Some Thoughts on Age of Apocalypse from a First Time Reader

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Posted by Dek7264 (60 posts) - - Show Bio

It has been about fifteen years since the Age of Apocalypse crossover event occurred in the Marvel universe. Sadly, I’m only just getting around to reading this monumental tale. It was quite enjoyable to see many of my favorite mutants (and other Marvel characters) follow a path without Charles Xavier’s direction. It was also neat to see characters like Dark Beast and Blink from this reality, after having read about these characters in more recent X books. After the read-through, I wanted to lay out a few thoughts that occurred to me while reading these books.

I think the most prevalent thought I had while reading this saga was, “Holy crap, this is kind of depressing.” This story certainly wasn’t a lighthearted tale. One thing after another seemed to go horribly wrong for the various mutant teams that took part in this epic. From the death of Scarlet Witch, to Rogue breaking Gambit’s heart, and the departure of Wolverine and Jean from Magneto’s X-Men (and these are just from the prequel books!), things rarely felt like they were looking up.

I think a lot of that feeling stemmed from the way this story was presented. With eight different mini-series going at one time, they each start off detailing things going wrong. The X-Men weren’t without some victories throughout the course of this event. Wolverine and Jean helped to get the humans on board Sentinels and sent them to Europe before the High Council could drop a few nukes on Apocalypse’s version of America. These victories tended to be short lived though. Jean left Logan shortly after that to rescue the helpless people still under the oppressive thumb of Apocalypse. It wasn’t until the very end, upon the resolution of the various story-lines, that I really felt like the story was worthwhile. I felt that the final book did a great job tying up all the story threads that had led to that point. I was skeptical at first whether a double-sized issue could actually wrap up the plot of eight different stories, but I was not disappointed. Upon closing that book, I felt that all the hardships the various teams went through over the course of their various books made the ending that much sweeter. It’s tough to have a story that dark run for that long and give the reader a proper pay-off at the end, but I really felt like these books did it.

Along with the story, I feel I must comment on the art. I really feel like this had a distinctly 90’s feel to it. Apocalypse must be dropping some steroids on the drinking water, because some of the characters were huge. Apocalypse himself seemed to have shoulders about three times wider than his waist. Magneto, Colossus, and Sabretooth were a few others that were hitting the steroid spiked juice. While that certainly didn’t take away from the story, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the ridiculous proportions from time to time. Aside from that though, the colors seemed to be more muted to me than many of the comics from those years. It really added to the oppressing feel of each of the books and I think it added a lot to the tone of the series as a whole.

Overall, I found this to be an interesting look at how the lives of the various X-Men, and the Marvel universe for that matter, could have played out if a single, albeit important, man had been killed. From the character cameos (It wasn’t until the second appearance of Dead Man Wade that I made the connection to his 616 counterpart.) to the bleak tone, I think this was an interesting experiment on Marvel’s part. I do wonder how the avid X-Men fan felt about this while it was going on. I believe I read that the normal X titles took a break while these were being issued. Was that enjoyable, or did you give up on X-books until this passed? With eight (EIGHT!) different minis going on at once, it had to be tough to keep up with the entire story on a month to month basis.  

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#1 Posted by SoA (6246 posts) - - Show Bio

i only read a couple of issues when the story was ongoing , then again i was only about 8 at the time , not like i had money for comics lol
i got the collected volumes a few years back  and it was a awesome read . around the time of onslaught did my time with comics wane till about 5 years ago did i pick up reading through comics again . glad your enjoying the books , if you really like alternate x-men realities you should pick up apocalypse the twelve ( 2 graphic novels) it came 5 years after AoA and also read up on the exiles i liked the first couple volumes hope you do too.

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#2 Posted by Caligula (12660 posts) - - Show Bio

AoA, was good but it was far from one of the best stories in comics. IMO

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#4 Posted by Dek7264 (60 posts) - - Show Bio
Apocalypse the Twelve is actually the next series I'm planning on checking out. I've also seen an Exiles book or two on sale at my local comic shop, so I may end up picking it up sometime soon. Thanks for the recommendations.

The more I think about the story, the more I find myself thinking the same thing. For many of the early issues, Apocalypse is barely shown, and it's not really until his final confrontation that he even steps in and does something. That's problem the biggest shortcoming of this book for me. I wish he'd have been doing battle, or at least causing some destruction throughout the story.

I completely agree with you there. I've certainly read much better stories, but I can still see why this story gets the recognition that it does. It's an ambitious story, and while it's far from perfect, there's still enough there to make it something worth reading for an X-Men fan. 
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#5 Posted by deactivated-5c6600594117e (22316 posts) - - Show Bio

AoA may not have been the best story ever written but it very well could be my favorite. I'm a huge sucker for the alternate reality stories (What If? & Elseworlds) and this may very well be the best of them all in that regard.  
I agree wholeheartedly that it is not a light hearted story and is a dark story of our favorite mutants.   
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#6 Posted by time1 (6433 posts) - - Show Bio

Second  best story arc of all time. My favourite of  all time is  X-Cutioners Song. AQA is brillant.  

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#8 Posted by Dek7264 (60 posts) - - Show Bio
Sadly, I've also missed out on X-Cutioner's Song. That's definitely on my list to read in the next couple months though. All I know about Stryfe is what I gleaned from Messiah War, so I'm really looking forward to learning a bit more backstory on Stryfe and Cable. 

Fair enough about Apocalypse. I guess I was hoping to see him cause the destruction, but you make a good point about his character. I guess I prefer the villians a little more like Sinister who are willing to get their hands dirty. I actually thought Holocaust had some good scenes. He got to wreak some havoc and eventually throwdown with Sabretooth.  

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#11 Posted by Dek7264 (60 posts) - - Show Bio
@Edamame:  No I haven't. I wasn't even aware it existed. I wiki'd it after reading your comment to find out more about it. I'll definitely need to track it down and give it a read. 
If you've read it, did you enjoy it?

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