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"Tales of the Twilight Menshevik"

Stories in this series:

Sisters under Their Skins
Midnight Sun
A Year in the Life
October 6: A Night 2 Remember
A Day's Work
Late Summer Interlude
The Time the Twain Shall Meet
Message to a Grandchild
Ergo Bibamus 1: Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Lights in the Dark
Between the Woods and Frozen Lake
Ergo Bibamus 2: There's a Tavern Near the Town
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Someone Blue
Valentine Allsorts
The Ballad of Trish and Henry
Rogue's Fairy Tale
Magneto, My First Love
To My Dark-Haired Lady
The Raven and the Oriole
Trish -- A Rapture

Val and Ray at the Movies
March 2002
July 2002

Tales of Future Twilight
Ergo Bibamus 3: Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes
They Will Always Be Penny and Max to Me
Getting to Know You
Fourth Thursday in November
The Iceman's Tale
Pictures at an Exhibition
The Survivor Has a Different Kind of Scar

Twilight Yet to Come
Hang on to Your Ego
Strange Headfellows
Sonnet for Magnus
Between the Winds

A Year in the Life

Author's Notes

"A Year in the Life" (which I maybe should have called "When Raven Met Vally") first appeared early in 1995 in MZS-APA. It was written at the time the Age of Apocalypse titles came out, as an attempt to come up with a possible way things might continue (but probably wouldn't) once the mutant books returned to Marvel "normality".

However, the universe in which this and the following Tales of the Twilight Menshevik are set actually diverges from the comic books at an earlier point, around the time when Chris Claremont stopped writing for Marvel. I was less than thrilled by the way other writers regressed Mystique into a crazed killer after the Muir Island Saga, so let us just say that as far as this story is concerned, Mystique did not try to kill David Haller in LegionQuest. IMO that simply made no sense, as she always blamed Forge most for Destiny's death and she is too smart and has too much style to seek revenge against an apparently brain-dead MPD case. Also, she knew that the Shadow King and no one else was responsible for Irene Adler's death. (And the revelation of Mystique's parentage of Nightcrawler did not happen as it is told in X-Men Unlimited #4).

The original impulse for the story came from fandom's recurring discussion of Mystique's sexuality - were she and Destiny lovers or just good friends? I always was convinced of the former. Mystique's power of assuming the form of any human being down to microscopic details is quite a wish-fullfilment fantasy and, as seen in MARVEL FANFARE #40 and her motel tryst with Logan (WOLVERINE #51), Raven Darkhölme is not above using her power for amorous purposes. From there the conclusions flowed naturally -- if Mystique is a confirmed bisexual, why should she restrict herself to female identities when making love, and what would happen if contrary to expectations she turned out to be sexually fertile in "male mode"?

(What I did not know and only learned in July 1997 was that Chris Claremont had in fact wanted to make Mystique and Destiny the biological parents of Nightcrawler. The idea was - unsurprisingly - nixed by Marvel's self-censorship policy).

Val Cooper became my candidate for motherhood as she has been the closest thing Mystique had to a friend throughout most of their common comics existence. The added advantage was that of involving two characters from opposing sides of the genejoke/flatscan divide. At the time, many relationships between mutants and non-mutants had broken up or fizzled out and I wondered if there was an editorial policy against them. I also thought Val had been a bit underused by most writers and could do with a little romance.

The "Twin Peaks" cross-over is Peter David's fault. He indicated that Val and Dale Cooper were brother and sister in X-FACTOR #71. The last chapter quotes the final two lines of "Soldier, Soldier" from Rudyard Kipling's Barrack Room Ballads.

For this posting, the format of this story was somewhat simplified (in the original, there were countless different fonts for different writers and to indicate the difference between typed and handwritten texts). The code used by Valerie Cooper in her diaries has here been rendered as one of the most simple in the world (it just involves moving a certain number of places from each letter), so it is really not necessary to give a solution.

Tilman Stieve
The Westchester Menshevik


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