Comic Review: X-Men: The Age of Apocalypse – The Complete Epic

Published: 1995-1996
Written by: Scott Lobdell, Jeph Loeb, John Francis Moore, Mark Waid, Warren Ellis, Fabian Nicieza, Larry Hama, Howard Mackie, Terry Kavanagh
Art by: Roger Cruz, Terry Dodson, Steve Epting, Andy Kubert, Adam Kubert, Carlos Pacheco, Joe Madureira, Tony Daniel, Salvador Larroca, Chris Bachalo, Ken Lashley, Steve Skroce, Ian Churchill, Joe Bennett

Marvel Comics, 1462 Pages

Review:

I’ve really only heard great things about The Age of Apocalypse storyline since it started back in 1995, an era where I wasn’t really reading comics for awhile, except for Dark Horse’s Star Wars stuff.

In fact, the last major X-Men related event that I had read before this was X-Cutioner’s Song, a pretty good epic. But shortly after that, I got pretty burnt out once the top Marvel guys went off to form Image and then those comics were constantly hindered by delays and irregular schedules.

Based off of all the praise I heard, I always wanted to read this but it was such a massive story, spread over multiple collected volumes that I never really wanted to fork out the over $100 it would cost to buy the whole shebang. So, all these years later, I took advantage of a massive X-Men sale on Comixology and got the entire saga with its prelude for about $20.

Now that I’ve read it, I’m glad I only spent $20 because like Game of Thrones, all my friends and all the critics lied to me about how great this was. It’s not, it’s a clusterfuck of biblical proportions showcasing a lot of the things that were wrong with mid-’90s comic book art from the major publishers.

I’ll start with the art and just come out and say that this was mostly an eyesore to look at. The biggest reason was the colors, which relied so heavily on what I assume are digitally created gradients and overly vibrant colors that this was like staring into the asshole of a tropical fruit salad for hours. Everything is too busy, every single issue collected is made to be overly grandiose and if everything is larger than life and overly vivid, then that becomes the norm and thus, makes everything kind of boring.

Additionally, there is such a mix of different artistic styles that it becomes jarring as these collections jump from issue to issue every twenty pages or so. Some of the artists had great pencils but many of them illustrated in a style that didn’t feel like Marvel and instead felt like the artists were trying to emulate indie comics from Image and Valiant. Besides, the stuff that was illustrated well, ended up being wrecked by the primitive gradients and crazy colors that looked like a giallo film puked all over a box of Prismacolor markers.

When it comes to the narrative side of this, that’s also a mess.

This suffers from trying to be way more ambitious than it needed to be. The whole story is comprised of about seven or eight different subplots that are and aren’t intertwined. Some of them merge towards the end into the bigger story but some stuff just happens within this new timeline. But the story jumps around so much that it makes the whole thing hard to follow as a singular body of work. This is the same problem I have, right now, with all the new X-Men related titles that are tied to a bigger narrative but don’t feel connected as much as they should. But this is what happens when you have a half dozen different titles and different writers, all of whom want to explore different territory in their own way while being trapped within a common framework.

In fact, the only plot I actually enjoyed was the one that dealt with the characters that aren’t tied to the X-Men.

There was a two issue miniseries called X-Universe, which focused on what other Marvel characters were up to during this event. We check in on this timeline’s version of Gwen Stacy, some of the Avengers, Fantastic Four, Doctor Doom and a few others. I found this more interesting and it showed me that this alternate timeline could provide the right sort of environment for cool and refreshing takes on old characters.

While I should probably feel the same way about all the X-Men related characters and their stories, it is hard to focus on any of them because of how this jumps around so much. When I got to the non-X-Men characters, it felt like a nice break from the X-clusterfuck I was pushing myself through.

Ultimately, I was really disappointed in this. I kept powering through it because I was hoping that all these subplots and characters would unify into something coherent that clicked at the end but that didn’t happen. We eventually get to a resolution but it’s not all that satisfying.

On a side note (and spoiler alert): the way that Magneto kills Apocalypse is pretty f’n badass.

Rating: 5/10
Pairs well with: other big X-Men crossovers of the ’80s through ’00s.

Vids I Dig 081: Literature Devil: A Look at King Baby a.k.a. Mark Waid (In 3 Parts)

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 1): The favorite weapon of those in charge has always been to censor “rogue thinkers.” And let’s not kid ourselves…a Republican may be in the White House…but the far left is not only still in charge, but they’re actively shutting down competing opinions. And there have been few better examples of the left-wing censor in action…than what happened during the Jawbreakers fiasco.

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 2): Let’s take a journey into the marvelously malicious mind of a madman.

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 3): How do you think Meyer v Waid will go? Let’s take a look. (Yes – I got that idea from the Hugbox Chronicles. Watch and you’ll know what part I’m talking about)

Vids I Dig 005: Douglas Ernst Mentions Talking Pulp’s Twitter Page and Parody Comic

This is from back in October of 2018 but when there were a lot of developments regarding the lawsuit between Richard C. Meyer and Mark Waid, I was making a parody G.I. Joe comic about it. YouTube commentator Douglas Ernst brought it up in a video. Talking Pulp is mentioned starting around 4:07.

Comic Review: Deadpool Classic, Vol. 1

Published on: May 7th, 2008
Written by: Fabian Nicieza, Joe Kelly, Mark Waid, Joe Madureira
Art by: Rob Liefeld, Ian Churchill, Lee Weeks, Ed McGuinness

Marvel Comics, 264 Pages

Review:

I recently re-read Cable & The New Mutants, which collected Cable’s first appearance and his first big story arc as the new leader of the New Mutants team before the roster was shaken up and rebranded as the original incarnation of X-Force. I enjoyed revisiting it, so I figured that I’d also pick up the earliest stories of Rob Liefeld’s other greatest creation, Deadpool.

This collection really does start at the beginning, as the first chapter is issue #98 of The New Mutants, which was the first appearance of Deadpool. Who, awesomely enough, showed up to kill Cable.

The New Mutants #98 was also the first appearance of two other Liefeld creations: Domino and Gideon. However, and not to spoil anything, but this isn’t the real Domino, we wouldn’t meet her for another two years and this character was Copycat posing as Domino. Copycat, for those who don’t know, is actually Vanessa Geraldine Carlysle… the same Vanessa that’s played by Morena Baccarin in the Deadpool movies.

After Deadpool’s quick debut, we get into The Circle Chase storyline, which was Deadpool’s first solo story and his debut self-titled series. This takes place after 20-plus issues of X-Force, as Copycat has been exposed and is parading around as herself in this story. This tale also features the villain team up of Black Tom Cassidy and Juggernaut with a bunch of other villains and assassins also thrown into the story.

The story after that features Black Tom and Juggernaut again but this time Deadpool has help from Banshee and his daughter Siryn. In this story, Black Tom is being torn apart from his strange physical condition and he needs Deadpool’s DNA to cure his painful ailment.

The last story is just the first issue of what was the first ongoing Deadpool comic book series. It’s a quick read but the highlight is seeing Deadpool square off with Sasquatch of Alpha Flight.

These early stories were cool to revisit but Deadpool, as a character, hadn’t quite been fleshed out to his regular level of greatness by this point. But being that he is a unique character, it took the writers some time to figure out what he was supposed to be.

Deadpool hadn’t found his groove yet but this is still entertaining and a precursor to the character’s greatness. And thing’s do get better after this.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: The end of the original New Mutants run and the first two years of the original X-Force run.

Comic Review: Batman: Featuring Two-Face and the Riddler

Published: August 1st, 1995
Written by: Neil Gaiman, Mark Waid, various
Art by: Bernie Mireault, Joe Matt, Matt Wagner, various

DC Comics, 192 Pages

Review:

Ever since reading one of my favorite collected editions of all-time The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told, when I got it back in 1989, I’ve wanted other big collections of Batman’s best villains. In recent years, DC Comics released some villain collections under the Arkham title. But before getting into those, I picked up this, which was a special release around the time that Batman Forever came out in theaters in 1995.

By the title and the cover, this obviously focuses on Two-Face and Riddler stories. It does also feature one Penguin tale too, as one of the tales collected here was the Original Sin sin story written by Neil Gaiman, which appeared in the Secret Origins Special #1 in 1989.

Like The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told, this trade paperback covers Two-Face and Riddler stories as far back as 1941 up through the early 1990s, just before this was released.

It gives the origin stories of both supervillains. In the case of Two-Face, we actually get to see three different variations of his origin. While names and details may conflict, it fleshes out who he is really well.

The only real negative is that this is pretty short at less than 200 pages. Therefore, there is more emphasis on origin stuff and not much in regards to just regular stories and run-ins with Batman.

The Arkham series of trade paperbacks will rectify that for me, as each one is much bigger than this book and focused solely on one villain per volume.

Still, if you are a fan of Two-Face or the Riddler, this is something you should add to your collection, as it gives you their first stories and shows how they have evolved over the decades.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: The villain anthologies under the Batman – Arkham banner.