Age of Apocalypse, issue 1
Writer: David Lapham
Artist: Roberto De La Torre
Colourist: Lee Loughridge
Cover: Humberto Ramos & Dean White
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
In Age of Apocalypse Marvel returns fans to a popular alternative world in the Marvel multiverse, one where Xavier never created the X-Men, and Apocalypse waged a war on humans, subjugating them to mutantkind.
A group of mutant heroes working with humans managed to get rid of Apocalypse, but a new leader rose in his place: Weapon Omega, i.e. Logan, who has been infected and turned from hero into dictator by the Apocalypse seed. Opposing him is Jean Grey – yet again stripped of any power, and most of her clothes – Sabertooth – also without any mojo – and another group of mutant and human heroes.
The title begins with the fall of the human resistance and a world devastated by brutal war. A group of heroes consisting of The Prophet, Fiend, Deadeye, Horror Show and Goodnight – collectively known as the X-terminated – are trying to locate someone who is distributing pamphlets that are sparking riots. This mutant world has its own inequities, with a group called the Alphas running the show with the Dregs scrabbling for the leavings.
The story is narrated by Harper Simmons, a reporter trapped in this alterative world. He’s the only one who knows that things can be different. He’s also the culprit behind the pamphlets, so he’s hunted by both the evil and good mutants.
Much of the enjoyment of reading a title like this comes from seeing the typical Marvel world turned topsy turvy. There is a lot of information to divulge to the readers, which results in much expository dialogue and captions. Overall Lapham paces the downloads well, and he has a particularly good touch when dealing with the mutant antagonists. One of the difficulties, however is that the narrator of the story – Simmons – is not identified until page 16, which leaves the story ungrounded at the start.
The character that dominates and grabs attention is Prophet (William Stryker), the leader of the X-terminated, who proves his superior fighting skills and ability to analyse situations first with Sabertooth, and later in a major confrontation with Keeper Murdock. There is a real sense in this second fight of two impressive forces clashing, which is achieved through the writing and the artwork.
The art is well-executed, with strong compositions and energetic action scenes. The dread and affliction of the world is also reflected in the sombre colouring used throughout.
Age of Apocalypse, issue 1 is a sound début with the introduction of an interesting cast of characters. It ends on a memorable last page to intrigue the reader about the following episode. It will be easier to evaluate the effectiveness of the series after a few more issues, but it has certainly started in a promising fashion.