age of apocalypse

Podicus Wrecks #74 – It’s the dawning of the Age of Apocalypse

This week, Jacob stops by to educate Anthony and I on the classic X-Men story Age of Apocalypse.  It has everything you want from a giant, alternate timeline crossover.  There are plenty of deaths.  Many X-Men are the opposite of how they normally, you know, because of it being an alternate timeline.  Often nonsensical story telling.  Plot points that you may not want to think about too long.  Epic moments.  You get the idea.  We then spend the last 13 minutes or so talking about this year’s Royal Rumble matches.



Battle of the Atom

Since AvX ended, the main point of the X-Men world has been the arrival of the teenage versions of the original team in the present in what has to be one of the worst decisions in the X-Men mythos.  Worse than “let’s let the world believe us to be dead”.  In an attempt to make Cyclops realize how far he’s strayed, Beast pulls out not the family albums or videos, but rather himself and his teammates from the past.  The effort does not impress Cyclops at all, but for whatever reason when the kids decide to stick around in the present, no one really flags this as a bad idea.

Battle of the Atom is the story that gets around to addressing how awful an idea this whole thing is…well, actually it starts to, then quickly shoots off into time travel shenanigans, gratuitous fighting, trickery and shenanigans, then a HUGE BIG DEAL at the end that pretty much comes out of left field to make sure at least SOMETHING happens to justify the ten issue crossover.

In the sake of big, stupid fun, it’s perfectly acceptable.  There’s running around, happy moments, sad moments, and OMG reveals galore.  But in the sake of a bigger narrative, a storyline direction and characters making rational decisions and coming with ends/means life-altering decisions?  Not so much.

I’ll get into the deal after the jump.  Here’s hoping you’ve read it, because there will be SPOILERS WITHIN.


Amazing X-Men

As if there weren’t already too many blasted X-books running around, Marvel has fired up the adjective machine and out comes Amazing X-Men #1.  J.R. had commented to me earlier that Amazing didn’t seem like an X-appropriate title, as usually that adjective means a Spider book, but I pointed out that back when the Age of Apocalypse re-titled the X-line for four months, Uncanny and Adjective-less became Astonishing and Amazing, so in terms of nearly 20-year old crossover re-titles, Amazing is as good a title as any to replace the fallen Astonishing, right?

Anyway, Amazing is filling the gap left behind when Astonishing bid its farewell.  Once upon a time, Astonishing had been created to be the flagship title of the X-Books, in a time where each X-Men title had an identity and purpose for existing.  This is not that time.  Solicitations would tell you that this is the opposite side of the coin of Wolverine and the X-Men, since both books are being written by Jason Aaron.  So while the older book deals with the school, this new book gives the old fashioned super-hero stories.  But of course, that was also the point of X-Men, beyond the whole “toss all the girls together and pretend that’s not the gimmick” bit.

So what’s the point of Amazing X-Men?  You got four extra bucks to spend?

The debut story sets about getting Nightcrawler back into the land of the living.  You might recall that he was killed off back in Second Coming, since someone had to and he wasn’t really doing anything else at the time.  It was a crap death for an awesome character, and nerds like me have been waiting for the day that the fuzzy blue elf gets to play his resurrection card.  No good character stays dead, after all.  Jason Aaron has obviously had something Nightcrawler-related in mind for a while now since he’s had little Bamf demons running around his school since he launched Wolverine and the X-Men.

The other new bit to the book is the addition of Firestar, who hasn’t been an X-Men character since the mid-80’s when Chris Claremont introduced her as one of Emma Frost’s Hellions.  Remember that?  I’m actually surprised it’s taken this long to yank Firestar into the X-Men fold, as ever since House of M, every mutant-ish character has pretty much gone under the X.  Remember when Cloak and Dagger were members of the team?  Whatever happened to that?

I suppose Firestar is supposed to be the character that can level with the reader and get exposition tossed at when needed, but other than that I really don’t see a purpose of tossing her into the team.  The X-Men line is already way over-saturated, and anything she could bring to the table can easily be covered by any number of others.  She’s probably just a character that the creators liked and thus here she is.  I don’t really mind, but I haven’t given a damn about her since the earliest days of New Warriors.  Here, she just feels tossed in.

So, there we go.  Nice debut issue for another X-Men book tossed out because people will buy it.  Hopefully Jason Aaron will stay on the title and give it some identity and it doesn’t fall into the backwaters of importance as its predecessor did.

On Onslaught…as a means for a tad bit more Liefeld bashing

Onslaught has certainly gotten a bad wrap in the years since the storyline went down, and for many good reasons.  For one, Marvel didn’t really know what Onslaught even was when Juggernaut whispered the name in the first post-Age of Apocalypse issue of Uncanny X-Men back in 1996.  The event itself was a horrid mish-mosh of heroes running around doing pretty much nothing until the final explosion wrapped everything up.  In fact, the only important things that happened in the entire event were:

  • X-Men learn Onslaught’s identity.
  • Franklin Richards gets pulled in to set up the follow-up.
  • Thor rips Professor X out of Onslaught.
  • Heroes explode.

Yet the event had a ton more to it, and most of it was slop.

But the build to Onslaught and the ultimate revelation that it was indeed the tainted psyche of Professor X was an excellent story in itself.  There was genuine threat for the X-Men, and you could feel the team unwinding because of the changes going on within Charles Xavier.  The tainting of his psyche was actually the one positive thing to come out of Fatal Attractions (god knows villain-Colossus wasn’t) and in its own weird way, the whole thing worked…until they tried to do something with it.

But Onslaught is a story that is best left in the past.  It’s okay to bring it up once in a while in the event that someone’s worried about Professor X (the same way Dark Phoenix would be mentioned if Jean Grey was acting weird), and as for Heroes Reborn?  F*ck that.  It ruined the epic Mark Waid/Ron Garney Captain America run by replacing it with Rob Liefeld and his stupid eagle head mask.

So it should come as little surprise to anyone that I did not read the anniversary book Onslaught Reborn.
And that’s even before I found out it was done by Jeph “I don’t care what anyone else is doing in their own comics” Loeb and Rob “I see women weird” Liefeld.

I will give kudos to Liefeld on one bit – he did a decent job on Captain America.  Unfortunately, he made Scarlet Witch’s hand look crazy-weird (though I suppose technically okay), and he gave Iron Man a wrinkly, cringed face and lips.  I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but the Iron Man armor is a big metal suit.  It doesn’t have facial expressions, and it should never EVER have lips.  Never.

But then there’s cute, collectible keychain Onslaught standing there in the corner about as un-menacingly as possible.  When Onslaught debuted, he looked fantastically awesome.

Liefeld got all the pieces right, but managed to strip all the dynamics right away.  And to that I say well done?

Ah well.  If anyone read this book and liked it, feel free to give me the good ol’ wag of the finger.