By Jon Durmin
There are many significant moments in the history of the 616 where everything changes; turning points. Some of them are obvious like the climactic moments of Uncanny X-Men #137 or Amazing Spider-Man #122. Others are more subtle but no less important. One such keystone moments in Marvel history took place in the final panels of Uncanny X-Men #250. At the end of that issue Gateway snatched the 4 remaining Outback X-Men, Colossus, Dazzler, Havok, & Psylocke back from the Savage Land immediately after they had rescued Lorna Dane from Zaladane with the help of Ka-Zar. We saw in a flashback the following issue, that Psylocke had sent herself and the other 3 through the Siege Perilous to escape a precognitive vision of their deaths at the hands of the Reavers. What if Gateway HADN’T teleported the group back? What if they had made their way back to the Savage Land, Lorna in tow, to their base in Australia? What teams, all claiming the X-Men mantle, might we have had then? Since that group is making their way back from the Savage Land Logan & Jubilee would still encounter the Reavers as before, but I suspect everything else happens a bit differently. Let’s just imagine WHAT the X-Men franchise might have looked like in the late ‘80s and into the ‘90s IF that issue had ended just a bit differently and the X-Men hadn’t entered the Siege Perilous . . . What if . . ?
Uncanny X-Men (Outback team)
Havok (Leader, cosmic blasts and increasingly-less-reluctant hero. This is the direction he was headed at the end of #250)
Dazzler (Disco Inferno! building more & more confidence as part of this team)
Psylocke (Titanic telepath and British Babe, never switches bodies with Kwannon and becomes a ninja, but still a warrior in her own right)
Colossus (Heart, soul & muscle of the team)
Riot! (Lorna Dane with her new emotion affecting powers)
Magma (recruited back from Nova Roma on the team’s way back from the Savage Land)
Gateway (Spiritual leader and transportation)
In Uncanny X-Men #250 Lorna left the conflict with Zaladane having been stripped of her magnetic abilities, but possessing new powers that affected men’s emotions while making her physically more strong and resilient. In our scenario, this interferes with Empath’s abilities when the X-Men encounter him and Magma in the Amazon allowing the lava launching lovely to break free of his manipulations. Later, when the team finally arrives back in Oz, I see Lorna’s powers leading most of the male Reavers to turn against one another. Along with Magma’s added power, this allows the team to defeat Lady Deathstrike & the remaining Reavers. As a result the Reavers never attack Muir Island. Lorna’s powers also lead to a love triangle between her, Alex & Peter until Gateway helps her to learn via Aboriginal spiritual practices to better control her abilities at which point she ends up choosing Peter and leaving Alex open to finding somebody else. This also fits with plans Claremont allegedly had for Gateway to eventually step into the role of spiritual leader of the X-Men, guiding the group on a path somewhere between Xavier’s and Magneto’s way with traditional Aboriginal spiritual beliefs. I think Roma of Otherworld was to be involved in this somehow too.
Wolverine & the X-Men
Wolverine (initial leader, believes the outback team dead & slowly recovering from the Reavers’ attack)
Jubilee (Logan’s protege & rescuer)
Sunfire (goes on the run with Logan & Jubilee as House Yoshida is sold out by Silver Samurai to the Hand)
Strong Guy (joins the others when they arrive in California)
Stormy (lil’ Ro. Remember when Nanny and Orphan Maker turned her into an 8 year old?)
Gambit (Stormy’s rescuer & man of mystery)
Spider-Man (What? Yep. This is heavily inspired by the Jeff Parker penned What if . . . Spider-Man vs Wolverine book from a few years ago. After killing Charlemagne in the Spider-Man vs Wolverine mini-series [which is where Logan was before he came back to the Reaver’s trap] he struggles to face his friends & family back in New York. When he is seemingly buried alive and replaced by Kraven the Hunter. Peter feels he’s lost everything. He turns to Logan for guidance to cope with the trauma of these experiences. With the others they start working as a migratory band of legendary heroes).
X-Men (Savage Land) Engaged in a battle to save the Savage Land from enslavement by Zaladane, Sauron & the Savage Land Mutates – they’ve got an uphill battle before they will return to the outside world & join the battle with the Shadow King.
Magneto (Leader, Master of Magnetism)
Ka-Zar (Magneto’s chief ally in opposing Zaladane who comes to owe a blood debt to Magneto)
Rogue (Spit out from the Siege Perilous and surprised to find herself attracted to Magneto)
Toad (longtime ally and devotee of Magneto, Toad wasn’t used at all during this time period. Let’s say he finds Mags and seeks purpose with this team)
Karma (Searching for her younger siblings she finds her way to the Savage Land & joins this team)
Vertigo (repentant former member of the Savage Land Mutates who has come to help free her native land to make up for her time in the Marauders)
Quicksilver (On the outs with the Avengers, and struggling to integrate into life with his wife among the Inhumans, Pietro agrees to help his father with this more noble cause)
Cyclops (Leader & wife abandoner)
Jean Grey (Ham-fistedly resurrected home-wrecker & telekinetic)
Archangel (Barely tethered former agent of Apocalypse & $$money$$)
Beast (Brains & brawn & jokes & Avengers connections)
Iceman (More jokes & omega level ice manipulation)
Banshee (Joins up after escaping from the Shadow King’s Muir Island team in a hunt for the lost-X-Men. Showing increasing leadership potential which is grating on Cyke)
Forge (See Banshee; also more brains)
Through their heroism and partnering with the FF and Avengers this team is gradually making progress at making-up for the damage they did to human-mutant relations through their actions posing mutant hunters.
New Mutants (because this was pretty much the team then anyhow)
Cable Commander X, because that was his original name before Liefeld threw a temper tantrum to name him after his television service. (Leader, guardian by default, man of mystery, cyborg, probably-not-actually-Nathan-Summers, mutant?)
Cannonball (nigh invulnerable when he’s blastin’ and looked to for leadership by the other youngsters)
Sunspot (hot-headed strongman, in the process of calming down)
Wolfsbane (timid, guilt-ridden lycanthrope)
Warlock (comical, techno-organic alien lifeform)
Rictor (fast replacing Sunspot as the team hot head)
Boom-Boom (would rather be hanging out at the mall, but doesn’t really have another place to go home to . . . sorely in need of some girlfriends to talk to)
Excalibur Away on their Cross-Time Caper for most of this they will be back just in time to help the others face the Shadow King (or maybe even Cameron Hodge)
Nightcrawler (Leader, Swashbuckler, Awesome)
Phoenix II (Rachel Summers)
Shadowcat (headstrong, tough-gal and computer-whiz)
Meggan (Lovely shape-changing mutant/warpie)
Captain Britain (Omniversal defender of Earth-616)
Lockheed (Kitty’s pet Dragon, 100% awesome)
Widget (Weird Pan-dimensional floating robotic head)
The Muir Island X-Men
Legion (Possessed by the Shadow King & manipulating the others)
Amanda Sefton (first manipulated by SK and Legion to follow her mother into a darker sorcery)
Moira MacTaggert (letting the darkness within out under the Shadow King’s influence)
This team is increasingly public as Shadow King exploits Legion to make his play for power. The other members are all controlled by SK through Legion.
Freedom Force The US government’s mutant enforcement team there to make life more complicated for everybody else on this list.
US Agent (John Walker is installed as team commandant after Destiny is assassinated by agents of the Shadow King & Mystique disappears & is presumed dead, she’s actually in hiding trying to figure out who killed Destiny)
There you have it! What say you, body politic? Could there have been some super stories to tell with this cavalcade of character cadres? I sure think so! I do find myself wondering how such a change might impact the rest of the Marvel Universe at this time. After all, our big beautiful beloved Earth-616 is home to a broad bevy of benevolents and badies alike. How would all this affect the FF? The Avengers? New York-616? Perhaps we’ll have to address those questions in the future and once again ask, What If . . ?