As a comic geek it is probably a bit surprising that I never read the original Age of Apocalypse when it came out in 1995-1996. That was a time period where I had started to move away from comics. Partly because of other interests and partly financially, my time and money was getting funneled into girls, university, girls, music, food, transportation, girls and did I mention girls?
To this day I still haven’t read it, but I have read the Secret Wars version of Age Of Apocalypse which I will take a spoilery look at after the break.
Be sure to check out our latest Secret Wars Power Rankings, which also features links to the other parts of my read through.
Age Of Apocalypse #1
It seems that everyone wants Doug Ramsey, aka Cypher. Apocolypse’s son Holocaust attempts to collect him but is thwarted by the X-Men. And by thwarted I mean, everyone except Ramsey dies and he is captured by Evil Hank McCoy. Then Essex orders the Summers brothers to take Ramsey to the “Flatscan” community. Once there, Cypher’s power picks up on the message “The virus will wipe out all mutants.” He doesn’t tell anyone what he has sensed, and won’t have a chance to in the near future as Magneto, Wolverine and the rest of the X-Men have come looking for the boy.
Age Of Apocalypse #2
It’s the X-Men vs the Elite Mutant Force. Why can’t these mutants ever just get along? As the groups battle, Blink teleports Cypher away, much the same way that Nightcrawler saved him last issue. But this time it is not to save him from an exploding Holocaust, but to bring him to Magneto.
Magento reveals to Doug that he feels that Apocalypse has one final insanity planned that will destroy everyone, mutant and human alike. Magneto needs Doug to convince the Horsemen to stop their master.
Meanwhile, Creed is playing detective as he’s been tasked with discovering the humans duplicity.
Age Of Apocalypse #3
Essex has captured Sheriff Danvers and using their “human lie detector” (i.e. an almost unrecognizable version of Matt Murdock) they learn that the humans are hiding a secret weapon, but not where it is.
Meanwhile, Dr. Nemesis has been experimenting on Jean Grey who was butchered years ago (by Cyclops? Is she being resurrected here? What is going on in this book?) and now it seems that she is awakening and it is affecting Emma Frost pyschicly as well. At which point Frost and Nemesis learn the truth that the humans have a virus that can kill all the mutants. Don’t they always? No one is sure who gave the humans the virus, but everyone agrees they must find it.
Cue more mutant on mutant violence as the virus is discovered. Which comes to a quick end when Apocalypse decides, screw it, I’m going to unleash this “Legacy Virus” and see what happen. Let the strong survive.
Age Of Apocalypse #4
The domain has been exposed to the Legacy Virus thanks to Apocalypse and Cannonball is the first to die. The mutants continue to fight amongst themselves and Frost discovers that the humans didn’t create the virus.
Over in Evil McCoy’s lab, Burner, Wolverine and Cyclops have put aside their differences and are on the hunt for Jean Grey. Havok first attacks them in the lab but then joins them in the hunt for Dr. Nemesis and Jean Grey when they inform him of the virus and it’s affect on all mutants.
Back at ground zero more mutants are dying. When Wildchild becomes infected Creed finishes him off. Then Apocalypse himself succumbs…which makes no sense if you are reading the main Secret Wars series. (Someone edited Wikipedia to say Doom resurrects Apocalypse to fight in the attack on Doom’s castle, but I don’t remember anything official saying that. I think it is either a different Apocalypse (which is doesn’t seem to be) or just a large case of “we don’t give a damn” like is prevalent in many of the tie-ins.)
Next Magneto gets infected. To keep his powers from detonating and technobable affecting the magnetic field of the entire planet, Frost reaches into his mind and kills him.
And finally, Frost reaches deep into the mind of the human Corbeau and discovers that it was Dr. Nemesis that created the virus and gave it to the humans. With a name like that, I’m surprised he couldn’t be trusted.
Age Of Apocalypse #5
In the Dark Beast’s lab, Burner, Wolverine and the Summers brothers have found Nemesis. Having absorbed the powers of 300 mutants, he is a lot to handle. Nemesis offers to stop the fighting and for everyone to rule by his side and guess what…overthrow Doom. When everyone refuses he uses Nightcrawler’s powers to teleport away to ground zero of the virus outbreak.
When he arrives he immediately kills Evil McCoy. Before he goes into the big sleep, Frost scans his mind and learns everything he knows. Then she has Blink teleport her to the Beast’s lab. Once there she discovers Wolverine with Jean and it is decided that the only way to stop Nemesis is to give Jean her powers back. Which she lost when she was lobotomized. So, they’ll simply lobotomize the part of Frost’s brain that controls her telepathy, drop it into Jean and bingo, bango, done.
While Sinister operates, more mutants dies including Burner, Creed and Weapon X (I might as well call him by his correct designation in this book at least once in this article). But it’s not long until Operation Brain Slice is a success and Jean shows up with the power of the Phoenix and takes Nemesis out in about two seconds. As Nemesis explodes, his remains shower down on the mutants (uh, gross) and since he was immune to the virus, they are all now cured. Huzzah!
But wait, not only are they cured, but they are all no longer mutants. Everyone is human now because at the end of the day, the main point since the X-Men were introduced over 50 years ago is that being different is wrong. Whoops?
And they make such a big deal in the first couple of issues about Cypher and his powers but then it’s like they forget about him and he barely plays a role in the final two-thirds of the series. And what did he do in the first third that mattered anyway? Discovered the humans had the virus…which he never told anyone and they found out anyway. Was needed by Magneto to convince the Horsemen to turn against Apocalypse…which he didn’t do.