Review: Age of Apocalypse #3

AoA3After the low I was left with after issue #2, I was really hoping that issue #3 would renew my excitement and enjoyment of revisiting the Age of Apocalypse in this Secret Wars tie in. What I got was a confusing continuation of a so-so story that, sadly, didn’t really provide the pay off I was hoping for.

The book opens with Dr. Nemesis, who we’ve seen only in random scenes in past issues, spouting off about the greatness of his work and how he stands above those who would call their work “exceptional”.  He is very excited about his latest test subject….Jean Grey, who is inexplicably made a key point to the story, with no mention of her before now.  Apparently Jean was brought in for interrogation, along with sheriff Carol Danvers, and the two were kept separate to see if Jean could corroborate the information Danvers would reveal.  Up until now, we had no idea that Jean was with Carol and the human resistance.  In another lab, Sinister, Abyss and Beast are questioning Carol about the weapon that the humans are suspected of hiding to use against the mutants.  She does her best to hide the truth, but when Sinister threatens to invade the human settlement, Carol quickly rolls over and gives the information they were looking for.

We then shift back to the X-Men, and Magneto telling Cypher of one of the first battles of his first group of X-Men fighting against the first group of Horsemen.  Magneto recounts the severity of the battle, and how his team was not prepared to face the villains against them.  Cypher feels a deep sense of loss from Magneto, telling how he lost some of his X-Men in that battle…but also how Magneto lost support from both humans and mutants; mutants saw them as a threat from them taking over, and humans saw them as no better then Apocalypse.  We then have a cut scene to Blink and Burner interrogating Cyclops, trying to get any information on Apocalypse’s next move.  Cyclops doesn’t say anything, so Burner threatens to, well, burn him, and his powers flare…with no effect on Cyclops.  Blink questions if his powers are working, when Magneto comes to see how things are going…and Rogue bursts in to tell Magneto that something is wrong with his wife, Emma Frost.  Somehow, Emma is in psychic link with Jean Grey, who is linked to Dr. Nemesis, who reveals that the humans have a weapon to destroy mutants.

The psychic flash reaches everyone, X-Man and Horseman alike, and the race is on to reach the human ghetto to retrieve the weapon. The Horsemen arrive first and unearth the weapon, slaughtering any humans in their way…and the X-Men arrive to stop them, as the two sides grapple for the weapon.  All sides are suddenly forced away with a flare of power, as Apocalypse himself arrives on the scene and takes possession of the weapon.

As I’ve said in my last two reviews for this tie in, Gerardo Sandoval does a fantastic job with the art in this book, really bringing us the feel and look of the Age of Apocalypse we were first introduced to years ago, even with his own added touches to the characters.  Fabian Nicieza again shows us here why he is so great at writing the X-Men; he knows these characters inside and out, and writes them exactly as any X-Men fan would want to see them.  The problem for me, however, is how the story is laid out in this issue.  After reading it, I wondered if someone forgot that this is supposed to be an on-going series.  Characters are thrown in out of the blue, like Jean Grey all of sudden being an important plot piece and Dr. Nemesis, who we’ve only seen really as Beasts ‘side kick’ now suddenly has a larger role.  And for this being the realm of Apocalypse, we have hardly seen a hint of him, until the end of this issue where he just steps in, with no build up, and plucks the prize for himself.

No, this third issue definitely did not earn this tie in any redemption with me.  It felt sluggish, disjointed and uninspired.  I still love the art, and how the characters are portrayed, but I’m wondering if this story had any direction when the idea was pitched, or if they just decided to make it up as they go along.

Story: Fabian Nicieza Art: Gerardo Sandoval
Story: 5 Art: 9 Overall: 6 Recommendation: Pass (as with issue #2, unless you like the art)