Earth X

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"All these years I thought it was power that brought responsibility. It's not. I was wrong. It's responsibility that brings power. It's knowing what needs to be done that brings strength. And courage. That's my daughter...And I won't let her remain a mindless slave of the Skull."


Flash Forward the Marvel Universe to about thirty years in the future. Aaron Stack, the Machine Man, is awakened by a monolith. The black slab rips away his synthetic skin and human appearance and transports him to a lost city on the moon. There he is greeted by Uatu, The Watcher, who has been blinded. There, Aaron is told that he is to be the new Watcher, and to release all aspirations to be human.

Meanwhile on Earth, civilization has crumbled, and prominent heroes as well as villains across the world have risen to power to save their nations. America is under the control of Norman Osborn, the Goblin King. Across the world, people are enslaved to the parasitic Hydra. Tony Stark has armored himself in a sanitary skyscraper. Half of the Fantastic Four are dead. Marching up to the streets of New York is the mysterious Skull, who has built an army by controlling all he meets.

Oh, and everyone (and we mean literally EVERYONE on Earth) has super-powers. Nobody knows why.

And thus begins a journey from the dawn of the universe to its twilight, exploring the themes of heroism, empowerment, life, death, afterlife, and the cosmos.

Written by Jim Krueger and drawn by John Paul Leon, with ideas from Alex Ross' sketchpad. It has two sequels, Universe X and Paradise X.

Tropes used in Earth X include:
  • Abusive Precursors: The Celestials. And how.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: The Monster Generation is made up of people who mutated so hideously that they became outcasts even among the entirely mutant population of Earth.
  • Alternate Continuity: Word of God from Marvel is that nothing from this series is canon to the mainstream Marvel Universe. Except Norman Osborn ruling America.
    • One minor detail that did get incorporated into the main Verse is that the 2001 monolith from Machine Man's origin story was a Celestial gizmo. In the last issue of his 1990's series, the Celestials take him away into space using a monolith.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: At the beginning of chapter 12, the Celestials tower over the skyline of New York City. At the end of chapter 12, Galactus towers over the Celestials, looking big enough to literally munch the Earth in one bite. When he actually fights them, he's reverted to a smaller form, but he still turns out to outpower them.
  • And I Must Scream: What became of The Eternals.
  • Assimilation Plot: Before the start of the comic, much of the Inhuman population began leaving the Hidden City and Black Bolt along with Inhuman Royal family planned on leaving for space. Black Bolt knowing many of them would be weakened by the pollutants outside of the Inhuman home and targeted as being mutants or being too different, decides to release a weapon, of his brother Maximus design, that would release Terrigen Mists all over the world mutating the entire population of the world so that no one would be able to tell who was originally human, Inhuman, a regular mutant or not.
  • Batman Gambit: Magneto calls his Brotherhood 'Evil', which places the X-Men as being the judges of Mutanity, at the same time portraying Xavier as a bigot, thus winning converts by the score around the world.
  • Bald of Awesome: Steve has no hair.
  • Beware the Superman: Justified and explained. Also, Beware The General Populace.
  • Bittersweet Ending
  • Body Horror: The Monster Generation, which includes a woman with a spider for a head and a man whose bones grew too fast for his muscles to keep up with.
  • A Boy and His X: Bruce Banner and his diaper-wearing, ape-like Hulk.
  • Brought to You by The Letter "S": Steve now sports scars on his forehead in the shape of an 'A'. The Skull calls him Alice.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Tony Stark goes into battle against the Celestials. They blast his armor into scrap (actually shooting off an arm). But he only needed to slow them up....
  • Crisis Crossover: Everybody. Absolutely everybody.
  • Death Seeker: Daredevil.
  • The Dog Bites Back: When Toad and Magneto involuntarily exchange powers, the former becomes one of the mightiest mutants on Earth, outsts the latter from control of Sentinel City and makes him his personal court jester, abusing him every chance he had.
  • Earthshattering Kaboom: What happens when the growing Celestial hatches.
  • Elseworld
  • Enfant Terrible: The Skull.
  • Epic Hail: Black Bolt calls for help and dies in his Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • Face Heel Turn: Clea. Also Uatu (not so much this as a Face Heel Reveal; he's always been like that).
  • Fridge Logic: If Ant-Man and Cassie Lang lived in Stark's tower, then what happened to them when it blew up?
  • From a Single Cell: The second Daredevil can do this.
  • Gender Bender: Thor is a woman. That is all.
  • A God Am I: Ubiquitously deconstructed.

"Why did they hide? Wouldn't they be treated as gods?" "Yes. But mankind always turns on its gods. Isn't that right, Uatu?"
"And I wondered...could a goddess lose her faith? And what does a goddess put her faith in?"
"The Celestials made us gods, so who do we pray to now?"
"(Hank) Pym's first creation as a god was to make a monster."

  • Godiva Hair: Medusa, several times. (Later averted for no apparent reason, all things considered. Scenery Censor with shadows replaces it.)
  • Heel Face Turn: Loki.
  • Heroic Mime: Black Bolt.
  • Homage: Inspired by Aaron/Machine Man's origins in the 2001 comic book, and the theme of human evolution, there are several homages to 2001: A Space Odyssey, most notably when Aaron wakes up to find a monolith at the foot of his bed.
  • Humongous Mecha: Tony Stark's tower is a gigantic robot made from the remains of the Red Ronin, whose guns fire IRON MEN SUITS.
  • Identical Stranger: Spiders Man happened to mutate in such a way as to very closely resemble Spider-Man when he was, you know, still Spider-Man.
  • Incendiary Exponent: + Half of Namor = Even MORE Badass.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Alicia Masters, and with good reason.
  • Informed Ability: In the sketchbook special, Ben Grimm is said to be a voice of wisdom in a world still in shock. It doesn't show.
  • Inherent in the System: All of Mankind's ills are because of the Celestials.
  • Interactive Narrator: Uatu and Aaron Stack.
  • Legacy Character: The Skull, Ahura Boltagon/Black Bolt II, The Iron Avengers...Really, the place is crawling with them.
  • Lens Flare Censor: Mar-Vell, via the big star on his chest, the bottom ray of which covers his unmentionables if they'd be visible.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Nearly every Marvel character as of 2000 is touched upon here, as well as many, many others specially created.
  • Merlin and Nimue: The backstory shows this relationship between Doctor Strange and Clea. Clea got fed up with being Strange's student, decided he was just using her for sex, then betrayed and killed him.
  • Meta Origin: It's all the Celestials' fault. Everything in the universe.
  • Mythology Gag: Far too many to mention.
    • But it should be stated that pretty much every character's altered appearance is meant to be a Mythology Gag of some sort. For instance, the fact that half of Namor's body is now on fire is apparently a reference to the original, Golden Age Human Torch. Alex Ross had depicted a fight between Torch and Namor in his Marvels series.
  • Neck Snap
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Reed Richards turned Galactus into a star, which allowed the Celestials to run around and impregnate entire planets.
  • No Matter How Much I Beg: Cap gave the Black Panther the Cosmic Cube, capable of reshaping reality. He's not going to give it back.
  • Old Superhero: Obviously.
  • President Evil: Norman Osborn.
  • People Puppets: The Skull's shtick.
  • Pinocchio Syndrome: Aaron Stack really wants to be more human.
  • Right Makes Might: The above quote.
  • Screw You, Elves: "You know what your problem is, Uatu? Your head's too big."
  • Shout-Out: Lots of them, resulting in a great many ironic roles.
  • Shrouded in Myth: The identity of Daredevil is the subject of this sort of rumor. Some say he's Johnny Blaze, Deadpool, Foggy Nelson the original Daredevil (Don't ask!), or Mr. Immortal, but nobody knows for sure.
  • Starfish Aliens: The new parasitic Hydra.
  • Star-Spangled Spandex: Mar-Vell.
  • The Stoic: Black Bolt, but not out of disdain.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Uatu.
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Captain America (comics) wears a toga made from a flag. Nobody minds.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: It's never really explained just what is uniquely useful about Dogface, Double-Header, or Mermaid's powers, particularly in a mutant-dominated world.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: That's easy. No one's human now.
  • Winged Humanoid: Wyatt Wingfoot/Red Wing, Luna, as well as many other unnamed characters.
  • Writer on Board: A mild case, but you get the feeling that all involved (especially Alex Ross) really don't like Wolverine.
    • Also, Peter Parker's One True Love was Gwen Stacey, and he only married Mary Jane out of guilt. Explored further in the sequel series, which had Peter Parker's "perfect world" depicted as one where he was married to Gwen with a son named Ben, rather than what happened in his real life where he married MJ and had a daughter May (who was this realities Venom). Again, another mild case but you do get the feeling that the creators (again, especially Alex Ross) definitely had their own feelings on who Spider-Man's OTP was.

Universe X contains examples of:

  • Auto Cannibalism: Multiple Man eats a duplicate of himself while lost in the frozen wilderness. This result is him becoming the new Wendigo.
  • Batman Gambit: Mephisto offers the key to Limbo to Cap, knowing full well that Cap will throw it back in his face, sending Belasco back in time to his first appearance in the Savage Land.
  • Chessmaster: Mephisto's been manipulating everything.
  • Color Coded for Your Convenience: The Marvels of the dead who don't know they're deceased have their costume colors rendered negative. Those who do know - and have ascended to Paradise - retain their natural color. Usually, anyway.
  • Counterpart Comparison: Previous Trope Namer, when it was called "Why Does Everyone Think I'm Deadpool"
  • Dead to Begin With: The many dead heroes fight for paradise. They can only be defeated if they believe they're alive.
    • Also, Moon Knight, Marlene Alraune, the Living Mummy, and everyone else brought back by the Reanimator Stone. They just never knew it.
  • Death Seeker: In addition to Daredevil, there's Marc Spector/Moon Knight, the Sons of Set, and by extension, Red Ronin and the Tong of Creel.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "Mar-Vell will be reborn as the perfect child of Him and Her. And the child's name will be Mar-Vell."
    • Also; "He was hidden with the person I would least likely be thought to ally with. I put him in the place people would never think to look. I gave him to the man who killed Susan's brother. I gave him to the man who killed Susan's brother. I gave your son to Namor, king of Atlantis. And hid him far beneath the eyes of man."
      • In a bit of Fridge Brilliance, Reed was still trying to convince himself of what had happened, as he hasn't had the time to mourn them.
  • Face Heel Turn: Multiple Man. Nightcrawler. Wong.
  • Fridge Brilliance: Why is Death following Cap and Mar-Vell around like a lost puppy? Because no one else on Earth is dying.
  • Heel Face Turn: The Absorbing Man. Doctor Doom. Thanos. (A lot of the dead villains are arguable, though; they could very easily be acting out of self-interest. Plus we can see the Red Skull here; at least the Hate-Monger is nowhere to be seen.)
  • Heel Realization: The Gargoyle.
  • Humongous Mecha: The Seven Silver Samurai and the Iron Avenger Monolith, all built by Tony Stark. He certainly has a penchant for them.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun "Welcome, (Isaac) Christians. You can't know how long I have wanted to say that."-Mephisto
  • Interactive Narrator: Now taken over by Kyle Richmond/Nighthawk and the Gargoyle.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Jamie Madrox/Multiple Man with himself.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: A particularly convoluted example--Rom (the Spaceknight, not the Ferengi) is a Marvel character, but he was originally created as a toy--which flopped. But the rights to the character have reverted to the toy creator anyway. Rom appears de-cyborged in Limbo using the chestpiece of his cyborg armor as a shield, and is referred to only as "the greatest of the Spaceknights".
  • Lotus Eater Machine: Spiders-Man traps Peter in a world where he actually saved Gwen's life. For a while, he doesn't want to leave.
  • Loss of Identity: This is what happened to Asgardians before they were Asgardians, and what would happen to Earth.
  • Petting Zoo People: Black Panther, Wakanda's Ani-Men, Dog-Face of the new X-Men, Ka-Zar and Shanna, and many others of the mutated humanity.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Eons ago on the moon (long story), the primitive Kree slaughtered the peace-loving, star-crossing Skrulls.
  • Shout-Out: "Why does Death come on wings? Why not as a skeleton? Or in the form of a teenage girl?"
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham: An interesting attempt to justify one of the bigger examples of this in the Marvel Universe; one character suggests that the reason the X-Men and the other superheroes kept on butting heads rather than working together more often is that the major dark forces of the world - strongly implied to include Mephisto, and other such demonic entities - manipulated events to play up anti-mutant prejudices so as to keep them apart.
  • Temporal Paradox: Apparently, this is how alternate universes are made.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball
  • Took a Level In Badass: The Absorbing Man. In fact, he destroyed a third of the world's population. (The Avengers keep it quiet.)
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Not really, but the new Inhumanity works very hard to keep their new power, and are prepared to kill anyone who would take that away.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Subverted, as he's hardly in the story at all.
  • You Shall Not Pass: Subverted. The Black Knight tells this to the Tong of Creel as they assault Windsor Castle, but enough of them manage to get by King Britain's army to achieve their objective.

Paradise X contains examples of: