Comics Review: X-Treme X-Men, Age of Apocalypse, and X-Termination

So, one of my favorite things to read, in the worlds I love to read about, is alternate reality. One of my favorite, and earliest, alternate realities was the Age of Apocalypse – a Marvel world created by one small, single event: the death of Charles Xavier. Xavier’s dream was so radical – was also such a reflection of the civil rights movements it was born into – that no one else would have espoused it or pulled it off as well as he did. You have to have Xavier – a fact that also breaks my suspension of disbelief in X-Men 3, and which makes me excited for X-Men: Days of Future Past.

TL;DR.

TL;DR.

One of my guilty pleasure comics lately has been the dimension-hopping X-Treme X-Men. It’s a plot about a team of inter-dimensional X-Men, led by Charles Xavier’s severed head in a bottle. The goal: kill ten Evil Xavier’s around the multiverse. Because combined, they would have the power to destroy everything. Again: Xavier is key. It has become an interesting truism of the Marvel Universe as a whole.

These two worlds recently mashed up in a dimension-hopping adventure that spelled the end for both the X-Treme X-Men and the Age of Apocalypse: X-Termination. Was X-Termination worth it? And what will I read now? Not sure I can answer those questions, but let’s take a look at these comics! Spoilers for the recent X-Termination crossover!

X-Termination – A Review

Not to start at the end, but let’s consider this recent small-time crossover comic event. With only six titles, within which ended the run of two whole comics and a number of alternate realities, there was really a need to be incredibly epic. In many ways, this was lived up to, but really, it was more of a nod to what was ending, and a beginning to future plots.

The plot was that too many dimension-crossing events had happened, and that the walls of reality were breaking down. This was actually begun outside of the comics I’ve mentioned so far, in another run that I read, and which has ended: Uncanny X-Force. Uncanny X-Force brought back the Age of Apocalypse, and spun off the short-lived run of the stand-alone Age of Apocalypse comic.

Not quite in order, but they did such a neat job with the four-part cover... and I didn't even realize until I started putting this together!

Not quite in order, but they did such a neat job with the four-part cover… and I didn’t even realize until I started putting this together!

So Age of Apocalypse Nightcrawler came back with the Uncanny X-Force, and in trying to return home, he finally made one too many dimension hops. Three Evil Xaviers were working together in X-Treme X-Men, and the giant rift in the multiverse they were working on grew. And out of it pulled super evil ancient villainy guys. They ate energy and were surrounded in acid air and were basically completely invulnerable. Working on being a completely undefeatable enemy, because completely undefeatable enemies scream epic, right? And epic is always good.

The enemies are so undefeatable that all of our heroes are basically beneath notice, and a lot of time is spent with the villains ignoring them, giving the heroes time to scheme and talk about the epicness.

So the plan morphs through several attempts at stopping them, one epic plan being to turn Age of Apocalypse Jean Grey into a new Apocalypse to face them. They even promise us an epic last goodbye between Wolverine and Age of Apocalypse Jean Grey, which I don’t remember actually seeing anywhere except the cover of the comic. Some people die, Dark Beast outsmarts people all the time, all the Nightcrawlers end up dead (pissing me off to no end), and the series end. The Age of Apocalypse is sealed with the epic baddies inside, the X-Treme X-Men disband, and life moves on.

Oh, right, or there's this. Trying to kill Age of Apocalypse Iceman.

Oh, right, or there’s this. Trying to kill Age of Apocalypse Iceman.

One future major plot is set up: a tiny bit of the Apocalypse Seed is planted inside Iceman. So we’re definitely going to see that come back up. Good thing he’s not one of the most powerful mutants there is, and mostly unkillable already. What could go wrong?
So what did I think? A little over the top, unfortunately. And everything is so dire that you lose some of the heroicness of the Age of Apocalypse, and the humor of the X-Treme X-Men. Everything was just so bloody epic. One of my favorite alternate storylines is closed off – the Age of Apocalypse is fully done. Although to be fair, the comic had reached that point: the heroes had won, Apocalypse – and his successor, Weapon X – had been defeated, and peace had fallen. Nightcrawler was returning for war, and found peace instead, except for bringing war with him. But really, the series could end, and the world, with a happily ever after. More concerning is the end of X-Treme X-Men, which was just so much fun.

X-Treme X-Men – And what do I read next?

I’m not sure what I can say about this comic. I would like to not spoil you on this comic – instead, I would recommend you read it. At this point, it was only a 12 comic run, so not too much to read. It might end up in a trade paperback at some point, though not yet.

The series combined a new location every week, with an Evil Xavier of the week, with a fun and changing cast of alternate reality characters. The only character from the main Marvel Universe is Dazzler – who grows as a character and takes the lead in this series. They have a lot of fun with the potential of this plot, and I am sad that they aren’t going to keep doing this – I would have kept reading it for years. Was it not making money? I don’t know. It started from the beginning with the idea that there were only 10 Evil Xaviers – and likely, the plan for X-Termination to happen was there all along.

This series also stands pretty well on its own. If you know even a little about the X-Men, you’ll enjoy seeing things like alternate versions of Cyclops, Sabertooth, even Dazzler – and of course, Xavier. Instead of regaling you with more words, how about a few shots from the comics? And how about the covers, which show just a little bit of the characters and different situations they end up in.

x-treme x-men covers

x-treme x-men covers 2

It's like Chronicles of Riddick: Kill the Xavier!

It’s like Chronicles of Riddick: Kill the Xavier!

Here's an Evil Xavier: Nazi Warlock Xavier, that is.

Here’s an Evil Xavier: Nazi Warlock Xavier, that is.

All the Alternate Characters! And did kid Nightcrawler just teleport Cyclops' optic blast at him? Yes.

All the Alternate Characters! And did kid Nightcrawler just teleport Cyclops’ optic blast at him? Yes.

Howlett versus Sabertooth? Dazzler as a Gunslinger? Yes.

Howlett versus Sabertooth? Dazzler as a Gunslinger? Yes.

It’s like Doctor Who meets the Age of Apocalypse meets, well, Dazzler. How can you top this? Then I read the word today: Peter David’s run on X-Factor is ending later this year. Just as I have been working on getting back into comics, all the comics I am reading seem to be ending! So what do you recommend for me to read?

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10 responses to “Comics Review: X-Treme X-Men, Age of Apocalypse, and X-Termination

  1. Give All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men a spin: they’re actually very good — I was a little skeptical about the whole idea of bringing the original teen X-Men forward in time, but there’s a lot of interesting hooks.

    In Uncanny, basically, Cyclops has gone more than a little off the deep end and has completely absolved himself of all blame for murdering Professor X (it was the Phoenix, and Tony Stark for causing the Phoenix to possess Scott). Cyclops is practically daring everyone and anyone from Wolverine’s faction of X-Men to the Avengers to SHIELD to take him on while he recruits young mutants to become his new generation of X-Men. He’s pretty much a more media savvy Magneto — everyone realizes that if they do try to contain Scott and his group, they’re only inviting civil unrest from the larger mutant community, while at the same time he’s all but ensuring humans will fear and hate the mutants. It’s a very well-done set-up, you can’t help but want to see Scott take a serious fall, so the real protagonists here are the new characters who have been drawn into this conflict not really aware of what they’re getting into — they’re basically going from normal kids to front line soldiers in a war they don’t fully understand.

    All-New X-Men looks at this from the opposite viewpoint, from Wolverine’s group, and specifically focusing on the original five X-Men, who not only have to deal with one crazy fact after another — Cyclops is working with Magneto, he killed Professor X, everyone looks at Jean cross-eyed, but just the idea of jumping forward in time a decade and what the ramifications of that might be.

    This is really a return to form for the X-Men and getting right back into the roots of the concept, but also updating it to a great degree — it’s a delicious set-up where the obvious solution, a full-out physical throwdown, is not going to be the answer, it’s going to have to be more a very subtle extended chess match as each side tries to outmanuver the other.

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  2. I have been contemplating the All New X-Men. It’s an interesting way to both do something like a reboot, and to not do a reboot, all at once. And it sounds like it’s associated with the Jean Grey School, which I’ve been reading about in Wolverine and the X-Men. Thanks for the recommendation there!

    Uncanny X-Men… I remember the funeral of Illyana Rasputin. Having Magik back is tough. And Cyclops is definitely working on being a super villain. Working with Emma Frost, Magneto, and the returned-from-Hell Magik… Your recommendation tells me there is another side to this, the side of the new mutants. So I may have to give this a try as well.

    One at a time, maybe! For now, I’m working on reading different bits of Iron Man comics to compare to Iron Man 3!

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