“THE AGE OF APOCALYPSE” – MARVEL COMICS TPB 1995
Since I was a young boy, I have read with delight many Marvel comic titles. I was always a Marvel fan, I never ‘understood or much cared for DC comics or their heroes. I grew up reading ‘team’ comics such as “The Avengers”, “The X-Men”, “The Fantastic Four” and their various affiliated titles. In 1995, (wow – nearly 30 years ago now, Marvel decided to ‘rewrite’ their own mutant comic history for the best part of a year – they did so by initially ‘killing off’ the creator of ‘The X-Men’ Charles Xavier – then recreating mutant history without his influence. Of course, in the Marvel universe, no-one stays dead for long (well rarely anyway), but, cynicism aside, “The Age Of Apocalypse” remains one of my favourite ever storylines. The joy of this particular piece, is you did not need to have previously be a fan or be knowledgeable about the characters, because everything was brand new and unknown, so it was a perfect place to ‘jump onboard’ if you were a Marvel novice, or to thrill to the strange new world – if you were a long-time fan. Welcome then, to “The Age Of Apocalypse” … Excelsior!
“The Age of Apocalypse” is an epic crossover event that will leave you on the edge of your seat! Marvel Comics’ “X-Men” universe has never been more thrilling than in this alternate reality, where everything you thought you knew is turned upside down. Legion, a psychotic mutant, travels back in time to kill Magneto but accidentally kills Professor Charles Xavier, changing the course of history forever. Apocalypse takes control of Earth, and mutants are considered the ruling class. It’s up to Magneto and his X-Men to resist Apocalypse and prevent his genocidal campaign.
This incredible event is told through eight interlocking mini-series, each focusing on a different team of X-Men or other mutant forces. You’ll follow Nightcrawler’s team in “X-Calibre,” as they journey to locate a mutant capable of seeing into the future. In “Gambit and the X-Ternals” Gambit and his team must retrieve a shard of the M’Kraan Crystal deep in space while being pursued by Apocalypse’s henchmen. “Generation Next” introduces a young group of mutant students trained by Colossus and his wife.
The event begins with “X-Men: Alpha”, where readers get a glimpse of how popular X-Men characters have changed in this new world. Bishop is reunited with Magneto while retaining fragmented memories of the true timeline. The series ends with “X-Men: Omega” where the fate of the world hangs in the balance as the X-Men face their greatest challenge yet. “The Age of Apocalypse” is a must-read for any Marvel fan. The storyline is epic, the characters are dynamic, and the art is top-notch.
“X-Calibre” is an exciting series centred around Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner), who is sent by Magneto on a mission to locate Destiny (Irene Adler), a powerful mutant capable of seeing into the future. She is needed to verify Bishop’s story. Nightcrawler embarks on a thrilling journey to Avalon, a secret refuge for mutants and humans where they live together in harmony. Along the way, he encounters a host of incredible characters such as John Proudstar (Thunderbird), the monk Cain, the pirate Callisto, and his mother Mystique (Raven Darkholme). However, his mission is not without challenges. He must face off against The Pale Riders, a trio of Apocalypse’s servants consisting of Moonstar, Damask, Dead Man Wade, and The Shadow King. Fortunately, Nightcrawler has a team of his own, including Mystique, Switchback, and Damask, who later joins the team after discovering the wonders of Avalon. The series is aptly named “X-Calibre” because of an in-joke between Nightcrawler and his mother, Mystique, regarding the calibre of bullets she uses, stamped with an X. “X-Calibre” was the replacement for the previous “Excalibur” title.
In “Gambit and the X-Ternals” Gambit (Remy LeBeau) is joined by Sunspot (Roberto de Costa), Jubilee (Jubilation Lee), Strong Guy (Guido Carosella), and Lila Cheney on an intergalactic mission. They need to retrieve a shard of the M’Kraan Crystal, an essential component to verify Bishop’s alternate reality. Rictor, a henchman of Apocalypse, is hot on their heels, hoping to impress his master by killing Gambit. The X-Ternals face off against the Imperial Guard to retrieve the crystal shard, but upon their return to Earth, they discover that Strong Guy has betrayed them. He not only steals the M’Kraan Crystal but also kidnaps Magneto’s son, Charles. This series was the replacement for the “X-Force” title.
“Generation Next” is an action-packed series about a team of young mutant students trained by Colossus (Piotr “Peter” Rasputin) and Shadowcat (Katherine Pryde-Rasputin). The team consists of Chamber (Jonothan “Jono” Starsmore), Husk (Paige Guthrie), Mondo, Vincente Cimetta, and Skin (Angelo Espinoza). They are on a mission sent by Magneto to rescue Colossus’ sister, Illyana Rasputin, the last surviving trans-dimensional teleporter, who is a slave of the Sugar Man, one of Apocalypse’s prefects, and the ruler of the Seattle Mining Core. Mondo hides Illyana inside his body intending to smuggle her out during a shift change, but they are discovered, resulting in Mondo’s death. The rest of the team fights valiantly but is left for dead by Colossus, who willingly chooses to sacrifice them to save his sister. This series is a fantastic replacement for “Generation X”
Probably my favourite tile introduced the reader to the thrilling world of “The Astonishing X-Men”! Led by the formidable Rogue, this team is composed of the likes of Sabretooth, Blink, Wild Child, Morph, and Sunfire. Their mission is nothing short of heroic as they must stop the evil Holocaust, Apocalypse’s son and one of his four horsemen, from carrying out genetic cullings. Brace yourself for epic battles, heart-breaking losses, and triumphant victories that will keep you on the edge of your seat! Exactly in the best traditions of the “X-Universe”!
“The Amazing X-Men” is an extraordinary team of powerful mutants with the quick-witted Quicksilver as their leader, they are unstoppable. Storm, Dazzler, Banshee, Iceman, and Exodus are just a few of the impressive members who will show you what it means to be a true hero. The series is a non-stop action rollercoaster as they fight The Brotherhood of Chaos and rescue their captured friends and allies from Apocalypse’s clutches. It really was a truly sensational series!
The legendary Weapon X (Wolverine but seemingly with only a single hand/claw) and Jean Grey are sent on a thrilling mission for the Human High Council in “Weapon X”! We follow their epic story as they fight their way through battles against Donald Pierce and the Council’s devastating nuclear plans. We see the couple’s love being tested when Jean’s morals and values clash with the Council’s brutal agenda. With nail-biting action, heartfelt moments, and a cast of unforgettable characters, “Weapon X” is a must-read for all Wolverine fans!
In “Factor X”, we witness the ruthless Elite Mutant Force (EMF) as they serve the malevolent Apocalypse. With five sibling groups, each with their unique set of powers, this team is a force to be reckoned with. However, as secrets are revealed, alliances are broken, and brother turns against brother, the EMF’s grip on control begins to crumble. Follow the incredible story of Cyclops and his fight to save the imprisoned, tortured, and experimented-on people in Apocalypse’s breeding pens. Cyclops and Havoc, The Bedlam Brothers, Cannonball and Amazon, Northstar and Aurora, Emplate and The Twins are all familiar to regular Marvel fans, but are all very different to how we usually know them. Filled with shocking twists, fierce battles, and gripping drama, “Factor X” was not to be missed by this avid fan!
Finally, the world of “X-Man” is perhaps the ‘oddball’ title, where we meet the powerful telekinetic Nate Grey, born of Cyclops’ and Jean Grey’s DNA. Living under the guidance of his father figure Forge, Nate leads a group of outcasts who take on the mantle of a theatre troupe to attack Apocalypse’s trains and factories. Watch as he faces off against the most dangerous enemies, including the villainous Sauron. With a captivating storyline, jaw-dropping action scenes, and a cast of unforgettable characters, “X-Man” shows a possible version of Cable in a singularly unforgettable light.
If you are wondering how on earth(s) you can collect all the necessary titles to make this wonderful series accessible? Marvel has placed them into a series of four large Trade Paper Back tomes … saving you both time and money, making “The Age Of Apocalypse” eminently easy to collect. I believe years later Marvel also revisited the timeline in other comics, but I will be honest and tell you I felt it was perfect as it was, so did not want to spoil the memories for myself. I really do recommend this wonderful storyline to you, so you know what you have to do!
The creative team and pencillers was a complete ‘who’s who’ of Marvel talent at the time: Scott Lobdell, Mark Waid, Fabian Nicieza, John Francis Moore, Larry Hama, Warren Ellis, Jeph Loeb, Howard Mackie, Terry Kavanagh, Roger Cruz, Steve Epting, Joe Madureira, Andy Kubert, Tony Daniel, Salvador Larroca, Adam Kubert, Ken Lashley, Steve Skroce, Terry Dodson, Ian Churchill, Carlos Pacheco, Joe Bennett, and my own personal favourite Chris Bachalo.