It started out as just an exercise. Comic art painter extroardinnaire Alex Ross sketched out some ideas of what some of the greatest Marvel super heroes-Spider-Man, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk-would like in a grim possible future where a terrible experiment has left all ordinary humans with super powers. What would become of the heroes who had been set apart by their strange abilities, which now seemed so commonplace? Thus was born Earth X, one of the strangest and best selling Marvel projects in recent years. Ross’ visionary ideas were fleshed out by some of the industries top talents, taking shape in a year-long epic that excited and thrilled comic fans everywhere, and spawned a second series to debut later this year.
In an outpost on the Moon, the robot known as X-51 must watch the dark events as they unfold on the Earth, relating them to the alien Watcher-charged with the responsibility of recording all events on Earth-who has now been rendered blind. We will encounter a Captain America whose cheerful idealism has been replaced by a tight-lipped life of vengeance against his foe the Red Skull; a Spider-Man who has given in to the excesses of middle age and is now no different than the average man, except in his memories; and Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four, the man responsible for the mutation of all humanity, and who in penance now locks himself in the armor of his defeated arch-nemesis, Dr. Doom.
Dark in mood, yet hopeful in its themes of rebirth and redemption, Earth X is an epic tale told on a global tapestry, with humanity itself at stake.
Anything that starts with an introduction from the great Joss Whedon is bound to be good. Seriously good. I had high hopes, and was not disappointed.
This takes a look at some of Marvel’s most beloved heroes in a future where they are anything but extraordinary. When the rest of humanity develops super powers, our heroes find that they aren’t needed as before, and move on with their lives – get old and out of shape, get depressed, and grow apathetic. And yet these heroes are still the ones that, in the end, fight to save humanity… which leads this to be a story about people who aren’t so much more special than the rest of humanity fighting to save the world anyway. Seeing these characters on even ground with the rest of humanity gave a completely different perspective than what we’ve seen before.
This is a dark story. Darker than I am used to seeing about Marvel’s superheroes (but that may be because I’m not too familiar with the entire Marvel catalogue). It was so intriguing to see how much some of these heroes have fallen, and to see them go to some really dark places – especially Captain America, Iron Man (and yes that’s taking into account his alcoholism et all) and Mr. Fantastic. I really thoroughly enjoyed exploring the darker side of these guys.
There were a lot of characters in this book that I wasn’t actually familiar with, and that certainly made parts of the story harder to follow while I familiarized myself with them – in particular Machine Man and Uatu, who are both very central and are partial narrators to this story. The two of them had an interesting relationship; as Uatu went blind and couldn’t function as a Watcher, he brought Machine Man up to the moon to watch the earth for him. Right from the beginning, Uatu kept focusing on and criticizing Machine Man’s programmed humanity. At one point, Machine Man pretended to wipe all of his humanity from his system, and it was interesting to see how the roles of Uatu and Machine Man almost completely swapped – all of a sudden, Uatu was asking Machine Man for theories as to why humans were acting in one way, while Machine Man was the one reprimanding Uatu on his curiosity and human characteristics.
I found that the narration jumped around a bit too much for my liking – it showed small bits of different arcs in the story in quick succession, leaving it difficult to keep up with everything that was going on in each area of the world or with each character. I would have almost preferred it if each chapter had been focused on only one story arc. I can see how that would have been difficult for Machine Man and Uatu’s storyline, however, as they were supposed to be able to see everything happening on earth at all times, but as a reader it felt slightly disjointed at times.
All in all, this was an awesome read. It was a great introduction to characters I didn’t know previously, that I would like to learn more about. There are more in the series that I’ll definitely be picking up at some point.
The Bottom Line
Highly recommended to fans of dystopia or superheroes.