The events of X-Men Forever took one world’s version of the X-Men into a radically different direction in a reimagining of their most popular era.
After spending sixteen years writing the X-Men, Chris Claremont left the team in 1991 following the relaunch of X-Men. However, he eventually returned to reveal what would have happened to the Marvel Universe if he had remained and been given the freedom to radically change the world and even kill of some seriously vital figures. What are some of the most unexpectedly unique elements of the reality introduced in Chris Claremont’s X-Men Forever?
THE MUTANT BURN-OUT
One of the most distinct elements of the X-Men Forever timeline — aka Earth-161 — was the Mutant Burn-Out. Introduced in X-Men Forever #5 by Claremont and Tom Grummett, the Mutant Burn-Out is a condition that endangers the entire mutant race. In this reality, it’s revealed that the X-Gene within has a seriously negative effect on mutants, with their powers eventually draining them of all life energy and killing them. Accelerating the effect is the specific mutation of any given person — with healing factors like the ones Wolverine and Sabretooth possess allowing them to survive longer than most mutants. However, their powers weakened over the years of use, with Sabretooth eventually struck permanently blind and unable to heal.
Discovering the truth about this weakness within mutants, Charles Xavier and Moira MacTaggert attempted to keep it a secret. But the X-Men eventually learned the truth about the Burn-Out, as well as the anti-mutant extremists known as the Consortium. Their efforts became focused on amplifying the effects of the Burn-Out, with only a handful of mutants proving immune to this effect (including Mystique and by extension her son, Nightcrawler). Beast went hard at work to solve this crisis, but his sacrifices over the course of X-Men Forever left the threat unresolved when the series ended.
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Like in the core-Marvel Universe, Storm was briefly kidnapped by the villainous Nanny and de-aged back into adolescence. However, the Storm of Earth-161 didn’t make it back to the X-Men. Instead, a clone of the Omega-Level Mutant was created and inserted with the team. Granted copies of Storm’s powers as well as those of the Genosha mutant Wipeout — giving her the ability to negate and absorb other mutant power — this Perfect Storm was ultimately corrupted during a confrontation with the Shadow King. Retaining the darker elements of the Shadow King, she turned against the X-Men — manipulating the anti-mutant extremist group called Consortium into attacking the X-Men. Exposed by Xavier, Perfect Storm escaped the ensuing chaos — albeit with a large scar left on her face by a vengeful Shadowcat.
Perfect Storm became one of the primary villains of X-Men Forever, with a kill count that quickly includes the likes of Wolverine and Killmonger — taking control of Wakanda after tricking Killmonger into killing Black Panther. She eventually turned her full attention towards to the nation of Genosha, leading to a massive conflict between the X-Men and the Perfect Storm. Her chief enemy proved to be the teenaged Ororo Munroe, who eventually rejoined the X-Men and was given an adult body back by the efforts of Doctor Strange. With her help, the X-Men were able to defeat Perfect Storm and capture her — with the restored true Storm taking control of Wakanda.
THE END (AND BEGINNING) OF MAJOR HEROES
Across the course of X-Men Forever, the unique history of this universe meant that multiple heroes ended up dying and being transformed over the course of the series. The first was perhaps the most surprising, with Wolverine growing suspicious of Storm and following after her — only for Perfect Storm to kill him with a well-placed lightning bolt off-panel at the conclusion of X-Men Forever #1. Beast plays a major part in the series, even finding love with Jean Grey. But he ends up involved with the Consortium double-agent Iron Man, with the pair presenting the plans of the anti-mutant organization at the cost of their lives. Perfect Storm’s later plans to control Geonosha also resulted in her killing Havok, the leader of X-Factor.
However, the X-Men also go through some major changes. Shadowcat not only ends up with one of Wolverine’s claws after his death, she also absorbs part of his personality — giving her a more violent edge. Sabretooth — in this reality confirmed to be Wolverine’s father — is blinded by Storm and due to the Mutant Burn-Out can’t regrow them. Taking his son’s place on the X-Men, he becomes an unlikely hero. Meanwhile, Rogue ends up absorbing all of Nightcrawler’s powers and his immunity to the Mutant Burn-Out — and in the process takes on his furry blue visage while Nightcrawler is rendered human-looking but incapable of controlling Rogue’s powers.
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