Saturday, July 10, 2010

X-Men vs. Apocalypse, Volume 2: Ages of Apocalypse by Karl Bollers, Ben Raab, Alan Davis, Terry Kavanagh, Joe Pruett, Erik Larsen, and Joseph Harris

Having read the first half of X-Men vs. Apocalypse, I knew I didn’t want to leave it at the cliffhanger ending for long, so I dove right back in with the second half, X-Men vs. Apocalypse, Volume 2: Ages of Apocalypse.

The second book picks up where things were left at the end of X-Men vs. Apocalypse, Volume 1: The Twelve, this book contains three major stories. The first follows those who were left behind after the fight to save wolverine, as they find that someone is hacking the databases and gathering information on killing the X-Men. Next, we see the “Ages of Apocalypse” storyline, where, after the end of Volume 1, the time stream has been distorted in an attempt to give Apocalypse the victory he has nearly in his grasp. The final story, “The Search for Cyclops,” deals with the after-effects of the battle with Apocalypse, months after the fact, as Phoenix and Cable try to save an X-Man.

X-Men vs. Apocalypse, Volume 2: Ages of Apocalypse contains: X-51 #8(“Aftermath”), Uncanny X-Men #378 (“First & Last, Part 1”), Annual 1999 (“Utopia Perdida”), Cable #77(“Falsehoods”), Wolverine #148(“Same As It Never Was”), X-Men Unlimited #26(“Day of Judgement”), X-Men #98 (“First & Last, Part 2”), X-Men: The Search for Cyclops #1 (“Lost”), #2 (“Hunted”), #3 (“Am I Evil?”), #4 (“Found!”).

The storyline continues to be quite fun, although a little convoluted, in part due to the need to make two books similar in size that end at thematically appealing sections. The group left behind is hoping to make it to the main battle in Egypt in time, but based on the final chapter from Volume 1, we know they won’t. There is a months-long gap between the end of “The Ages of Apocalypse” and “The Search for Cyclops,” a time in which I know upcoming stories are set, making this one a little disjointed, if still an apt coda to the story. This book feels a touch episodic, with its three distinctly different storylines, rather than the two threads that were tightly inter-woven in the first book.

However, each manages to be entertaining in its own right. The members left behind manage a suitable series of battles in their attempt to race to Egypt, while the “Ages of Apocalypse” plays with a series of altered realities, both present and future, before wrapping up to tie back into the first storyline in this book, reuniting the team. The final portion narrows its focus to just a few main characters, and is interesting both in its tale of searching for a lost friend and in its eventual impact down the line in the X-Men series.

All in all, this is a fun book. It works as a satisfying conclusion to the plot arc, although it doesn’t maintain the suspense and epic plot of the first volume. It sometimes made it feel like the main climax was in the first book, with this just an extended denouement, but it does act as a nice in-between book, foreshadowing future events. This line of X-Men collections continues in X-Men: Powerless, released August 10.


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