X-Men Forever: What was the Marvel Universe like in 1991?
In light of the annoucement of X-Men Forever and Chris Claremont‘s intention to continue exactly where X-Men #3 left off in 1991, we thought it would be a good idea to remind ourselves what the state of the Marvel Universe was in 1991– before Stamford, the Super-Hero Registration Act, and Skrulls. Here’s all you need to know:
Charles Xavier is adjusting to having lost the use of his legs again recently. The X-Men have recently reformed into two teams, with Cyclops leading the blue strike force and Storm leading the gold strike force. Gambit has just joined and is still a mystery to the others.
During the gold strike force’s latest mission, they investigated the recent death of the Hellions and have recruited the time-traveling Bishop. At this time, Bishop is still unaware who the “X-traitor” will turn out to be. Much of the world still thinks the X-Men are dead and it’s possible they are still invisible to technology (due to a spell cast by Roma).
During their latest mission, the blue strike force met the newly formed Acolytes and witnessed the apparent death of Magneto (at the hands of his Acolyte Cortez) on Asteroid M, which has just been destroyed.
Cable is still leading this team, which has only recently formed, and at this point in time all we know about the white-haired mutant is that he and Stryfe are identical to each other and that he apparently did some military missions in ‘Nam where he met Chord of the New Warriors. He also has an unclear history with Wolverine. G.W. Bridge of SHIELD is investigating Cable since he believes that Cable is also running Stryfe’s organization the Mutant Liberation Front.
As of yet, there has been no revelations about Cannonball being an “Ex-Ternal” and there has been no revelation that Domino is actually Copycat while the real Domino is a captive of Mr. Tolliver.
X-Factor has just replaced “Freedom Force” as the government’s mutant counter-terrorist team. Havok is in charge and is very green as a leader, still concerned about living up to his brother’s example. Wolfsbane cannot really turn to human form at this point, stuck between her half-lupine form and full lupine form.
The London based team still includes Nightcrawler and Kitty Pryde in its ranks. At this point, half the team’s adventures seem to involve parallel realities and alternate timelines. Lockheed the Dragon has recently been revealed to be a sentient member of a telepathic race (though only we readers know that) and is recovering from injuries. At this point in time, Nightcrawler and Kitty Pryde have not seen their X-Men teammates since the events of the team’s apparent death.
Wolverine is still wearing the brown and tan uniform. In his own series, as 1991 closes, Wolverine has only just discovered the Weapon X facility and realized that some of his memories are false implants based loosely on real memories. He also now has the first inkling that he and Sabretooth are not related but perhaps used to work together for some kind of government unit. He has not yet learned about Team X, the group he was part of with John Wraith and Maverick.
AND NOW, THE REST OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE…
ALPHA FLIGHT: Alpha Flight is still operating at top form and was recently rejoined by James Hudson (Guardian) who has returned after being thought dead for a while. Weapon Omega has recently appeared and joined the team.
AVENGERS: The Avengers are still divided into two teams, the East Coast and West Coast branch. They have just gone through the Acts of Vengeance saga and have survived the Infinity Gauntlet affair. The Avengers have recently welcomed the young hero Rage into their ranks. The Kree-Shi’ar war (also known as “Operation: Galactic Storm”) has not happened yet, so there’s been no divisive moment when Iron Man led those Avengers who were willing to kill the Supreme Intelligence and Captain America led those who wanted to find another way (which led to Cap leaving the team afterward).
CAPTAIN AMERICA: Steve Rogers is still Captain America. He still hangs out with his sort-of-girlfriend Diamondback and still responds to the Captain America Hotline, an 800 number folks can call if they’re in trouble. James Bucky Barnes and Sharon Carter are both still dead as far as continuity is concerned. Jack Munroe is still operating as Nomad.
DAREDEVIL: The Kingpin has only recently been brought down and Matt Murdock has just regained his career as a lawyer, moving into Fisk’s old offices. He’s recently broken up with his girlfriend Karen Page and also recently tricked Typhoid Mary into being arrested by the police.
DR. STRANGE: Dr. Strange has recently been re-united with his love Clea, who no longer rules the Dark Dimension as it is now divided between Strange’s enemies Mordo, Umar and Dormammu.
FANTASTIC FOUR: After being married to Alicia Masters (the Thing’s ex) for a couple of years, Johnny Storm was recently shocked to learn that she’s actually been a Skrull spy this whole time. But rather than panic and come to the conclusion that maybe there are Skrull spies scattered all over the planet, the Fantastic Four simply flew into space and in a few hours they rescued the real Alicia and blew up the Skrull’s planet-sized war fortress, dealing the aliens a crippling blow. As things stand now, Johnny is dealing with the fact that his wife was a phony and that the real Alicia Masters is still very much in love with the Thing. The Thing is dealing with the fact that Alicia, whom he spent a lot of time and effort getting over, is now back and expecting their romance to rekindle.
GHOST RIDER: The Ghost Rider is Danny Ketch. Danny is just a teenager living in Queens and has no idea about the origins of the demon that now shares his body. Johnny Blaze has recently come into his life, acting as an ally and mentor. At this point, there had not been the revelation that Danny and Johnny were brothers, so Claremont may not use that plot point. The Midnight Sons likewise had not formed yet, so Blade the vampire hunter is still in a psychiatric hospital.
At this point in time, as far as continuity was concerned, Danny Ketch and Johnny Blaze were the only people to be possessed by a demonic entity and become a Ghost Rider, so there’s no reason Claremont has to reference or acknowledge the Spirits of Vengeance of other nations who’ve been appearing in recent stories.
HULK: Bruce Banner merged his personalities a few months ago and is now walking around as the green-skinned, intelligent, arrogant Hulk who prefers to be called “Dr. Banner.” He works with the group known as the Pantheon and is a public adventurer, no longer hunted by the army.
IRON MAN: After weeks of relying on his armor for life support because his nervous system had been destroyed by an enemy, Tony Stark has finally regained his full health during an adventure in China against the Mandarin. His friend James Rhodes hadn’t become War Machine yet, nor did the War Machine armor even exist in the beginning of 1992. At this time, Stark is operating in California.
NAMOR, THE SUB-MARINER: Namor has begun spending much time on the surface world, believing that dividing his time between sea and air will calm his sometimes irrational nature. At this point in time, he has become a respected businessman, in charge of the large corporation Oracle. He and his cousin Namorita of the New Warriors have only recently discovered that she is in fact a clone of her mother Namora.
NEW WARRIORS: The New Warriors are still in their early days as a team of teenage and college-age heroes. In 1991, the Warriors proved themselves by teaming up with the Fantastic Four in defeating the cosmic villain Terrax, earning them great acclaim and popularity. Richard Rider is still a member of the team and, although he is a Nova Corps Centurion, he is nowhere near as powerful as the hero we know today, nor does he have access to the Worldmind. Robbie Baldwin is still the fun-loving Speedball and is in no danger of becoming the self-torturing hero called Penance. Namorita is wearing multi-colored Atlantean armor rather than her swimsuit.
As 1992 begins, Night Thrasher’s foster father Chord has just shot himself and Thrasher is beginning to uncover the truth behind his parents’ murder.
PUNISHER: The Punisher is at large, with his buddy Microchip still at his side supplying weapons and technical support. At this point in time, the Punisher is a little more willing to make concessions when working with super-heroes, such as switching to rubber bullets until the team-up is over.
SPIDER-MAN: Spider-Man is still a grad student at ESU, married to Mary Jane, and living in a SoHo apartment. Venom is on an island, secure in the belief that Peter Parker is dead. Carnage does not exist, as far as anyone knows. Peter hasn’t gone through the traumatic experience of having the Chameleon convince him that his parents are alive nor does he have any reason to believe that the Jackal, Norman Osborn or the clone he fought years ago may all be alive.
Harry Osborn has recently gone nuts and fallen into the identity of the Green Goblin again, torn between his loyalty to Peter and his hatred of Spider-Man for killing his father. At this point in time, the second Hobgoblin (Philip Macendale) is possessed by an insane demon.
THOR: Recent events have led Thor’s spirit to seemingly die and his Asgardian body is now under the control of Erik Masterson, an architect whose essence was merged with the thunder god’s. To keep people from realizing he is not the real thing, Masterson makes an effort to speak like Thor. Masterson also recently teamed up with Beta Ray Bill and Drago (the Thor from the future) to form the loose-knit “Thor Corps.”
THANOS: The Infinity Gauntlet story has just ended, in which Thanos briefly became God and temporarily wiped out half the universe. Following that story, Earth’s heroes think the villain is dead but he’s actually retired to quiet, scientific research, realizing that omnipotence is no longer a prize he wants.
DR. DOOM: Doom has only recently won back his kingdom from Kristoff, his successor who convinced himself he was the actual Doom and took over for some time.
Teenager Chris Powell has only been operating as Darkhawk for a couple of months and still has no idea as to the origin of the amulet that gives him his power. Wendell Vaughn is still filling the role of Quasar with his Quantum Bands. Moon Knight, still operating as a vigilante and reserve Avenger, has recently found out that his old would-be sidekick Midnight II was turned into an insane cyborg by the Secret Empire (and then killed himself) in the Spider-Man story “Round Robin.” The only Guardians of the Galaxy is a team in the future. Deadpool is still a villain working for Mr. Tolliver. Sleepwalker is still running around. She-Hulk is still an attorney moonlighting as a super-hero.
And that about wraps it up. You’ve just survived your crash course in Marvel Dec. 1991-Jan. 1992.
Alan "Sizzler" Kistler misses some of the status quo that existed in January 1992. He has been recognized by mainstream media outlets such as the New York Daily News as a comic book historian. He’s had articles published at MTV Splashpage and his personal website can be found at: http://KistlerUniverse.com. One of these days he’d love to write for DC, Marvel or Doctor Who.