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Age of Apocalypse Revisited: Astonishing X-Men #1


astonishingxmen001Once More With Feeling

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Joe Madureira
Inkers: Dan Green, Tim Townsend
Letters: chris Eliopoulos
Colors: Steve Buccellato
Separations: Digital Chameleon
Cover: Joe Madureira, Tim Townsend
Editing: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: March 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

This is another “iconic cover” to me, with Magneto front ‘n center and the rest of his group of X-Men there as well–Blink, Sabretooth with Wildchild, Morph, Sunfire, Rogue, Banshee, Iceman, and Storm. The AoA Magneto is probably my all-time favorite version of the character, and I quite like Rogue with the cape. This is also my favorite Sabretooth design.

While Magneto ponders how to proceed in light of what he’s learned from Bishop (see X-Men: Alpha), Blink and Sunfire return via one of her portals, barely escaping one of Apocalypse’s minions. The X-Men are “victorious,” and Sunfire reveals that Apocalypse not only lied but has sent his son Holocaust to personally carry out a new round of cullings. Meanwhile, Apocalypse is briefed, that it’s only a matter of time until the X-Men are located. Gambit gets a few moments with Rogue to catch up before he takes off with his X-Ternals. Nightcrawler converses with Magneto about the implications of Bishop’s presence. Morph adds a bright spot to things as Rogue readies her team to leave, and Bishop has a moment with Quicksilver over what he’s set in motion.

While this is a first issue, it’s clearly part of something larger. For one thing, it draws heavily from the introductory stuff in X-Men: Alpha–from Bishop and his presence, to Magneto having set other stuff in motion. However, I’m a bit surprised at Nightcrawler’s presence here, having thought he actually took off immediately on Magneto’s order to go find Destiny. Even having so recently re-read Alpha, I can’t recall for sure what Blink was up to, so the fact she and Sunfire were off and about is a slight surprise to me, at least in their discovering the resumation of the cullings being either off-panel or in another issue I’ve not gotten back to yet.

Somehow through the years, I’ve gotten it into my head that I was not particularly a fan of Madureira‘s work…but by and large I really enjoyed his work in this issue. As mentioned regarding the cover, I particularly enjoyed the character designs on Magneto, Rogue, and Sabretooth here. Blink also looks quite distinct, familiar, and “normal” to me. The visuals brought back a definite sense of nostalgia here–as I expect most (if not all) of these Age of Apocalypse issues are going to do.

I don’t recall much in the way of thoughts I had back in the day beyond the cover still standing out to me. I noticed on this read-through that Rogue has a collar much like Magneto’s holding her cape in place, and it’s interesting re-adjusting to the notion of a romance between the two. She’s certainly a rather young mother figure to Magneto’s relative age…and yet, that works quite well for me here. Events in my personal life as I’ve aged myself make Gambit’s situation a lot more understandable and identifiable for me…where the character wasn’t nearly so sympathetic 20 years ago.

Though this has the aforementioned feeling of being something larger, it also feels like a solid first issue, introducing the reader to the basic situation at hand and identifying the main characters. References are made to the larger story, accompanied by the Lost Art Of The Footnote directing readers to consider Amazing X-Men, X-Calibre, and Generation Next in an offhanded way that doesn’t require it but shamelessly “plugs” those series. This issue is clearly moving pieces around the board a bit and starting to situated stuff, while bridging the events of X-Men: Alpha and the series that make up the Age of Apocalypse saga itself.

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