Sep 13, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 201: Gambit and the X-Ternals #3, May 1995

It definitely says something about the era of comics that we're looking at right now that, all the other players aside, it comes down to Gambit and Bishop being responsible for saving all of reality. My understanding is that, at the time, they were both very popular, a fact I think derives from their resemblance to the Image superheroes that dominated the market at the time. For me, they've always been bit players in the X-universe, but I suppose every dog has their day, and this day is Gambit and Bishop's.

This comic engages with the ontological dimensions of the crossover very explicitly. Gambit et al are sucked inside the M'Kraan crystal and encounter Jahf, one of it's guardians. Jahf explains to Gambit a sobering truth: the reality he inhabits was never meant to exist. He even goes so far as to refer to the mainstream timeline as "the actual reality," a problematic statement in and of itself. What is actuality? And, as I've asked before, what makes any one reality more "actual" than any other. Now, Jahf goes on to note that, due to Xavier having died when he did in this iteration, the X-Men's previous interaction with the crystal never took place, thus Phoenix never repaired it, thus it now endangers not only the universe, but all universes, with extinction. Are we seeing the beginnings of Hickman's Avengers/Secret Wars epic here, perhaps? But this is a fundamental moment for our consideration of the viability and the right to existence of the AoA universe. If, by its very existence, it threatens, or even promises, the end not just of one universe, but of all of them, should it then be sacrificed for the good of the many? Again, this is the very conundrum that the Illuminati have been facing in New Avengers for the last few years: what is the acceptable cost, or the acceptable sacrifice, one is prepared to make to save everything?

We know it'll come down to Magneto making the choice. And though Bishop and Gambit are the lynch pins of the plan, Magneto will almost certainly be the one to pull those pins out and watch everything crumble.

See you tomorrow.

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