WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Age of X-Man: Alpha #1 by Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler, Ramon Rosanas, Tríona Farrell and VC's Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
As one of Marvel's most popular franchises, there have been many different variations and team rosters of the X-Men. Ask any fan to name their favorite X-Men team and you'll be hard pressed to get a consensus answer. Whether it's the Chris Claremont and John Byrne team of the '80s, the Blue and Gold rosters of the '90s or Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's Astonishing X-Men of the early 2000s, each holds a special place in the faithful's hearts -- and that's not even counting the spinoff titles like New Mutants, X-Factor and Excalibur.
However, everything concerning the X-Men should always circle back to Professor Charles Xavier's first class of students, the Original Five X-Men: Cyclops, Marvel Girl (Jean Grey), Iceman, Beast and Angel. They've remained associated with the X-Men for decades, even after moving over to X-Factor and seeing their younger selves plucked from the timestream in All-New X-Men. Those five mutants will always be associated with each other through deaths, resurrections and alternate realities.
This last statement serves as the backdrop for the "Age of X-Man," which spun out of the weekly "Uncanny X-Men: Disassembled" event. The confrontation between X-Man (Nate Grey) and the X-Men resulted in the mutants being zapped away to a new reality of X-Man's making, where every living person is a mutant. Here, X-Man leads his Marvelous X-Men as the peacekeepers of his "perfect world."
Age of X-Man: Alpha #1 gave readers a glimpse of Marvel's newest reality, with Easter egg references to some of the many changes instituted by Nate Grey, including banning intimate relationships, new mutants being hatched like eggs and transforming Apocalypse from a genocidal maniac to a hipster preaching peace and love. However, one change that might have gone overlooked was Nate Grey establishing himself among Xavier's founding X-Men.
On the X-Sanctuary campus is a statue commemorating "The First X-Men." Resting at the top of the statue water fountain is Professor X in his wheelchair. Below him are Angel, Jean Grey, X-Man, Iceman and Cyclops. As the creator of the "Age of X-Man," Nate Grey has conveniently inserted himself into the Original Five X-Men at the expense of Beast. Henry McCoy doesn't make an appearance in Age of X-Man: Alpha #1 even though he was shown to be on hand for the X-Men's final battle against the X-Man/Legion merger.
Judging by the different conversations in the issue, some significant time has passed for the X-Men in this new reality. Jean and Storm speak of Xavier, Cyclops and Wolverine being dead, and earlier we heard that Hope Summers and her team of X-Men are deceased as well. Unfortunately, we're not told how these three came to die, but perhaps Nate Grey saw to their demise since he assumed they were dead in the Marvel Prime Universe. Of course, the reader is already aware that all three individuals have come back from the dead over the last year -- Xavier in Astonishing X-Men, Wolverine in the Marvel Legacy one-shot and Cyclops in Extermination and Uncanny X-Men Annual #1.
Aside from the deceased Xavier and Cyclops, the remaining First X-Men are in full support of X-Man, with Angel running the Summers Institute, Iceman an enforcer in X-Man's X-Tremists and Jean a member of the Marvelous X-Men. But as we alluded to earlier, this peaceful existence is not without its cracks. For example, Jean is staring at this statue sometime after her mind was wiped for being in a relationship with Bishop, who was excommunicated.
X-Man may think he's created a Utopia for mutants worldwide, but his "Age of X-Man" will more than likely crumble just like the "Age of Apocalypse." It's only a matter of how massive the fallout will be for the X-Men and the greater Marvel Universe.