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Age of X-Man is an epic Marvel event about what happens when the X-Men finally win

The X-Men are happy? It’s more likely than you think

Cover of Age of X-Man Alpha, Marvel Comics (2019). Phil Noto/Marvel Comics
Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

This winter has been full of upheavals for the X-Men in the pages of Marvel Comics, their ancestral home. The time-lost X-Men got sent home, the X-Men disappeared, and Cyclops came back from the dead.

And this week, Marvel Comics is using one of those events as the kickoff point for an X-Men alternate-universe story with a twist. There are countless X-Men timelines in which things go horribly awry for mutants, but Age of X-Man is about what would happen if the X-Men succeeded. What would happen if our heroes finally beat hate?

What is Age of X-Man?

The gist: Age of X-Man is a group of six, five-issue miniseries running from January through July, bookended by an introductory one-shot issue and a concluding one-shot issue. The first one-shot, Age of X-Man: Alpha is out this week. Each miniseries is about a different aspect of life in a mutant utopia lead by the X-Men.

Let’s let writing partners Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler (Cable, X-Men: Black) explain, in this humorous and charmingly low-budget video:

“We designed this event specifically so each miniseries functions on it its own and tells a complete story,” Thompson says in the video. “If you read the Alpha and read your favorite miniseries ... and then you read the Omega, you will read a complete version of this event.”

Age of X-Men is somewhat inspired by the 1995 X-Men crossover event Age of Apocalypse, which was also bookended by one-shot issues subtitled Alpha and Omega. But whereas the alternate future under Apocalypse’s rule was a dark timeline in which the X-Men mounted a struggling resistance, Age of X-Man is turning that on its head.

“It’s not a dystopia,” Thompson says, “it’s actually the opposite. It’s ‘What do we do after we’ve won?’ What is the X-Men’s purpose when they’re all united and they’ve beat hate?”

Is this spinning out of X-Men Disassembled? How?

Uncanny X-Men, the main X-Men title, just wrapped a big weekly story arc called X-Men Disassembled, that ended with Nate Grey/X-Man — a character created for Age of Apocalypse — insisting that if the X-Men wouldn’t let him violently bend the world into treating mutants with respect, he’d have to try his last resort solution. And then, he used his enormous powers to make all of the X-Men disappear.

The “Age of X-Man” appears to be where they all disappeared to.

Now, don’t worry, the main X-Men titles will still be moving forward as Age of X-Man plays out. A freshly resurrected Cyclops and Wolverine won’t stop until they get their friends back in the main timeline. Age of X-Man is just a wide look at, apparently, the place that Nate Grey created for Mutants to live harmonious lives.

So what happens in this week’s Age of X-Man Alpha?

Age of X-Man Alpha gives us an exposition filled look at a new world where everyone on Earth is a mutant, through the most quintessential of X-Men stories. The X-Men rescue a young mutant with uncontrolled powers from harming those around them, and then take them on a tour of their new home, the Xavier School Summers Institute.

Everything in this new world seems like a social and environmental utopia, although some of the X-Men have dark memories of the chaotic day that everyone suddenly became a Mutant. But this is comics: Of course there are some dark parts of this brave new world. For one thing it seems like it’s ... illegal to fall in love?

The issue also lays hints and plot hooks out for Age of X-Man’s six miniseries, from Nightcrawler’s successful film career, to the new anti-romance Mutant police force, the X-Tremists.

What are the different minis and who are they about?

The Marvelous X-Men looks like it’s our “main X-Men title” of this timeline. Written by Thompson and Nadler and drawn by Marco Failla, it follows an X-Men team made up of Jean Grey, X-23, Colossus, Nature Girl, Nightcrawler, X-Man, Storm and Magneto.

Age of X-Man: NextGen #1, Marvel Comics (2019). Marcus To/Marvel Comics

NextGen #1, from writer Ed Brisson (Dead Man Logan) and artist Marcus To (Justice League: No Justice), seems like it’s the traditional X-Men school book, following teens at the Summers Institute on their typical X-teen rebellions.

Age of X-Man: The Amazing Nightcrawler #1, Marvel Comics (2019). Shane Davis, Michelle Delecki, Federico Blee/Marvel Comics

In The Age of X-Man, Kurt Wagner can finally achieve his true calling: Being the leading man in an internationally beloved series of swashbuckling blockbuster action films. Writer Seanan McGuire (Ghost Spider) and artist Juan Frigeri (Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man) team for The Amazing Nightcrawler.

The X-Tremists are the police of this new Mutant utopia, comprised of Psylocke, Iceman, Northstar, Blob, Jubilee and Moneta. Writer Leah Williams (What If? Magik) and Georges Jeanty (Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman) will dig into the dark side of Mutant rule — which has apparently outlawed falling in love and having children.

Age of X-Men: Prisoner X, Marvel Comics (2019). Marvel Comics

Age of X-Man: Prisoner X follows the character of Bishop, as he’s sent to the meanest Mutant prison around: The Danger Room. Vita Ayala (Batgirl, Wonder Woman) will be writing the series, with art form German Peralta (Thanos).

Age of X-Man: Apocalypse and the X-Tracts #1, Marvel Comics (2019). Gerardo Sandoval, Israel Silva/Marvel Comics

And finally, in Age of X-Man: Apocalypse and the X-Tracts, from writer Tim Seeley (Nightwing) and artist Salva Espin (You Are Deadpool), one of the X-Men’s most powerful foes is recast as... a trippy free love guru?

So check out Age of X-Man, where the villain Apocalypse will try to teach you what romance is. I know I’m in.

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