Uncanny X-Men #512 is one of the most enjoyable single issues I’ve read in a long time. One of the joys of this issue is that it can be read by itself; House of M and Hope are mentioned (foreshadowing the Second Coming epic event) but you don’t need to read back issues to understand what’s going on. The other reason to read this one is that writer Matt Fraction absolutely loads it with sci-fi elements, plus tinkers with the Marvel mythos in the process.
Eager to understand why no more mutants are being born, Beast and a small team of other X-Men decide to travel back in time to witness the birth of the first mutant. Who was the first? It’s not who you’d expect. If you know your Marvel history, you know that the first two superheroes the company debuted were the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner (Prince Namor). Human Torch at that time was a flaming android, so he’s out. That leaves the Sub-Mariner… but that’s wrong. Apparently, the first mutant was actually Dr. Nemesis, the man who created the Human Torch. The good doctor also turns out to still be alive. So Dr. Nemesis goes back in time to essentially witness his own birth.
In science-babble terms, what we have here is a temporal causal loop–something becomes its own cause through time travel. It’s kind of like the episode of Futurama where where Fry goes back to Roswell in the 40s and becomes his own grandfather through a weird turn of events. I guess another example would be the twist at the end of 12 Monkeys. With Uncanny X-Men #512 (spoiler), Dr. Nemesis operates on his own mother, ensuring his own birth and the future of the mutant race in the process!
If that’s not enough for sci-fi fans, this issue (it’s extra-sized) features a steampunk sentinel, plus the artwork of Yannick Paquette (who’s now drawing Swamp Thing) and inked by Karl Story (who worked on Alan Moore‘s Tom Strong).
—-I’ve got a new book out called A Rapturous Occasion. It’s a comedy of errors set around the holiday season, available in paperback and as an ebook through Amazon.
If you’d like to see the cover art and read a short free preview of Uncanny X-Men #512 on the Marvel site, click here.