War of the Worlds to the Great Injustice
On Saturday, June 29, 1901, the Martian Masters launched an invasion of Earth that since became known as the first War of the Worlds. Though man's most powerful weapons proved useless against the Martians with their mechanical tripods and heat rays, the invaders were brought down by terrestrial bacteria. In the aftermath, the event was fictionalized through a novelization and a disinformation campaign. (On Earth-616 the first invasion took place in about 1907, but was hushed up to prevent market panic. There was another attempted invasion in 1917.)
The economic depression of the 1970s, with a constantly rising cost of living, marked the rapid deterioration of western civilization. Rather than encouraging the populace to reduce the rapid consumption at the heart of the depression, world leaders opted instead for the rapid proliferation of nuclear fission plants to power more factories to produce more inferior goods from quickly-dwindling natural resources. The aerosol industry, for example, grew to an enormous three billion dollar a year industry in the 1970s, though scientists warned that the gas in the cans would break down the world's ozone layer. The public, however, refused to listen, at least until the first skin cancer epidemic of 1982. It became so deadly to be out in the sun that protective clothing was needed simply to cross the street.
Divergence from Earth-616 definitely occurred by the early 1980s. All non-essential funding was shifted to bionics, primarily in an effort to find replacements for limbs destroyed by cancerous sunlight. Farms were moved indoors, and the use of hydroponics to cultivate food stocks from chemicals began to slowly edge out more natural farming methods. Traditional schooling methods were supplanted in favor of pre-recorded, audio-visual lessons undergone at the student's pace in individual cubicles, while teachers did little more than change the tapes. The mural-phonics system, which allowed the audience to see, hear, and even experience the sensations of its subjects through virtual-reality helmets, became the dominant entertainment medium. Militarily, the superpowers continued to research and construct nuclear and biological weapons. A lunar base was established, and at least one mission was successfully landed on Mars. Before the majority of its funding was diverted to bionics research, NASA launched Project Starjump -- an effort to launch a single human, whose life would be prolonged by periodically-interrupted cryogenic suspension, to Beta Centauri IV -- as its last major effort in 1988, with Major Vance Astro as the pilot.
By this time the Bionics Wars -- vast mobilizations of cyborg armies competing for scarce resources and food stocks -- were already raging across the globe. In 1995, a thermonuclear reactor -- one of the many fusion reactors embraced by nations and corporations after 1993, despite popular opposition -- exploded as a result of cyborg fighting. The resulting explosion rendered Western Canada uninhabitable, and worldwide public outcry threatened a massive revolution if the nations could not end the senseless violence. The Bionics Wars formally ended in that same year with the signing of the Treaty of Peking and the formation of the first Confederation of Nations. By the late 1990s, high-speed transbelt conveyors became the primary mode of overland shipping and travel. Even more sophisticated artificial reality and sensation systems were developed: Cinderella was re-released in a sensory-stimulating version in 1996, and the octo-tympanum-viewscope -- a fully-immersing system which combined musical tracks with solid-holographic imagery and emotional stimulation -- was developed in 1998.
In 1999, anti-mutant hysteria gripped the world and led to the construction of an army of upgraded, highly powerful Sentinels. The Sentinels decimated the mutant population, killing many in what would become known as the Great Injustice. Namor conclusively ended the Great Injustice by sending the Sentinels to a watery end. In the aftermath, a band of mutants under Magneto's leadership, known as the X-Iles, abandoned Earth to escape destruction. The group first settled on Jupiter's moon Europa, establishing a city under the northern magnetic pole, but eventually left the Sol system for the planet Haven.. At around the same time in 1999, an astronaut was sent on a manned flight to Mars without proper shielding, and was affected by the cosmic rays. He returned to Earth through unknown means and remained in a coma-like state at the Miami Museum of Cultural Development.
War of the Worlds (II) to colonization
On the night of June 29, 2001, the Martians launched Attack II, the second attempt to invade the Earth. The Martians' initial assault simultaneously destroyed all human stockpiles of nuclear arms, assuring that not one nuclear weapon would be fired in the course of the war. By morning, the Martians had begun dismantling transportation systems. Terran forces used biological weapons against the invaders, only to discover that they had developed a general-purpose immunity. While the Martians sought to keep as many humans alive as possible for food, labor, and entertainment, the biological weapons deployed during the assault killed or mutated many. Armies conducted counter-attacks, and civilians either rose in defense or fled. The second assault -- skirmishes with pockets of resistance, civilian freedom fighters, and remaining superheroes such as Captain America and Spider-Man -- lasted into 2006, but the initial assault had been so devastating that the event soon became known as the One Night War.
Led by a powerful High Overlord, the Martian Masters enslaved most of the population, as labor in converting Terran edifices to new uses, guards for their fortresses, or even as simple cattle. Some were drafted as gladiators to fight for the Martian Masters' amusement, while others were trained as Exterminators to hunt down the last freemen threatening Martian rule. The Martians were particularly interesting in co-opting scientists, many of whom became Keepers, collaborators responsible for overseeing their fellow humans. In 2014, the gladiator Killraven escaped from captivity and soon became the leader of a particularly troublesome band of freemen. Along the way, Killraven would also team up with Earth-616's Spider-Man in 2019. Despite any hopes humanity held for a savior, the Martian force would not depart until 2075, having finally depleted Earth's resources.
With the Martians gone, humanity was free, but barbarous. Societies soon formed around independent city-states ruled by techno-barons, who controlled the fruits of scientific progress. In 2188, one such techno-baron named Isaac Harkov developed a theoretical means of faster-than-light travel. For the most part, though, the techno-barons fought among themselves for territory and other prizes. At some point, the serfs rebelled against the techno-barons, refusing to fight for possession of the Moon. By 2525, Kwaal, the last of the techno-barons, was killed by the serfs.
In 2850, Harkov's texts resurfaced, and in 2900, the fuel necessary to implement Harkov's theory of faster-than-light travel was found in quantity at Mercury's core, and dubbed "harkovium". By this time, humanity had spread to several planets within the Sol system, using genetic engineering to modify humans to survive in the harsh environments of Mercury, Jupiter, and Pluto. Humans engineered to withstand extreme heat and light operated the mining colony on Mercury. Massive, dense humans were engineered to survive Jovian gravity. Humans were altered into a crystalline, silicon-based form to survive on the manufacturing colony of Pluto. Uninhabitable Venus became home to thermo-electric plants which transmitted power to Earth and its lunar colony via laser relays. In 2908, the first Harkovian star-ship, Andromeda, was constructed, but lost on its maiden voyage. In 2940 a fleet was launched for the Alpha Centauri trinary star system. There, humans established their first friendly contact with an alien race: blue-skinned, pre-industrial beings on the planet Centauri IV, a planet orbiting the Beta Centauri star. In 3000, Earth, its colonies, and Centauri IV joined as equals under the United Federation of Earth. In 3006, Vance Astro's ship (all attempts to reach him before this point having failed) finally reached the Alpha Centauri system, where he was dismayed to learn faster-than-light travel had rendered his mission pointless.
Badoon Wars and beyond
In 3007, the peace was shattered by the invading Brotherhood of Badoon. The Badoon completely destroyed the human colonies, killing all. On the final push for Earth, the Badoon easily overwhelmed the inferior fleet of the United Lands of Earth, and killed and enslaved millions as they conquered the planet. Guided by the unseen hand of Starhawk, a sole survivor from each colony, along with Vance Astro, sole survivor of the twentieth century, banded together to resist the Badoon as the Guardians of the Galaxy. Eventually, the Sisterhood of Badoon traveled to Earth to take the males into custody. With the Badoon gone, the Guardians found that Earth offered little for them, and re-dedicated the group as an interstellar enterprise, primarily funded by the sale of historical docu-chips Vance made of the group's time-traveling encounters with beings from the Age of Heroes, such as the Avengers. Among their many adventures was the "Shield Quest", in which the team (at Vance's urging) followed rumor, myth, and legend to ultimately find the long-lost shield of Captain America.
- Earth-691 does not appear to be affected by a Sliding Timescale. The evidence for this comes from the events with specific time periods, such as the Sentinels killing mutants and the subsequent mutant exodus taking place near the end of the 20th century, and the Martians invading in 2001. Another evidence for this is the Dreamer, an who was an astronaut in 1999, and in Killraven's time, created distorted, demonic illusions of the "heroes of his youth", which included many of the Marvel heroes who were around during the 1970s such as Iron Man, Doctor Strange, and more, and a Captain America who was also President Gerald Ford, who was President from August 1976 to January 1977. This means that many of the Marvel heroes were active during Ford's administration at least.
- The first divergence between Earth-691 and Earth-616 is the first Martian Invasion of Earth-691 took place in 1901, while on Earth-616 it took place in 1907.
- A major divergence on Earth-691 is during the 1970s, in which the aerosol industry grew so prominent, that the effects of their products affected the ozone so badly that it led to a Skin Cancer Epidemic in 1982 and the resulting 1980s bionics development. This did not happen in Earth-616's history, also partly because of its Sliding Timeline.
- Another major point of divergence from Earth-616 was when Earth-691's Vance Astro activated the powers of Earth-616's Vance Astrovik when the latter was a child. (the Earth-691 Vance's powers manfiested as an adult instead). Later stories implied that one change led to other drastic changes, such as causing the Secret Wars to happen on Earth-616 while it never happened on Earth-691 (as Earth-691's Beyonder first made his appearance in Earth-691's reality in the far future).
- Despite the drastic changes in the timeline between the 1970s to 2000 mentioned above, it appears that most 20th century heroes eventually adopted their late 80s/early 90s designs prior to the second Martian Invasion. Tony Stark's last armor appears to have been the Neo-Classic Armor, Kitty Pryde's costume during the Mutant exodus appears to be her Excalibur costume, and Hulk appears to be in his merged Professor Hulk incarnation.
- Mark Millar and Grant Morrison tried to tie Earth-691 with the timeline of 2099, making Ravage a descendant of Killraven, Earth's society would have rebuilt itself, and Martians would come back, but Mars would be destroyed by Galactus. However, those plans ended up being scrapped.
- 104 appearance(s) of Earth-691
- 10 minor appearance(s) of Earth-691
- 9 mention(s) of Earth-691
- 490 image(s) of Earth-691
- 253 characters that originate from Earth-691
- 19 teams that originate from Earth-691
- 6 organizations that originate from Earth-691
- 15 locations that originate from Earth-691
- 9 items that originate from Earth-691
- 8 vehicles that originate from Earth-691
- 17 races that originate from Earth-691
Links and References
- Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe index of articles on Earth-691 characters
- Marvel Chronology Project page for Earth-691 character appearances
- MCP discussion of the relationship between the Killraven and Guardians of the Galaxy stories, focusing on the role of Mars