Easily the largest entry in the suggested reading list, the Age of Apocalypse event that unfolded during 1995 is pretty bonkers. From a publishing perspective, it involved temporarily suspending all nine of the ongoing X-Men titles and replacing them with slightly altered titles that revolved around one central story.
Apocalypse was typically a villain for X-Factor, which was an X-team of the original five (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Angel, Beast, and Iceman), but this is the first time that En Sabah Nur (Arabic for “The First One”) unleashed havoc on a large scale. Armed as usual with his four Horsemen, Apocalypse looked to vanquish the human population in a world that did not include Charles Xavier.
There were a few main books in the reading list, but most of the action is delegated to the retitled X-books. The omnibus edition contains all issues, and so does comiXology. Whether in issues, in collected format, or via digital download, this is one of the biggest and most action packed stories in the X-Men catalog.
About the Book
Charles Xavier’s son travels back in time with the intention of killing Magneto, but inadvertently kills his father as he protects Magneto. Observing all of this, Apocalypse decides that this is the point to interfere and begin his conquest to take over the world. It is because of this that Magneto becomes the Xavier figure and tries to create peace between mutants and humans, but Apocalypse assembles his Horsemen in his quest for domination.
The individual teams have battles amongst Apocalypse and his forces and many do not survive. Among the new characters introduced is Nate Grey, who is created from the DNA of Cyclops and Jean Grey (who is different from Earth-616 Cable), has his father figure killed by his creator, Mr. Sinister, kills Sinister and then goes after Apocalypse.
Everyone who has survived launches a full assault on Apocalypse and Magneto is the one who is finally able to destroy him. Other X-Men decide to send Bishop back in time to try and prevent the death of Charles Xavier in hopes that this altered reality never takes place. The alternate universe then ends in a barrage of nuclear bombs that wipes out the entire world.
Why This Book is Important
First off, the execution of this event is nuts, that they suspended ALL of the X-books for four months to publish this alternate universe story. All of the X-books were selling extremely well back then and it was a gamble to pull off an event of this magnitude. Most comic crossovers typically revolve around a core series and include other issues, sometimes from on-going titles, that tie-in and have some story advancement, but this event was bookended by core books and was filled in by the retitled X-books. This gave lots of story to tell as well as showcasing how each team was changed in this alternate reality in which Apocalypse is the primary antagonist and Magneto is the crusader for peace.
This is also the first major story that gives Apocalypse a large thrust to big baddie in the Marvel Universe. He was originally presented in the early issues of X-Factor but this is the first time that he needed to be vanquished via full assault. Apocalypse would show up a few more times in major storylines, always thirsting for conquest and always with his Horsemen in tow.
The post credits scene at the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past (SPOILER) featured people bowing to someone while chanting “En Sabah Nur”. This was Apocalypse and later in the scene are the Horsemen. Age of Apocalypse is a good primer for what might be expected in the next X-Men film, X-Men: Apocalypse. It’s hard to imagine that the film would perfectly mimic this gargantuan story that is made up of over 40 issues but there might be some loose ties. Especially if you have never read anything that features Apocalypse as the big bad, and especially if you want to read one of the must read X-Men stories, whether in print, in collection, or in digital form, check out Age of Apocalypse.
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