The Inhumans vs. X-Men was something I just wasn’t interested in when it first debuted. It seemed like a cash grab to coincide with the inclusion of the Inhumans into the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D TV show and it seemed poorly timed due to the X-Men vs. Avengers event that happened only a few years ago. It seems like the perfect time for a revisit right now since the crossover is being released in trade paperback for the first time. After reading it I realized it wasn’t so bad and in fact it harbored some interesting lessons about war.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The X-Men and Inhumans have been on a collision course ever since the link was proven between the Inhumans’ precious Terrigen Mist and the sickness and death of many mutants. And when the Beast discovers that mutantkind has only two weeks left before planet Earth becomes completely uninhabitable for them, an Inhuman/mutant war is unavoidable! It all begins with one choice, and the world will never be the same! New Attilan comes under attack, and the Inhumans won’t surrender without a fight – but when the X-Men target the Terrigen cloud, will that mean the end of the line for the entire Inhuman legacy? Karnak vs. Fantomex! Emma Frost vs. Medusa! The Nuhumans vs. Magneto! IVX delivers sensational set pieces and gargantuan grudge matches that promise to shatter the Marvel Universe as you know it!
Can I jump in easily?
You can dive in somewhat easily since it recaps what you need to know though you might feel lost when folks bring up Cyclops and the rather strange way he died. There’s also the complexity of the X-Men and Inhuman worlds be it the character dynamics or long histories some of these characters have.
Reason 1: Always have a backup plan.
Charles Soule, Jeff Lemire craft an interesting story here as it shows the X-Men with very few options after Beast informs them all mutants will die if they stay on Earth. The plan is hatched to destroy the last Terrigen Mist cloud and that requires taking out the Inhumans’ most powerful players. As the plan takes place it’s quite fun to see how they stop specific Inhumans like Black Bolt and lock away others. It’s also interesting to see how the X-Men attempt to hurt as few Inhumans as possible even though they’re using force. In an act of war, even the good guys can do bad things.
This leads to the eventual plan working for a time, but falling apart. In a key scene Storm, Magneto, Logan, and others realize their backs are against the wall as the Inhumans end up being more resourceful than they expected. The X-Men are caught with no idea what to do and quickly things escalate to all-out fighting as there is no backup plan.
Beast has a grave thing to tell his friends.
Reason 2: There’s always ulterior motives.
Early on it’s made clear Emma Frost is very much frosty (heh) about her beloved Cyclops being killed. He died a hero, but also under circumstances where most folks don’t even know the truth of his death. This little secret is just part of Emma’s ulterior motive to seek revenge. It’s a lesson that the people may be fed reasons for war when there are darker and sometimes much less ethical reasons present.
Reason 3: It’s always messy.
Once the X-Men’s plan is underway it’s quickly apparent their rush to capture the most powerful Inhumans is not without collateral damage. The X-Men consider themselves heroes and even make the point to avoid hurting the Inhumans, but even they are aware Inhumans will get hurt when violence is used to get your way. It also leads to the Inhuman city getting damaged and Black Bolt suffering some major injuries. It’s an example of doing something to save many even if it means hurting a few. When the plan starts falling apart it gets even messier as the Inhumans seek revenge of their own, and then even messier as they learn why the X-Men are fighting them in the first place.
Emma must be freezing!
Reasons to be wary?
The event falls off the rails a bit in the end, especially when it’s revealed there’s a better way to solve the problem and a specific character decides to go full evil. Emma Frost ends up with the short end of the stick when it comes to her character as she falls back on being a bad guy even when reason should tell her otherwise. Given how much she’s been built up over the years it’s too bad her lack of Cyclops has made her go from level-headed hero to madwoman.
There are also a couple moments where characters seemingly lack deductive reasoning so the plot can keep moving forward. Take for instance Forge’s plan to turn the gas into a solid and then burn it. Why burn it? If it’s in a solid state transport it off world so the Inhumans can still use it. Then you have master strategists like Storm or Beast bungling plans without any backup plan to speak of. You can’t tell me they never thought to have someone keep tabs on the Inhumans when they were in Limbo? Post a guard so they could call somebody when they eventually broke out people! These are relatively minor things that you can overlook (seeing as this is a fictional action series after all), but it might irk some people.
Is there a rationale to the reasons?
I enjoyed this trade paperback far more than I expected to as I learned there are interesting complexities to the war that takes place. Both sides end up having their backs against the wall and both sides must do whatever it takes to win. The problem is, winning a war comes with many lessons some of which are learned here.