After moving to San Francisco to start anew, the X-Men finally seemed to have found a place that accepted them. However, the acceptance was not universal and a backlash opened a door to a larger threat, the political force of Norman Osborn. Faced with a no-win situation, the X-Men changed the game and set up home on an artificial island constructed from one of Magneto’s downed asteroid bases that had crashed to Earth years before and positioned it in San Francisco Bay. With echoes of the previous mutant nation of Genosha, the X-Men declared it a mutant homeland and invited the few remaining mutants around the globe to join them on the island of Utopia. For a while, it seemed that the X-Men had gotten everything they dreamed of, but friction from within was destined to destroy Utopia and all for which it stood.
First Appearance: X-Men (1st series) #5 (as Asteroid M), Dark Avengers #8 (as Utopia), X-Men Legacy (1st series) #245 (as Fortress X), X-Men: Blue #8 (as New Tian)
Other Names: Asteroid M, New Tian, Fortress X
Originally, the rock that would become Utopia was an asteroid that Magneto had captured into Earth orbit and outfitted into becoming a space station. Following a conflict with the X-Men, this “Asteroid M” had fallen to Earth, sinking into the depths of the Pacific Ocean. Years later, the X-Men’s science team raised it and floated it just outside San Francisco harbor. Whilst the exact location of it was never shown, it was said to be just off the coast. It was often shown in close proximtity to the Golden Gate Bridge, narrowing it's probable location to just outside the bay entrance.
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As Magneto had built a complex into the rock years before, much of the repurposed asteroid was already fit for human habitation as an island. Although much of it was water damaged due to the years it had spent submerged, the general structure had remained intact. The facilities on the now-island were designed to accommodate the general mutant populace, as well as having more strategic elements for the X-Men’s missions.
For the general population, there were living quarters, as well as recreational facilities and a food hall. A farm was set up to grow crops in a bid to stop the inhabitants from relying too much on supplies from the mainland. For those who couldn’t fly, a boat was used to shuttle back and forth to San Francisco.
Science was a strong consideration on the island, demonstrated by the presence of a state-of-the-art medical bay and a research lab. There was a brig as well, which soon became populated with the numerous prisoners whom the X-Men were forced to hold captive. A large hanger bay was built that could house multiple X-jets, with runways built into the tunnels on the island. Classrooms were also set up to try to cater to the various students that lived on the island.
For the X-Men themselves, there was a conference room that held daily meeting with the senior X-Men about the goings-on of the island. Of course, no X-base would be complete without a Cerebra chamber and Utopia sported the spherical room version.
Below the island itself, there was a large pillar that prevented it from sinking into the ocean. Originally floated through anti-gravity technology, the pillar provided the island with non-mechanical, foundational support. Around the pillar itself, Namor set up the underwater city of New Atlantis, as his original kingdom having recently been destroyed.
Having moved from New York to San Francisco, the X-Men had hoped that the more tolerant city would spell the end of the hatred against mutants. This was not to be though as Norman Osborn had become head of HAMMER, a national “peacekeeping” organization, and he was using his power to rid the country of and perceived threats to it. When Simon Trask managed to stir up civil unrest against mutants within San Francisco, Osborn jumped at the chance to deploy his own, darker versions of the X-Men and Avengers into the city to apprehend the real X-Men. The X-Men soon found themselves with their backs against the wall as public opinion was turning against them and many mutants were captured by Osborn’s forces.
Cyclops decided it was time to enact a plan he had been thinking of for a while and he contacted the X-Club, the X-Men’s science team, to help him. Long forgotten and just off the coast in the Oakland Bay, the remains of Magneto’s Asteroid M lay submerged in the ocean. The X-Club worked around the clock to build a series of machines that would re-start the gravity engines that once allowed Asteroid M to stay in orbit. As the X-Men continued to battle Osborn’s forces, the X-Club took a submersible and attached the devices all around Asteroid M. With everything in place, the Asteroid’s engines came back to life and the huge chunk of rock was floated back to the surface. Cyclops took no time in evacuating all the mutants from the mainland to the new island, which he dubbed Utopia. He held a press conference and declared that, since the US obviously didn’t want mutants around, they would simply leave.
Osborn was incensed by Cyclops’ audacity and he sent the Dark Avengers to Utopia to kill the man. The shores of the fledgling nation quickly descended into a war zone as the X-Men defended their new home. Whilst most of the Dark Avengers were beaten, Osborn fared better in his one-on-one with Cyclops, until he noticed everything was being broadcast on TV. Realizing he couldn’t kill Cyclops as the whole world watched, he retreated from Utopia, putting an end to the whole situation. Whilst Cyclops appeared to have lost, he had actually won and now the X-Men were living in their own nation just off the coast of the US. [Utopia crossover]
Since it had been submerged for so long, the new island needed a lot of refurbishment to make it habitable. Fortunately, the X-Men had previously been using the Greymalkin Industries base just outside of San Francisco and now stripped it of all useful resources, transferring it all to Utopia. Expanding his position as team leader, Cyclops set himself up as leader of Utopia and utilized many of the senior X-Men as his leadership inner circle. They held daily meetings to coordinate the reconstruction progress of Utopia, as well as the growing number of mutants coming to the island.
The mutants themselves provided many of the resources the population needed. Storm and Iceman created the fresh water whilst Surge and Northstar helped power the generators. The New Mutants and the students were on hand to turn the barren land into a small farm where crops could eventually be grown. [Nation X]
The X-Men didn’t get much time to relish in their newfound freedom, as old patterns soon repeated themselves. First off was an attack by a pack of Predator Xs, followed then by an attack from Emplate, who made his presence known by kidnapping one of the students. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #516-517, X-Men Legacy (1st series) #228-230] However, the biggest challenge the X-Men faced in the early days of Utopia was an attack by the undead. Selene, formerly the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club, was in the final stages of becoming an actual goddess and had resurrected an army of dead mutants so she could use their life forces to empower herself. Before she completed her scheme, she sent some of the army to Utopia to kill as many X-Men as they could. Blink managed to teleport much of Selene's forces to the shore of Utopia, catching the X-Men off guard. Selene was eventually defeated, but not before many mutants were injured and some were even killed. [Necrosha crossover]
Utopia did not have a graveyard, so when Dr. Yuriko Takiguchi passed away his body was cremated and his ashes scattered out at sea. Meanwhile, Diamond Lil, who was one of those killed by Selene’s forces, was placed in a glass box and given and burial at sea. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #515, Nation X #3] Unfortunately, they would not be the last to lose their lives defending Utopia and those that called it home.
Not a true island, Utopia was technically a giant rock that remained above the ocean’s surface solely through technological means. As the engines that had refloated the island would not hold out forever, another plan to keep it afloat was required. The solution came from the unlikely source of Namor and his Atlantean kingdom. The ruler of Atlantis had recently joined the X-Men and many of his citizens had followed him. They set up base in the waters around Utopia and, with the help of the Magneto and the science team, built an enormous pillar that supported Utopia from below. The Atlanteans would in turn build their own homes around the base. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #520-521]
When Hope Summers, the so-called “messiah baby,” returned to the present day from the future, she instantly became the target of Bastion and his anti-mutant army. The X-Men managed to intervene and bring Hope to Utopia, though at the cost of Nightcrawler’s life. Bastion had planned for every eventuality though and activated Donald Pierce, who had been residing in the X-Men’s brig on Utopia. Pierce escaped his captivity and destroyed the X-Men’s Blackbird jets, killing himself in the process. With the X-Men’s mobility severely hindered, Bastion enacted the next stage in his plan by covering Utopia (and a large part of San Francisco) in an impenetrable dome. With the X-Men trapped inside, Bastian opened a portal into the future, allowing hundreds of deadly Sentinels to come through to wipe out the trapped mutants. Utopia quickly became a battleground as the X-Men fought for their lives. Fortunately, Bastion was eventually stopped by Hope and the dome destroyed, but at the cost of more mutant lives. [Second Coming crossover]
It wasn’t long before Utopia came under invasion again, only this time on a microscopic level. A man known as Lobe, head of the Sublime Corporation, had unleashed a virus on the island that would not only cause the mutants to get sicker but also lose their powers. As more mutants on the island fell prey to the disease, Utopia was put under quarantine until something could be done. Lobe’s intention was to put the X-Men out of action so that he could sell his new drug that was able to give ordinary humans mutant powers. With his own team of “X-Men,” he tried to take up the real X-Men’s role around San Francisco, though he wasn’t as successful as he hoped. He was eventually stopped and a cure for the virus was found, saving the lives of most of Utopia’s residents. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #530-534]
The next threat the island faced actually came from one of its residents. Legion, who had been living on Utopia whilst he received treatment for his multiple personality disorder, had a breakdown and used his reality-warping powers on the whole island. He put the rest of the universe in a pocket dimension and twisted Utopia into Fortress X. All the residents that were on Utopia had their memories erased and new ones implanted. In this new world, Fortress X was a skyscraper which resided behind a forcefield that was being maintained by a group of mutants. Each day, the residents would come under attack from the human forces from the outside, looking to invade and wipe out all those within. Legion’s new world only lasted a few days before things started to unravel. Magneto had begun to grow suspicious of his surroundings and Rogue also realized that all was not as it seemed. After some investigation, it was discovered that Legion had subconsciously created this new reality in response to the treatment for his mental health issues he was suffering from. With the knowledge that he had created this world, Legion was able to use his power to revert things back to reality. [Age of X]
When a spacecraft from Breakworld was picked up by SWORD, it was discovered that it was full of aliens seeking refuge on Earth. As it was partly the X-Men’s fault their planet was in disarray, it was decided the Breakworlder’s should set up home on Utopia until something permanent could be sorted. After some initial misgivings between the two groups, the Breakworlder’s were quickly relocated to a derelict neighborhood in San Francisco. [Uncanny X-Men (3rd series) #535-538]
More threats continued to plague the shores of Utopia, ranging from the likes of the Juggernaut to a recently resurrected Quentin Quire. It was the fallout from the latter’s attack on the X-Men that caused a schism between Wolverine and Cyclops. In the end, Wolverine left Utopia and took a great deal of students and X-Men with him. [X-Men: Schism #1-4, X-Men: Regenesis #1]
Cyclops remained on Utopia and reorganized the remaining X-Men into a number of teams designed to protect both the island and the X-Men. As well as creating the Extinction team, which would be the face of his X-Men, a security team was also formed that was tasked with stopping any threats getting on the island. [X-Men (3rd series) #20-38]
Unfortunately, the fall of Utopia was soon upon the X-Men when the Phoenix Force returned to Earth. The Avengers were understandably wary of the cosmic entity and they wanted to take Hope Summers into custody out of fear she would be its next avatar. The X-Men stood by Hope and a vicious battle soon ensued on the shores of Utopia. During the skirmish, the column supporting Utopia was damaged when Colossus and the Red Hulk fought. Hope managed to escape from both teams and the fight was taken away from Utopia and hidden across the world. The unthinkable happened though when Iron Man tried to destroy the Phoenix Force. He accidentally split the Force into five fragments, which subsequently sought refuge in Cyclops, Emma Frost, Colossus, Magik and Namor. Dubbed the “Phoenix Five,” the possessed X-Men were able to tap into powers they had never had before and decided to finally bring peace to the world. One of their first acts was to turn the rugged landscape of Utopia into a true paradise. Raising the island out of the water, they morphed it into a giant archipelago of floating islands and pathways that towered over San Francisco. For a while, the new Utopia stood as an idealized example of how the world could be if the Phoenix Five were allowed to reign.
However, the power of the Phoenix soon began to corrupt the Five and one by one they fell to infighting. Cyclops was the last of the Five remaining and, having taken the other Phoenix fragments for himself, was becoming increasingly unstable. Professor X and the Avengers travelled to Utopia to try to stop him doing something he would regret. Unfortunately, Cyclops lost control of his emotions and killed Xavier on the shores of Utopia before turning into the Dark Phoenix. Thanks to a combination of Hope Summers and the Scarlet Witch, the Phoenix was purged from Cyclops and used to reignite the mutant race, before being cast out into space once again. With the Phoenix gone, Utopia changed back in to its former rocky appearance. The column holding Utopia up had been severely damaged and so, with most of the X-Men now back in New York, the island was abandoned. [Avengers vs X-Men]
With the island slowly sinking in to the ocean once more, Danger returned to it to free her prisoners from the X-brig. [Uncanny X-Men (2nd series) #20]
Later, Dazzler and her reality hopping team of X-Men visited the island and found Cyclops hiding out from authorities there. [X-Treme X-Men (2nd series) #7.1]
For a brief time, a group of mutants used Utopia as a makeshift base when they were looking for a place to live in peace. When SHIELD sent a group of X-Men to investigate, the Utopians were convinced to return to the Jean Grey School in New York. [All-New X-Men (1st series) #40-41]
After a few years of abandonment, the island was once again used as a base, only this time it was called New Tian.
For the purpose of this article, only those characters known to have lived on the island are listed here.
During their time on Utopia, the X-Men were split up in to a number of teams. The main group of X-Men consisted of Angel, Beast, Colossus, Cyclops, Dazzler, Domino, Emma Frost, Gambit, Iceman, Magneto, Namor, Nightcrawler, Northstar, Psylocke, Rogue, Shadowcat, Storm, Warpath and Wolverine.
A number of former X-Men and allies also made the move to the island and, whilst they didn’t participate on active squads, they were available whenever the island came under threat. Amongst them were Ariel, Boom Boom, Cable, Chamber, Cloak, Dagger, Diamond Lil, Fantomex, Frenzy, Havok, Hepzibah, Husk, Jubilee, Korvus Rook’shir, Omega Sentinel, Polaris, Rachel Grey and X-23.
The New Mutants also operated from Utopia but some of them decided to move to San Francisco later on. The team was made of Blink, Cannonball, Cypher, Dani Moonstar, Karma, Magik, Magma, Sunspot, Warlock and X-Man. Karma’s younger siblings Nga and Leong also made the move to California but they settled down in the San Francisco with Karma.
Utopia was equipped with a brig that was monitored by Danger. She took in a number of prisoners during her time on the island such as Donald Pierce, Empath, Exodus, Leon Nunez, Scalphunter, Sebastian Shaw and Unit. The tattooed Russian mobster who Colossus fought during his time on the island was also imprisoned there, but was never referred to by name.
The island was also equipped with advanced medical and scientific facilities. Cecilia Reyes spent a great deal of time on the island, acting as the X-Men’s resident doctor. Amongst her permanent patients, there were Quentin Quire in his vaporous form and the comatose Mortis. Legion was also a patient on the island, but he was looked over by other, more senior doctors.
X-Club, a scientific task force, was set up to look into the mutant race’s depowerment. Amongst their number there was Dr. Nemesis, Dr. Kavita Rao, Madison Jeffries and Dr. Yuriko Takiguchi.
The X-Men boasted a large number of students and X-Men-in-training, many of whom worked alongside the senior X-Men in times of need. They included Anole, Armor, Blindfold, Bling!, Cipher, Crosta, Dust, Elixir, Ernst, Face, Gentle, Glob Herman, Graymalkin, Hellion, Indra, Ink, Loa, Match, Mercury, No-Girl, Onyxx, Pixie, Prodigy, Rockslide, the Stepford Cuckoos, Surge and Trance.
When Hope Summers came to the island, she soon collected a group of newly created mutants around her, dubbed the Five Lights. These were Oya, Primal, Transonic, Velocidad and Zero.
As well as the X-teams and their students, Utopia was opened up to all of mutant kind as a safe haven from the persecution they received around the world. Many mutants flocked to the island and often helped out whenever it was attacked by forces looking to wipe out its inhabitants. Residents included Avalanche, Bliss, Dragoness, Erg, Litterbug, Lorelei Travis, Masque, Meld, Nekra, Neophyte, Outlaw, Random, Sack, Stinger, Tempo, Toad, Vange Whedon and X-treme.
For a while, a number of refugees from Breakworld were also allowed to stay on the island. They included Haleena, Powerlord Kruun and numerous unnamed refugees.
A few mutants were either shown on the island or mentioned to be around, but it was never confirmed as to whether they took up residence there. Both Wolfsbane and Vanisher were operating on the secret X-Force, but aside from missions to the island they were not seen living there. Lifeguard was mentioned in passing as to being on a team, but she was never seen on-panel there. Amelia Voght and Unuscione were indicated to be headed to Utopia after the Acolytes broke up. Whilst other former Acolytes from that line-up were seen on the island, neither of these two were.