Marvel’s viral history of the Age of X

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While reading this week’s Generation Hope #2 from Marvel, I came across the Age of X advertisement that has been running for the past few weeks. This time, thing’s were a little different as the image now contained the tag line “What You Know Is Wrong!” along with a QR (quick response) bar code with the text:

“Download a QR reader to your smartphone for access to exclusive Age of X Historical Logs – Historical Log 1A”

Not that Generation Hope #2 wasn’t riveting, but I had to stop right there and see what this was all about.

Having an original first generation iPhone, the toughest part was finding a QR reader that didn’t require iOS 4. After settling on something simply titled “QR Reader,” I took my picture and found this:

This is perhaps one of the most intriguing campaigns I’ve seen in my time reading comics and I’m really impressed with how it uses modern technology to send readers out on a scavenger hunt of sorts. Historical Log 1A is the only one I came across in this week’s books, but there are sure to be more as we count down to Age of X.

The QR code takes you to the following URL: http://marvel.com/12271984/ It may be coincidence, but the end of the address could represent 12/27/1984; the possible date of the depicted “March of Purity.” While I’m saddened to learn the fate of Hank McCoy (Beast) in the Age of X timeline, this only has me more eager to see what’s coming next.

The tagline “What You Know Is Wrong!” also has my curiosity piqued. Obviously, the Age of X timeline is different from the one we know, but those words have me thinking that maybe we’re about to learn that something changed the way the Marvel Universe was meant to develop, making it the “wrong” timeline.

Look for more updates here on MLD. In the meantime, follow all of our Age of X coverage.

UPDATE (December 9th): Age of X Historical Log 2B is now available at Marvel.com. I don’t know if this circulated with this week’s Marvel books (since I had nothing my pull list this week), but I first became aware of from a forum post on ComicBookResources (Thanks, Peter F.).

This time around, we see an event described by writer Mike Carey in recent interviews as Phoenix (Jean Grey) destroys the city of Albany, NY. The URL for this image is: http://www.marvel.com/661983 lending even more evidence that the address coincides with a date in the history of the Age of X. If this is indeed the case, the destruction of Albany and the death of 600,000 people occurs before the murder of Hank McCoy by an angry mob (see above). This would certainly go a long way to explaining that world’s escalated hatred of mutants. It’s also interesting that the image caption uses the word “decimated” as that was term used to describe the depowering of most of the world’s mutants during House of M.

I can see these historical logs working backward to the critical event where the Age of X diverged from the Marvel Universe (616).

UPDATE (December 15th): Age of X Historical Log 3C is running as an imbedded link in QR codes in this week’s new comics.

In response to Phoenix’s destruction of Albany, NY, the US government in the Age of X released something called Exonim Sentinels to “subdue” the mutant population. This mutant eradication serves as the Decimation of this world and is a brutal parallel to the depowering of ninety percent of the Marvel Universe’s mutants during the House of M.

The image associated with this week’s historical log features the architects of the House of M, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch (who certainly appears to have been “subdued”). It’s safe to say that at least one of their fates is sealed as of 10/10/1981:http://www.marvel.com/10101981

UPDATE (December 23rd): Age of X Historical Log 4D is embedded in another week’s worth of Marvel comic books, including new issues of three X-Men titles that were on the shelves.

It had previously been announced that the non-mutant heroes of the Age of X would be explored in a mini-series titled Age of X Universe this Spring, but this week we get a bit of a sneak preview as the Fantastic Four are publicly arrested for harboring a mutant fugitive. From the looks of it, the mutant in question is Wolfsbane, but if the URL (http://marvel.com/6121972/) is anything to by, a date of 6/12/1972 doesn’t make a lot of sense given the age of that character (also, she didn’t make her first appearance until 1982 our time for whatever that’s worth).

That’s minor stuff when held up against what I see as the most intriguing part of this information log, the Fantastic Four’s own Invisible Woman turned her family and teammates in to the authorities. This is way out of character for the Sue Storm we know, and I can only hope we get to see more of her and the fallout this surely caused for this world. This marketing campaign is the greatest. I hope it continues until the Age of X begins at the end of January. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind seeing these as the series is published as well. Great stuff.

UPDATE (December 30th): The last Wednesday of 2010 unleashed Age of X Historical Log 5E in Marvel’s weekly titles. This one brought an interesting new wrinkle to the Age of X universe introducing their Avengers.

In this historical log, we see that after the Decimation, the United States government put together a team of superhumans to hunt down the remaining mutants. Following up on the fate of the Fantastic Four last week, these “Avengers” include the Invisible Woman, presumably after the incarceration of the rest of the Fantastic Four, along with Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk, Ghost Rider and Spider Woman (?).

It’s hard to imagine Steve Rogers and the rest of these heroes as mutant hunters, but this is a very different world than the one we know. Other points of interest include the Cap wielding what appears to be an energy shield, a deformed Hulk, and Ghost Rider as an Avenger. The URL for log 5E once again appears to be a date, http://marvel.com/9131968/, but it’s becoming less and less likely that these dates are meaningful in any obvious way. The events they’re associated with are out of chronological order, so any significance is somewhat cryptic.

I can’t say enough how much I’m enjoying the build up to this series. I look forward to these weekly reveals almost as much as the books they’re hidden in. Be sure to check out MLD’s Age of X hub for more on this series.

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