Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

Okay SO- Never let it be said that when I commit to a wildly extravagant endeavor- such as annotating Jim Krueger’s Earth X trilogy- that I don’t wholly go after my intended goal (albeit, sometimes with short delays). Without further ado- the notes for Issue # 1 of Earth X. Page 1- Most issues start with this printed dialogue bit. Usually, it’s between Uatu and Machine Man, and serves as a nice prologue for the upcoming issue, although later the dialogue is picked up by varying cast members. Page 2-3- The little bit of dialogue on the bottom of the far left panel MIGHT be the only continuity error in the entire damn trilogy (and given the scope of this story, that’s frickin’ impressive). As X-51 ‘watches’ the American nation struggle and fracture through Uatu’s equipment, he responds with “I…don’t believe it. How could…it’s only twenty years I’ve been away. How could…?” This doesn’t quite follow. Has X-51 been on the moon for twenty years, learning to use Uatu’s equipment (between issue 0 and 1)? Or had he withdrawn from humanity for twenty years before Uatu contacted him? Weird. Maybe just a bit from an early draft they meant to edit out or something. X-51 emphasizes Uatu’s choice of words here, in regards to Captain America: “New race?” Again, the discussion turns towards Hitler and an attempt to genetically ‘enhance’ humanity. Uatu’s tone is unsettling, condescending- the unspoken subtext here is: “Isn’t Cap the creation of an attempt to genetically bolster humanity? Is it that different than what Hitler was doing?” Creepy. Uatu talks about humanity like spoiled adolescents who can’t make up their mind about what they really want, framing Cap’s background in a nihilistic light. Shots of the Red Skull and Bucky here shouldn’t be surprising. I love the shot of Steve Rogers drinking the formula in the middle panel though- why? Because he’s scrawny. People forget- before Rogers’ took the formula, he tried to enlist in the military and didn’t even pass basic training. Cap was a patriot though- he was willing to do anything to help his country, even volunteer for a risky experiment. But part of what makes Cap- well, Cap- is that he knew what it meant to struggle, to be the underdog, long before he ever became a war hero. Page 4-5- More recaps of Steve’s life. Bucky’s death in the Skull’s trap, Namor freeing him from the ice, shots of the original Avengers’ team he joined. The two right panels are interesting. That’s the ‘cosmic cube’ the Skull is holding, and Sam Wilson (A.K.A. the Falcon) is running into battle at Cap’s side. It’s a classic story, one in which the Skull almost obtained omnipotence. After Cap beat the Skull, he left the cube with Wakanda’s ruler T’Challa (The Black Panther). Cap asked T’Challa to promise- no matter how hard he begged- never to let Cap have the cube back. The temptation to use it was too great- Cap didn’t think anyone should have that kind of power. The dialogue on the far right panel refers to another famous Cap story, where he was briefly nominated for president. Cap stepped down though, stating that he couldn’t represent a ‘generation’ of American citizens- just American ideals. This is actually one of my favorite bits about Cap too. It isn’t that Captain America runs around telling the world that America is perfect. It’s that he represents what America COULD be on its best day. Captain America, believe it or not, struggles with flaws he sees in the government and the country- just like everybody else. Page 6- Some of the royal court may appear a little more mutated than last we saw them, but that’s the Inhumans- Black Bolt (as Uatu says ‘Ah, so the Silent King has returned at last), Medusa, Karnak (his head was always big, but…), Triton (even more black-lagoon-creature-ish), and Gorgon (he’s a frickin’ minotaur! Kind of works for him, I think). We don’t know what the Inhumans are after, although Medusa mentions a plausible cover story- a wedding. The wedding is for Luna. Luna is the HUMAN daughter of Medusa’s sister, Crystal, and the mutant, Quicksilver (Magneto’s son). While being human is actually something of a stigma to most Inhumans, the royal family have always made it clear that Luna is one of them. (Interesting sidenote- some hardcore Magneto-zealots, like Exodus and the Acolytes- weren’t quite so accommodating. Seen as a sort of ‘blight’ on Magneto’s bloodline, some mutant factions have actually attempted to kill Luna, even when she was just an infant. Sick.) WHO Luna is getting married to is another mystery however. Medusa’s dialogue is mysterious: “…we have returned for the royal wedding of Luna and my…OUR son.” Medusa and Black Bolt are actually cousins, albeit distant ones. Luna appears to be slated to marry a family relation herself. NOW, before you get all up in arms about how sick that is, remember- lots of royal bloodlines in feudal Europe had the same kind of ‘just barely not inbreeding’ thing going on. And hell- they ARE called the ‘Inhumans’, right? Page 7- Attilan is the name of the Inhuman City-State that has been kept secret from the human race for thousands of years. Originally, Attilan was founded in the Himilayas- but at one point, I know Reed Richards’ helped the Inhumans move their home to the Blue Area of the moon. Apparently, they moved it back, at some point. The Inhumans arrive to find it covered with vegetation, apparently deserted. Page 8- I love how Luna looks like her mother. Even her outfit looks like something Crystal would wear, although the color scheme is different. Medusa continues to be cryptic: “My son…he would be considered a hero here. We must go to where the heroes are.” The bottom right hand panel breaks my heart. An actual mutated Inhuman, Lockjaw was a big dog that teleported the royal court around. That’s his headpiece that Medusa pulls out and uses to teleport to New York. Lockjaw’s fate is unspoken here- although in all likelihood, this bit indicates that he’s no longer alive. Page 10-11- The big spread here features Cap and a Falcon-lookalike-sidekick named ‘Redwing’ fighting a bunch of zombified people that have strange squid things attached to them. The squid things are actually alien parasites, now known as ‘Hydra’. In the past, Hydra was a fictional terrorist organization which had a habit of installing zealot-like loyalty in their operatives. No explanation for this new Hydra is given really, although in all likelihood it’s some sort of alien parasite. In some ways, it’s just a tangible representation of what the terrorist organization was known for- it spreads its tentacles into tons of people and converts them to its cause. You take one out, another grows to take its place. Page 12- Cap’s sidekick and the ‘Hydra Queen’ recognize each other: Redwing: “Oh hell. It’s you.” Queen: “I’ve missed you, Wyatt. I’ve missed your touch. We were so close, once. We could be together always. Please stop fighting.” Redwing: “You may speak with her voice…but you are not Jennifer. Do you HEAR me, you crazy Hydra queen?!?! YOU ARENT HER!” The green woman with the massive Hydra attached to her- the ‘Hydra Queen’- is Jennifer Walters, A.K.A. She-Hulk. Cap’s sidekick is actually Wyatt Wingfoot, Johnny Storm’s college roommate and one of Jennifer’s love interests. I like how Wyatt’s costume is kind of like the Falcon’s, but with a slightly Native American touch. Page 13- Sam, the original Falcon, is part of the Hydra too. Wyatt’s comment that you have to WANT to be taken over by the Hydra is demoralizing- it means Sam and Jennifer just gave up one day. And Cap gets dangerously close himself here to doing the same. Page 14- The stranger in the alley with the red sunglasses look familiar? Page 15- Yup. Scott Summers, with the good old optic blasts. I love his thought here, when the guy he saves suddenly breathes fire: “…was that how you felt, Charles, when I first looked you in the eye?” Page 16- Wow, Peter Parker has seen better days, huh? That’s Luke Cage in the NYPD uniform. Kind of interesting, since Luke was so often WRONGLY accused of breaking the law. He’s actually the perfect guy to uphold it. Actually, this scene is a lot like Parker’s origin story. Remember- a cop comes up and says: “Hey, you should have stopped that burglar!” and Parker responds: “Not my problem.” Kind of the same here right? Cage: “Thing is, I could use someone like you on the force. Someone who knows how to use his powers. Someone who believes in…” Parker: “Sorry, Mister. Not interested.” The bottom right hand corner has a Venom-and-Carnage-symbiote looking female figure. Mysterious. Page 19- The Falcon’s line here always strikes me as eerie, as he and all the other Hydra-zombies get wiped out by ‘Stark’s purge’. Sam: “The War ENDS, Steve. It really ends.” Page 20-21- The ‘Iron Avengers’ are Tony Stark’s robotic versions of the ‘classic’ Avengers lineup- Giantman, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and the Wasp. The final member, the Vision, is the actual Vision from the team that the Iron Avengers’ resemble. Wyatt alludes to ‘president Osborn’. Norman Osborn was a shrewd business man…and the Green Goblin, a lunatic who made Peter Parker’s life hell. America isn’t what it use to be. Page 23- Cap’s griping about the Iron Avengers, stating ‘Death should MEAN something’, should become clear by the last panel. Wyatt looks at the emblem he pulled off a Hydra-captive and comments that it looks like the Punisher’s insignia. Cap states ‘It’s a skull. It’s a red skull.’ Appendix Page 2- Some notes here on ‘President Osborn’s’ rise to power and the replacement of Democracy with industry. As Uatu points out, Norman has become the ‘Goblin King’. I love that the flag is Red, White, Blue, and Green. Appendix Page 3-4- Other interesting character notes, all related to Cap’s story in one way or another. The idea that Nick Fury doesn’t exist, but that tons of Life Model Decoys are running around believe they ARE Fury, might be something of an inside joke. They used the whole ‘Fury dead, just kidding that was a LMD’ so many times that it’s become an expected storyline by now. Sharon Carter, long time love interest of Cap, doesn’t make a big appearance in this series. She’s ‘part of the Hydra’ X-51 explains.