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Dresden Codak’s X-MEN REBOOT

The Premise - I wanted to make an X-Men reboot that plays to the strength of the concepts, namely growing up as a teenager, dealing with those who are different and how to deal with those who hate you.  The primary change in my setting is that the mutations have a clear sci-fi foundation rather than just being random superpowers.  Mutants being “the next stage in human evolution” was biologically dubious in the 60s, and now it’s just corny.  Additionally, I think the X-Men premise only really makes sense in a setting without other superheroes.  With that in mind, here’s my pitch…

The Setting

Thousands of years ago, godlike alien beings known as Celestials came to Earth to secretly experiment on the human race.  Their goal was to use homo sapiens as a genetic template to revive long-dead civilizations and species throughout the universe.  However, their initial tests proved inconclusive, and the project was abandoned.  What was unknown at the time was that the original “program” developed by the Celestials had spread and embedded itself onto the DNA of countless human beings and continued to be passed down through the generations, dormant.

The story begins in the near future, where in the past few years this “x-gene” begins to activate, creating outrageous mutations and causing a general panic in society.  While no one is sure what is causing the mutations, it’s clear that the power in human society may quickly shift if something isn’t done.  Most mutants go into hiding or destroy themselves when they are unable to control what is happening to them.  A few, however, are taken in by a handful of more knowledgable mutants like Charles Xavier.

Act 1 - Xavier Institute for the Exceptional

Part 1 deals with introducing the main cast and focuses on the students learning at Xavier’s school. It’s very much about the kids’ personalities and how they’re growing up.

1. Anna Marie (age 16)

First Mutation - Temporarily takes on the attributes of organic beings with whom she comes into contact. This includes some physical elements as well as memories. 

After her power to absorb the physical strength and memories from others manifested, Anna fled her hometown in Mississippi, living for a short while on the street before being discovered by Xavier.  She is terribly confused most of the time, as she has trouble distinguishing her own memories from those that she has absorbed.

Notes - Visually, I wanted a look that felt like someone looking for an identity, and the hipster mullet felt like a right move.

2. Ororo Munroe (age 18) 

First Mutation - Ionization of air molecules and absorption of ambient heat

Born in Kenya, but due to various mishaps Ororo found herself as a member of Egyptian militants by the time she was a teenager.  Worshipped as a deity due to her incredible powers, she was quickly becoming a warlord before encountering Xavier.  After being soundly humbled by Professor X, she came to realize that she was not a goddess, but a misguided youth among many mutants.

Notes -  Storm is arrogant, with a streak of stubborn defiance to authority.  Visually I went with something close to her punk rock look from the 80s, as well as a few “mutant” attributes beyond just having white hair.

3. Jean Grey (age 17) 

First Mutation - Explosive reincarnation.

During a domestic dispute, Jean Grey’s father threatened her mother with a gun, which accidentally fired and killed Jean. Moments later, Jean found out that she could not stay dead, returning to life in a flaming explosion that completely incinerated her family and neighborhood.  Before authorities could find her, Jean was picked up by Charles Xavier, who offered her both consolation and a new home where she could control her strange mutation.

Notes - Jean is about as neurotic as someone who comes back to life by exploding should be. Visually I wanted a tall, gawkish figure, someone who’s not entirely comfortable in their own skin.  Also she has creepy devil eyes now.

4. Kitty Pryde (age 16)

First MutationPhasing through solid objects.

When Kitty first discovered her ability, she immediately put it to use in solving crimes, clandestinely helping local police, signing her clues to them as “The Shadowcat.”  Upon encountering Xavier, Kitty concocted an elaborate excuse to go to his prestigious prep school so that she could learn more about her abilities and what this whole “mutant” hysteria was all about.

Notes - Kitty is also the most sheltered, which would definitely come into conflict with the more tragic and world-weary members of the school.  Visually I’m definitely going for a “teen detective” look, as well as keeping her in a boyish look contrasted with a short, curvy figure.

1. Scott Summers (age 17)

First Mutation - Crystalline “eye” grown over his face. Can see in the dark.

Mocked at school for his mutation upon reach puberty, Scott ran away from his foster home before being discovered by Xavier. Happy to find a place where he is not seen as a freak, Scott is nevertheless resentful of his mutation and also envious of his peers with more impressive abilities.

Notes - Scott is the most disfigured starting out, and has dealt with the most public ridicule.  Visually I wanted someone who is going through the worst stages of being a moody teenager.

2. Piotr Rasputen (age 18)

First Mutation - Superhuman strength.

Born in the Ukraine, Piotr left his home for New York, both in hopes of beginning a career as a comic artist as well as finding are more progressive view of gays than what was found in his home.  Finding little work, Piotr settled for a job as bouncer at a night club. Upon meeting Xavier, Piotr was thrilled that there was a place for “superheroes” (his words) to learn together.

Notes - Piotr’s kind of a big kid, and probably the person most thrilled by the fact that he has a mutation.  Visually, I wanted him to look pretty Eurotrash, but still have a gentle heart.  He and Kitty become fast friends.

3. Warren Worthington III (age 16)

First Mutation - Can temporarily regenerate others’ tissue through holes in his palms.

Although born into immense wealth, Warren ran away from home when he discovered his parents were investigating ways to “cure him of the mutant condition.” Using his ability to temporarily heal others, Warren began a new life as a traveling faith healer under the name “Angel,” giving false hope and wrangling as much money as he could from the superstitious. Xavier put a stop to his schemes and offered a more constructive career path for Warren at his school.

Notes - Warren is one of those kids you want to punch, and not just because he’s an out-of-touch millionaire.  While ultimately meaning well, Warren has a tough time identifying with the other kids and tends to irritate more than anything else. Visually I wanted something fashionable and punchable.

1. Kurt Wagner (age 40)

Mutation - Enhanced agility and senses; line-of-sight teleportation.

Teaching Subject - Gym; Combat

Raised by Austrian monks before making a career in the circus and then for the German police, Kurt Wagner has led a colorful life.  When he discovered Xavier’s school existed, he offered his services in any way he could. He is also currently the only known mutant to go through a third mutation, which explains his bizarre appearance and abilities.

Notes - Kurt is kind of the moral center of the school and universally beloved by the students.  He’s also a running example of someone who totally owns being a mutant; he doesn’t care what others think of him and has thoroughly explored the potential his own mutation.  Visually I wanted something rather monstrous, but with a roguish nod to Errol Flynn, as Kurt is an avid fan of swashbuckling.

2. Dr. James “Logan” Howlett (age ~2,500)

Mutation - Superhuman healing/senses; Superdense Skeleton; Retractable Fist claws; Violent Feral Metamorphosis.

Teaching Subject - History; Anthropology

Dr. Howlett is a popular teacher among the kids. While a bit gruff at times, he’s always quick to share a story and stick up for students who need it.  Few besides Xavier even begin to know his true nature.

Born in Macedon 2,500 years ago, Logan was the very first mutant, directly mutated by the Celestials along with three other subjects.  However, he was an imperfect prototype and the mutation never solidly took hold, a side-effect being the occasional shift into a mindless killing animal with prortruding claws.  His healing abilities made him functionally immortal, but every few decades Logan falls to his feral “Wolverine” persona, murdering those around him and losing much of his memory.  Logan now no longer knows how old he is or what his origins really are, only that he is centuries old.  In recent years, Xavier has aided Logan in recovering some of his memories, as well as helped him control the “Wolverine” inside him.

Notes - I basically combined Beast with Wolverine, with a touch of Vandal Savage.  Having lived for so long, Logan has become a pretty sophisticated guy who is nonetheless constantly trying to hold together his strange, mutant feral rage.  Visually I kept it close to the classic look, just emphasizing his short stature (being from such an earlier time) and giving him little fangs.  His claws are now connected to his feral form only, a metamorphosis that is very painful.

3. Emma Frost (age 30)

Mutation - Living, Organic Crystalline Computer; Superhuman Strength and Durability

Teaching Subject - Literature; Art

Originally a member of a crime syndicate called the Hellfire Club (a mutant gang that extorted money from humans), Emma Frost defected to Xavier and Magnus when she realized the club was part of a larger front that dealt in the trade of mutant slaves.  Emma delights in teaching Xavier’s students, as it is an effective way to both enrich and torment young minds.  She is also the only mutant who is entirely immune to Xavier’s telepathy, and serves as a means to keep him in check.  Emma is also tirelessly trying to seduce Logan, to no effect.

Notes - Emma Frost is one of my favorite characters, and I wanted a design and approach to do her justice.  I’ve opted to avoid the classic “white underwear” look, instead going for something a little classier and more appropriate for a teacher. Just because someone is in charge of their sexuality doesn’t mean that they literally have to walk around in a bikini while teaching minors.

1. Dr. Magnus Eisenhardt (age 35)

First Mutation - Can perceive the entire electromagnetic spectrum

Teaching Subject - Physics; Chemistry; Math; Biology

Borin in Slovenia, Magnus grew up in a tumultuous period in Central Europe that saw the deaths of his family and many loved ones.  He eventually fled and found higher education in Britain, where he received a PhD in physics.  It was here where he first met Xavier, and convinced him that they should open their own school that could teach the growing population of mutants.  Magnus is unusual in that he has only had one mutation at his age and a relatively mild one.  Nevertheless, he has found his perceptive ability to be very useful, and claims it gives him a unique perspective of the Universe. 

Notes - I never liked that the Magneto/Xavier falling-out always happened as a flashback, so I’ve elected to make Magnus a teacher at the school and actually have their moral differences play out.

2. Professor Charles Xavier (age 35)

Mutation - Telepathy; Perfect Memory Recall; Intuitive Ability to Locate Other Mutants

Charles Xavier made good use of his mutant abilities at an early age, excelling at school by reading the minds of his teachers and charming his way into extremely prestigious academic positions.  It was not until he was teaching at Oxford that he developed his second mutation, the ability to perceive and locate other mutants, and it was at this point that he realized that he was not alone.  A new friend, Magnus Eisenhardt, convinced Xavier that he had the moral obligation to use his powers and personal fortune to find, protect and educate this growing population of mutants.

Charles founded the Xavier Institute for the Gifted in upstate New York. Masquerading as a prep school, it was in fact a safe haven for mutants wanting to further their education without the judgement found in the outside world.  To maintain this, Charles routinely wipes the memories of anyone snooping around the grounds.  He also maintains the public image (via telepathy) of an elderly man in a wheelchair.

Notes - Xavier is pretty much the same here, though I elected to have the “wheelchair” look be a PR move on his part rather than an actual impairment.  While morally earnest, Xavier is a person who has had little hardship in his own life and sometimes comes off as overly idealistic in his pursuits.  Given his power, too, Xavier tends to frequently abuse his telepathy to achieve his ends, putting him often in morally ambiguous position.

Additionally, as noted before regarding each mutation, Xavier’s “species” actually belongs to the Watchers, an ancient civilization of telepaths who have sworn noninterference with undeveloped worlds.  This of course is not known to him.

3. The Sentinels

Many mutants are extremely dangerous, with the world’s governments scrambling for ways to manage the growing chaos the best ways they can.  The United States has opted for the Sentinel Program, which places robotic protectors at key population areas in the hopes of containing unforeseen mutant threats. They also function as secret police when necessary, capturing particularly dangerous mutants.  And, as you can see, they are also excellent masters of disguise.

Notes - In my reboot, the human response is a little more measured and less hysterical; plus with individuals like Jean Grey, people really do have legitimate reasons to fear mutants.  The Sentinels are the first answer to that, as their job is basically to police and capture mutants for registration and/or treatment.  Visually I made them human-sized instead of gigantic, because I don’t know if the US government would ever unleash an army of building-sized death robots into populated areas.

Act 2 - The X-Men, The Brotherhood of Mutants, Apocalypse

The extraterrestrial origins of mutants is revealed, and Magneto comes into his own, defecting from Xavier to start his own group.  It is also at this point that most of the students begin undergoing secondary mutations, with Xavier’s school being forced to train them for actual combat.

1. Anna Marie/Rogue

Second Mutation - Now able to take on physical attributes of inanimate objects

Whatever Rogue’s species is, it appears to be a race of chameleons.  She has gained much more control since starting at the school and has also begun to gain more confidence in her personality and abilities.  Rogue has realized she has the same mutation as the evil mutant Mystique, much to her displeasure.  Additionally, Rogue has also discovered she has developed a crush on Warren/Archangel, much to an even greater displeasure.  

Notes - Visually, I’ve made her a little more like a vampire, as she slowly turns more and more into Mystique’s form.  Her sleeves are removable (and storable in her belt pouches) so her arms can take on whatever traits are needed.  Rogue also keeps small objects she’s practiced “mimicking” in her utility belt, like steel bearings and pieces of plastic.

2. Ororo Munroe/Storm

Second Mutation - Expansion of her base powers; feeds on ambient heat

Storm has cooled off somewhat, but is still convinced she is the most powerful mutant in the world.  Her increased skills at manipulating lighting and air currents hasn’t helped matters. Additionally Storm no longer needs to eat, instead feeding off ambient heat, which leaves a trail of frost and snow whenever she’s “hungry.”

Notes - Storm’s outfit is basically just a loose-fitting single piece to allow for maximum flexibility on combat. Her boots are there for kicking teeth.

3. Jean Grey/Phoenix

Second Mutation - Matter manipulation

Phoenix discovers that her first mutation (resurrection) was actually just an unconscious manifestation of her ability to reorganize matter.  While this may be the most powerful mutant ability known, Phoenix is hesitant to fully use it, due to its potential for deadly mayhem.  While she has finally begun to open up a little to her classmates, Jean is still very withdrawn, and would definitely not tell anyone about her crush on Kitty…

Notes  - Turning Jean into a Dr. Manhattan-turning-into-Galactus seemed right.  Visually I’ve made her a little more menacing, and her X-uniform is a nod to one of her classic costumes, complete with sash.

4. Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat - Leader of the X-Men

Second Mutation - none so far

When Xavier had to organize his top students into the X-Men, Kitty was a strange choice for leader. Despite routinely beating her teammates in combat training, Kitty has never commanded much respect from her peers, but Xavier insisted that Kitty take on the role. It didn’t take long for the choice to make sense, as above all others, Kitty kept a cool head under real combat conditions and proved to be a masterful tactician.

Notes - Kitty has lost a bit of weight since we last saw her (combat training will do that) and she’s gained a much better handle on her abilities and leadership skills.  She also wears special goggles and ear pieces that allow her to see and hear when in a phased form.

1. Scott Summers/Cyclops

Second Mutation - his crystalline eye has opened into a dimensional gate

Scott’s eye has “opened,” revealing itself not to just be a weird growth but a window into a red nebula in some other part of the universe.  He has discovered that, with some effort, Scott can reposition the other end of his eye to various places in the nebula.  For example, he can position it near the surface of a star and incinerate enemies with solar fire.  This has done wonders for Scott’s self-esteem.  He has also developed feelings for Storm, who would probably notice if Storm wasn’t already infatuated with herself.

Notes - Scott’s basic power comes through now, with a few twists.  As he progresses he’ll discover new uses for his strange mutation (including positioning his eye near a black hole). For now, though, he’s just happy to be useful to the X-Men.

2. Piotr Rasputen/Colossus

Second Mutation - metallic skin

Colossus was delighted when his body permanently turned into a hulking, metallic colossus. He was also doubly delighted when Xavier gave them all uniforms and code names (though he wanted the codename “Punch Man.”)  He has also pinned a red cape he made to his uniform, to look more superheroic.

Notes - Colossus just wants to be Superman, so he is just absolutely pumped by these new developments.  His costume is also a nod to his classic costume from the 70s with the high boots.

3. Warren Worthington III/Archangel

Second Mutation - blue skin; levitation; poisonous blood

Archangel’s second mutation has robbed him of his good looks, as well as reveal that his “species” is the same as the evil mutant Apocalypse’s.  This has given Archangel much to consider about the future of his mutations, and has overall made him fairly grim.  Additionally, he’s realized that his species may be techno-organic, as strange lights and winglike patterns now appear around him when he uses his mutant abilities.

Notes - I though I’d update the connection between Apocalypse and Archangel, and the alien premise of my reboot offered a neat way to do that.

1. Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (age 20)

Mutation - Mind has been reorganized to intuitively process and affect quantum-scale events; allowing her to “see” incoming timelines and probabilities

Born in Romania before immigrating to the United States, Wanda Maximoff discovered as a young woman that, unlike other human beings, she could “visualize” the quantum world as easily as the macroscopic one, with her mind firing away at a remarkable speed. Before long she realized that she could in turn perceive and affect the probability of different potential timelines. This ability eventually led her to Magneto, who shared a similar perceptive power. She believes in Magneto’s view that the human race has lost the right to govern the planet, and that mutants are far better equipped to direct Earth’s destiny.

Notes - Wanda’s powers puts her on a different mental plane than others, which is a constant source of frustration for her.  In my version she is not related to Magneto, but instead simply shares his ideals.  Visually I wanted something fairly simple, as she’s not so much a costumed supervillain but rather an intelligent young woman looking for political change.

2. Alex Adams/Havok (age 22)

Mutation - Able to fire bursts of energy from the crystalline “eye” growing out of his chest

Raised in an orphanage, Alex is initially unaware that he ever had a younger brother (Scott Summers) until encountering the X-Men for the first time.  While they share the same mutation, Alex’s manifested in his chest for reasons unknown (possibly due to some unknown property of their “species”).  Alex was using his mutant abilities as a mob enforcer before being recruited by Magneto for a higher cause.

Notes - Havok is basically someone drunk on the power of their mutation.  He simply enjoys blowing things up.  Magneto generally has to keep him on a short leash to make sure that no innocent people are harmed by the Brotherhood’s activities.

3. Magnus Eisenhardt/Magneto

Second Mutation - Direct control over magnetic fields

While in their research into Logan’s history, Magnus and Xavier finally discover what the mutant race really is: a living database of all the greatest species of the Universe, seeded thousands of years earlier.  Magneto is convinced that they are in fact Homo superior, and tries to persuade Xavier to share this knowledge with the world. Xavier, terrified that this will incite a race war, attempts to wipe Magnus’s memory of the discovery and fails.  Instead, his attack triggers Magnus’s secondary mutation, and Magneto is born.  Magneto takes a handful of loyal students with him to begin a new movement, with the goal of Mutants governing humanity.

Notes - I didn’t want to change too much here because so much of it already works.  My version of Magneto’s a lot less violent and doesn’t really want to harm people if he doesn’t have to.  Nevertheless his approach to overthrowing the government is still pretty brutal.  He is also a little drunk with power after developing his magnetic abilities.

4. Dr. Hank McCoy/Beast (age 38)

Mutation - Enhanced strength; intellect; stamina

Hank McCoy is actually not a natural-born mutant.  Although originally tasked by the government with “curing” mutations, McCoy had no intention of doing so.  Instead, he wanted to reproduce mutations in non-mutants; this research revealed that there were millions of people with dormant “x-genes,” himself included. McCoy successfully activated his own mutation, transforming into a monstrous beast.  Now hunted by the government for his own mutation (as well as tons of stolen research), Beast joined up with Magneto, sharing his ideal of a mutant-controlled utopia.  McCoy also provides The Brotherhood with much-needed levity with his (admittedly dark) sense of humor.

Notes - Since Wolverine kind of serves as the Beast role for the X-Men in my reboot, I decided to push Beast’s mad scientist angle a little more and have him work for Magneto.  His appearance is also much more alien here, befitting a human/alien hybrid.

5. Mortimer Toynbee/Toad (Age 20)

Mutation - Sort of looks like a frog

Toad is one of the majority of mutants who doesn’t have any extraordinary abilities.  He is a childhood friend of Wanda Maximoff, and has always been by her side (while secretly harboring a lifelong crush).  Although he actually thinks Magneto and the Brotherhood are evil jerks, Toad chose to join them in order to look after Wanda and keep her safe.  In fact, Toad secretly longs to join the X-Men and has even sewn his own uniform (hidden under his bed, of course).

Notes - Toad just can’t catch a break!

1. Apocalypse (age ~2,500)

Mutation - unknown; same species as Archangel

Originally from Egypt, Apocalypse was the last of the First Four prototype mutants created by the Celestials.  Not completely understanding what had happened to him, Apocalypse developed a religion around the Celestials, and believed if he could complete their work, he would earn the right to himself become a Celestial.  Apocalypse eventually found his three counterparts, and believed that each represented a primal element:

Fire - Wolverine

Earth - Juggernaut

Water - Mystique

Air - Apocalypse

Together they began plans to conquer the world, but soon Wolverine (for reasons long forgotten) betrayed the others and imprisoned them in various parts of the world.  Only recently has Apocalypse been reawakened, and again has developed plans to either mutate the remaining population or simply exterminate the human race.

Notes - Apocalypse, in my reboot, is kind of the worst-case scenario of an underdeveloped civilization encountering aliens, using advanced technology that he doesn’t really understand to fulfill a religious goal he invented.  Visually I wanted to keep him imposing but make him look a little more alien, complete with four arms.

2. Juggernaut (age ~2,500)

Mutation - 100 feet tall; indestructible

Possibly the most dangerous of all, Juggernaut was the second mutant to be created by the Celestials.  Originally hailing somewhere from North America, Juggernaut was discovered by Apocalypse and quickly grew to be his most loyal servant.  Slow to anger and generally more content to sleep, Juggernaut nonetheless is virtually unstoppable when roused.  When Wolverine betrayed them, Juggernaut was sealed deep within the Earth, and has only recently been reawakened by Apocalypse.

Notes - I think Juggernaut works better as a Shadow of the Colossus-style monster than just a football-player-looking guy.  And I just drew his hand because he’s so big, not because I’m lazy. Nope, no sir.

3. Mystique (age ~2,500)

Mutation - Shapeshifting; able to take on attributes of anything she touches

Originally from Indonesia and the third mutant to be created, Mystique was the first to escape imprisonment after Wolverine betrayed her, Juggernaut and Apocalypse.  She spent centuries wandering the Earth, taking on various forms and basically living an life of hedonism and manipulation.  In recent years she discovered where Apocalypse and Juggernaut were imprisoned and successfully freed them.  She serves as a guide to the modern world for Apocalypse, and unlike her cohorts possesses a cruel sense of levity.

Notes - Mystique is the same species as (and presumably final mutation of) Rogue, which is the cause of some concern for Rogue.  Visually I wanted to make her more alien and impish, with a playful kind of evil look.

———————-

And that’s my X-Men reboot! I think it would make for some neat stories.

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    I really want this to be a thing…
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