...write about the comic that it got me to buy. I wasn’t planning on buying any of the other “Age of X-Man” series since “Marvelous X-Men” made for a pretty self-contained spine of the story. It’s just that seeing Apocalypse in the role of someone who wants to let love live is so utterly bizarre that I had to see how a series devoted to this take on the character would work.
Well, the bad news is that “Apocalypse and the X-Tracts” isn’t as weird as that. While most of it follows the title character as he goes about the business of promoting love, a good portion of the story is focused on his son Genesis. That’s because he’s been given his first big mission: To go along with Eye Boy, Dazzler, and new mutant Unveil with her convenient memory-manipulation powers and rescue a communist mutant who has been imprisoned for years. I realize that the list of “communist mutants” is a very short one, so it probably won’t surprise you to learn that this group finds themselves quite out of their league when it turns out this mutant doesn’t need rescuing.
Just about all of the superhero action is confined to that subplot and it’s fine for what it is. What it’s really there for is to further Genesis’ character since he’s meant to be the overeager son who wants to prove himself to his father. It’s a decent enough arc, held back mainly by its utter predictability as you’ll be able to see nearly every plot development and twist coming long before it happens.
Oh, and the fact that it’s also there to further Apocalypse’s character as well. He initially comes off as divorced from his established characterization as we saw him in “Marvelous X-Men.” As the story goes on, it becomes clear that there’s more of the fascist evolutionary that we’re familiar with lurking in here. Whether it’s subtle things like convincing Kitty of how her brainwashing still guides, or more overt moments such as morphing his limbs into blunt objects to attack Colossus, it soon feels like we’re just waiting for the moment when he completely reverts to type.
That does happen at the end, and it’s at that moment that the book seems lost. It happens amidst the revelation that Apocalypse hasn’t been entirely honest with his team about his place in the world. Admittedly, the reason he’s the way he is does make a lot of sense when you consider his relationship with X-Man. That Apocalypse would wind up in this kind of role should be expected, even if the way he fulfills it is not. Except it all seems for naught when he loses his cool, the punches start flying, and then Kitty breaks out Checkov’s Menorah.
Except writer Tim Seeley has one good trick up his sleeve to help turn the story around at the end. It turns out that En Sabah Nur’s time in the “Age of X-Man” has allowed him to practice what he preaches: Evolution. He’s actually had this time to get to know the son he never had in the real world in Genesis and found that fatherhood actually agrees with him. His impassioned plea to his former comrades rings true and it’s something I’d like to see carried over into his new role as a member of “Excalibur” of all things.
For a book about espousing the virtues of love, the book looks appropriately bright and cheerful under the pencils of Salva Espin. It’s a look that works for the miniseries, especially in the parts where the characters are just talking rather than fighting. The fighting is carried off mostly well, with only the battles against the aforementioned communist mutant not quite clicking because his ruthless nature is at odds with the brightness of the art.
So if “Age of X-Man: Marvelous X-Men” was to your liking, then you’ll find this volume to be a worthy complement. It gives you more insight into the ostensible antagonist of this mutant utopia and provides a good explanation as to why he is the way he is. I would’ve liked it if Seeley and Espin could’ve gone stranger with the story itself, and given us more of Apocalypse’s adventures in preaching love as opposed to superhero action. Still, for a tie-in to a major mutant event, this wasn’t half-bad.