X-Men has long been my favorite Marvel franchise. It probably stems back to my days of watching the animated cartoon on Saturday mornings. Like Darth Vader to Star Wars and Thanos to the MCU, Apocalypse has been such an iconic villain in the X-Men world that the idea of the Age of Apocalypse (AoA) arc instantly drew me in.
Apocalypse is by far my favorite villain in the X-Men world and one of my favorite villains ever. Here are some of the highlights of AoA and why you should read it (or re-read it).
Age of Apocalypse: The Storyline
The concept of AoA had me hooked before I even read page one. Charles Xavier, champion of the mutant cause, has been killed, and that single event has allowed Apocalypse to fulfill his wish of ruling as the strongest. Apocalypse has taken over America and enforced his idea of survival of the fittest to create a world where the strongest mutants rule, and anyone not fit enough is culled.
Because of Xavier’s death, Magneto fills in the void and takes on ownership of the X-Men. Magneto leading the X-Men against Apocalypse. How could you not love that?
Age of Apocalypse: Mutant Cameos
The whole AoA series is full of cameos. If you have a favorite mutant, they likely make an appearance somewhere. From the X-Men to the Brotherhood to the Morlocks, X-Calibre, the X-ternals, and even the Shi’ar. This series brings all of them together. You may even find a handful of other Marvel heroes showing up here and there.
Not all alliances are the same, though. Cyclops, for example, is a high-ranking officer in Apocalypse’s regime. What? By the same token, Sabretooth is an X-man. Crazy.
Additionally, from a visual art perspective, a lot of these characters have new looks. Again Cyclops, who is usually very clean cut, has grown his hair out and is sporting a rugged five o’clock shadow. Juggernaut takes on a bald, pacifist monk look. Colossus with a red bandana. It’s all visually stunning. Don’t worry, though. Magneto still dons his trademark red helmet and cape.
Age of Apocalypse: Across Timelines
No matter how much has changed, in the Age of Apocalypse, some things remain the same.
The love triangle between Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Wolverine? Yeah, it’s still there, even in the Age of Apocalypse, although it does have its fair share of twists and turns since Cyclops is on the villains’ side this time and Jean is a captive.
Speaking of romance, Gambit is still chasing after Rogue and still coming up empty. The twist here, though, is that this time there’s another man. Rogue has been drawn to another, and the magnetism between the two of them is one that cannot be broken. Poor Gambit. But no worries. He’s found love elsewhere.
And of course, there’s the Summers brothers sibling rivalry. Alex and Scott just can’t seem to get along no matter what, and even in the Age of Apocalypse, the brothers constantly bicker. Alex still lives in the shadow of his brother Scott with a jealousy that creates an interesting climax between the two brothers.
Age of Apocalypse: Just Plain Fun
Finally, there are just some really interesting ideas that could only be done in an alternate X-Men timeline.
One of my favorites is Beast. Dr. Hank McCoy is set up as a genetic engineer for Apocalypse. While he still maintains his unique personality, Beast spirals further into a mad scientist state, creating his own unique blend of mutates.
Cyclops’s development as a character is one that actually made me more interested in him. I’ve never been a huge fan of Cyclops, but his character arc through AoA has actually won me over. Even though he’s a high-ranking officer with Apocalypse and essentially next in line to become one of the four horsemen, he begins to question everything that Apocalypse is doing, even going so far as covertly helping mutants escape from the pens. His story takes on more depth than the standard leader role we’re used to seeing from him.
Overall, AoA has some of the most interesting plot lines that I’ve come across. If you’ve never read this masterpiece, it’s time to pick up a copy. If you have, it’s definitely time for a re-read.
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