In 2012, Brian Michael Bendis became the head writer for Marvel Comics’ X-Men franchise with the release of All-New X-Men #1. The series, originally illustrated by Stuart Immonen, starred the original X-Men — Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Angel and Beast — plucked from the past and brought to the present day by Henry McCoy. If everything had gone according to plan, the young mutants would have influenced the then-reckless Scott Summers from continuing down his misguided path.
Well, Beast’s finely-laid plan didn’t go exactly as expected, and the teenaged X-Men team became temporal anomalies, unable to travel back to their proper place in time. The cause of this remains a mystery, but X-Men Blue‘s “Cross Time Capers” story arc, by Bunn and artists Thony Silas, R. B. Silva, looks to crack the case while raising new questions. Are the mutant time travelers X-Men heading back to their original timeline?
The original X-Men made the surprising decision to work under the tutelage of their greatest foe, Magneto, when X-Men Blue launched under Cullen Bunn and Jorge Molina. The secret alliance was brought out into the open during the “Mojo Worldwide” crossover with sister title X-Men Gold, where the major concerns boiled down to Magneto’s true intentions for working with the teens. In another surprising move, it turned out that Magneto was working behind-the-scenes to send the original X-Men back to their natural timeline.
This scheme materialized after strange things began to people and past events. For example, a news broadcast marking the anniversary of the X-Men’s confrontation with the Master of Magnetism and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in 1964’s X-Men #4 concludes with the mention that Magneto died during the battle. Of course, this isn’t what really happened, as Iceman points out. Another anomaly sees Magneto, Polaris and Danger all blink out of existence, but not before Jean reads Magneto’s mind to discover he’s been communicating with Professor X to find a way to send her team back to the past.
Sending the original X-Men home sounds good in theory, but it’s not like they haven’t attempted to do that very thing themselves. In fact, the second volume of All-New X-Men transported the young heroes back to their reality, only to find that somehow, they never left. As aa result, they came to the conclusion that the prime Marvel Universe wasn’t their own (time travel can get a wee bit confusing). In either case, it appears their presence here has begun the time stream unraveling, prompting the X-Men to use Magneto’s time machine to set things right.
Before they head home, however, the X-Men have to make a few pit stops.
After a few stops through key moments in X-Men history (Scott and Jean’s wedding day, and a Phoenix-powered Cyclops murdering Charles Xavier), the X-Men Blue lineup jump to the future for a meet-and-greet with the X-Men of 2099. Once the two teams exchange pleasantries, Alchemax soldiers go on the attack. During the battle, Jimmy Hudson and Angel come across a monument of the original five X-Men.
Apparently, the X-Men mounted a hostile takeover of the evil company, keeping a focus on the evil parts and instituting a class system of haves and have-nots. There is also a new strain of the Legacy Virus that targets anyone who impedes the X-regime’s progress.
Suddenly, a future Sentinel retrofitted with the original X-Men’s faces takes aim at the assembled mutants. Cerebra is able to fix Beast’s time travel tech, while also passing to him stealth cyber gear for their journey to the next pre-programmed destination: The timeline of Generation X.
It’s here where another piece of the puzzle is revealed, when Scott and Jean meet with Xavier School headmasters, Sean Cassidy and Emma Frost. As they’re talking, the mansion begins to change in front of their eyes. Initially thought to be another time anomaly, it’s really the ruins of the X-Resistance’s last stand against none other than a Jean Grey Madeline Pryor; Phoenix Force Cyclops; Dark Beast; Angel wielding the power of the Black Vortex; and Iceman, in his human form but controlling his ice powers.
Every horrific act the original X-Men committed, from the Alchemax takeover to slaughtering their fellow X-Men in the X-Resistance, can be attributed to their killing of Magneto. Once they get their time machine working properly, the X-Men venture back to this key moment while the altercation is underway.
But what will happen once the time-traveling X-Men interfere with their counterparts? All the original five X-Men know is, they need to go back home and allow the timeline to heal itself. However, we know their ongoing series will continue past this story arc, so there has to be more to it. Can they fix time while simultaneously getting to stay in the present? We’ll have to wait for the finale of “Cross Time Capers” in X-Men Blue #19 to find out.