You comics fans might find it helpful to think of this story as though it were published in the 1979 Annual, or summer of 1979.
Epilogue upon the mountainside, emergent:
COLOSSUS: Time ceases its conventional meaning.
NIGHTCRAWLER: What is at stake? An ultimate, long night of captivity for the human mind. Or will the means to know the hearts, minds and imaginations of one another resolve with human survival? The least powerful among us, unable to be ignored by the wealthy---the journey we seem at times to walk, alone, the need to search after similarities.
COLOSSUS: Should these things be torn from the embrace of our experience, at the spell of the wolf? Lasting liberty---or a peaceful, exotic future deferred---will a bright day of justice emerge?
How else might these false barrier fall?
WOLVERINE: You three have a full-on scent now. The Wolf Man’s scent began vanishing after his split from you.
RAY (in Old Norse):(Då vi er levande igen, för den förste gång i busund *he’s using a corruption of Swedish and Icelandic. Thanks Beachy. Then we are living again, for the first time in a thousand years.)
NICOLA: You! Gospodin, do you understand now my language?
COLOSSUS: Da, Before, I could not, but now you are speaking some early form of Russian. I am not well versed in these things.
XAVIER: Perhaps you will find English useful in the modern world. It would be a simple process to convey your understanding into translation.
MARC: Extraordinary! Yet of all strange powers, I sense no magic in you people.
RAY: It is as I said: they are like animals who derive new traits than the parents, such as I have observed.
NICOLA: Perhaps our fate remains linked to the future re-appearance of the Box. If so, what is free will?
MARC: Perhaps, my brother, that is what we must now discover. As it stands, this world has been subtly changed in our wake.
NICOLA: Abril my love, I never expected to breath the air again...nor hold you so.
RAY: Huh. I’d still prefer to know how it happened!
MARC: (Abril) For now, I’d content myself to pick up anew...in the land where Mycearyns once stood true.
CYCLOPS: You’re welcome to come as far as Muir Island with us, friends.
STORM(thoughts): Jean brings back all the “inadvertent cosmic suicides” with her powers, we see how powerful she is but also we’re left with the individuals who’ve never experienced the broader universe that way with their imaginations...how will they all react?
CYCLOPS: And what of you, Machine Man? If you’re unlike any before you, surely you are some mutation in the truest sense?
MACHINE MAN (sitting cross legged, spot-welding himself): Possibly, with the environmental damages done, all of humankind will have to mutate some way to survive. I’m model x-51, so I was a born X-Man, except mutants have parents. Let’s just say, my birth certificate would make a run for President kinda tricky!
Jean touches Ororo on the arm, and without a word they step over from the rest, overlooking the savaged, proud wilderness, and the aching of the now-stilled seas hinted on the wind.
JEAN: (pacing) When I looked into the clairvoyant future flux, I realized the days flow by so quickly in the scheme of things. Their brevity terrifies me, these days to come, so filled with unbridled passions beyond imagining. And yet---is the future ever meant only to be briefly seen, to keep us beside the unknown in the moment? (She gives a little laugh, and turns to smile.) Is that why I can hardly hope to make another to understand?
ORORO: Then, if you cannot understand the flicker of the future you saw: what did you feel?
JEAN: An expansiveness...a song, composed of inspirations beyond this mode of existence...and finally, darkness...and a feeling...just ineffable...the true unknown, I guess...for now.
Is mankind not meant to live with such perceptions, but with those set in the moment? On such a thin sliver of time and space—here, can a thing like love take place?
ORORO: I saw a vision of Cairo...Tahrir Square, a place I haven’t seen since my parents died. I see such joy, the opposite of the great sadness of those days of bombs and fear and entrapment. I see no one alone, and people in need realizing each creature here is in this together. To this, we must answer, or else.
What is a day? What are thirty years? Even should we know the future, we must understand.
And as for love...all I can think now, sister, to say to you is this.
My birthday present from Charles was the first I could remember, Jean. He suggested memorization was a useful practice, and nothing suited the soul like poetry. Within the words I read that night, I found something Maya Angelou wrote which I committed to memory:
“Yet, if we are bold love strikes away the chains of fear from our souls.
In the flush of love’s light, we dare be brave
And suddenly we see that love costs all we are
And will ever be.
Yet, it is only love, which sets us free.
JEAN: Thanks for letting me unload these things, Storm. I wonder how best to perceive this transmetamorphosis.
A vision of what might become...a secret revealed:
Within the universal mind, ultimate hope to follow the purpose of all our days to the End.
Thank you. It may not be the greatest thing ever written, but it’s about the greatest things I could ever imagine. Cecil L. Disharoon, Jr.
Early X-Men - I started reading the book slightly before then, going over the last part of the fight with Moses Magnum and the first appearance with Alpha Flight. That was a great time to start reading comics! While I haven't had an opportunity to read most of them since college, I'm familiar with that era of the supergroup. Machine Man - not quite so familiar with, save for the 4 part limited series that placed him in a dystopian cyberpunk future (which is a great read). Bearing in mind my general familiarity, I can not go into specific details about where the characters were in that era. Scott loves Jean and vice-versa, Storm still hasn't gone punk, Kitty Pryde is not even a glimmer in the reader's eye...
I will start off by saying that the best characterizations you have are of Hank McCoy, the Professor and Cyclops. I never got a handle on Cyclops as a character at that time in my life, but what you present seems very consistant with who he was at the time, a veteran of X-Man wierdness, but someone who seemed to be easy enough to relate to on a human level. Hank and the Professor - both intelligent characters with brilliant minds, but I saw a distinction between the two in personality to keep them distinct. The Sub-Mariner cameo made me chuckle because his voice was spot on, which never ceases to amuse me. Nightcrawler, Wolverine and Colossus also kept the status quo for the most part, which is important in a period piece like you've written - with an epic plot that covers so much ground and introduces so many different elements, it is important for the reader to have an anchor to remind them that they're reading an X-Men comic.
The plot itself is very ambitious and fast-paced, perhaps a bit too much at times. The old addage of "less is more" comes to mind considering the sheer number of characters involved. At times, I was wondering who was going to show up next and how the current characters fit in and who was part of what scene. I think a portion of my confusion would have been dispelled if there'd been consistant formatting throughout. It sounds nitpicky and technical, but once the reader starts questioning what is going on, then the flow of a story is interrupted and the reader has to start up again.
To continue on the same vein, I had trouble figuring out what was going on during scenes because the story read mostly as straight dialogue as opposed to a comic book format. I've always had the idea that a comic book is just a movie that hasn't been filmed yet - the process of putting the scenes together visually is called "storyboarding". While the styling of the artwork is up to the artist, setting the scene and describing what is going to happen is part of a good author's duties. In television scripts, the "narrative notes" are located on the left side of the page, connected with a box to the dialogue on the right. Put together, these describe what is going on during a specific instance. Furthermore, it helps organize the elements of the story to flow correctly and smoothly while adhering to the author's ideal of what the story is supposed to be. Since you're not quite writing a TV/movie script, let me put it in a way that might be more relatable -
Imagine that you're reading a comic book to a blind kid. You'll find that reading only the contents of the word balloons doesn't quite capture the experience of a comic book. That's because comic books are much more than mere dialogue, right? But how to convey all the hard-hitting action, the subtle foreshadowing, and the heart-pounding drama of every single the artist passionately rendered? Break it down to what is happening frame by frame and describe what's happening and enjoy the process. With that, you get pacing, continuity, greater depth, and a myriad of other details that largely go unnoticed when crafted by a master.
The one thing that I thought served to undercut the plot was that everyone was explaining everything, rather than finding answers during the plot itself. "Show, don't tell" is the other axiom that I try to live by when writing and in so doing, stay true to the characters. All things mutant, Cerebro and psychic are the domain of Professor X. Literature, loqutiousness and science (genetics in particular) are the hallmark of the Beast's knowledge. Each and every character has something that they are good at, but are truely challenged when they are outside of their realms. Finding the answers or to find someone to tell them the answers, can enrichen the plot in ways that you never quite considered before.
Overall, the story was an ambitious homage to the X-Men. It had a lot of very intelligent concepts that I think could have been more effective with a bit more narration, perhaps a bit over the head of a 13-year old kid, but what kid reads comics these days ; ) I admire your ability to put your script out there and your love of superheroes.
I have to wrap it up because I have to get ready for bed and have some quality time with my wife, but if you choose to follow my advice and do another pass at it, I'll be more than happy to read and critique again. Perhaps I'll even take a stab at it and let you critique my work.
- Joe Braband