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The ’90s Revisited: The Savage Dragon #1

90s_revisited

savage_dragon_1992_0001Baptism of Fire

Creator/Writer/Artist/Inker: Erik Larsen
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Gregory Wright
Editor: Jannie Wong
Color Separations: Digital Chameleon
Published by: Malibu Comics / Image Comics
Cover Date: July 1992
Cover Price: $1.95

I remember seeing THE earliest issues of The Savage Dragon "on the stands" back at Capp’s Comics, back in the day. I don’t recall if I saw the first issue of Spawn or not, but Savage Dragon stuck out to me, somehow…I’m pretty sure it was the cover, with the bright yellow and red/oranginess and the main character charging forward. It was very much an "image" book in that regard–all flash, at minimum. But I’ve "always" since then been at least loosely aware of the title’s continued existence and ongoing nature, continually marching forth into higher and higher numbers (much like Spawn). As of this writing, the ongoing Savage Dragon title’s just had its 225th issue…which combined with my reading in full the Dragon story from the Image 10th Anniversary hardcover, and the ready availability of several collected volumes at significant discount and having a bit more on my shelf already than I realized has really rekindled an active interest in the character for me.

So what better way of things than to go back to the very beginning, to this very first issue of a three-issue limited series (when there was no guarantee the character’d support anything beyond that)?

I know the basics of the character’s origin, and little bits here and there, so this issue isn’t as shocking or such as it may otherwise have been. In a lot of ways, there’s something about this that reminds me a bit of the Ultraverse books–plenty of superhero trappings, but some definite, overt violence that makes the book more "mature" without veering grossly into "adults-ONLY" territory.

We open on a green-skinned fin-headed cop leaping into battle with some guy named Cutthroat, and the two beating on each other. The green guy eventually wins out and Cutthroat and his girlfriend are arrested. We then flash back to the guy in a burning field, and then waking in a hospital to officer Frank Darling, who questions him on who he is and how he came to be there–none of which the guy remembers. Darling tries to recruit him for the police, but "Dragon" refuses. But when his boss is threatened and then the warehouse blown up, killing him…Dragon agrees to try the police thing. He’s a one-man SWAT team, able to take on super-powered criminals the "regular" police don’t stand a chance against. We see Officer Dragon in more action, showing off his stuff and meeting others (criminal and costumed vigilante alike), before seeing a group of super-powered criminals about to be unleashed…and perhaps making for a rather short career for Dragon!

Story-wise, this is pretty basic. It feels like there’s a lot more to it conceptually than actual story-wise…and it’s nearly impossible for me to evaluate this "cold," as I know what I do and so can’t help but come to this already knowing a lot of stuff that wasn’t even available when this was published. That said, it’s cool to read this, consciously aware of things and how they go, while seeing the beginning foundation of it all start to unfold here. This also does as a good first issue should…namely, it introduces us to the titular character, shows him in actions, gives us a bit of an "origin" (at least how he came to be a cop), introduces us to some "minor"/supporting characters, gives us a villain (in this case, several!), and sows some seeds of what’s to come and makes you want to know where things go from here.

The art is solid…the character is very recognizable, of course…and though I’d expect a certain "roughness" to it, there are panels that I’d swear you could show me out of context and I wouldn’t be able to concretely place them as 1993, 2002, or 2017. Larsen‘s work is definitely more refined 225+ issues later, but it’s quite cool to see that he’s held a consistency across 25 years with the character and book.

I definitely look forward to diving into the series and seeing how far I get…whether I do a lengthy read now or "soon," but at least the rest of this mini-series!

I know I got this issue at least a couple times from quarter bins/50-cent bins…I don’t know if (for whatever 3 or so copies I have throughout my collection) I’ve even paid cover price for the issue TOTAL yet. It’s definitely worth a quarter, and if you can get the whole mini-series, I daresay it’s at least worth cover price per issue to get the whole story.

It’s also interesting to note that even though this bears the Image comics "i" logo on the front…this was actually published by Malibu!

For a general reading experience, I’d recommend the collected edition…I know Larsen did some slight revisions and reordered the pages into a story-chronological order for the collected volume and fleshed thinks out a bit…so you’ll have a more thorough and refined story reading that way. Still, I enjoyed reading this as a single issue…and even found that there’s a bound-in mini-poster ripe for framing and hanging on my art-wall!

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The ’90s Revisited: Wildstorm Chamber of Horrors #1

wildstorm_chamber_of_horrors_0001Warblade
Story: Ron Marz
Layouts: Bernie Wrightson
Finished Art: Alex Bialy
Colors: Lee Ann Clark
Computer Color: Ominous Color

Lord Emp
Story: Steven Grant
Art: Trevor Scott
Color: Gina Going
Computer Color: Quantum Color

Tapestry
Story: Merv
Pencils: Jason Johnson
Inks: Chris Carlson
Color: Monica Bennett
Computer Color: Ominous Color

Savant
Story:
Jeff Mariotte
Pencils: Tom Raney
Inks: Al Vey
Color: Gina Going
Computer Color: Ominous Color

Framing Pages
Pencils:
Aron Wiesenfeld
Inks: John Beatty, Alex Garner, Al Vey
Color: Monica Bennett
Computer Color: WildStorm Effects, Ominous Color
Production: WildStorm Effects

Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover: Simon Bisley
Pinup: Jeff Rebner & Richard Friend
Editor: Jonathan Peterson
Editorial Coordinator: Amy Zimand
Cover Date: October, 1995
Cover Price: $3.50

Well, that’s an extremely long list of creator credits for this issue! For purposes of this post, I suppose that’s my fault, as I’m not breaking them up for individual-segment thoughts on writing/art/etc. Because while I read the issue, I quickly realized it’s a collaborative one-off piece…essentially a bunch of characters coming together, hanging out, exchanging stories while doing so…and different creators handling the different parts that are then stitched together into this single comic book.

I found this issue in a quarter-bin, and the main reason it even caught my attention was the "generic" Wildstorm in the title…then drew me in with the Chamber of Horrors bit. Hey, Halloween is almost here, and I haven’t acknowledged October. So I’d thought ok, I’ll get this issue, and maybe read it in time to do a post before Halloween. So here we are.

I know the "high points," or the "bullet points" of Image in the ’90s…and largely consider (personally) that most of what gives "The ’90s" a bad rap in comics IS the Image stuff. And while there’s some nostalgia for me, I’ve yet to really dive in and erase the blind spot so much of ’90s Image still has for me. That said, or as such…I’m not all that familiar with characters in this issue…very few by name, just looking at them. I recognize a few, and a couple others sort of look familiar…but this is a jam piece I fail to appropriately "appreciate," I’m sure.

This issue is–as said–a "jam piece," with 5-6 "creative teams" involved in multiple segments that collectively make up the issue. At its core, characters come together and wind up in their own space at a party, but outside of "authorized space" at the museum that’s hosting them, and are free to tell stories amongst themselves that would not work for a general public. So the characters swap stories about horror situations they’ve found themselves in–from dating/making moves on a body possessed by spiders, to experience with the Salem Witch Trials, to a mirror that led to horrible versions of what should have been one’s best dream.

As a whole, this issue was entertaining enough. Reading it, I simply breezed through–I noticed the visual changes, but the story overall seemed relatively seamless…or at least, nothing jarring that didn’t mesh with the other parts. As said, I’m not familiar enough with any of these characters or individual series to come to the table with any real expectations, so stuff really just "is."

The art’s not bad in and of itself…though I really "see" a lot of ’90s Image in the stuff (considering this IS "’90s Image," that’s to be expected!). For a 25-cent purchase that I had zero real "expectation" for going in…I honestly enjoyed the issue, and it was worth the purchase and reading. Despite the title, and the cover, other than it incidentally being the characters gathering around a Halloween party, this could be "any time," just messed-up situations or "out there" stuff.

I never knew this issue existed, nor sought it out. I wouldn’t say it’s really anything to go to great lengths to acquire…but it’s worth a 25-cent purchase/read-through, and can serve (at least visually) as a sort of "sampler" of stuff being put out at the time.

There’s an ad in the back of the issue for a $30 "chromium" poster version of the cover…which makes me wonder if there might be a "chromium" version of this issue out there somewhere. If there is, I obviously haven’t seen it. The cover image gives me a bit of deja-vu…so perhaps I’ve seen it before without consciously taking it in; maybe I’ve seen the poster; maybe just the ad. (Or perhaps there’s some promotional trading card from Wizard with this image on it that I’ve seen).

Though titled Chamber of Horrors…you could definitely find worse horrors than this issue.

Zero Hour Revisited – Anima #7

90srevisited_zerohour

anima_0007Suddenly, Johnny Gets a Feeling

Writers: Elizabeth Hand & Paul Witcover
Guest Penciller: Brent Anderson
Inker: Will Blyberg
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Patricia Mulvihill
Assistant Editor: Chris Eades
Editor: Rob Simpson
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

I recall Anima being one of the characters introduced during the Bloodlines Annuals event in 1993, and of course remember the character more than others as she (obviously) had her own series or a short time. That said, this is the first I can consciously remember actually reading of the character.

Reading this issue, though “only” 7 into its run, was not a fun thing out-of-context. I could recognize the main character and associates by context-clues and figure stuff out, but the story seemed (in part for my lack of familiarity with any of the characters or the full context of the continuity/situation at this point) to jump all over the place enough that I’m not even gonna try to summarize it. Suffice it to say that this felt like diving into a mid-season episode of some tv show and maybe not being disgusted or put off enough by it to turn it off, but it definitely was not the most engaging nor (detail-wise) memorable.

Essentially, there’s this girl, known as Anima, with a bond to some sort of demon named Animus. Animus is imprisoned by siblings/colleagues, as others conspire to do something nasty to the realm of Man, and Anima/Animus are key to stopping that, hence an adversarial situation.

Outside of Eliopoulos on lettering, I really don’t recognize the creative team. Then, the fact that outside of probably this issue (seeing it in the Zero Hour stack and as an issue coming up in the queue) I haven’t really even considered the series for years adds to this series’ isolation in history and continuity. This character came out of the DC Universe Bloodlines stuff; carries the standard DC logo, carries in this case the Zero Hour and DC Universe banner, so it was (at the time at least) certainly in-continuity and such (mid-1990s!). But you would hardly know it to look at any contemporary DC lineup, probably not SINCE the actual 1990s (1999/2000 or so).

That lack of recognition, memory, impact, lends to the weirdness of reading this…certainly refreshing in its way as one of those titles that I seriously doubt would even get a publishing chance nowadays, let alone an audience to go seven issues (let alone any further). The parts with Animus and siblings struck me as rather Hellblazer-esque (ok, perhaps this’d fit in with the new Hellblazer title in Rebirth?) and thus in continuity but tucked off into their own little separated section of continuity.

There’s an offhanded reference indicating Anima had gotten Superman’s message (from waaaaaayyyyy back at the start of Zero Hour!) but outside of that and the fade-to-white abruptness ending this issue, you wouldn’t know it had anything to do with a bigger crossover. This certainly fits the “red skies” designation of sorts…that is, there’s a passing shoe-horned-in reference for a panel or two, but otherwise the issue’s actual story is not impacted nor does it in turn impact, the main event story it supposedly ties in with.

I think this issue would probably fit pretty solidly in with its own series as a run–reading Anima from first issue to however long the series ran–but it’s not even really “fun” as an isolated, standalone issue; it does not advance Zero Hour itself, nor does it shed any real light on something that the main Zero Hour just didn’t have space to do. I would not recommend this outside of an Anima read-through; and given (if only) my own conscious lack of memory of anything impactful even from this series long-term, I certainly would not recommend paying more than 25-50 cents for this in a bargain-bin purchase.

The ’90s Revisited: Uncanny X-Men #308

uncanny_xmen_0308Mixed Blessings

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: John Romita Jr.
Inkers: Dan Green, Al Vey
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: January 1994
Cover Price: $1.25

This issue brought back a number of fond memories, as well as a new feeling as I “noticed” the art rather consciously this time. Having this issue relatively on-hand for this reading is something I must credit to fellow blogger Chris Sheehan, whose comments/discussion of the issue prompted the purchase and encouraged making the time for the re-read. It was his post that prompted me to re-purchase the issue (for the convenience of immediate availability in print without digging through umpteen unorganized longboxes to locate my original copy).

For a single issue, there’s a lot packed into so few pages. Essentially, though, we have Scott and Jean–Cyclops and Phoenix–walking the grounds outside the X-mansion. For once, there’s no overt threat, no villain interrupting, the world-at-large doesn’t need immediate saving, etc. Just a young man and woman spending time together, enjoying cool fall weather (well, Thanksgiving Day) and doing so amidst a larger group also living on the premises. So we get a bunch of “moments” between characters…and while the couple reminisces, they also come to a decision about their future.

This issue is one of a handful of X-Men comics I recall from the early/mid 1990s where we basically just have the characters hanging out at the mansion, interacting with each other in down-time withOUT having to deal with some villain or crossover or whatever. And reading this in 2016 where every story is written for the trade, and every trade is part of some big event and every event leads into the next with no time between…this issue is highly refresshing. There just aren’t issues like this anymore (at least not from Marvel/DC!).

The story itself is very much what I prefer in comics, giving us the characters, “quiet” “moments” and generally giving us a glimpse of what these characters do, how they might interact when not in the midst of fighting for their survival. We get to see them presented as actual people…which makes them that much more truly relatable (at least, to me!).

I remember thoroughly enjoying this issue over 20 years ago…and I enjoyed the story now. Unfortunately, while I don’t recall noticing the art–back then, if I did it didn’t throw me–but this read-through I REALLY consciously noted the art…and between this and bailing on a Superman story some time back for so disliking the art, I must conclude that as a general thing I dislike Romita Jr.’s visual style. There’s something to the style–sometimes a sense of sketchiness, other times something to faces and lips particularly that just doesn’t work for me and proved flat-out distracting to me, taking me out of the story itself. Which, while a complaint that I have, myself, is not to suggest the art is bad…it’s just definitely not to my taste, and it now being a conscious thing, it’s something I can watch out for.

And then, regardless of the linework and such itself, I had consciously forgotten (but hey, deja vu or such!) how much I dislike the flipping and flopping one must do to read certain ’90s comics, when the artists played fast ‘n loose with the “traditional” comic page and layouts. Some pages read fine, but rather than just varying panels across one or two pages, where one can just page through the issue with a single physical orientation and be fine…here, we’re given some instances with a double-page piece where you have to turn the comic sideways for a top-to-bottom experience with the issue physically turned sideways; others where the issue must be turned on its side for a then-typical left-to-right experience, and so on. Rather than being able to just lay the issue flat and page through, reading, while say, eating a bowl of cereal as breakfast it requires an active, physical experience of manipulating the book, which gets distracting and kicks one out of the story.

All in all, though…this is an excellent X-Men comic that I paid less than $4 for, and got so much more from it than any $3.99 new comic I can think of. If you know your X-Men and enjoy such stories, or have never read this, I’d urge you to give it a shot, if you can get the issue for (or less) that $4. If you find it in a 25-cent or 50-cent bin, all the better!

The ’90s Revisited: Green Lantern #81

greenlantern0081nFuneral for a Hero

Writer: Ron Marz
Pencils: Darryl Banks
Inks: Romeo Tanghal
Color: Pamela Rambo
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Associate Editor: Eddie Berganza
Editor: Kevin Dooley
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: December 1996
Cover Price: $1.75

“That was a good issue.” That was my initial thought on closing this, the first time I’ve ever read the issue. Oh, there were some odd bits here and there, but the oddity largely comes from my present knowledge of stuff in 2016 contrasting with reading a book that’s some 19+ years old.

This issue gives us the funeral of Hal Jordan. Though this is functionally #31 of Kyle’s series, and he was introduced to “replace” Hal in the title…until now, Hal had not actually been dead. He’d first simply become Parallax, destroyed the Corps and then been “not on Earth.” He returned in Zero Hour trying to re-write reality, to fix things…and was stopped. I recall (though not in much conscious detail) the #0 issue of Green Lantern…of Hal and Kyle interacting, and I believe the then-destruction of Oa, and I think I’d figured Hal was out of the picture. He then came back in The Final Night, where he sacrificed himself to save Earth and re-ignite the sun…which brings us to this issue.

Kyle has created a cathedral construct for all the mourners, in part of the crater that was once Coast City. We see the arrival of Jon Stewart and Donna Troy, and Donna’s reunion with Dick Grayson; she officially introduces Dick to Kyle. We see there are quite a number of individuals gathered–some heroes, some villains, some not even “invited.” (But that’s life, innit?) Superman speaks, followed by Guy Gardner and Jon Stewart (former GLs both), then Dinah Lance (Black Canary) on behalf of Oliver Queen (deceased at this point in continuity). The Flash (Wally West) speaks, followed by Carol Ferris…and the service concludes with Kyle. Next, the mourners move outside, where the memorial “eternal” flame for Coast City is magically transformed into a GREEN flame (Hal now reunited with the city he so loved) by the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott. Finally, Swamp Thing causes a massive growth of plant life in the crater…transforming the lifeless, desolate pit into a massive green space to honor the fallen hero…while Kyle erects a statue construct of Hall at the heart of it.

While many might say that you need to have constant action, constant “big stuff” happening, huge events, every issue must be merely a chapter in an ongoing story…I myself am very much a huge fan of self-contained one-shots…and of quiet, personal stories. A couple of my favorite X-Men comics involve the characters at home, just being themselves and interacting…not saving the world or facing some catastrophic event or the latest apocalyptic villain. This issue is like that. No huge action-event. No action-stars. No villain crashing the party and making trouble. This is not part 1 of some epilogue mini-SERIES to examine the death of Hal. This is not a “bridge” issue shepherding us from the last event right into the next.

This is a quiet, moving story where we get to see a number of DC characters interacting as themselves, in context of a loss. Perhaps there should be mention that the WORLD has just nearly ended, but there’s not even that–this isn’t “just” a follow-up to The Final Night…this is simply a story of people coming together to mourn the death of a man whose life had–in some way–touched all of theirs. And I suppose the way I’m going on and on like this ought to “say” enough in itself, outside of these words I’m typing.

For me–having grown up through the ’90s, having been quite immersed in DC‘s continuity (if only on the Superman side) through much of this period, being “aware of” if not directly following every title–this is an instant classic. I paid $3.99 to buy this from a back-issue bin; no bargain-bin or quarter-bin…just a “full priced back issue” in this case. The $3.99–just over double original cover price–makes this issue a “match” for any current 2016 issue…yet to me, the quality far exceeds most anything I’ve read recently from DC.

To say the least…the writing for this issue is great, and my sole complaint would be what feels like a tacked-on bit from Batman for the sake of a pretty bow on the situation, quite opposite of how Batman would be portrayed through later years until Infinite Crisis nearly a decade after this.

Banks‘ art is fantastic as well…I have no complaints on the visuals, and to me the only way characters seem slightly “off” visually I think is that they look almost “too human.” There’s a deep authenticity to me here, between the visuals and story combined…as any comic book should be! And unlike contemporary comics that seem full of silent or near-wordless 2-page spreads…this issue has an example of where something like that is truly justified…giving us a huge, powerful moment…whose silence echoes loudly as we see the interior of the cathedral, the pews full of mourners, Kyle and Donna moving through.

greenlantern0081cThe copy of this issue that I bought has a $1.75 cover price…which honestly surprised me, as I’d thought all DC books were $1.95 or so at this point. Based on the barcode on the cover and no “Direct Edition” text, I can only assume this is a true “newsstand edition” copy…and perhaps these editions were slightly cheaper than the comic shop editions. (I do recall the X-books having a similar thing with a cheaper lower-paper-quality edition and then the more expensive, high-quality-paper “deluxe edition”). This would be yet another difference with contemporary comics…as in 2016 I have observed the “newsstand” editions being seemingly-arbitrarily priced at $1 more than normal.

All said…this was a great issue, and very much worth my $4, putting virtually any current comic to shame, value-wise by comparison. And it only took me some 16+ years to get around to paying a “premium price” to acquire and get to read this issue.

Secret Wars (2015) #1 [Review]

secretwars(2015)001The End Times

Writer & Designer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Esad Ribic
Color Artist: Ive Svorcina
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Production: Idette Winecoor
Cover by: Alex Ross
Assistant Editors:Jon Moisan & Alanna Smith
Editors: Tom Brevoort with Wil Moss
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: July 2015
Cover Price: $4.99

Despite a certain grumpiness toward Marvel stuff lately, and being almost entirely out of the loop having consciously AVOIDED most of their contemporary stuff…I couldn’t simply pass this up. I gave DC‘s Convergence a chance, for two $5 issues and a $4…so having been turned off to that, I decided I can at least give Marvel‘s Event a chance for a $5 issue or two.

It’s been a long time since I’ve bought an Alex Ross covered issue of anything, and seeing his work on a Marvel anything again is quite cool. The interior of the issue is about 33 pages of actual story, and additional pages serving as title, credits, character, divider, and memorial pages…with the final pages of story going to black with a few words of text. While that seems at first to be quite a waste of space and pages, I find myself allowing it some leeway as I enjoyed the fade to white effect in DC‘s Zero Hour, and hold to that twenty-some years later.

Story-wise, things are a bit choppy to me, jumping between the 616 Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe. I’m not at all caught up on current going-ons in the Marvel Universe, but for the most part was able to follow along and get the “core” stuff out of the issue. Much like recognizing a bunch of characters while yet lacking their recent backstory for stuff like Zero Hour back in the ’90s, or any other event, this is what it is for me–a throwing-together of a universe of characters and I didn’t expect to experience this the way I would something I had more familiarity and interest in.

I’ve rarely enjoyed Hickman‘s work, and consciously recognizing his name on this project left me a bit dismayed the other day. I could compare elements of his work to Priest–the non-sequential storytelling, the caption/header dividing of scenes, the overall sense of the story not just being some straight-forward thing–but where I enjoy it in Priest‘s work (particularly his classic Black Panther and Quantum and Woody runs) I don’t care for it with Hickman‘s…but that truly gets into a whole different thing than this issue. As such, I expected to have a real problem with the issue’s story. Fortunately, I believe my negative expectation ran deep enough that this failed to be that extreme and so I actually enjoyed the issue as much as I have much of anything from Marvel of late.

The art was solid, and while it does not have the “classic” look my mind wanted, it’s mostly clear and certainly modern and on the whole, works for this take on the various characters. There were a few panels where I honestly went cross-eyed trying to visually parse out what was actually going on (especially one with Rocket Raccoon) but the bulk of the thing was good.

This is definitely being billed as the END of the Marvel Universe AND the Ultimate Universe, with a page at the end citing their “lives.” In that regard, this really should have been a 0 issue or something else, as whatever the Secret Wars part is, that begins NEXT issue with a mashup of the various worlds/timelines/whatever. Still…you could do worse. I mostly enjoyed the reading experience, and realizing the next issue is already due out next week, I’m very much looking forward to it. I’m also looking forward to several of the tie-in minis.

As starts go, I think I like this better than any other recent Marvel event I can think of…and if only for the immediate present, it’s certainly got the weight behind it for once as something that does and will matter.

I find myself a bit surprised to say so, but…recommended!

secretwars_interior_credits

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Age of Apocalypse Revisited: Gambit and the X-Ternals #4

aoa_revisited_logo

gambitandthexternals004The Maze

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Salvador Larrocca
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Marie Javins
Cover: Salvador Larrocca, Al Milgrom
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: June 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

We pick up some time after the previous issue, and find our focal characters split. Dazzler and Exodus appear, and find the remains of the Nanny robot that was tasked with protecting Rogue and Magneto’s son. We then change scenes to later and elsewhere, to Apocalypse personally interrogating Rictor over his failure. We flash back from there to Gambit and Lila running from Rictor and those characters’ confrontation…and back to Apocalypse. Another flashback shows Jubilee with a child running from Guido (Strong Guy) who has apparently betrayed the group. We see more of the interrogation, and flash back to Rictor vs. Strong Guy and Strong Guy vs. Gambit. Gambit is forced to make a decision…and we move back to Apocalypse and learn of Rictor’s outcome as well as Strong Guy’s…and end on Gambit and Lila.

This issue is a great illustration (no pun intended) of how great single-issue comics can be when treated AS a single issue, even if it’s part of a larger story or mini-series or such. The storytelling is stylistically quite different from the previous issues…instead of things simply unfolding chronologically, this issue picks up "at the end" and while we learn of where things ARE we’re caught up on how things got there from where we ended from the previous issue. Though the characters, their mission, and this 4-issue series are part of one ongoing story, this is "just" one more issue, existing AS an issue, as its own entity, rather than simply being the fourth chunk of a singular story that was split into four equal pieces to be serialized.

I really enjoyed this shift in style, despite a bit of confusion at first. I certainly would have benefitted from a "Previously…" page as I did not recall the ending of the previous issue; but as this issue unfolds and we have the flashbacks and glimpses of the present, one is caught up rather easily (though Guido’s betrayal is still a bit iffy to me).

I was distracted enough by the story that the art was just "there," good and all but it didn’t distract me. I simply followed the story and appreciated the visuals for what they were.

I did not recall the events of this series or issue, but here found it a fitting end…concluding the adventure, leaving things at a place simultaneously dark and light, and directing readers to the end of the Age of Apocalypse itself by way of Amazing X-Men #4 and then X-Men: Omega.

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