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CSBG Archive

The Reread Reviews — Earth X

The reread reviews return after a long hiatus with the book the most people said they wanted to read about when I asked in a random thoughts post a few weeks back: Earth X. It’s Marvel’s Kingdom Come and it began as a free book included in a year-end issue of Wizard. But, it’s got John Paul Leon art, so there must be something cool about it. Maybe. Click the link and see for yourself — and beware of spoilers.

earthxEarth X by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger, and John Paul Leon.

I first encountered Earth X on Christmas Day 1997 when I woke up and found a copy of Wizard #77 in my stocking. And like any 14-year old, I thought it was pretty cool. Alex Ross presenting a Kingdom Come-esque look at Marvel’s future. What’s not to like? Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who thought this way, because Marvel greenlit a series based on this small sketchbook after the response was so positive. Hell, most people (myself included) thought that this was just a preview/promo for an Earth X book! Then came the larger sketchbook that fleshed things out a bit in preparation for the series, then the series itself, which I really enjoyed, reading my dad’s copies. Then came Universe X, which didn’t wow as me as much… then Paradise X with its specials and mini-series spinoffs that completely lost me.

But, that fondness for Earth X remained and, a few years ago, I got the deluxe hardcover Marvel put out — in 2005, I guess. It collects the 14-issue series, the sketchbook material, and the #1/2 issue that I didn’t bother to reread because… well, fuck it, I don’t care. Actually, I’ll be honest with you, after spending the week with Frank Miller, it’s hard to care as much about Earth X.

It’s a nice book if you care more about the small details of Marvel continuity and like to pretend that Marvel stopped making comes in 1983 (or thereabouts). The plot of the comic isn’t the greatest. It’s continuity porn as Ross and Krueger base the story around an idea of explaining the Marvel universe — explaining why the Fantastic Four, Bruce Banner, and Peter Parker got superpowers instead of cancer. It bases it all around the Celestials, which I find amusing since they, and the Eternals, weren’t even supposed to be part of Marvel continuity! Kirby’s Eternals was, basically, a creator-owned book meant to be separate from the Marvel universe despite Marvel’s protests — so Kirby had Marvel characters guest-star except not really. I can’t help but find the idea that this book is meant to be so reverential to Kirby bases itself around characters and concepts that he never intended to be used in this fashion. Not that Ross and Krueger are wrong to do so, because the Celestials and Eternals have been made integral parts of the Marvel universe, it’s just that for a book where Kirby gets the second dedication, that stands out. (Of course, that raises the idea of how should one pay tribute, etc., etc., etc. Better to ignore or use despite that not being the intention…? I say ignore and leave untouched, but that’s my approach and I know others don’t agree…)

In Earth X, Aaron Stack aka Machine Man aka X-51 is taken to the Watcher’s observatory on the moon, his human appearance dispersed by Uatu, and he’s charged with being the new Watcher since Uatu is blind — and has been for over 20 years. The first issue, #0, is a history of the Marvel universe with a strong focus on the Celestials and their impact on the world. It’s a breezy issue despite the large amounts of text. With issue #1, we jump into the actual plot: everyone on the planet is now a mutant. Reed Richards blames himself, living in Doom’s castle, wearing his armour. There’s a young teen known as the Skull that has the power to control people with his mind and he’s taking over America, a country struggling to feed itself. Captain America is a sad old man that doesn’t seem to have the fight in him anymore. Tony Stark lives in a sealed mansion, a paranoid old man scared of germs, afraid he’ll mutate, too. May Parker is Venom, driving a wedge between her and her father. Ben Grimm is married to Alicia Masters and they have twin boys, Buzz and Chuck (who look like their father). Bruce Banner is a small boy with a monster Hulk as his companion/eyes. Thor is a woman. The Inhumans have returned for the wedding of Luna and the son of Black Bolt and Medusa. The world is coming to an end soon.

To totally spoil things: inside the Earth is a Celestial foetus, basically. They implant the eggs in planets and alter the creatues to act as protectors. The Deviants and Eternals were failed attempts at this, while humanity all bears seeds that guide and steer them to be capable protectors, hence why, at a certain point, people began to get powers — to become better protectors from aliens and Galactus. Galactus being a measure of balance — he feeds in the unborn Celestials. Humanity is an antibody, basically. This is the big revelation of the series and how much it wows you will determine how much you like the book. I think it’s a nice idea, but the way that people react is typical self-centred, short-sighted crap. Suddenly, nothing is anyone’s fault except the Celestials because they altered humanity back when it was first forming. My problem with that idea (that our thoughts are not our own) is that since humanity has been like that for so long, that’s just what being a human is. It’s like, what, without the Celestial seed, people would have rolled over for Galactus and let him destroy the planet? They wouldn’t have done their best to advance and improve? It’s a cool idea that doesn’t work when you think about it for longer than two seconds — at least not the way it’s presented.

It’s a problem I have with a lot of stories where these larger ideas are presented that seem like they should matter, but have such little bearing on the practicalities of life. Yes, try to stop the Celestial in the Earth from being born and destroying everything — but to be angry at the Celestials for what they did so long ago because some things recently have been bad? Reed blaming them for Sue’s death is just insane. That could be the point, but, damn, that guy is a moron sometimes. It’s like they don’t realise that something that long ago, that had such a profound effect… it happening changed things so much that to be angry about it is to be angry that humanity existed at all. To be angry that they existed at all, because, without that fundamental change, all of human history would have been different — and different in ways they don’t know. It’s so big and theoretical that it’s almost pointless to bother with it.

I’m not a big fan of the Celestial seed in humanity idea, because it doesn’t reflect well in our world. It’s one thing if the seed is responsible for superpowers, but for all of human identity? All impulses, urges, desires, drives…? So, the people of the Marvel universe, the superhero universe that emphasised the humanity of its characters, are only like us because of the Celestial seed? Is that meant to be a metaphor…? That without Jack Kirby, the Marvel universe wouldn’t exist, wouldn’t be like us? What then about Stan Lee? Or, is it just a ‘cool idea’ that doesn’t actually work? I don’t know.

It’s that sort of continuity-based plotting that drives Earth X. The Asgardians are shapeshifting aliens that lack identity, so they become what the people they encountered thought they were. Magneto called his ground the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants to force Xavier to take the moral high road, to take a side, to become judgemental, and develop an ‘us and them’ mentality. Sometimes, the ideas work, sometimes they don’t.

Like Kingdome Come, the main character is a passive one that becomes active at a convenient time. Funny how the big Alex Ross projects seem to centre on characters that stand outside of events, looking in. X-51 representing the human voice despite being an android. His interactions with Uatu drive the series and are well-written. Their debates on morality, humanity, and the bigger picture are the most interesting things in the book. The actual events featuring the Marvel heroes seem inconsequential as we jump from character to character as they stumble through the series.

Each issue is structured in the same way: an opening page of dialogue between X-51 and Uatu (later other characters get involved), four pages of flashback to some character/characters showing up their history/origin (to a point around the early ’80s or so), 18 pages of story, and six pages of text accompanied by Alex Ross sketches. It’s an interesting structure that emphasises the importance of continuity and explaining the history of these characters. The text pages at the end often devoted to telling us what happened to characters, where they are now in Earth X. It’s less a story than a presentation of how characters are different — you rarely learn anything that isn’t in the sketchbook material. Actually, you often learn less.

The issues are oddly brief because of the structure. The 18 pages of story told pages with only three or four panels at most, big John Paul Leon drawings that are absolutely gorgeous, but make the issues feel sparse. For its length, there isn’t much depth to Earth X. It treads water a lot of the time, talking around ideas for issues before finally revealing them.

The choice of Leon as an artist is an interesting one, because he’s not at all like Alex Ross. Ross isn’t a bright artist, but he’s a realistic one. He shows things how they are, patterning his figures after real life models, trying to capture reality. Leon’s art is much darker, more angular, impressionistic. Even when there are no shadows, you can’t colour his art brightly. It looks dark with its thick lines that are really very broad and simplistic. He doesn’t throw in a lot of detail or unnecessary lines. There’s a sketchiness to the work, but a restrained sort. His Thing, for instance, only has a few rock lines on his face — just enough to suggest what the effect is. He’s very good at suggesting what’s there without drawing it completely. With drawing characters that look like they’re carved out of stone. His Captain America is rock-like, a scarred man built out of granite.

Without Leon on art, I genuinely wonder how much I’d enjoy this book. Because I do enjoy it when I read it. I like seeing the future versions of these characters, of seeing what choices Ross and Krueger made with characters. But, there isn’t a strong story here, there isn’t any strong character work. It doesn’t seem like they have anything to really say about the characters and their world beyond forcing this explanation of superpowers and Galactus upon them. Unlike Kingdome Come, which was about the concept of heroism and was told in a more compact, immediate fashion, this one is about the Marvel universe… about creating a cohesive narrative for it, about integrating Kirby’s Celestials into it in a larger fashion… and that’s fine if you like it. There are some nice moments, some fantastic pictures, some great pieces of interplay between X-51 and Uatu, but nothing to bring it all together, to make it a worthwhile read as a whole. Nothing that progresses beyond that first sketchbook that I read on Christmas 1997.

52 Comments

I haven’t it read it since I picked up the trade back around 1999 or 2000. I found it to be way to talky, preachy, and a good chunk of it was just dull. I recall getting to the end and just struggeling to finish it. It was overly pretentious and felt like a failed Marvel attempt to do something high minded like Watchmen combined with something tremendously epic like the original Crisis. For me it failed on both accounts. I’ve thumbed through it on a few occasions in the past decade but I really don’t ever see myself bothering to read it again.

Huge disappointment

There are a few cool bits in Earth X and Leon’s art is good, but its central idea seems to be “Alex Ross sucks all the fun out of Marvel Comics.” All of the fun, classic characters have been made into unlikeable sad sacks. And adding some sort of grand design behind the accidents that created most of the Silver Age Marvel heroes pretty much misses the entire point.

I really enjoyed Earth X the first time I read it (and the only time, which may say something). But with each sequel, I liked the story less and less. And I think that has a lot to do with Earth X’s re-interpretations of Marvel history. At first they seemed organic, were explained, and (most importantly) made sense; even though they certainly were not what the original writers intended, they fit with what had come before and, in many cases, helped explain things that didn’t really make a whole lot of sense. By Paradise X, however, it seemed like they were including these things just because it was expected and didn’t really give a whole lot of thought to them. The one that has always stuck in my mind is Colossus apparently going back through time to be Mr. Sinister because …what? why? that’s completely nonsensical.

Leon’s work really stood out as the highlight of the series for me. I even picked up the black and white doorstop hardcover, just for his pencils.

Chad,
Kind of random thought here:
You should do re-read (or first time?) reviews of Mark Gruenwald’s Marvel stuff. Thor, Marvel Two-in-One (incredible), Spider-Woman, Squadron Supreme, New Universe (D.P. 7, Pitt, The Draft, etc.), Quasar, Starblast, Avengers, etc. I wouldn’t ask you to tackle the massive Captain America run unless you want to; The What If? could be optional as well.

His stuff isn’t as tightly woven together as Starlin’s cosmic stuff you did that great series on, but a lot of feels connected nonetheless.

Jeff — I don’t own any of those books, which is a bit of a problem. I have read Squardon Supreme and would love to reread it and look at it from my current perspective, though.

Daniel O' Dreams

April 18, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Does anyone know if Earth X was the first time Storm and T’ Challa were shown as a couple. It was the first time I encountered the concept, which I thought was interesting in this story. Then they went and did this in the “real” Marvel Universe and I didn’t care for it too much.

Daniel, i know there was an Uncanny X-Men issue where Storm mentions meeting T’challa many years earlier, and having to cancel out a debt she owed him. This was right around the time when they were saying on the cover “The comic that inspired the movie” so it would have been in the early 2000s, around the same time as Earth X. I do not know which was first, though.

Chad, did you notice in JMS’ Thor that he sorta used the idea of the Asgardians from Earth X? I might have been one of the only people to read JMS’ first issue of Thor almost immediately after finishing the Earth X trade, so that struck me as being almost the same plot point. It’s been a while since i read either Earth X or JMS’ first issue, but i seem to remember a character saying that the only reason they were gods was because the people wanted them to be gods. What was your thoughts of that happening “in canon”?

comixkid2099 — In JMS’s run, I think it was the idea that, because they’re gods, they need people to believe in their existence for them to live. It’s similar to what’s said here, but doesn’t go so far as to make them shapechanging aliens who were imprinted with the identities of the Asgardians (and the Olympians and so on and so forth). Similar, but different.

Messy and bland. I guess way more time was invested in the design of alternate costumes and characters than a (good) story.

Ben Grimm is married to Alicia Masters and they have twin boys, Buzz and Chuck (who look like their father).

It probably doesn’t bear thinking about that too long.

God, this was a slog. And not just because the story itself was just something to hang a bunch of Alex Ross sketchbook ideas. The interplay between X-51 and Uatu started to drive me absolutely BUGGY.

“But Uatu, I don’t understand – why would he feel guilty if he’s not to blame?”
“OH, X-51, STOP LOOKING AT THE WORLD WITH SUCH HUMAN EMOTIONS!”
“But you brought me up here for my perspective, and because you’re blind. So shouldn’t I -”
“YOUR SENTIMENTALITY WILL DESTROY YOU ALL!”

Every issue with this back-and-forth! Guys, just shut UP, you’re talking over the story like an old married couple at a movie theater!

I want nothing to do with any Earth X that doesn’t include Doll Man and Phantom Lady.

I enjoyed Earth X. Leon’s pencils were fantastic and it was the highlight for me as well. I also greatly enjoyed the Uatu and X-51 parts. As for the rest, it was . . . interesting. I’ve only read it once (I re-read a few parts but not the whole thing) and I thought it was a fun read. However, as Chad pointed out, as soon as you start to think about it, the whole thing falls apart. I don’t consider it to be a great book, but it’s entertaining.

Wow, talk about your strange coincidences. There must be something in the air, because mere hours ago, I had Earth X on the brain and found a trailer Alex Ross did for the series. I was actually trying to find that Paradise X trailer Marvel did years ago (anyone know where I might find it?), but this was kind of a cool find:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WG0nZNt7T4

I admit it’s been a while since I’ve read the trilogy myself, but I liked Earth X quite a bit. Universe X I liked, but not as much (although I really enjoyed the Fantastic Four, Captain America and Spider-Man one-shots). Paradise X was the weakest of the three, although I felt the ending was wonderfully fitting.

The problem with the later portions of the X saga, I think, was that they started to go a little overboard with the revelations. It’s hard not to talk about this without spoiling the story, but the explanation of Colossus’ “resurrection” made little sense and became dated the moment Piotr came back to life in the Marvel U. proper. Wolverine’s “origin” (which fans of recent stories will find familiar) wasn’t especially compelling, even if I do appreciate its intent. And the whole Logan/Jean/Madelyne sub-plot ended on a flat note.

Suddenly, nothing is anyone’s fault except the Celestials because they altered humanity back when it was first forming.

I don’t think the characters completely absolve themselves of their actions, though. Reed clearly continues to feel guilt over Sue’s death until the Universe X: 4 special, for example. Ditto Cap when it comes to the Avengers. Perhaps Reed forgiving Doom might have been a little much, but I suspect even genius minds can get swept up by heat-of-the-moment revelations.

My problem with that idea (that our thoughts are not our own) is that since humanity has been like that for so long, that’s just what being a human is. It’s like, what, without the Celestial seed, people would have rolled over for Galactus and let him destroy the planet? They wouldn’t have done their best to advance and improve?

These could be some of the questions the series is trying to raise. Without the Celestial embryo, would humanity have been a complacent species, or perhaps no different than any other animal on the planet? Maybe Universe X or Paradise X answered this question, but I don’t remember…

By the way, kudos to you, David Brothers et al on Frank Miller week.

Tell me what you see, X-51. What do you see, X-51? Tell me, X-51, what do you see? Tell me what you see! X-51, what do you see? Tell me, X-51! Tell me what you see, X-51. What do you see, X-51? Tell me, X-51, what do you see? Tell me what you see! X-51, what do you see? Tell me, X-51! Tell me what you see, X-51. What do you see, X-51? Tell me, X-51, what do you see? Tell me what you see! X-51, what do you see? Tell me, X-51!

I enjoyed the entire series. But then I enjoyed all of Asimov’s Robot, Empire and Foundation books too. Hidden plots and conspiracy theories wrapped tightly within one another is fun stuff. A lot of the stuff takes a huuuuuge stretch of the imagination to swallow, but then so do radioactive spiders and cosmic rays and gamma bombs. It may be considered masturbatory, but who doesn’t enjoy a good tug now and then? ;-)

You’re younger than I am? Fuck.

Judging by your recollection of Universe X, you probably wouldn’t enjoy this very much without Leon’s art. Because Universe X was basically more of the same, with someone besides Leon on art. (And Nighthawk/Gargoyle replacing Uatu/X-51 as narrators.) And boy, was it lame. I never even bothered with Paradise X.

Daniel O’Dreams & comixkid2099:

Storm’ & T’Challa’s 1st meeting was spelled out in a back-up story by Chris Claremont & John Byrne in Marvel Team-Up 100. They met when they were 12 or 13, had an adventure, and went their seperate ways. There was a definite attraction between them, but they split out of a sense of duty, or something. A cute 8 page story, it became the basis for their marriage over 20 years later.

Earth-X: well, the art was good. I liked the story for the first 6 issues or so, then got bored (but kept buying). Chad, your last paragraph summed it up as accurately as possible.

Clearly Uatu needed to get out more, Crash-Man ;)

I love the trilogy. Yes it’s a bit long-winded, but almost every issue had a moment or moments that had me look up and go “Wow!”. I reread it a few weeks ago in order from Earth X #0 to Paradise X #X and it really is the epic to end all Marvel epics. Captain America’s death issue is one of the greatest single issues I’ve read, in fact I’d say this is one of Captain America’s greatest portrayals. The issue where Sue Richards is reunited with Reed is also ridiculously good.

It is written for fans who know the ins and outs of the Marvel Universe and in some ways it’s continuity porn, but as I grew up reading those stories this was a great gift. On one level it was the final story of the Marvel Universe (and I do wish Krueger and Ross had been able to do their followup series “Tales Of Earth X”) and on another it was full of philosophy that got me thinking after I put the books down.

Lean Paul Leon? I had always assumed it was Ross on art. I may have to look into this now.

Oh and the culmination of Odin and the Asgardians storyline with Thor & Loki making their own choices for once is both action packed awesomeness and heartrendingly sad. The Earth X Trilogies’ version of Loki is one of my favorite characters ever, and it’s too bad the current version of him is back to the average evil mischief making old hat one.

I’m with Philip completely. I Loved every minute of it and it’s sequels.

Daniel O' Dreams

April 19, 2010 at 8:54 am

Thanks Mike and Comixkid. I wasn’t aware there had ever been any mention of them even knowing each other. Still seems forced, but I thought it clever in an alternate future setting.

I remember liking Earth X, even though I found it slow and repetitive in parts. I don’t remember if i ever finished Universe X. It was at a time when I was dropping a lot of titles. And have never attempted Paradise X.

The major problem is the uninspiring writing of Krueger (whom I suspect Alex uses because he is happy to just follow the artist’s direction without any thought of his own – unlike Mark Waid who added so much more to Kingdom Come, and earned Ross’ ire in doing so). Similarly, Justice by this team was a real slog (a slog I gave up after 4 issues).

The major problem is the uninspiring writing of Krueger (whom I suspect Alex uses because he is happy to just follow the artist’s direction without any thought of his own – unlike Mark Waid who added so much more to Kingdom Come, and earned Ross’ ire in doing so). Similarly, Justice by this team was a real slog (a slog I gave up after 4 issues).

I agree with you on Kreuger and Ross’s collaboration, but disagree that Waid added anything more to Kingdom Come. Waid is just as guilty of just following Ross’s direction and producing a subpar story that was a slog. Kingdom Come is easily one of the worst books I’ve ever read.

I don’t think Earth X is Kreuger’s best work, but I have to take issue with his writing described as uninspiring. I like that his work tends to have (for want of a better word) spiritual qualities. I wish he’d stop working with Alex Ross and do more of his own stuff. His Foot Soldiers series was wonderful.

As for Alex Ross, I wish he’d draw more and paint less. Although Marvels was great, much of what we’ve seen since then is him painting characters in costumes we’ve not seen before, which isn’t nearly as much fun as seeing realistically painted versions of the classic costumes. But his pencil work, seen in various sketchbooks, is really nice. I’d love to see him just draw more.

But of course, Alex Ross sells more comics by painting than he would by drawing, and Jim Kreuger sells more comics with Alex Ross involved than without, so I expect they will continue in that vein.

I’m really glad to see some of you enjoyed it as much as I did. Continuity porn is A-OK by me.

The framing structure with the character origins in every issue is probably my favorite aspect of the whole series: something old and something new. I’m really disappointed that the trilogy wasn’t given the proper ending it deserved.

I think Earth X is the perfect ending to the Kirby Marvel Universe.

Universe X and Paradise X were good, too, but if they had never come out, I wouldn’t miss them.

‘Waid is just as guilty of just following Ross’s direction and producing a subpar story that was a slog. Kingdom Come is easily one…..
Believe me, I agree with you. Kingdom Come was pretty useless, but I think that has more to do with Ross’ initial outline than what Waid later added – for me, it was Waid’s contribution that made the comic at least readable. Unlike Earth X or Justice, which were just gigantic failures on a literary level.

I re-read this last summer in preparation for a lecture series I was doing… I absolutely loved it the first time through (8 years or so ago); I still liked it this time, albeit perhaps a bit less. I actually like Universe X the most of the three– the story of “Earth X” feels a bit… limited? But Universe X– and, to look at the bigger picture I guess, the whole trilogy– feels truly grand. It really does a wonderful job of tying everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, about the Marvel Universe together. Heck, they even got Rom in there! Not to mention the fact that Dougie Braithwaite’s art is kind of incredible… and some of the specials featured the incomparable John Totleben… Yeah, the story does start to drag a bit in Paradise X, but it’s still truly grand stuff.

I dislike the write-off that this series often gets as “Kingdom Come Marvel-style,” because I actually think the two series are doing totally different things. Kingdom Come comments on the general spirit of DC comics; the Earth X trilogy tries– and I think suceeds– in turning the entire history of the Marvel Universe into a single story. Those are two very different projects. Just because both take place in an imagined future of those respective worlds doesn’t mean they’re trying to do the same thing.

Still one of my favourite Marvel stories of all time. It’s a bit like a sitcom you like, that no one else does. I can’t justify my love for it on literary grounds, but I can’t deny just how much I like it, and its two sequels either.

Dont’ forget about the HERALDS mini that was between Paradise X and Universe X. There was supposed to be a HISTORY X as well, but Marvel axed the line. :(

Greatmetropolitan

April 24, 2010 at 10:53 am

I think Ross is just a very talented diva. Writers are willing to let him have his way because he’s talented, and if they don’t capitulate he’ll just go off in a strop and not work with them.

As an aside, give me Hitch over Ross any day

When I originally read the trade back in ’01, I was blown away by it. I was very impressed by the way they tied everything together. As I continued the series into Universe X and Paradise X, I felt that they were just trying to squeeze a trilogy out of this story. And the art on those two following series was, in my opinion, not as great as the Earth X series.

Just last month I reread Earth X to see if it still held up, and I think that it did. Not as great as it was originally, but a good read, none the less. But this book is not for the average fan. You really need to know your Marvel history to full appreciate it.

Also, I believe that this book introduced the concept of Cap being a solider who would kill if necessary. A big deal at the time.

I found Earth X very interesting. My only exposure to it is the big B&W hardcover and I’m not well versed in Marvel continuity so I’m sure my experience with it is different than others.It was a bit didactic but a fun read.

One thing hat always bothered me is that The Watcher is so intent on erasing Stack’s values of judging humanity, and yet he still feels the need to judge Hitler. I think he calls him a small, ugly man. It came off as very silly and petty to me. It’s as if the writers couldn’t mention that name in a historical context without qualifiers.

Wow, I couldn’t disagree more with this review.
I think that if you read Earth X in a hurry, or without any interest at all after your Frank Miller week, you’re missing completely the point. Earth X is a complicate read. It’s not for everyone. I wouldn’t suggest it to someone who wants to start reading comics, that’s obvious. But it’s so rich, so detailed… I’m an avid Marvel reader, and after the first few issues, I didn’t know what to think of Earth X… it took me like two months to read it all, with some breaks in betwen, but towards the end everything clicked. I realized what it was, where the authors were going, and it was something unique…

Then, if you stop at Earth X, you’re missing another point: this is trilogy, and as such it must be read. I was completely familiar with the characters of Earth X, but not so much with Universe X… the Micronauts? Rom? Belasco? Gargoyle? Who the hell were they? And in fact I had some problems with the story, but I liked it for the most part. And then there was that surprise at the end, that twist about Mephisto that explained the whole Multiverse, and then the death of Death… it was great…

Paradise X was the easiest to read, after the first two chapters, and I liked it, too… the only problem is that the authors had another conclusion in mind, and it shows. There were editorial interferences, evident in the abandoning of the format of 48 pages for some chapters.

I read the entire trilogy in 5 months. It started slowly, and it ended up being the only thing that I read every day.
Like I said, it’s not a story for everyone. You need a certain knowledge of Marvel U, time and patience. But also Kafka is not for everyone. Nietschze, too. The problem is not in the work, if it’s goo, but in the preparation of the readers. You can’t create something so complex that appeals to everyone.

I think that this trilogy is the closest thing that Marvel has to Watchmen, pure and simply, and I feel lucky to have read it!

Greatmetropolitan said;
“As an aside, give me Hitch over Ross any day”

Give me Alan Davis over Hitch.

Back in the day, people would probably call this work drivel and right now there people out there that would refer to it as such. However, I think its a lot better than 99% of the 616 Marvel stories written post-Avengers Disassembled. Now it may not be a viable comparison because they are different universes but in terms of writing quality, its just so much better than the current 616.

I enjoyed the Earth X trilogy, and thought Universe X was the better of the three volumes.

I think the ‘revelation’ that Colossus became Mr Sinister was something of a joke between himself and Kurt (who had been revealed to be the X-Man villian Belasco). It was probably thrown in by Kruger and Ross because of the physical similarities between Earth X Colossus and modern times 616 Mr Sinister.

I did think the Paradise X volume was padded out a bit too much towards the end, and was disappointed the card stock covers finished before the whole series ended. I would also like to know what Krugar and Ross had planned for the original ending, given how oddly it changed course in the final chapters.

It is also a pity that Universe and Paradise X volumes did not have the dialogue appendicies that the Earth volume had.

Have often thought that Earth X would make for a great animated series, along the style and pace of Ergo Proxy.

Earth X was a great series! I don’t know what you guys are smoking. And I don’t see how this is just for continuity junkies since the story isn’t even in continuity. A great look at a possible Marvel-future with all new-characters and new takes on old characters with incredible Alex Ross art to boot.

At the time it came out we had the “new” manga-styled Ghost Rider, Marrow & Maggot in the X-Men with Feral Wolverine, Spider-Man books were lost after The Clone Saga debacle and before JMS’s run, Avengers and Fantastic Four were barely even readable at the time, and Daredevil’s book got the ax. So this was a shining beacon of hope a time when Marvel wasn’t doing so well.

Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but I disagree with the the assessment of Earth X here. Though you kinda reluctantly recommend it at the end, it didn’t sound like you enjoyed it.

Granted I haven’t read it since the first time, I remember being BLOWN away by it in every single way except the cliffhanger ending. Sadly Universe X and Paradise X each didn’t live up to Earth X, though they definitely had their moments (Cap’s end and the secret of the Wendigo stand out). The ending of PX just never felt right to me, and the supposed ending that got the boot didn’t really work for me either (read here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_X#Clarifications ).

Truthfully, most stories fall apart if you think about them too much, especially ones with such a huge scale. If anything, that scale need be admired and celebrated for the audacity to attempt it and find the success they did.

Reading (and enjoying) Earth X was my introduction to the Marvel Universe. I had no exposure to it beyond the X-Men animated series. So I was not the well-versed continuity fiend that you might need to be to completely enjoy it, but I loved it. I reread it again later and still loved it. Universe and Paradise are OK, but not great. But Earth X will always be one of my comic joys.

Also, as many others have said, I was quickly reminded how limited the team of Ross and Krueger can be with Justice. I thought they could do no wrong so I read that series and Superpowers (chapter 1), both of which are really, really bad.

But Earth X- fantastic.

There are some interesting insights in the trilogy.

1) I like the Thor-Loki-Odin-Asgardians subplot. For some reason, I’ve always had a soft spot for Loki. Everyone loves Thor, and everyone despises Loki, and there is this whole “favorite son” thing Odin has for Thor, and the whole “Loki is the unmanly coward among these macho-men Asgardians”. Loki is the villain that I pity instead of hating.

So yeah, it was a cool twist to have Loki as the misunderstood hero, and Thor waking up to Odin’s manipulations. But by the end of the series I felt sorry for Odin too.

2) There is a line of dialogue about the greatest mistake Charles Xavier did was to keep the X-Men hidden in a mansion, instead of mingling openly with mankind, proudly displaying their mutancy. I love it that Grant Morrison made it the new status quo in the official Marvel Universe. The X-Men are a better metaphor for minorities when they openly fight for mutant rights, instead of hiding on some underground cell. But wait a minute, the story where Morrison made the mansion an open, public place came before or after the relevant issue of Earth-X?

3) Also, the line about the Defenders being necessary, because the best way to deal with threats like the Hulk, the Sub-Mariner, the Son of Satan, and the Silver Surfer is to get them all together so they can watch each other and keep each other in check. Makes sense to me, and the Defenders rarely did make sense before I read this insight.

Shatner's Bassoon

April 25, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Earth X was my introduction to the Marvel universe, and as such (as you can imagine) wasn’t exactly helpful when trying to piece together contemporary continuity. The “X” series does have its weaknesses, no doubt stemming from its fairly onanistic concept, and was fairly confusing at times (Paradise X’s explanation for parallel worlds, for example, was something I couldn’t get my head around), but I think as a whole it was effective and interesting, with some lovely ideas. I think you can see some of its influence today; the Loki depicted in Gillen and McKelvie’s Siege: Loki, for example, is a fairly “X”-tinged version of the character.

Huh. I think its one of the best Marvel Comics series ever made.

But I grew up in the 80s so maybe that had a lot to do with it (Deadpool is in the series so the idea it stops in 83 or whatever doesn’t quite work.)

I loved the great ross covers of these books, but I wish they had just called it a day after earth x. WAY to draged out.I gave up with the first issue of paridise x. picked them all up recently for a buck or so each. Cause so cheap, so I can have the whole story to put in my sell pile.

Earth X was the first big all-inclusive series I ever read from Marvel, although I thought I had a good familiarity with the universe from X-men and Avenger comics.
Boy was I wrong, wikipedia must have went into overdrive from me looking up every character.
That said, I loved the series, the idea I thought was simple enough to cover all of Marvel’s eccentricities, and it really felt like something that went far beyond anything Marvel had done before. Unusually, I didn’t feel like I wanted or needed a sequel after reading it, not because it was bad, but because it was so satisfying.
Not as much of a fan as Paradise X, it became quite muddled in my opinion.

christopher wiebe

April 28, 2010 at 2:41 am

one of the most influencial works of the last 15 years. along with Kingdom Come, Marvels and a few others.
today, cap kills if necessary, storm and Tchalla are married, the Xmen are public, loki is more complex, the celestials are more relevant, osborn became a political power, tony stark became a part of the government instead of just working with the government, thor isn’t a chick, but loki was for a time, the idea that Xavier was not perfect, through magneto forcing him to take the ethical side, and how has xavier been portrayed in the last few years? not in the most ethical light.

it’s use of philosophy was thought provoking, and the twists on marvel concepts intriguing, responsibility brings power, after all power usually corrupts instead of bringing responsibility. and it explained why there are cosmic beings, aliens, the devil and gods running around at the same time. the use of thanos and a moment that brings his life together at the end of universe x works. too bad MARVEL changed the ending, the original made more sense than Reed becoming Eternity. well, that’s editors for you. and as a last note, the Punisher trying to convince his family that they are all dead by shooting himself repeated hit all the marks on that character. it was just a harsh BSG moment.

Senior Pascador

April 28, 2010 at 7:14 am

What was the original ending supposed to be? I’m curious…

You can find it under Clarifications.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_X

The Paradise X series was never properly concluded, due to editorial interference midway through its publication. Due to dwindling sales, the X and A specials, which were intended to be double-sized issues, were both reduced to 22 pages and the intended ending was never used as a result. Writer Jim Krueger expressed dismay at the loss of pages and not being able to use the original ending. In the intended ending, Captain America, suspecting Captain Marvel’s treachery, would have killed Marvel just as Marvel put the energy wall around the universe to keep out the Celestials and Elders. At this final moment, having ascended to the throne of Paradise, Captain America would have realized that Marvel’s intentions were good. “Cap would have sat on the throne, completely unworthy of it. And this, this would have been the final testing necessary to make Cap worthy of it.”

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