth X led to Universe X and then Paradise X, all continuing the plot lines that were left dangling after the Earth X series ended.  What happens when a human is born on the Earth without the celestial seed?  Thatís a story for a different day.  Start from the beginning and work your way up. 

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