This is the one-hundred and sixteenth in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous one-hundred and fifteen. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
This is ANOTHER special theme week! Each urban legend this week is related to that merry band of mutants, the X-Men!!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel got rid of the X-Ternals because of threats of litigation by the Highlander folks.
Blog pal Kelvin asked me this one a LOOOOOOOOOONG time ago (I think late 2005):
Did Apocalypse's immortal buddies, the X-Ternals, get written out of the X-Men mythos due to the people behind Highlander getting antsy about immortal characters? This is apparently also the reason why Apocalypse himself is no longer immortal, but does the rejuvenation chamber thing.
The X-Ternals first showed up in the pages of Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza's X-Force, where Cannonball is seemingly mortally wounded.
Instead, we learn that Cannonabll is actually an X-Ternal, a rare type of mutant who is virtually immortal. Apocalypse was an X-Ternal, as was Selene and a few other characters, such as Crule and Gideon.
A few years later, the X-Ternals (who has not been brought up much in Nicieza's time on the book after Liefeld left the title) were quickly brought back and summarily dismissed.
Selene ended up killing all of them (except Apocalypse, of course) and then stated that Cannonball was not, in fact, an X-Ternal, after all.
It seemed clear as though Marvel was specifically eliminating these characters, and Kelvin's theory is that the Highlander folks were pressuring Marvel about the characters, as the whole "special group of immortals" is basically Highlander's entire schtick.
I asked former X-Editor, Mark Powers, about it, and he said that no, that wasn't the case, and it was a decision made by the creative team, not editorial, to close a storyline that was a major part of Liefeld's run on the title, to give the book a fresh start.
Thanks for the question, Kelvin, and thanks for the answer, Mark!