The ‘Age of Apocalypse’ storyline was probably the highpoint of the 90s for the X-Men franchise as fans devoured this ‘What If’-like tale of a parallel world where Professor Xavier had been assassinated before he could form the X-Men and the stark contrast with the familiar Marvel Universe.  This tale, set in that same reality leaps forward drastically.

Wolverine, now known as Weapon Omega, has assumed Apocalypse’s role as the tyrannical ruler of this world and has successfully killed off most of the human population.  His wife, Jean Grey along with Sabretooth, have lost their powers and have turned against the new cruel Wolverine and are assisting the human resistance, lead by William Stryker in the guise of Prophet.  He has put together a force of humans to fight back, consisting of twisted alternate versions of Donald Pierce, Bolivar Trask, Trask’s daughter Franny (Fiend) and Sabretooth’s son Graydon (Horror Show).  There is also a member named Deadeye, who I believe is new.

This issue has a lot to do, beginning with introducing readers to its large cast.  It’s evenly paced however and each member’s role and personality are at least hinted at.  It also must establish this world, which is completely different from the Marvel Universe we’re already familiar with.  In New Apocalypse (former New York), society is broken into a caste system with the “haves” living in luxury in gleaming high rise towers and the “have nots” dwelling in “The Dregs.”  In one sequence, they are policed by a corrupt Daredevil, known here as Keeper Murdoch.

As for the story itself, someone has written a passionate propaganda pamphlet, pushing for equality between mutants and the few remaining humans.  Stryker’s team assemble to locate the man, who it is revealed, is from the 616 Marvel Universe.  They have to fight to save him from the anti-human forces who have also uncovered his identity.  After that, the reporter, Harper Simmons, leads him to the laboratory where he first entered this reality.  They are hoping to find something to help in their quest, but what they find is something far greater!

Interior Pencils by Roberto De La Torre

This is a very dark book.  The reality, with the dregs and the elites represent your basic dystopian society.  Like I said, there were a lot of characters to introduce and establish, but that’s handled well.  I was surprised that Jean Grey and Sabretooth were more integral to the larger story, though.

The art is an excellent reflection to the story and perfectly accentuates that!  It’s sketchy and crude.  It’s also cinematic and fluid, despite its roughness.  It’s just a great marriage between story and art!

In all honesty, I read half this book and literally had to set it aside and take a breather for a few minutes.  It’s THAT dark!  So if you like that sort of thing, this is a great read.  If you prefer lighter fair, skip it!

Verdict: Buy

Written by David Lapham
Art by Roberto De La Torre
Cover by Humberto Ramos & Dean White