NEW X-MEN #114-116 (2001): E is for Extinction; 1st Cassandra Nova and Emma Frost’s diamond skin

By 2001, Marvel had run the X-Men through more than a half-dozen team titles and at least 100 solo, miniseries, spin-offs and graphic novels. Probably a lot more than that. What could possibly by “new” about them at this point? Well, for one thing: Grant Morrison. For another: Frank Quitely.

The first page of the first issue tells us that we’re leaving the past behind–by paying sarcastic tribute to the Days of Future Past storyline.

The first story involves a small core team that blends the originals (Beast, Jean, Scott) and the biggest star (Wolverine) under Professor X’s leadership.

The team has a new version of Cerebro (called Cerebra), and new things…

When they power up the new mutant finder, it identifies strange new villain named Cassandra Nova as she is forcing one of Bolivar Trask’s descendents to help her dominate a Sentinel Master Mold that has been hiding in South America. Wolverine and Cyclops head out to track her down, but when they leave…

…She attacks Professor X, psychically, and identifies herself as his “first and oldest and last enemy.”

The strike team crash lands (yay! More X-Men plane crashes!) and capture Cassandra Nova, but fail to stop the Sentinels from killing almost everyone in the mutant country of Genosha. Except Emma Frost.

Emma gets hard for the first time, which Morrison uses to create a new concept: Secondary mutation. Unlike the mutant powers that emerge in adolescence, a secondary mutation happens to a fully powered, adult mutant.

She explains herself to Jean.

When they return to the mansion with their prisoner, Emma kills her.

Wow. This is not a sanitized version of Emma Frost. She also joins the team and this is how she takes on Frank Quitely’s new look, which is a large “X” across the body of the uniform…

Cassandra also has healing powers and isn’t dead from Emma’s attack. As she limps forward, Professor X shoots her multiple times.

If you’re thinking, “Professor X would never do that!” then you’re right. Cassandra, before her neck was snapped, swapped bodies with the Professor and, in his body, shot her body to kill him. We don’t know that yet, though.

As the arc ends, we learn that Cyclops and Marvel Girl aren’t happily married anymore.

Then Professor X (who is really Cassandra Nova) goes on national television to reveal himself as a mutant.

Brilliant.

THOR #36-38/538-540 (2001)

Karnilla frees Loki from a mortal prison while Thor’s mortal form of Jake Olson is suffering third degree burns in the hospital. Destroyer attacks the hospital and Marnot enables the…