There were indeed better options than Hell, people.
Following the end of 2015’s Secret Wars there was a rumor that Marvel had plans of jettisoning the X-Men into outer space in favor of the Inhumans. They, the result of Kree experimentation, would take the place that mutants had held in Marvel Comics. If you think about everything that went into the assumption, it’s not all that absurd. And that’s the problem. The thought turned into a real concern within the fandom. Luckily, Marvel swooped in and settled things.
They absolutely did not send the X-Men into space. Nope. They sent them to Limbo. A hell-dimension. They transported the X-Mansion, a mostly wooden structure, into the middle of a perpetually burning realm filled with demons and monsters. For many, the idea of space actually sounded better when they compared the two options. So, it got me to thinking. What if the X-Men were sent to live in outer space (or anywhere other than Hell) after all? I tell you one thing, the threat of a vacuum sounds more plausible and sensible than taking a school to damnation… or Central Park, for that matter.
Where Would they go?
When it comes to space, there are actually a few options to consider. It’s the Marvel Universe for goodness sake. It isn’t the vast void of empty death it is for us mere mortals. For the X-Men, there were a few viable options for them.
The best choice is also the most ironic. The Blue Area of Earth’s Moon, the former home of the Inhuman race. The reason the X-Men and most of mutant-kind would be fleeing the planet lies at the machinations of the Inhumans. Two massive clouds of Terrigen Mist, the substance that gives them their superpowers, were also killing and/or sterilizing mutants that came into contact with it.
You’d think the Inhuman Royal family would have offered their assistance with resettling the mutants there, at least until the Mist issue could be resolved. It’d make sense to me, especially as they were trying to endear themselves to the world’s leaders and be recognized as a sovereign nation. That might have gone a long way to avoid what became Inhumans Vs. X-Men. One would also ask ‘where the Avengers were during all this?’, but with Marvel’s recent track record and observing continuity, it’s best not to think too hard about that.
On the moon, the X-Men could have been faced with a plethora of challenges that could have kept them insulated from the rest of the Marvel Universe yet still telling interesting stories (which I believe was the reason for this whole fiasco). Just dealing with simple needs such as power, food, and water would have been fascinating. It’s not like it’d be out of their wheelhouse with minds like Forge and Beast at their disposal. The hostile environment of the Moon itself would have become an antagonist all its own.
The X-Men are no strangers to juggling multiple plot-points across a handful of titles. Every book wouldn’t have needed to be stuck on the Moon. It could have acted as the X-Men’s main base of operations, but as we’ve seen in books like X-Men: Red, they could have utilized their allies to house a team. Namor, an X-Man himself, could have offered a safe haven at the bottom of the sea for a strike team. I mean, someone had stay on Earth to rescue and ferry newly discovered mutants out of harm’s way. And it’s not like the bigots and terrorists would take it easy on mutants when they are more vulnerable than ever. The X-Men on Earth would have been plenty occupied, thus giving writers tons of opportunity to create.
During all of this, they had Magneto and all his genius at their disposal. Why not take another crack at an Avalon or Asteroid-M? With him having more pragmatic intentions, there was an excellent opportunity to again, see the Inhumans show some sort of sympathy. They have at least two characters that would have been able to help, that’s not even bringing characters within the X-Men like Polaris, Surge, and a horde of high-powered telekinetic mutants. If that’s too much, instead of pushing Alpha Flight into S.W.O.R.D., the concept could have been adopted for an X-Men title that might have had a chance at selling (seriously, who the heck cares about Alpha Flight?). It’s like the editors forgot how much history the X-Men have with Captain Marvel (the commander of the space station). And that’s before you bring up Abigail Brand, the director. She’s still barking orders to Beast, right?
Who would they interact with?
Space is big. And the X-Men know it well. I’d argue that their best stories involve some sort of space travel. Thing is, when you spend that much time flying around the cosmos, you make friends and, yes, you make enemies. The most notable would probably be their frenemies, the Shi’ar. Half of their technology is based on their designs but depending on who’s in charge at any given moment, the Empire has been known to play foil from time to time.
The X-Men have meddled in their politics and even some of their schemes of galactic domination. It wouldn’t be out of place to assume that there are individuals or factions within the Shi’ar that would love to take a shot at them in a weakened state. While they attempt to make a home for themselves on the Moon’s harsh surface, they’d be ill-equipped to defend themselves against a superior power. Let’s say, Deathbird? A character that’s known to put her vengeance over her own well-being. This would have been a great opportunity for the X-Men to become a bigger part of the intergalactic community. Other than taking part in destabilizing it.
Now I’m just throwing things at the wall here, but hear me out. It’s been established that Vibranium is extraterrestrial in nature. What if while traveling to the Earth a rich deposit of it made landfall on the moon, and it happened to be right under the feet of the X-Men’s new home. Of course, the X-Men would begin to mine it. This would give them a resource to trade and utilize. It’d bring world leaders to the table, quite possibly even the Inhumans. Chances are, they’d try to lay claim to it as the Moon’s original occupants. Undoubtedly, tensions would rise and hostilities between Earth and the Moon’s mutant population would be threatened.
While that whole mess is unfolding in space, it would make it more difficult for the remaining Earth X-Men to do their jobs as they would be crisscrossing over sovereign borders (more chances for storytelling). They’d most likely receive pressure from their landlords, Namor, and the Atlantian people. Having access to Vibranium would be a big coup for them, and it may ruffle some feathers in Wakanda, which would make the X-Men’s position all the more dubious.
The X-Men being hosted by S.W.O.R.D. would also see their situation change. As relations with the Earth crumble, Danvers and Brand would surely be given orders to limit their movement on the station. Danvers would most certainly, if not begrudgingly, follow orders, but Brand being a mutant herself would have her allegiances challenged. All these stories could have been carried across three titles. It’d be nothing new for the X-Men to share continuity across their franchise and tell the same story from several angles.
How would it all be resolved?
I see it ending similarly to how it did in the books. The earthbound X-Men discover the imminent saturation point that would make the planet forever poisoned to anyone with the X-Gene. Unlike in the books, they take the information public and expose the Inhumans. However, no world power will take up arms against the Inhumans as they would have become a global power. Instead, the Inhumans would unofficially declare war on the X-Men and demand that they vacate the Moon. Yes, I know that would make the Inhumans 100% the antagonists here but… weren’t they that in the books as well? Marvel can retcon all they want, but before IvX the X-Men presented the Inhumans with their concerns and they all but said “so what.”
The Inhumans were ready to go to war just to protect the clouds. Now that there are unimaginable wealth and power on the line with the deposits of Vibranium on the Moon, I can’t see them backing down. The Inhumans attack. On Earth, the X-Men do much of the same with aide from their Atlantian allies, but the support is limited due to threats from Wakanda. On the Moon, using one of the greatest McGuffins of all time, Vibranium, a solution to controlling or containing the cloud could be developed. Just as it happened in the books, the two sides would come to an understanding before it all really got out of hand. That is if you considered the supposed murdering of Cyclops as part of things being ‘under control.’ I still have issues with how the superhero community just let them get away with that… Fake or not, everyone in the world thought it happened.
Like this scenario, there were a lot of options other than hell for the X-Men to explore. Not just from a logistical standpoint, but for the sake of the narrative and overall common sense. And that’s without involving the criminally underutilized Eternals (other than Starfox taking advantage of all the Earth-women), or Lila Cheney’s forgotten Dyson Sphere. The idea, or better said, back-tracking the X-Men writers and editors went with was, in my honest opinion, laughable and wholly uninteresting. The $#%# just didn’t make any sense. That is sad because they had the freedom to do whatever they wanted. With Disney and Marvel bringing the X-Men home, I hope not just to see new merchandise on the shelves, but a bigger, brighter approach to the books.