Aug 12, 2019

Five Things to Love in Earth X

We've got a guest column this week! JD Shofner has been a Cube friend for a while, and he particularly loves a specific comic that is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, so here is...


Five Things I Loved in Earth X
by JD Shofner


Twenty years ago the first series of a three volume epic called Earth X began. Published by Marvel, each series ran for fourteen issues plus four spotlight issues Cap, Four, Spidey, and Thor. The series began in 1999 and ended in 2003. It was written by Jim Krueger with art by Jean Paul Leon and Doug Braithwaite with character designs and covers by Alex Ross. The tale took place about twenty or so years in to the future (Hey! That’s right now!) and is in a lot of ways Marvel’s Kingdom Come. They share a similar time jump and the same near-dystopian landscape, there’s Alex Ross’ involvement and the use of the most iconic versions of most characters (at the base level, as every character has gone through major changes by the time they are introduced in Earth X).

Earth X, and it’s other volumes Universe X and Paradise X (both with art by Doug Braithwaite), spans from the smallest places (Man-Thing burns the microverse!) to the largest battlefields (every dead hero and villain ever vs the entire Kree race vs the forces of Death herself!). Earth X shines in Krueger’s character studies where he attempts to add slight twists in the familiar super-origins we all know by heart. He weaves a story that has its origins all the way back to the very beginnings of the Marvel Universe. Jack Kirby’s ideas and explorations about alien influences on a young mankind and the world is fully mined in Earth X by Krueger, Leon, Ross, and Braithwaite. It’s the central plot that fingers its way in and through Earth X and the entire Marvel Universe.

Sadly, the series sputtered critically and it wraps up rather quickly at the end. It’s not particularly beloved or on anyone’s top ten list but it has remained in a prominent place on my shelf regardless. I will stop there to keep spoilers at a manageable level. I’m hoping this might pique your interest in one of my personal favorites. So, as the title up there stated, here are my top five moments of Earth X.

Happy 20th, Earth X! (In no particular order... and SPOILERS follow.)

Honorable Mention: Spider-Man



Spider-Man is not a big focus of Earth X. He isn’t on one of the different team ups we follow throughout the series (though there are a couple of Spider-persons who get a bit of spotlight). He has a stand alone that is not of great bearing in the larger narrative. His story here is more personal. We first meet him as an over weight and retired Peter Parker in Earth X. He looks more like his Uncle Ben than the Peter we know. In Universe X Peter is now back in fighting shape and working for the NYPD along side Luke Cage. In the Spider-Man one shot, Peter has become trapped in a world of his own making (a more-than-a-nod to Moore and Gibbons’ Superman story For the Man Who Has Everything) and he is visited there by his daughter Venom(!!) and they work through their relationship and Peter’s long standing guilt over the death of Gwen Stacy and his failures as a husband to MJ. The art changes as you go back and forth between our world and Peter’s creation. While inside Peter’s fantasy the art is provided by legendary spider-man artist John Romita Sr. I assume this is not a Spider-Man that many people are big fans of. I don’t know, but the emotional and creative way Krueger weaves through the minds and emotions of this particular Spider-family, and having John Romita Sr. provide that classic Spider-man style, deserves to be on my list of moments even if I had to cheat a bit to get it on there.

#5 THE ABSORBING MAN



I’m cheating a bit again. This is a subplot that spans almost the entire series and not just one moment. I have always loved the character of Creel ever since I first read Secret Wars as a kid. I have no idea why. And in Earth X a lot of other people love him, too. An entire cult in fact. We learn that years ago Creel, after absorbing the artificial intelligence of Ultron, had killed nearly all the Avengers. He was stopped by the Vision when he was tricked in to becoming stone and then shattered. The Vision hid the “Pieces of Creel” among some lower-tier heroes like Johnny Blaze and Sunfire. However, those pieces were reunited. But Creel decides to save the world instead of taking revenge on it. Why? To save his love Titania, of course! The fact that every one else is saved, too, is just a bonus, I guess.

#4 THANOS HAS SOME ISSUES, AM I RIGHT?




Mar-vell faces off with Thanos one more time and reveals Thanos’ “secret origin”. Turns out Thanos’ mother was a Skrull! She was forced to hide her true self and live a lie only her son knew. For that reason Thanos grew up hating his family, and himself, which is why he’s so edgy all the time. This is also why Thanos loves Death more than anything. When he looks at Death he sees his mother. Yikes.

#3 ODIN IS A JERK



The Asgardians aren’t gods! They’re aliens! But also gods. But really they’re aliens! Odin was a keeper of the old tales in his village when he was visited by some aliens whose shape and form was determined by what others believed them to be. Odin used these aliens to create Asgard, and separated it from the earth for selfish reasons. There is a moment in the Thor standalone where the book's art style changes completely for a moment when Odin tries to trick his “children” as he manipulates their alien physiology and the world around them. I remember being taken aback by it when I first read it. Loki has a very prominent role in Earth X and his cry of “Why did you make ME evil?!” is my all-time favorite Loki moment.

#2 NAMOR KILLS THE HUMAN TORCH



In an overpopulated future the oceans are being over fished. Namor gives the surface world an ultimatum and teaming with Dr. Doom, attacks the United Nations. During a fight against the Fantastic Four, the Submariner murders Johnny Storm which leads to an explosion that takes the lives of Sue Richards and Victor Von Doom. I make that one of my top five because it leads to-

#1 SUSAN RICHARDS’ RESURRECTION



In Earth X, when heroes and villains die, they go to the “realm of the dead”. The twist is that the dead think they are alive, and believe that the living are the dead ones. The dead Sue Richards is confronted by the dead Dr. Doom. He helps Sue to learn that she is in fact dead and that realization, with the help of the Soul Gem, helps her escape back to the land of the living to be reunited with her long grieving husband. If you’re a softy like me bring the tissues.

You can get Earth X on Amazon:

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