By Matt Powell
For the Marvel Universe, the children really might be the future.
Factoring in the mutant population decimation, the Civil War, the death of Captain America, and now the Secret Invasion of Skrulls on Earth, it seems the current era of the Marvel Universe as we know it might be drawing to a premature close.
Marvel's old guard has done its best to ensure the sun would rise over a free world with each battle won, however, with bigger and more dangerous threats lurking around every corner it would be unwise to believe these giants will walk among us forever. Just as champions like the Avengers and X-Men have chosen to fight the good fight in the name of heroes who have inspired them, a new generation stands at the edge of greatness.
Over five weeks, Marvel.com will take an in-depth look at the forerunners of this next wave of heroes to determine what the future holds for them and for the Marvel Universe. Today, we conclude with the next generation of X-Men, the New X-Men. But with the X-Men disbanded following "Messiah CompleX," what does that mean for the future of their protégés? Read on…
WHO THEY ARE:
As perhaps the last generation of mutants on Earth, the New X-Men were until recently the students of the Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters, learning to control their innate mutant abilities in service of both mutant and humankind.
Standing as the future ambassadors of mutantkind representing peaceful coexistence between humans and mutants, the New X-Men hoped to carry on the legacy of the X-Men built on the foundation of Charles Xavier's dream.
WHY THEY COULD BE THE FUTURE:
Since the days of the original X-Men team of Cyclops, Beast, Marvel Girl, Iceman, and Angel, the Xavier Institute has always looked to the future. Beginning as early as the original New Mutants to X-Force and up to Generation X, students at Xavier's have risen from rookie trainees in desperate need of stability to full-fledged X-Men capable of leading teams to resolve dire situations no matter where they arise. The New X-Men were part of that promotion with the goal of giving each student the tools necessary to stand on their own and become an X-Man if they so chose.
"The kids at the Xavier Institute [trained] day in and day out in the use of their powers, team building exercises, strategy, and they had the Danger Room until recently," explains NEW X-MEN co-writer Christopher Yost about young students' daily regimen until recently. "I'm not seeing that kind of discipline in [the] Runaways or
Young Avengers. The Initiative [recruits] might hold up, with their Marine-style boot camp and all. But I'd rather be trained by Cyclops and Wolverine than Yellowjacket and Justice."
With backgrounds as diverse are their mutant powers, each New X-Man offers not only a unique ability, but a unique perspective that can prove indispensable in finding quick solutions to dangerous situations. Battles with the future mutant-hunting sentinel, Nimrod, the gospel of hate spewing Reverend Stryker, and demonic Belasco, all of whom have proven full-fledged threats to the actual X-Men, rank among the kids' heartiest achievements.
"The New X-Men have been focused on protecting their own, and simply surviving," notes Yost. "They're not going out at night hunting down villains like the other teams. Yet. But each and every one of these kids is a hero, and they take a bullet for anyone in need."
X-23, the female clone of Wolverine has gone on missions with the X-Men and appears to have a lock on any available member slots.
In addition to the X-Force-bound X-23, Yost also touts two other students on the young team who could potentially earn a seat at the X-table:
"Hellion and Surge are probably the two most powerful members, and they've got the attitude to hang with the adults," argues the writer. In addition to Hellion's super-powerful telekinesis and Surge's electrical energy distribution and speed, both teens boast solid leadership skills and will be forces to be reckoned with come adulthood.
GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS TO DATE:
The crash course for the team has included many bumps along the way. The events in HOUSE OF M rapidly dwindled the mutant population and garnered the further attention of the genocidal Reverend Stryker. Persevering through massive assassinations of their fellow students and friends by Stryker, the New X-Men rose to the top as the fittest of their species.
Next, the collective defeat of the omni-powerful sentinel, Nimrod—sans X-Men—strengthened the young warriors for harder times ahead. After a victorious showdown with the demon lord, Belasco, in another dimension, the New X-Men continued to fight for survival virtually every second in the pages of "Messiah CompleX."
While their world and numbers continue dissolve around them, these kids' stockpile of courage in the face of adversity remains high.
BIGGEST LESSONS TO BE LEARNED:
The trouble areas for the New X-Men don't come solely from their lack of experience in combat, but rather the issues they face as young adults.
"They wear their hearts on their sleeves," reveals Yost. "They make irrational, bad decisions, and after [the global mutant de-powering event], 'Decimation', they've been essentially living in wartime. But they'll get there. They're getting the crash course."
BEST TRAITS TO HOLD ON TO:
Hope remains the greatest ideal the New X-Men can retain in their fight for survival. With the pressures and grim days of "Messiah CompleX" now behind them, the kids must confront the idea that they could quite possibly be the literal end for their species. For that reason alone failure not only can't be considered an option, it's not even a concept that exists in their world.
Arguably the strongest team in line to graduate to the roles of their adult counterparts, the New X-Men's fight goes beyond reasons of injustice or freedom, it's for sheer survival. Self-preservation serves the strongest instinct in any living being, and provides more than enough to reason for these teens to keep on fighting.
We hope you have enjoyed this look at the teen teams of the Marvel Universe. The next step for the former New X-Men comes April 2, when YOUNG X-MEN, by writer Marc Guggenheim and artist Yanick Paquette, premieres. While you're waiting, read all about the New X-Men at Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.