Astonishing X-Men # 4, X-Calibre # 4, Gambit and the X-ternals # 4, Generation Next # 4, Weapon X # 4, Amazing X-Men # 4, Factor X # 4, X-Man # 4, X-Men Omega, X-Men Prime.
Picking up on the table setting that was done in X-Men Alpha, and the characters that were established in "the #1's," the plot started to move forward in the"#2's" of the respective titles. The #'3 started to wrap up their respective stories and now the #4's all need to put a cap on their side stories so everyone can come together for X-Men Omega. When the event ends, X-Men Prime lets us know where all the various stories are before we continue with regular continuity.
The Age of Apocalypse is like a fun vacation. I had a really good time while I was here, but now I'm just ready to go back home.
X-Calibre # 4
Writer - Warren Ellis
Pencils - Ken Lashley
X-Calibre (which is named after a special bullet...definitely not just because it's another version of Excalibur) actually gets a tad exciting. I mean, it had to eventually, right?
This last issue focuses on a final battle with the Shadow King. I mean, Shadow King seems like a big bad, but I really don't recall if he even showed up in any of the 3 earlier issues. But ok, sure, he's the primary antagonist here. He's defeated (of course) in a pretty cool way that I will probably struggle to explain. Nightcrawler teleports to his dimension (because now Nightcrawler teleports through the Astral Plane to teleport!?!?), Switchback slows down time (which I guess that's what she can do), and Damask uses psychic skinning (don't ask me what that is) and they take him down.
A straggler that everyone forgot about kills Doug Ramsey as he takes a bullet for someone else. This was actually a nice touch. It gave me some feelings that Doug is willing to sacrifice himself in this reality as well. What a good guy!
At the end, Avalon is kind of saved but Kurt succeeds in convincing Destiny to go with him back to Magneto and Bishop. This chess piece is in place for X-Men Omega.
Generation Next # 4
Writer - Scott Lobdell
Pencils - Chris Bachalo
Funny that these two go back to back. Hey look, shit's actually happening here!
So Mondo manages to escape with Illyana inside of him. My notes say the following: "Chamber kills Sugar Man. Nevermind, Colossus kills Sugar Man. Oops, nope he's still alive and in Colossus's shoe." Lol, so I guess this weird little guy can change size and makes it back to the prime reality. Great! Ok, some interesting shit does happen though.
The full team is fighting a very hard battle, but Colossus orders Kitty to abandon them all to save Illyana.
Colossus, Kitty, and Illyana make it out alive, but then Colossus has a guilt trip and decides to head back in. This is kind of like Colossus breaking bad because he completely abandons his team (a group of teenagers in his care) for his sister, forgetting everything else. This is similar to him joining the Acolytes after becoming numb after his sister dies. Well, Peter decides to head back, but isn't able to get to them in time. He watches as they are all brutally murdered.
Did I mention this was brutal? Ouch. But yet, this chess piece is in place. Kitty and Colossus are in position to deliver Illyana and her time bending power to Magneto for the conclusion in X-Men Omega.
Astonishing X-Men # 4
Writer - Scott Lobdell
Pencils - Joe Madueria
I usually write out detailed notes after reading each issue. My notes for this one is pretty funny so I'm going to share it directly. "Blink kills Holocaust, getting revenge for Sabretooth. Oh, Sabretooth is alive! Oh, Holocaust is still alive and this time Rogue kills him. Oh, nope I guess he teleported away." So this one is an issue of epic battles where it looked like someone died 3 times, but it never stuck. We'll see Holocaust find his way to the prime universe too.
X-Man # 4
Writer - Jeph Loeb
Pencils - Steve Skroce
This is the issue where we learn the truth about Nate Grey. Sinister reveals that he grew him in a lab from the genetics of Scott and Jean. This story checks out since we know Sinister created Madelyn Pryor (a clone of Jean) specifically to create a mega heir (Cable/Nathan Dayspring Summers) who was also prophesized to defeat Apocalypse.
We also learn that Sinister made a bargain with Apocalypse over a hundred years ago to live forever. This might actually be a legit story because this reality didn't split until the 1940's, so I think this might be the true origin of Sinister. Speaking of Sinister, at the end of the issue, he thinks he might by dying for real. And since we don't see him again in the AoA, I think we're supposed to believe that he really did. So therefore he grew Nate in a lab to destroy Apocalypse, but in the end the person he created was responsible for his own demise when he was seemingly invulnerable.
Nate makes his way to the pens and ends up being the savior of all the mutants locked up there. He also happens to meet up with his parents, Scott and Jean. There is an emotional and sort of awkward moment. Nate is tempted to stay with his parents, but he realizes that he's had people telling him what he's supposed to do since they day he was "born" and now he wants to find his own way, so he flies off.
Factor X # 4
Writer - John Francis Moore
Pencils - Steve Epting & Terry Dodson
This final issue occurs concurrently with X-Man # 4 as the Alex/Scott showdown comes to a head. Havok has pretty much completely lost his mind, so he declares that all of the mutants in the pens need to be killed. Sam and Elizabath Guthrie support this decision (out of character), but the Bedlam brothers (brand new characters, African American brothers) are more hesitant. I don't understand why the leaders of two teams (Sam and Alex) were so flippantly made evil in this universe, but that's clearly what happened.
Scott and Jean are walking around the pens together, trying to free everyone. It's confirmed that Scott was the one to free Jean from the pens years ago and it was this encounter that changed things in him. He's been freeing mutants ever since. Scott and Jean talk about how they feel a deep connection, almost as though they knew each other in another life.
Over at the Heaven bar, Scarlet tells Alex she's pregnant, so that's confirmed. Alex freaks out a bit and basically takes his anger out on Angel. Heaven is officially shut down, but Angel is able to escape.
There are some final battles, starting with Jean and Scott being cornered by the Guthries, but saved by the Bedlam brothers. This is when Cyclops and Havok start to brawl. As with other brawls, their powers can't hurt each other. Cyclops is of course victorious. They run into Nate here as well, and then Scott and Jean help to lead the prisoners to safety.
Weapon X # 4
Writer - Larry Hama
Pencils - Adam Kubert
Picking up from Weapon X # 3, Wolverine is still with Gateway, trying to convince him to help the cause. He ends up doing so by showing him an image of a young girl who was killed. Wolverine and the Human High Council are about to bomb Apocalypse when Pierce and his cadre of altered humans (cyborgs) attack, with Carol Danvers being one of them.
Logan actually ends up getting beat up and his one good arm is burned so bad he can't use it. In one cool last stand, Wolverine surprises everyone (me included) by popping out claws from his stump arm to stab Pierce and end the fight.
Gateway teleports the fleet to Apocalypse (didn't realize his teleportation power was that powerful) and they do indeed nuke Northeastern United States...
Gambit and the X-ternals # 4
Writer - Fabian Nicieza
Pencils - Salvador Larocca
This issue starts in media res, with Apocalypse personally grilling Rictor about letting Gambit and the team get away. Also, even though this isn't really X-Force, it's Fabian Nicieza's last issue on the series. He'll stick around on Adjectiveless X-Men for a while after this.
In the sewers, Dazzler and Exodus (who were apparently dating but this wasn't worth mentioning in the title in which they appear) find the robot Nanny without Magneto's son, Charles. We soon learn that Guido, a member of Gambit's X-Ternals, had betrayed them all (warped by his love for Lila, who chose Gambit even though he truly loves Rogue). Guido had destroyed Nanny, but Jubilee was able to run off with both baby Charles and the piece of the M'Kraan Crystal.
In a final battle that includes most of the team, Guido, and Rictor...Gambit has to make a choice between saving either Lila or the Crystal and baby Charles. He chooses Lila. Now on one hand, I enjoyed this because this was a method of showing that Gambit had officially moved on from Rogue and fully embraced his love for Lila. So, yea, that's cool. But...I'm pretty sure the hero should choose a baby over his girlfriend...Also, if they don't get the crystal, they are all dead anyway. So...yea. Cool about Lila though.
At the end of the issue, we go back to Apocalypse and Rictor. Apoc introduces Guido, who has delivered both Magneto's son Charles and the crystal. This obviously pleases Apoc and the result is the death of Rictor.
Amazing X-Men # 4
Writer - Fabian Nicieza
Pencils - Andy Kubert
This issue is designed to bring all of the pieces together and set up all the pins so they can be knocked down and brought to a conclusion in X-Men Omega.
First we see Bishop being tortured by the Madri. Remember, villains never kill heroes. They just talk them to death and occasionally torture them. Bishop is rescued by Storm and we discover that the original Jamie Madrox is actually a captive himself, with his duplicates all brainwashed by Apocalypse (or something). Jamie is in a really sad state, actually begging to be put out of his misery so that all of his duplicates will cease to be.
Quicksilver and Banshee are with Jamie when Abyss shows up (not dead) and attacks. Banshee sacrifices himself to kill Abyss and Jamie Madrox kills himself to end all of the Madri.
At this point, everyone converges on the mansion. Hot off the heels of a battle with Holocaust, Rogue, Creed, Morph, Blink, Iceman, and Wild Child (back on a leash) return to the mansion. Around the same time, Colossus and Kitty show up with Illyana. Rogue, Creed, and Wildchild go into the sewers and bring back Exodus, Dazzler, Gambit, Lila, and Jubilee (Sunspot was already killed and Guido had betrayed them). Of course, Nightcrawler and Destiny show up as well.
Plot - Scott Lobdell
Script - Terry Kavanaugh
Pencils - Carlos Pacheco
X-Men Omega is where the entire Age of Apocalypse story comes to a thrilling conclusion. There are a lot of things happening at once, so I'm going to try and get most of the side plots knocked out first, then bring the main story home at the end. While this event had it's ups and downs, not surprisingly, Lobdell is able to bring this story home gracefully as it goes out with a bang.
At one point, Angel flies into save Karma. You may not recall, but a while back she was kidnapped from the Heaven bar and I reported that she was killed. I guess not, because she was saved now. Later, Angel sacrifices himself in order to bring down a shield. He was neutral throughout most of the event, but he went down clearly as a hero on the side of Magneto.
Scott, Jean, and Friends
Scott and Jean lead the prisoners out of the pens (Thanks to the assistance of their "son," Nate Grey). There's a final battle where Havok attacks Jean, but Logan shows up and kills Havok. This leaves Cyclops with very mixed feelings about Logan, Jean, and his brother.
With all of these shenanigans taking place, there are 4 characters who manage to sneak into the right place at the right time so they are brought into the Prime Universe. Sugar Man and Beast stow away so they are pulled back into 616. And then Nate Grey and Holocaust are in an epic battle, with both of them pulled into 616.
The final battle
At this point, Magneto is still tied up and being taunted by Apocalypse while being tortured pretty bad. It's that clear moment when you think a hero is really down on their luck and you start to wonder if they'll make it out of here. However, a few heroes show up to help him out (Rogue, Iceman, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Jubilee, Illyana, Gambit, Blink, Quicksilver, Kitty, and Bishop).
Magneto, after being freed, dons metallic super armor and fights Apocalypse hand to hand. It is an intense battle, ending with Magneto seemingly killing Apocalypse.
Meanwhile, Nate sneaks in looking for Apocalypse and ends up in an epic battle with Holocaust. Ultimately ending in a draw when they are both pulled into 616.
Colossus goes a bit insane and starts killing indiscriminately.
Exodus and Rogue (not sure why these two keep being paired up) kill Strong Guy and save baby Charles.
All of this happens as Logan and the Human High Council successfully nuke the entire Midwest and in response Apocalypse's seawall expands, destroying London.
Destiny, Illyana, and Bishop use the M'Kraan Crystal shard to go back in time. This older version of Bishop is able to go back in time, fights his younger counterpart, and is able to merge himself with Legion, killing them both. This stops Legion from killing anyone in the past, all of the team members who were in the past are returned to the present, all is saved, and the Age of Apocalypse timeline is wiped out.
Plot - Scott Lobdell
Script - Terry Kavanaugh
Pencils - Carlos Pacheco
Age of Apocalypse is very much a re-set on the X-Men titles. Not only did all of the titles officially stop and get new # 1's, outfits, rosters, etc. during the event, but there is a new status quo for all of the titles moving forward. In some cases, there are new creative teams like with Jeph Loeb taking over X-Force from Fabian Nicieza. This allows Loeb to create his own mini universe between the two titles. John Francis Moore will be on X-Factor for a while and he gets to work immediately on creating a brand new roster. The X-Man title will continue as he is pulled into 616. And villains Holocaust, Sugar Man, and Dark Beast immediately start making impacts on 616.
X-Men Prime is basically a quick roll call, reminding readers of where the series left off, how AofA impacted some events, and new plotlines that will impact the stories moving forward. Here's a scattershot rundown of what's going on.
Bishop doesn't have any memory of what happened, but he does get flashes of the other universe. At one point, he loses his mind and attacks Beast and Cyclops in the mansion, thinking they are both bad guys. This will be a recurring theme in the two X books.
Remember how Wolverine popped his claws into Sabretooth's brain in Wolverine #90? Yea well that has put Wolverine into a feral rage, pushing him to live in the woods outside of the mansion, questioning whether he can be trusted around his friends. Sabretooth is still very much alive, but seems to have reverted to a child like state, lacking the ability to talk or really do anything savage (for now, at least). This will have big impacts on both X-Men books, Wolverine, and even X-Force (as they move back into the mansion).
Remember how the Cable series introduced us to a mysterious Morlock girl named Sarah who was kind of like a ghost? Well she is grown up now, goes by the name Marrow, kills a human, and is looking for the rest of the Morlocks. Marrow will get a lot of screentime as a headliner of the next event (Gene Nation), and for years to come.
Remember how Gambit and Rogue kissed at the end of Legion Quest, assuming (rightfully at the time) they were both about to die? Well, that had repercussions. Gambit is in a coma and Rogue has flown off, a little off her rocker.
The Legacy Virus is the plot line that just won't die. Trish Tilby goes on National news and announces the Legacy Virus to the world, letting them know that it can now affect humans (since Moira was infected). But is Moira really a mutant? This will introduce renewed hatred from humans as they assume mutants will make them sick, which is a clear allegory to AIDS in the 90's. There is even a little vignette of some angry humans trying to kill a young mutant.
Remember how Nicieza had recently had X-Force move into Murderworld, which I thought was dumb? Well, Jeph Loeb must have agreed because X-Men Prime gives us the explosion of Murderworld, leaving X-Force without a home (they'll move back into the Xavier Institute). Sunspot is also among the team, atoning for his time as Reignfire, but you can tune into my next X-Force blog to see my raging about how ridiculous it is that this plotline is being swept under the rug.
Then there's the AoA characters. We get a hint that the Sugar Man and Dark Beast both entered the main timeline in the past and there are hints that the Sugar Man was "behind Genosha" and that Dark Beast "created the Morlocks." Wow, these are dumb retcons but let's see where they take us. Holocaust shows up in space, discovered by the Acolytes. And Blaquesmith finds Nate Grey.
My Rating - 9/10
Previous Post - 131: Age of Apocalypse Part 4 (Third Editions)
Next Post - 133: Excalibur # 86 - 90 (Pete Wisdom)