The simple, inescapable reality (much like the alternate world everyone in this goddamn story is forced to live in) is that the published volumes for AoA are somehow OUT OF ORDER no matter which volume you start with. However, the one recommended the most that would be "less" confusing is by reading volumes 2, 3 and 4 and then make the first volume last because, er, JESUS LOKI CHRIST I DON'T KNOW. What do you want from me? A review that doesn't make me come off like I'm the most irritable bitch who ever woke up in the most cosmically wrong angle of the bed that also happens to be stranded in piranha-infested waters? Because that's how it felt while reading this second volume at its worst times. When it's okay, I just shrug my shoulders and move on. That's how underwhelming and frustrating my reading experience had been with Age of Apocalypse.
This volume features: X-MEN: ALPHA, AGE OF APOCALYPSE: THE CHOSEN, GENERATION NEXT #1, ASTONISHING X-MEN VOL. 1 #1, X-CALIBRE #1, GAMBIT AND THE X-TERNALS #1-2, WEAPON X VOL. 1 #1-2, AMAZING X-MEN #1-2, FACTOR X #1-2 and X-MAN #1
Maybe I should have read this BY INDIVIDUAL ISSUES after all which was the original plan from the beginning but I wanted to save myself some time sifting through single copies and opted to read using the collected editions instead. Midway through the first volume, I keep telling myself, "Eka, maybe there's still time. Maybe you can turn around and re-download the single issues and then just follow the recommended chronology list online instead" but I ignored that voice in my head and soldiered on. WHAT A STUPID MISTAKE. I can't help but think that maybe if I did that, I would have enjoyed and appreciated this story. But then I'd encounter some mediocre moment somewhere along the way of this second volume and just mutter "well, fuck it, might as well", choosing to just bear this painfully dreary and baffling story as arranged in the worst way possible
Now Age of Apocalypse is considered to be one of the landmark stories in the X-Men universe but I'm starting to think that it's mostly because it went on and on and on AND ON, spanning for fourteen separate titles over the course of what I assume are two to three years. Quality-wise, I'm not convinced it's a worthy classic. There are just so many stuff going on and most of them don't make sense as a unit. If solely viewed as issues belonging to their respective titles, I suppose they can be excusable but the problem is the references and callbacks about other events from other titles will force you to look back because you can't expect to remember everything clearly while reading through issue after issue of expanded expositions, action scenes that serve no purpose, and what little character and emotional developments that are squeezed in between the action. I can't bring myself to care about the supposedly major scenarios happening because the abruptness of some scenes and the overall chopped way the stories are collected herein just distracts me from fully immersing myself in this alternate world.
I have two more volumes to go before the month ends and I intend to lower my expectations now so I won't get this prissy in my reviews because who wants to read me complain about an X-Men comic book? I don't like doing that. Nevertheless, I suppose if this is what the overall tonality and visual style of X-Men nineties comics sans Chris Claremont have to offer, then I should have just quit ahead with Fatale Attractions and Legion Quest because I actually loved those arcs. That being said, the one consistent thing that I have enjoyed about Age of Apocalypse is this version of Magneto; the benevolent mentor and idealist for the X-Men who wishes to defeat Apocalypse for the good of both human and mutant kind. He's driven, caring and adorably self-aware, often brooding over the death and legacy of Charles Xavier, his friend who sacrificed himself for Erik so Erik feels obliged to make his late friend's dream about a better world come true. His relationship with his son Pietro, his colleagues Sabretooth and Morph, and marriage with Rogue are actually depicted in a flattering light. There is trust among these characters--too bad that they're only featured a good quarter of a time in this three hundred sixty-seven-paged motherfucker.
Making Magneto as the central protagonist in this long-winded saga is a smart choice although he's often treated in the sidelines during the most opportune moments which only adds to my annoyance. Still, I also consider Weapon X (Logan) as yet another interesting version of the character who I think adapts the best in this alternate world alongside his girlfriend Jean Grey. Even bad-guy Cyclops is mildly entertaining, constantly torn between being a brute and a compassionate man whose allegiance is questionable. These are the few things for this volume that I did love. But the one thing that never fails to bring me absolute joy is the fact that ERIK LEHNSHERR IS OBVIOUSLY HARBORING STRONG UNREQUITED FEELINGS FOR THE LATE CHARLES XAVIER.
I'm a Cherik shipper so you will never get me to see it in any other way but the evidence is even stronger for AoA, especially when you take into consideration how hang up he is about Charles dying, how determined he is that his loss won't be in vain, and how surprisingly distant he seems to be from his wife Rogue while being obviously fond of their son WHOM HE NAMED CHARLES.
And then his control room is filled with Charles' images across his monitors, presumably as his stand-by wallpaper. It's insane how much this version of Magneto pines for the professor. There really is no other way to interpret his actions but as a man who has latent romantic desires for his best friend. Thank you, writers. Fuck subtlety when it comes to Cherik, am I right?
Overall, this second volume of Age of Apocalypse has left me feeling:
But, this is definitely better than the first collected edition...I think. I still have two more after this and I'm pushing through regardless of how awful I'm starting to feel now as I read this. A great bulk of the artwork also irritates me. This is how nineties visual style is, I guess, but Jim Lee's art has traces of the nineties style too but he managed to make his more refined and polished than most of these issues. I don't get it. I DON'T GET ANYTHING ABOUT AOA AT ALL except for the fact that Magneto is in love with Charles but we're supposed to pretend it's not the case. Don't expect my reviews to ever get better from this point. And you know what, I actually look forward to how Fox studios will adapt this into film next year. With what I've read so far, any deviation and condensed version is preferable for me.
MEH, OKAY. RECOMMENDED: 7/10