Friday, May 22, 2015

Age of Apocalypse by Scott Lobdell and Others [Book Three]

BETTER THAN THE PREVIOUS COLLECTION, but that's not really saying much, honestly. I think I've reached a point where reading this nineties landmark story has become very obligatory in scope which may have diluted whatever merit and enjoyment I may find as I peruse through its bulky content. But by this third volume, the issues compiled actually make more sense together than that of the previous two had on their belts. Lucky coincidence? Most probably. It's not as if Age of Apocalypse is the most finesse story arc there is for the X-Men universe. It lacks the kind of cohesiveness one might only expect from a story that is scattered throughout fourteen different titles. It's bound to get kooky and uneven somewhere in its breadth.

And by somewhere, I meant EVERYWHERE. But not this time, thank Loki. Collected for this third volume are the following: X-CALIBRE #2-3, ASTONISHING X-MEN #2-4, GENERATION NEXT #2-3, X-MAN #2-3, FACTOR X #3, AMAZING X-MEN #3, WEAPON X #3, GAMBIT & THE X-TERNALS #3 and X-UNIVERSE #1.  

The closest two things I can compare Age of Apocalypse with are the period-specific charm and grit of Batman: Knightfall series and the convuluted multi-arc approach of Batman Eternal which are two titles I have read and reviewed with all the god-given patience ever possible for a mortal woman last year, so I know just what the ever-loving fuck I'm talking about when I say that Age of Apocalypse is a combination of both, and more often than not contain the least of the things I have enjoyed from either title.

Look, the series in its entirety so far (I have one last volume to go) is not that bad and might even be fun and engrossing if you like this type of comic book style which is pretty much nineties in flavor and depth (or so I'm told). In the last two volumes, my complaints range differently. For the first one, I thought the fact that it wasn't even ordered chronologically defeated the purpose of collecting the issues in the first place. That meant that I was so fucking lost and confused with only the most ridiculous and unintentionally humorous moments to gravitate to and for me to latch on just so I'd bother continuing reading it. As for the second volume, I appreciated that I finally got some context and face-time with the titular villain Apocalypse himself, and I did find myself recognizing the qualities I knew and loved from these alternate-versions of Cyclops, Wolverine, Jean Grey, Rogue and Magneto. The last two for me are exemplary; the romantic angle to their relationship was played just right and the other characters who interact regularly with them (Quicksilver, Sabretooth, Blink, Morph and Gambit) have great respective chemistry with them. In fact, I think both the X-Men and the Astonishing X-Men issues are the ones I have most emotionally stake in than the rest of the roster. More on this later. In the meantime...

How does its own blurb describe Age of Apocalypse? According to the back cover: The critically acclaimed fan-favorite storyline that rocked the X-Men universe to its core is collected in chronological order across these four volumes.

YOU. LYING. PIECE. OF. SHIT. Why would you market this deception to readers?
Now, moving onto something more honest and not at all manipulatively interpreted to suit my own personal whim: as tradition, I'm allowed to pick a shippy Cherik moment from every volume and display it here like that precious artifact that it truly must be beheld as; sadly, there is only one here that came across as that but it's definitely a winner:
OH MY GOD NO SHIT, Erik, WE GET IT BY NOW. UGH. You're a creepy, obsessive man pining over your late best friend. And you've also been moping around about his loss consistently for three volumes now. There's no way we would miss the signs. WE GET IT. Charles Xavier was YOUR EVERYTHING and you're so DEVASTATED that he no longer lives so you had to name your son by Rogue with his own name too. Good lord--and I know this is asking too much--but can you please check your priorities and be less in love with him?

Now, what did I love about the third volume? How about the fact that certain character relationships were finally allowed to grow? I'm talking about the issues with mother and son, Raven and Kurt; Logan and Jean Grey's doomed yet easy-to-root-for love affair; Gambit's complicated yet intriguing dynamics with the Externals; and Sabretooth and Blink's surrogate father-daughter moments in between. 

Because that's what makes me read X-Men: THE RELATIONSHIPS in the context of the madness and discrimination, the deaths and the second chances that surround these rag-tag team of lovable freaks. In addition, three characters as individuals stood out for me the most for this volume and they have been performing rather impressively since the second volume began (aside from Magneto who, let's face it, spends a good seventy-percent of his page time pining over Charles): I'm talking about Rogue, Cyclops and Morph. GODDAMN MORPH who serves as a comic relief but who actually gives this fucking story arc an unmistakable heart in its messy core. Rogue here has been placed in stressful positions and yet she always comes up on top. That's my girl right there! Cyclops, on the other hand, actually plays the bad-guy role like a pro (EPIC FORESHADOWING, AMIRITE?) and Morph is so amazingly quirky and inappropriate sometimes but the fact that he always tries to make people laugh in spite of the bad timing of it all doesn't come off insensitive but rather sad and sympathetic. Ugh, I am loving these characters and I hope I get more of them in the next volume. I would like for the writers to flesh out the romantic relationship between Storm and Quicksilver too while they're at it because this was only mentioned in passing and it's always a crime against nature to under-utilize motherfucking Ororo Munroe. So they better sort their crap soon.

Now let's end this review with something sweet which features the most tender and humane moment Magneto ever allowed himself to become a part of and say aloud, concerning his AU son Charles and how he feels about the fact that to rewrite the world he lives in now will also mean he will lose his son. AoA-Magneto often knocks the wind out of me whenever he demonstrates what a sensitive soul he is:


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