Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

The annotations for Earth X #2 are as follows: Page 2-3- A retelling of the Fantastic Four’s origin story. This particular version of the story usually gets phased out in cartoons and movies- namely the idea that the F.F. are involved in the space race against Russia, Reed comes up with a rocket that he’s sure will launch and the four of them sneak onto it against the military’s wishes. I like this story for two reasons. One is that it emphasizes the idea that the F.F. weren’t really as concerned with the growing tension between two world superpowers as they were with science. Reed was invested in the rocket launching because he believed his work would lead to a chance to learn and explore outer space. To Reed and his family, there’s no controlling and censoring scientific progress. The other thing I like about this story is that it emphasizes a somewhat tragic flaw of Reed’s- sometimes he takes risks that he shouldn’t. Sure, he seems calm, rational and in control, but ultimately he gets the four of them into a dangerous situation that he doesn’t fully understand (i.e. cosmic radiation) and changes their lives forever. Reed sometimes bites off more than he can chew because he’s so enthusiastic about understanding the world. But should he be? Do the things Reed builds or find change the world for the better or worse? I mean, just ask Ben Grimm- he actually warns Reed about the radiation but Reed doesn’t listen. And Ben pays the price. It’s an underexplored theme in F.F., I think- yeah, you can make scientific discovery, but should you? Is it too risky? Is it worth it? This is part of what makes Doom such a great villain for Reed, as well, because Doom so clearly is what Reed is scared he might be- completely amoral in his quest for knowledge and, by extension, power. Uatu weighs in on the consequences of Reed’s action on the F.F.’s flight and how it changed Reed: “His search for knowledge was compromised the day Ben Grimm mutated. Morality diminished one who might have risen above his fellow man.” Harsh, but we’re coming to expect it from this Watcher by now. Page 4-5- Some depictions of classic F.F. stories while Uatu waxes poetic about how morality confines the actions of the human race: Namor running off with Sue, Doom, the Inhumans… Uatu mentions, briefly, the concept that morality itself may be a genetic trait- that is, the very thoughts that the human race has about morality might be bred into them physically: “These limitations are found in all men…and all beings derived from them. I believe it may be biological. I am not certain.” Aaron calls Uatu out on his tampering with the F.F. when they first meet Galactus. Uatu’s response is interesting… X-51: “You helped Reed Richards defeat Galactus. You saved the world. I thought such heroism…such involvement in human affairs was forbidden? Uatu: “I did not involve myself in human affairs, X-51.” Uatu’s code of ‘non-interference’ is seeming less and less benevolent these days. Now it’s sounding more like ‘let the pathetic, confused humans do what they will. There’s no helping them.’ The Black Panther and Wakanda are mentioned here, as they made their first appearance in an F.F. comic. Vibranium, the incredibly strange material that’s found in Wakanda, was theorized to be alien in origin by Reed. It plays a big role in the Earth X saga, but we’ll get to that later. Aaron mentions that many of Reed’s discoveries, like access to the Negative Zone and the Microverse, lead to danger. Again, the theme of danger and scientific progress comes up- Uatu points out that Reed’s family is the only thing that kept him truly anchored from reckless abandon. “I believe the only reason Richards is still alive is due to his quests for knowledge being interrupted by the responsibilities of being both a husband and a father.” The fact that Franklin, Reed and Sue’s son, is such a powerful mutant is a variation on this theme. How much does Reed’s work unlock power for the coming generation- or how much does it endanger them, altering their existence? Uatu states that he does not know where Franklin is now. Interesting… Page 6- If you notice, in the top panel, the sign of the street is "Yancy." Ben Grimm’s old stomping grounds as a kid. The couple walking out of the house the Inhumans arrive in front of, the ones with golden skin, might look familiar. The golden woman says: “You were right to elicit Masters’ help, Adam.” This is Adam Warlock (A.K.A. ‘Him’) and his artificial mater ‘Her’. The Masters they are referring to is Alicia Masters, the blind sculptress and long time love interest of Ben Grimm. Other than that, their conversation remains mysterious… Ben with the pipe and sweater freakin’ kills me. Page 7- Alicia’s eyes are glowing now, in keeping with the apparent mutation of Earth’s humanity. Ben and Alicia’s living room is decorated with sculptures of famous superheroes, which Alicia originally became famous for. If you look close, their ash tray has a Dr. Doom head on it. Again, cracks me up. Page 8- Ben and Alicia’s kids -nicknamed The Brothers’ Grimm- are named Buzz and Chuck. I have a feeling this is a reference to astronaut Buzz Aldrin and famous test-pilot Chuck Yeager. When Alicia gets upset, Ben utters the now-famous Marvel line: “Medusa ask’d a question. I gave ‘er an answer. ‘Nuff said.” Page 9- Alicia’s stepfather, Phillip Masters, went by the name Puppet Master. Besides being incredibly controlling and dominating in Alicia’s life, Masters also had a big wad of ‘radioactive clay’ that he picked up during his travels through Wundagore Mountain. Wundagore is often a mysterious site in the Marvel U and the focus of powerful entities, such as the elder God Chthon and the High Evolutionary. Phillip would use the clay to create replicas of others, which he would then use to psionically control their actions, like puppets. Alicia appears to have the clay now, hence the life-like statues of heroes waiting on the dining family and their guests. Actually, Phillip caused the death of Alicia’s real father, a fairly successful business owner that Phillip worked for. Jealous over the man’s success, Phillip went about blowing up Alicia’s dad’s workplace. He not only killed his employer, but blinded Alicia as well. Feeling guilty, Phillip married Alicia’s mother and adopted the girl, although like his supervillain name suggests, he was an incredibly invasive and suffocating figure in her life. Luna mentions that she feels sick, suddenly, during the meal. No apparent explanation. Page 10-11- Ben can’t answer Karnak’s question about how humanity mutated, but he can answer what happened to the F.F. Doom and Namor sometimes formed strange alliances with each other, so their actions here are not entirely out of character. With a mutual distaste for Richards and both rulers of their own country, you could see how Namor might overlook some of Doom’s less virtuous qualities. Like the ocean, Namor’s loyalities and motivations changes constantly, as well. Sometimes he seems reasonable, practical, other times he seems manic, aggressive, and monstrous. It’s a nice kind of ‘tide’ thing they’ve got going with him. Cap tries to reason with Namor, and he almost listens. If there is a single human being Namor has respect for, it’s Rogers. Ben’s line here just cracks me up: “Hey Rusty, how’z it saggin’?” Page 12- Disturbing moment where Namor kills Johnny. I know Ben and Johnny torture each other, but long time F.F. fans know that in their own bizarre way the two actually consider each other best friends, as indicated by Ben’s narration here: “Johnny…that stupid hothead…I loved that kid. Ev’n today, I can’t firget that noise he made.” Page 13- I love this. Not just that Franklin freaks out after witnessing his uncle killed, but that half of Namor’s body literally bursts into flames in response. So, in a sense, Namor becomes a human torch. A sort of fitting punishment. It makes the duality of Namor’s nature stick out too- one half normal, the other half burning forever, even underwater. Page 14- On more than one occasion, they’ve made it clear that Susan is not only the most powerful member of the F.F., but probably the most fearsome when moved to anger. Doom insists that he knows something Reed doesn’t, about the mutation, and states that he has a cure. Reed mentions the "Vibranium overload." But before the conversation goes any further, Susan attacks Doom. And surprisingly? Doom runs. As Ben says: “I think Doom saw somethin’ in her in that moment. Somethin’ he had never seen in her before an’ he ran…” But before Susan’s conviction and Doom’s abilities are put to the test, the embassy explodes, killing them both. Page 15- And now we see Reed, wearing Doom’s armor and working in Doom’s castle. And maybe we have a glimpse of understanding why. As Ben suggests, maybe the armor helps Reed interact with Doom’s equipment easily. But on the other hand: “I don’t think he’z feelin’ much of a hero anymore.” Reed talks to his deceased wife, as he muses over humanity’s change. Again, he mentions vibranium: “The Vibranium was no doubt the catalyst…but what triggered the meltdown?” Page 17- No slouch when it comes to imagination himself, Stark muses about the nature of consciousness to Reed: “Do you ever wonder about our ideas, Reed? How do we think of ways to power an entire world using vibranium, anyway?...Where do these things come from?” Stark also mentions a dream, or a nightmare: “There’s a man and the universe is inside him. Earth is there, inside, too. But it’s covered in silver…” Classic Reed, he isn’t paying attention to this possibly extremely important bit of information, mumbling to himself about work, and then: “Oh, I’m sorry Tony. You said something about sleeping. No I’m not sleeping any better, thanks for asking.” Page 18- Cap and Redwing make their way through a downed S.H.I.E.L.D. hellicarrier. Page 19- I could be wrong, but I think I’ve seen Fury use that flying-convertible once or twice before. Page 23- Among the circus' invaders are a few unrecognizable figures, but familiar faces include: Domino and Sunspot from X-Force, Bishop from X-Men, and Sandman from Spider-man.