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

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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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Age of Apocalypse Revisited: Gambit and the X-Ternals #3

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gambitandthexternals003To The Limits of Infinity

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Salvador Larrocca
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Color Art: Javins, Rosas, Webb, Thomas
Separations: Electric Crayon
Cover: Salvador Larrocca, Al Milgrom
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: May 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

Gambit’s crew has located the M’Kraan crystal…but realize the task before them–to actually steal it and return with it to Earth–may well be impossible. Still, they get beamed down to the planet, where their immediate welcome is quite hostile. As the group splits, Gambit and Deathbird follow Lila into the crystal itself after she was pulled in…where they meet a creature who explains to them what the crystal is, what it can do, and how important this mission truly is. Outside the crystal, the rest of the group faces an additional welcome party of Gladiator and Rictor as the situation goes south in a hurry…leading them to enter the crystal as a final, desperate attempt at survival. Once in the crystal, they’re just in time to see the crystal accept something of Gambit, and finally with Sunspot’s sacrifice, the group attempts to return home.

This issue seems to be the core of the series…we have the introductory stuff and setup in the first issue, the characters regrouping and dealing with being tossed across the universe in the second…here we actually see them get what they came for and presumably wrap up. Of course, there’s one issue to go, and we end on Lila’s declaration that she will not fail (to get them home)…but we don’t actually see them get home.

The art continues its consistent good quality as with the previous issues…really no particular complaint or gripe from me. I liked it, and sped through the issue without being "taken out of the story"  by anything weird in the art itself…I simply saw the characters and situations and that’s what the art is supposed to do.

Gambit’s internal conflict here is easy for me to empathize with–the feelings he’s continued to hold onto for Rogue, challenged by his presently being with Lila. That he’s forced to deal with his own feelings in order to save the universe itself is a rather deep thing to ponder. I’m also not familiar with Jahf, if he’s appeared before or not…there’s just enough ambiguity that I could see either option equally likely. Other than Bishop himself, I think this is the first we’ve seen any "confirmation" in-story that this reality is not the "real" one, and for the first time (maybe ever) I feel like there’s a reasonable hint of how the AoA reality has "continued to exist" to present-day.

The issue’s end is lofty–a declaration that failure will not happen. It nicely caps the last couple issues, but leaves things open for the next issue and conclusion of this particular mini. There’s no doubt the characters will face further hurdles before any of them make it to X-Men: Omega, and it’ll be interesting to see the "bridge" between this issue and that.

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