Rag on Xavier all you want- this is what happens when he’s not around!
In 1995, Legion, the god-like mutant son of Professor Charles Xavier would awaken from a coma with one desire; do whatever it took to make his father’s dreams come true. Ultimately, he came to the conclusion that to make this happen, his father’s biggest opponent had to go. Unfortunately, the damage had been done in the present. Legion, used his massive psionic powers and traveled back into the past to murder a young Magneto. In a wicked turn of events, he accidentally killed his father instead. The action launched the entire planet into the Age of Apocalypse- a twisted version of the world we knew where every worst-case scenario became horrifically true. Here are the 10 Most Shocking Facts about the Age of Apocalypse.
10. The State of the Union
Without the guidance of Professor X, the X-Men would take years longer to form than they were originally supposed to. Even after they were gathered, under Magneto, the X-Men weren’t nearly as effective as they are in the 616-timeline. With that, Apocalypse would take advantage and launch several attacks upon North America. With little to no resistance, he and his Horseman took control over most of North America by the present day. What was once known as America was chopped up into chunks and ruled over by one of Apocalypse’s most trusted followers. He personally governed most of the East Coast. The remainder of the planet didn’t fare much better. The United States of America being replaced by a despot over the span of a decade destabilized the world’s economy and created power vacuums across the globe. Most heroes are either dead, corrupt, or never came to be. Apocalypse didn’t just decimate a single continent, he threw the gist of the world into chaos.
9. Cyclops and Havok’s Allegiance
In many readers’ eyes, Cyclops is the epitome of what it means to be an X-Man, despite his many failings. A strong soldier, with a determined personality and indomitable sense of honor in terms of what’s right. If Cyclops is all that, then his brother Havok is almost as admirable. Without having to stress when Age of Apocalypse opened and we discovered that both brothers were in the employment of the immortal mutant, it was quite the surprise. The two were administrators over the breeding pits, an institution ultimately governed by Mister Sinister. Cyclops was cold and callous, but Havok was a bonafide, murderous psychopath that wanted no more than to prove he was better than his brother. During the end of the saga, Havok would not just murder Jean Grey, but also his brother. He received his recompense at the end of Weapon-X’s (Wolverine) claws.
8. Sunspot’s Sacrifice and a Friend’s Betrayal
In the book Gambit and the X-Ternals, Gambit and his band of merry thieves that included Jubilee, Sunspot, Lila Cheney, and Strong Guy are tasked by Magneto to recover the M’Kraan crystal as part of their plan to restore the former timeline as solely remembered by Bishop. Using Lila’s newly developed mutant power to create intergalactic gateways the team proceeded to the Shi’Ar Empire. Not having been exposed to them as they were in the prior timeline, Gambit and his team are not greeted with open arms. Things go sideways and Sunspot made the decision to stay back and allow his teammates to return to earth. His sacrifice is much in vain as they are double-crossed by Strong Guy who takes the crystal from his friends with the intention of turning it over to Apocalypse.
7. The Existence of a Monster like Sugar Man
A nightmare made flesh, Sugar Man is one of the disasters that was spawned from the Age of Apocalypse. Resembling something I can only compare to a demon-possessed M.O.D.O.K., Sugar Man, is a sadistic, giant monster-head with multiple arms. He was in the employment of Apocalypse and put in charge of several West coast slave camps. He was chiefly responsible for the deaths of just about every member of Generation Next, having killed Mondo himself. He has a genius-level intellect, super strength, and a tongue that can skewer people. He’s also super-durable having survived fatal blows from both Chamber and Colossus. During the latter attack, he condensed his size (another ability) and hid in Colossus’ boot. During the final battle, he snuck into the M’Kraan crystal and crossed over into the main Marvel timeline where he continued his terrorist acts until his gruesome demise in Disassembled.
6. Colossus’ Murderous Rampage
At the climax of the Age of Apocalypse, the X-Men were in the midst of storming the despot’s stronghold in hopes of rescuing Magneto, creating a diversion, and ultimately restoring the timeline. Colossus’ baby sister Illyanna was key to this plan and he feared that he’d lose her in the process. The reality of this sent him into a rampage mid-battle. Iceman tried to reason with him, but Colossus literally shattered his teammate to pieces. His wife, Kitty Pryde, also attempted to talk him down. She stepped in his path hoping that his love for her would halt his approach. She was wrong. Colossus trampled his wife killing her. In the end, with a volley of kinetically charged razor blades (oh, yeah, he wasn’t tossing cards in this timeline), Gambit was the one to finally bring Colossus down.
5. An Epic Rivalry Turned Deadly
Cyclops and Wolverine have never been the best of friends, but there has always been a tinge of respect between them. They fought for the same thing, and both held a sense of honor that often kept them from coming to blows. In the Age of Apocalypse, however, that wasn’t the case at all. Cyclops was a servant of Apocalypse, who answered directly to Mister Sinister. Sinister had come into possession of Jean Grey hoping to use her genetic material along with Cyclops’ to create a being powerful enough to overthrow Apocalypse (X-Man). Weapon-X (Wolverine), Jean’s lover, would, of course, come to free her. During a fight between the two, Weapon-X lost a hand and Cyclops an eye. Their rivalry, mostly over Jean’s love, would last until the very end of the saga.
4. The Fate of Generation-Next
When the world transformed into the Age of Apocalypse, Generation-X became Gen-Next, an often brutal training program for future X-Men. Headed up by a married couple of Colossus and Kitty Pryde, with no end to Apocalypse’s rule in sight they began training a new group of X-Men that included Chamber, Skin, Mondo, Know-It-All, Vincente, and Husk.
Having come up with a plan to restore the timeline, Magneto would send this young team to liberate Colossus’ sister Illyana from a camp in Portland. Colossus and Kitty locate her and send her to safety but most of the team is trampled to death by Sugar Man’s forces, while he killed Mondo personally. Husk is presumably the last alive, but she’d ultimately be left behind by Colossus during the fray. None of them are seen again.
3. Magneto and Rogue
The marriage of Magneto and Rogue is one of the most “what the #[email protected]#” developments of the Age of Apocalypse timeline. One moment Rogue and Gambit are desperately kissing in the desert, the next, Magneto and the same woman are married with a son! How did it happen? Well, Gambit and Rogue were indeed an item in the twisted world. Gambit took her to Magneto and his X-Men in hopes of finding a way for the two to touch. Magneto did discover that he could create a microscopic field which allowed him to make contact with the young lady, but that’s not exactly what swayed her decision. During a mission, Magneto’s daughter, Wanda, the Scarlet Witch was mortally wounded. With a piece of her mind already within Rogue, Wanda’s dying wish was for her to watch over Magneto. After talking with Quicksilver, Wanda’s brother, Rogue interpreted his words as an endorsement. Ultimately, she left Gambit to stay with Magneto and the X-Men and the rest is unfortunate, awkward, uncomfortable, slightly inappropriate history.
You would think when a timeline ends, it’s no longer a problem. Sadly, the Age of Apocalypse didn’t die when Bishop stopped Legion from accidentally killing his father in the past. When the AoA X-Men used the M’Kraan crystal to travel backward in time, the rift didn’t just carry Bishop back. Several immigrants of the altered world crossed over; Sugar Man, Holocaust, X-Man, Dark Beast and several others through various means in the years since.
Holocaust was especially troublesome as he was chiefly responsible for the destruction of Avalon, Magneto’s orbital fortress. X-Man and Dark Beast to this day are still wreaking havoc in the X-Men’s world. There have even been interactions with alternate universes (yes, plural) of the Age of Apocalypse. In one instance, Weapon-X (Wolverine) came into possession of the Death Seed and became Apocalypse. A piece of that same seed would enter the 616 and eventually infect Iceman driving him mad. He came fairly close to ending the world.
1. The End
The Age of Apocalypse timeline was so twisted, that even in victory, everyone still lost. In later iterations and revisits of the story, the world would go on past the timeline reset. However, in the original story, just before the world is corrected thanks to Bishop traveling back in time to stop Legion, all the X-Men presumably perish in a storm of nuclear blasts. During the climax, the remaining human government, The Human High Council (which included many Marvel heroes such as members of the Fantastic Four and the Avengers), saw fit to wipe Apocalypse’s kingdom from the face of the Earth by way of a volley of A-bombs. Luckily, the uber powerful Jean Grey of that world was able to hold them in place, just below orbit. That is until Havok, seeking to one-up his brother Cyclops murders both she and him. Said bombs are then allowed to rain down upon the X-Men just as they slay Apocalypse himself.
The Age of Apocalypse was a milestone in X-Men storytelling. It was so impactful that a story based on the concept emerges every handful of years. There are a lot of #$#%#% up parts in AoA we didn’t mention. I mean a lot. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you download it or buy the massive omnibus. What was the most disturbing part about the crossover for you?