Marvel Comics is gearing up for their next X-Men election – but could the latest fan vote cause major continuity problems for the Marvel Universe?
The latest X-Men election could cause a continuity nightmare in Marvel Comics. The X-Men franchise is going from strength to strength. One of the highlights of 2021 was a unique X-Men election, that saw the fans given the opportunity to vote for the final member of the latest X-Men team. It was a phenomenal success, driving engagement online and leading fans to actually campaign for their favorites. Marvel’s honored the election by giving all the characters who were part of it an increased presence in the books, clearly delighted at the love some Z-list mutants received online.
In-universe, the X-Men were elected at Emma Frost’s Hellfire Gala – which she intended to be an annual event. The general assumption was that there’d be an election every time the mutants held another Hellfire Gala, and indeed Marvel Comics has just announced the 2022 X-Men election. The publisher is no doubt hoping lightning will strike twice, with fans equally thrilled at another opportunity to vote and campaign. But, though they may not realize it, they may actually have caused some major continuity problems.
The core issue lies in Marvel’s sliding timeline. Marvel Comics are always set in “the world outside your window,” which means they’re in the present day. But, because comic book characters don’t age at a normal rate, that means past issues are always moving up in the timeline. To use an example, the genocide at Genosha took place at the beginning of Grant Morrison’s X-Men run, in a story told back in 2001. But in-universe, according to House of X #2 it happened roughly three years before Krakoa was founded. That means 18 years of comic book events have been compressed down to just 3 years in-universe.
If Marvel intend to make X-Men elections an annual event, though, then the sliding timeline begins to break down. In-universe, this latest X-Men election is about changing a team roster that has only been established for a few weeks at most. It’s certainly far too soon for another Hellfire Gala event, with the mutant community of Krakoa choosing an entirely new X-Men team.
Alternatively, Jonathan Hickman’s tenure as lead on the X-Men books has seen Marvel take a rather loose approach to the timeline – complete with a still-mysterious six month time jump that’s never truly been explored. So it’s possible the X-Men books will move away from the main timeline during the “Destiny of X” era, allowing for another election. If that is indeed the case, though, there’ll be major problems whenever Marvel try to tie the X-books into the latest events – and that could become a real problem in the next year, with Marvel teasing an upcoming Avengers and X-Men event. This latest X-Men election could very well be seriously problematic further down the line.
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