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Age of Apocalypse Revisited: X-Universe #2

aoa_revisited_logo

xuniverse002Dying Breath

Story by: Scott Lobdell
Script: Terry Kavanagh
Pencilers: Carlos Pacheco, Terry Dodson
Inkers: Cam Smith, Robin Riggs
Colorist: Kevin Tinsley
Color Separations: Electric Crayon
Lettering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Cover: Pacheco & Smith
Editors: Marie Javins, Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: June 1995
Cover Price: $3.50

We open on a new/arbitrary character–a father holding his child, as people are given over to Rasputin for upgrading, a last chance to stand with mutants without being eradicated. We then move to our Phenomenal Five (I saw THAT term in the monthly checklist on the X-Books This Month section) who have been captured and are helpless…at least until a contingency plan kicks in. Meanwhile, no one’s told the humans of the atrociously low survival rate of the upgrade process, that only one in a hundred-thousand survive any length of time and few of those survive indefinitely. Stark’s plan kicks in, and the humans begin breaking free, and the rebellion is on. After the battle, few humans are left, but they’ve acquired technology from Mikhail’s ship and make a last bid for permanent escape from Apocalypse’s rule.

This issue is all over the place. And when it ends…I only know it does because there are simply NO MORE STORY PAGES. There’s no particular icon or note or any indication the last page is the last page. It has all the makings of a second-to-last page, that you’d turn the page for some full-page image to finish out the series, but instead it turns to a double-page ad, then a double-page info/profile section, another couple ads, and that’s that.

The art’s so-so…not bad, not spectacular, and a bit minimalistic at points and just somehow looks a bit "off" from the rest of the Age of Apocalypse. Of course, multiple pencilers and inkers, suggesting (to me, with contemporary sensibilities) that this issue had run behind and needed to be caught up in a hurry to get it out on time. That’s also something that suggests further to me that this series was an afterthought of sorts, a late addition to the AoA stuff.

The story’s also only so-so. It could certainly be worse, but it doesn’t really feel like it has any real significance, given we’ve had no real reference, even, to these characters, nor any dealings with Rasputin elsewhere in the AoA, so this is just stuff going on "in the World of the Age of Apocalypse" and can be pretty safely ignored in the grand scheme.

Another element that lends the notion of this X-Universe series being set apart from the rest of the AoA is the covers. These are $3.50 cover price with cardstock covers and foil-ized logos. The chromium double-size bookend issues make sense as they’re "special," kicking off and concluding the entirety of the story. But the issues in-between have all been standard covers with no fancy enhancements or foiling or such. This mini just reeks of typical ’90s saturation.

Unless you’re–like me these last number of weeks–specifically determined to read the entirety of what was published as part of this original Age of Apocalypse series, this seems like a safe mini to skip. And I’m thankful to be through this because now I can jump into the #4s and the final parts of the story, as the various threads in the minis begin to–finally–pay off.

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The ’90s Revisited: The Incredible Hulk #444

incrediblehulk444Cable Vision

Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Angel Medina
Inker: Robin Riggs
Lettering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Colors: Glynis Oliver
Enhancement: Malibu
Assistant Editor: Polly Watson
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $1.50
Cover Date: August, 1996

It’s amazing how much “context” can play a role in a random issue working or not. This issue is labeled as Onslaught: Impact 1, meaning it was an “impact” issue of the first month of Onslaught. From what I recall, there were two types of issues associated with Onslaught: the Phase 1/2/3 issues, and the Impact 1/2/3 issues. Phase were main parts of the “core” story, while the Impact issues were much looser tie-ins…literally “impacted” by Onslaught, but not having much to do with the main story.

I pulled this issue from the quarter bin for that Onslaught tag. Reading it reminded me just how “loose” the tie-in could be. The basic premise of this issue is that Onslaught has basically wiped the Hulk’s mind, setting him on killing Cable. Banner’s been blocked out, so there’s just the mindless, mission-centered beast. The issue opens with Cable already beaten and barely conscious…the only other ally trying to save him is X-man Storm. The issue is basically one long fight-scene, as Storm turns the elements on the Hulk, and a death-ready Cable rallies and does what he can in his state. Eventually the two manage to develop a risky plan to break Onslaught’s control, and restore the Hulk.

Story-wise, there’s not exactly a lot to this issue. And yet, it shows that David “gets” the X-characters, writing a decent Cable and an impressive (at least power-wise) Storm. But, being a big fight sequence, there’s not exactly much character development…moreso we seem to have had a plot point (Onslaught possesses Hulk) that had to be dealt with to get the Hulk from there to the next plot point (back to being himself again, but Really Very Ticked-Off At Onslaught).

Visually, the art’s not bad, though nothing wonderful. The coloring seemed somehow kinda dull, and the Hulk’s shade of green especially a bit different, more subdued, than what I’m used to for the character. I’m also not all that familiar with this particular interpretation of the Hulk…but knowing this was the “Banner’s consciousness/Hulk’s body” era…and the mid-’90s (and this being a single, isolated issue I’m reading) that mostly gets a pass.

Overall, not a bad issue, but nothing spectacular. I don’t believe I’d ever read this back in the ’90s when originally published, so it was interesting to read a loose tie-in to Onslaught, and getting a single-issue “feel” for the “impact” of that story on this title prior to the bigger shakeup of losing Banner but keeping the Hulk that was the status quo once Onslaught ended.

As a 25-cent issue in an age of $3.99 comics, this was a decently enjoyable issue…but I’m not sure I would care for it without already having a working knowledge of the “main” Onslaught story. Taken by itself as a random issue and being a big fight scene, it’s not really something to specifically seek out unless you’re looking for all the Onslaught issues, or a complete PAD run on this title.

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