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Cover Gallery: Amazing X-Men

Amidst all the reviews and such, for me (at least) sometimes it’s just really fun to look at a bunch of comics’ covers together, whether it’s admiring a run of a series, or seeing a full story, or some other ‘theme’. Here are the covers to the Amazing X-Men issues from the original Age of Apocalypse event in 1995 (and as a shameless plug, click on the cover and that should take you to my Age of Apocalypse Revisited coverage of the issue).

 

amazingxmen001 amazingxmen002
amazingxmen003 amazingxmen004

Age of Apocalypse Revisited: Amazing X-Men #4

aoa_revisited_logo

amazingxmen004On Consecrated Ground

Plot: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Andy Kubert
Inker: Matt Ryan
Lettering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Color Art: Kevin Somers and Digital Chameleon
Cover: Andy Kubert, Matt Ryan
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: June 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

Here we are…the second-to-last issue of the entirety of this (as we’re in 2015 I have to use the word "original" to specify) Age of Apocalypse story.

The issue opens with Bishop in the hands of the Madri as they prepare to "sacrifice" him so that his knowledge does not pass further and inspire others to consider a world in which Apocalypse does not presently rule. Storm bursts onto the scene and frees him, though the doing drains her considerably. While this is going on, Quicksilver and Banshee locate the source of the Madri–Jamie Madrox–as we learn that the Madri are all "just" dupes of Jamie. Meanwhile, Rogue and her group arrive back at the mansion to learn Magneto has been taken and her son Charles is missing. Nightcrawler bamfs in with Destiny; Colossus and Kitty had also arrived with Illyana and now deliver the news that their students died in freeing the girl. Dazzler and Exodus return as well, Gambit and Lila Cheney in tow…but no sign of Charles. Rogue lashes out at Gambit for not returning with her child; while Banshee sacrifices himself to put an end to Abyss, and Madrox gives his own life to shut down the Madri and thus save Storm and Bishop. The various pieces of Magneto’s planning have come together, borne fruit…and the X-Men stand ready to end the age of Apocalypse.

Though this issue does technically continue threads from the previous issue, in many ways it feels more like a filler issue, not belonging to its own series, but rather, tying things together to funnel/filter several things into X-Men: Omega and the end of the overall AoA story arc. There’s a lot going on, though nothing really gets much focus.

The story as such doesn’t work as a solo issue, and even as a final issue, too much "space" is given to converging plotlines for this to really fit the standard expectation of a final issue. I suppose I’d say that this issue lacks much of its own identity as a chapter of an individual thread about to be woven back into a larger whole. Yet, this certainly sets things up and if one reads this issue, it certainly does not make much sense not to continue on to X-Men: Omega.

The art is good. Nothing really stands out positive or negative, though if anything it might be the portrayal of Abyss. I can’t quite figure out if I like or dislike the character’s appearance…though it’s a credit to the visual team that I can "hear" the sound of the character’s movements in my head.

This issue is a sort of bridge between the other minis and X-Men: Omega; particularly Generation Next, X-Calibre, Astonishing X-Men, and Gambit and the X-Ternals…really only leaving out Weapon X, X-Man, and Factor-X, as those series’ finales I believe are more directly connected to the pages of the bookend special.

The end of this issue points out the continuation into X-Men: Omega…which apparently was on sale the same week, so there would have been the double-dose of story, and making this one functionally an extension if one bought both. X-Men: Alpha, 8 4-issue series, two 2-issue series and a profile book…this is–if my math’s correct–the 39th part of AoA, with everything wrapping up in a 40th issue, capping things off.

Age of Apocalypse Revisited: Amazing X-Men #3

aoa_revisited_logo

amazingxmen003Parents of the Atom

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Andy Kubert
Inker: Matt Ryan
Letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Color Art: Kevin Somers, Digital Chameleon
Cover: Andy Kubert
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: May 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

We open with Magneto at Xavier’s gravestone, reflecting on the past and significance of Xavier and his life. Bishop interrupts and we learn the two are out on the grounds of the mansion due to a perimeter alarm, and before long the two are attacked…first by Infinites, then Apocalypse himself. The two fall to Apocalypse…leaving the grounds empty when Storm and Quicksilver’s group returns. They split to seek Magneto as well as his son Charles, but find only evidence that Nanny defended Charles, and Magneto did not leave of his own volition. While Quicksilver confronts Angel–who is "in the know" with this sort of thing–we see Bishop being probed for info by the Shadow King, and then Abyss arrives. Meanwhile, having gotten what info he needed from Angel, Quicksilver prepares the group to retrieve Bishop, recognizing that Bishop is key to Magneto’s plans, moreso than Magneto himself.

This cover, and this issue in general–is one of the ones I remember and think of when I think of the Age of Apocalypse story in general. I remember the physical battle between Magneto and Apocalypse, and apparently have–at least subconsciously–been looking forward to this, despite not recalling for certain where stuff went down. I hadn’t remembered much detail on the X-Men and their searching for Magneto or how they connected the dots, but as I read this, that was almost "extra" after the battle between the two Big Players in things.

Visually, I dare say I was thrilled with this issue…everything looked good, ESPECIALLY a lot of the Magneto and Bishop stuff. Whatever nitpicks I might be able to find to cast some negative are easily overshadowed by the issue’s opening and the depiction of Magneto. As I’ve said in other reviews across the AoA stuff…this is where Magneto came to really be one of my favorite comic characters…and this version of him is easily my favorite depiction OF the character.

One almost needn’t have read the first couple issues to follow things here–technically those stand alone, apart, serving as our point of witnessing what the characters went through where in this issue we’re simply told THAT they helped with the evacuation of the humans. Magneto being attacked, and both he and Bishop being taken by Apocalypse cues the final stage of the Age of Apocalypse, as concepts and potentialities solidify and larger pieces of things are visibly coming together, everything being drawn toward Apocalypse himself at the heart of his empire.

Having so enjoyed this issue, I truly don’t relish forcing myself through (m)any other issues and I’m simply eager to get to the final issue of Astonishing X-Men, and of this title, and then on into X-Men: Omega…though there are a number of other issues yet to go before the finale of this story.

Age of Apocalypse Revisited: Amazing X-Men #2

aoa_revisited_logo

amazingxmen002Sacrificial Lambs

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Andy Kubert
Inker: Matt Ryan
Lettering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Colors: Kevin Somers, Digital Chameleon
Cover: Andy Kubert
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: April 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

We open on a prologue of sorts, witnessing Abyss torturing someone to maximize his own enjoyment of feeding off the kid’s life force. Then we turn back to the X-Men who now face foes who have commandeered the re-wiring of the Sentinels…now instead of being "invisible" to the sentinels, the X-Men are included as targets…a challenge they must overcome in order to be at all effective in helping the humans escape. They also learn that Abyss is holding this boy hostage, and Quicksilver and Storm go after him to save the kid. Meanwhile, Apocalypse determines that he Has Had Enough Of This and prepares to attack Magneto directly.

Like the first issue, this one is something rather different than I thought I remembered…something that might yet be attributable to cover images that I’ve seen repeatedly through the years while not re-reading the contents for years. This issue’s cover…while showing Storm and Quicksilver battling Abyss seems a bit stylistic, particularly in Abyss’ appearance as well as Quicksilver’s silent scream. A coworker asked me about part of it–if Storm was shooting lightning, and I realized that hadn’t even registered to me visually…just a bunch of color and lines.

The story is solid and enjoyable enough (given the dark setting and subject matter). It’s interesting to see the possible romantic relationship between Storm and Quicksilver simmering just under things, and at the least the relationship the characters DO have as-is. Somehow I’ve associated this title more with Rogue and her group than with Storm and Quicksilver, yet at least as of these first two issues, it’s definitely a Storm/Quicksilver-led group…though I believe the focus shifts a bit for the back half of the series.

The art is good, and no real complaints from me there outside of my note above on the cover. Even that isn’t horrible and is more of a "noticed" thing than anything drawing me out of the story or distracting or such.

Nearly halfway through the Age of Apocalypse now, and it seems like the journey’s just begun. Though I’ve not cared much for the "10 years later" stuff through present done with "advancing" the world…I still feel there is an incredible amount of potential for these characters and stories to be told prior to where we picked up in X-Men: Alpha.

And that’s probably part of why I find myself drawn more to Amazing and Astonishing X-Men to the self-inflicted quasi-dread of reading some of the other titles. This book holds as one of the "treats" of the bunch, though.

Age of Apocalypse Revisited: Amazing X-Men #1

aoa_revisited_logo

amazingxmen001The Crossing Guards

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Andy Kubert
Inker: Matt Ryan
Color Art: Kevin Somers
Separation: Digital Chameleon
Lettering: Starkings/Comicraft
Cover: Andy Kubert
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date:
March 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

With this issue, we’re back to the X-Men "proper," as Storm and Quicksilver lead a squad of X-Men to assist with getting humans out of North America. In order to do so, however, they have to "hack" the High Council’s sentinels’ programming so they can be seen as friendlies and not just more mutants to be attacked on detection. Though they seek to help, their help’s not asked for. As the group preps, the distrust for the man called Bishop runs high as Magneto seems to be the only one who trusts him and believes that he might truly represent a chance to change the world before it ever went wrong.

It’s not really evident to me with this issue why I’ve long held this title to be my favorite of the Age of Apocalypse books–it might be the later issues that brought that to the fore and the way they lead into the end of things…but that’s something to be gotten to when I get to ’em.

This issue is another solid read with plenty of forward development in things as a whole if not overly so with any individual characters. Of course, it’s a team book so I wouldn’t necessarily expect a lot of individual character development. I certainly appreciate the Magneto/Bishop stuff, and rereading all these first issues has reminded me of why I’m such a fan of Magneto, as it WAS this saga 20 years ago that fully introduced me to the character, my prior experience having almost exclusively been Fatal Attractions and the animated series (which itself in its second season gave plenty to like with the character).

The story here is good, as is the art. I can be quite repetitive in talking about art with comics as I’m more a story guy, but with that–this issue’s art didn’t blow me away but it definitely provided strong visuals that certainly had played a part in defining this era of X-Men comics for me.

All in all, this was another enjoyable issue in the dawn of the Age of Apocalypse…keeping the "train" rolling and my interest high in continuing to relearn and revisit the entirety of the AoA epic.

Amazing X-Men (2013) #1 [Review]

amazingxmen(2013)001The Quest for Nightcrawler part 1 of 5

Writer: Jason Aaron
Penciler: Ed McGuinness
Inker: Dexter Vines
Colors: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: McGuiness & Gracia
Assistant Editor: Xander Jarowey
Associate Editor: Jordan D. White
Editor: Nick Lowe
Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: $3.99

I bought this because of Nightcrawler, and because of the cover. Well, the regular cover, anyway–the wraparound/double-page-spread-sized image (see below). I usually hate the “return” of dead characters, but given recent indoctrination to the “well, how LONG are they gonna STAY dead?” thing I’ve simply been waiting for this; knowing it WOULD come about, just not sure which year it’d be (turns out, 2013 into 2014). And darn, that’s a nice cover!

My expectation for this issue was pretty low going in, despite recognizing the potential, and “knowing” this is the “return of Nightcrawler,” from snippets I’ve spotted online–that I’ve come across without specifically seeking out. I figured hey, I’ll give this issue a shot. ONE issue, a first issue of a new series…a few pages to “convince” me to come back for another issue, without leaving me further disillusioned with Marvel Stuff.

The issue opens with an extremely basic summation of Nightcrawler, then picks up with Nightcrawler himself, and the beginnings of this grand adventure. Some demons launch a raid on the edge of this afterlife realm, and Nightcrawler fights back. Turns out his father–Azazel–is leading the campaign. Of course, Nightcrawler opposes him, a yet-unfinished task before he can “move on.” Back on Earth, Angelica Jones (Firestar) arrives at the Jean Grey school as a new member of the staff…but finds things are not nearly as simple as she’d expected. Amidst other goings-on, the staff–led by Beast–find that the Bamfs infestation is much more significant than they’d thought, and leads them to realizing something rather big is touching off.

Now, my first thought, slightly tangential: if there are plus Bamfs for sale anywhere, I totally want a blue one! I don’t know when these things showed up, but I think I was only just aware enough of their existence that I’m not scratching my head here…maybe I’m drawing on some metatextual knowledge as well that made ’em amusing…and Really Darned Cute!

Visually, I highly enjoyed this, from the cover on through. As said above, the cover “sold” me on this issue, and the art fit the cover and the story, and I was never once taken out of the story by some weird panel or not being able to follow what’s going on. (And darn if those Bamfs aren’t cute lil’ critters!) I don’t care for Storm’s look, but that’s the mohawk and such, not the art itself. Despite Beast’s relatively new look, I had to remind myself that it WAS his new look…he just looked like Beast. And I couldn’t help but grin at Nightcrawler getting the swords and swinging into action…the cover isn’t itself an exact scene from the issue, but it conveys some of the spirit of what went on.

Story-wise…The characters themselves are not (yet) reunited with Nightcrawler, sure. But we (the readers) get the first few pages of this issue to spend with him, before being “stuck” with the non-Nightcrawler characters of the title. We get Firestar brought into things, some context of her past with the characters (including Iceman), and stuff like that; context that Bamfs have been around the Jean Grey School for awhile and not a major problem til now. And by issue’s end we can see what’s coming, and left off with a cliffhanger that I don’t HAVE to see the resolution to…it’s a cliffhanger I WANT to see the resolution to.

The issue begins the return of Nightcrawler. We get Nightcrawler IN THIS issue–no waiting for #2 or #3 to so much as see the character. We get a great cover that fits the issue. We get immediate gratification while being primed for more to come. It’s a great balance. We get exposure to other characters that will feature in this title, despite also being featured in other titles…we get setup for coming issues.

I had planned to skip this issue. I’m tired of $3.99, I’m tired of double-shipping books (no clue offhand if this is going to be a double-shipper or just an old-style once-a-month title), but couldn’t resist checking this out. And for this first arc at least, I’m on-board. The story’s good and gives plenty I like in my first-issues; the art’s very much to my liking (and I don’t remember specifically liking McGuinness‘ work this much previously), so all in all I’m quite satisfied with the issue and definitely looking forward to the next issue.

All in all, you don’t really need to be up on a lotta current continuity, I don’t think. Knowing all the recent goings-on throughout the X-books will surely lend a richer experience and contextual knowledge. But the core stuff is given in this issue and/or looks likely to be able to be picked up further as the arc continues. Especially if you’re a fan of Nightcrawler, whatever you thought of his demise in Second Coming, this is very much an issue to get. And even taken alone, this is a solid first issue if you want to jump into an X-book fresh with a #1 issue. Highly recommended!

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