|Date(s):||June 2000 (posted on Fonts of Wisdom)|
Archive links: intro; part 1; part 2; part 3; part 4; part 5
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X-Manson is an X-Men story by Dr. Benway. It is a darkfic, exploring an alternative universe where Charles Xavier is not a benevolent leader, but instead manipulates and uses the mutants under his care. It is written in the style of a documentary written by investigative journalists, who are exploring what happened at Xavier's school.
The fic uses horror themes, and focuses on cults and their charismatic leaders. Some in the X-Men fandom consider it a "must read", while others find it an interesting concept, but are disturbed by reading about some of their favorite characters in a such a manner.
It won multiple awards at the 2001 Comic Book Fan-Fiction Awards, including Best Serious Fanfic, Best Mature Fanfic and tying for Best Adult Fanfic.
I've written a story.
I found it rather fun to write it, and thanks to the nature of the internet, you can take comfort in the fact that I almost certainly live a long way from where you do.
The following apply:
1) Just because someone is a hero or a villain in the real books doesn't mean that they are a hero or a villain in this story.
2) The American presidents since 1956 were:
McCarthy, Kennedy, Johnson, Johnson, Kennedy, King, Bradley, Kennedy, Kennedy, Rodham, Rodham, and Rush.
In this America, hope dominates fear as all look to the future. Clearly, this is fiction.
3) The Vietnam War ended with the intervention of a UN mediator in 1964 and the Soviet Empire collapsed in 1970.
One fan's review summarizes:
X-Manson is fittingly crouched around a news 'expose' style special about the shocking discoveries at the X-Mansion months later. Told in a '60 Minutes' style documentary, it brings up themes of abuse, cult worship, cannibalism, and forced messiah complexes. The X-family is turned, frighteningly easily, into madmen and lunatics; Cable as a delusional sadist with megalomania. Wolverine as a psychotic rogue agent. Phoenix so totally controlled by Xavier that her mind is cored to a hollow shell. It's touching just lightly on the id of every X-character and processing it through a fractured lens.
The mastery of language is second only to the natural ear for 'sensational' sound bites that Dr.Benway uses to make the cuts between scenes, film clips and voice overs. The idea of humanities' darker side run riot amongst mind crippling psychic control creates a startling contrast. The idea of Cyclops holding on to enough humanity to try and save people next to Beast's cultivation of mutant organs for research is extremely powerful; each element reinforcing the impact and horror of the other. As well, the 'viewer' of the special in torment to frame the scene is so exceptionally well handled as to create emotive overlays across each segment.It's dark and disturbing and forces your mind around dark corners to nasty places. But it also possesses a kind of horrific beauty to it; a picture of compelling realization. This is a story that needs to be read and understood. Powerful, deep, and likely unhealthy, it is one of the most effective psychological looks into the id of the X-Books to ever have been written.
Reactions and Reviews
Quite possible the most *twisted* dark what-if in the entire X-Men comicverse. Benway consistently offers up stories (of any length) that make one think. Here, he asks the critical question: what if Charles Xavier's little X-Men project wasn't about heros out to "save a world the fears and hates them" ... but was a cult, ala Jim Jones? Furthermore, the format of this story is unique, involving interviews and flashbacks and real-time narrative. Bizarre. And brilliant. Not to be read lightly. 
This is a drastic re-imagining of the X-Men. What if Xavier weren't a (mostly) benevolent visionary? What if, instead of using his powers to help his students, he used them to do the exact opposite - to manipulate them, and everyone else around them, and to amass power. Dr. Benway's AU world building is incredibly thorough. The story is peppered with historical details that lend it verisimilitude, and add to the creeping, believable horror. And I should caution you, this is absolutely and completely a horror story: Benway takes all the disturbing potential of ordinary people with extraordinary gifts, and runs with it. To the nastiest, darkest part of the human soul. It should be clear that what I like most about this story is the idea of it, but the execution too is great. X-Manson is an all out mindfuck of a horror story, that will leave you wondering about the X-Men.
This is a truly horrifying AU, and yet it works. As Dr. Benway writes in the notes, Just because someone is a hero or a villain in the real books doesn't mean that they are a hero or a villain in this story. If any fic has earned a warning this one has: be aware that just about anything you can think of that could be triggering is in this fic. The author's warning is: It is not for the young, the sensitive, or the easily perturbed, and has parts that should not be read after a heavy meal. She's He's not kidding. It's bleak, and it's brilliant. The fic takes the form of one character watching a documentary that slowly fills the reader in on just what happened at Charles Xavier's school. It's hard to say more than that without giving it away. Just don't blame me if you can't sleep after reading!
This is guaranteed to blow your mind. What if everything you ever knew about the X-Men was wrong? And not in a good way? Not for the faint of heart.
This is a story that take a whole different look at Xavier and "The Dream" I have never read anything like it before and I have read a LOT of fanfiction.
A morality flip on the X-Men comics, where Magneto and that lot are the good guys while Xavier is very, very bad. Not for the faint of heart. Aside from some short prose sections, it's written in the form of a transcript from a fake documentary made several years after the Avengers raided the Westchester compound of Xavier's cult. If you're familiar with the X-Men comics, there are a lot of darkly funny parodies of familiar events, like the classic Wolverine/Colossus bar fight, the Morlocks, and Cable's origin.
Mindblowing. Scarring. Not something I ever want to reread again, but man, it’s haunted me, and I’m not even a comics fan. Turns the whole canon inside out and upside down in the most painful way possible.
Ever read a story that made you scream out loud? This did.
A wicked AU story about how it all could have played out. It's a kick in the gut, and it creeps you out and fascinates you and rips out your heart and beats it with a sharp stick. That's the closest to a decent summary I can think of.
Okay, maybe because it was my first experience with an extremely dark reading of canon, I’m going to say X-Manson by Dr. Benway. It’s not so much a plot twist as an entire canon twist, and it’s gruesome and shocking, but it still stays with me.
- Story Intro
- "I.M.H.O. #13 Dark Media". Archived from the original on 2019-03-17.
- Novel-Length Recs, Archived version
- Excerpt from a 2010 rec post by sequentialcrack on LiveJournal, which also contains a long list of triggers featured in the fic. Posted February 6, 2010 (Accessed March 25, 2019).
- "Crack Van Recommendation". Archived from the original on 2019-03-17.
- "old recs". Archived from the original on 2019-03-17.
- "Fanfiction Recomendations". Archived from the original on 2019-03-17.
- "Fan, Lavanya Six, Comic Fanfic Recomandations, posted on 30 July 2010 to the spacebattles forums". Archived from the original on 2019-03-17.
- "Fan, musesfool, in response to post Question for you - Seema's journal". Archived from the original on 2019-03-17.
- "Marvelverse Recommendations". Archived from the original on 2019-03-17.
- "LindaMarie's recs page". Archived from the original on 2019-04-05.
- "March 26, 2018 Tumblr post". Archived from the original on 2019-04-05.