Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Joe Madureira (penciler), Dan Green & Tim Townsend (inkers), Steve Buccellato & Digital Chameleon (colorists), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer)
While evacuating the humans in Chicago, the unstable Sunfire decides to go after Holocaust alone. Rogue uses her absorption powers to stop him, which exposes her to Sunfire’s memories of his family’s murder. He’s angry that Rogue knows the shame he feels about their deaths, but is willing to go along with the mission now. Meanwhile, Apocalypse’s human agent Rex reveals to him the X-Men’s secret headquarters is in Westchester, while Magneto spends a night alone with his son. Back in Chicago, Blink goes against Rogue’s wishes and teleports Sabretooth and Wild Child to Holocaust’s location. Sabretooth and Wild Child reappear in Indianapolis, and are quickly confronted by Holocaust. He brags that the city’s humans are twenty miles away in an Infinite processing plant, not knowing that Wild Child is intelligent enough to comprehend what he’s saying. Wild Child runs off while Sabretooth fights Holocaust. Sabretooth cracks open his life support armor, but not before Holocaust mortally wounds him. As Sabretooth falls down, Holocaust rematerializes inside his armor.
This issue confirms that Holocaust used to be Nemesis. He was nearly killed by Magneto years ago as retaliation for murdering Scarlet Witch. He presumably changed his name when he began wearing his life-support armor. Another specific time reference is made when a narrative caption reveals that Sabretooth joined the X-Men five years ago.
Approved By The Comics Code Authority
Rogue says, “Damn you, Apocalypse”, a line that goes against the no profanity policy Marvel had for its mainstream books at the time. A couple of “damn”s and “hell”s show up throughout the AoA (particularly in the X-Universe mini, as I recall), and then go away once the regular titles restart. I assume the creators were given more freedom with the language in order to sell the gritty nature of the new reality. People wouldn’t even notice this now, but I was shocked to see any profanity in an X-Men comic at the time.
This is a decent effort, managing to cover characterization, backstory, plot advancement, and some action, all handled very effectively by Madureira’s art. None of the elements really overwhelms one another, so it doesn’t feel like the book’s dwelling too long on any one area. The interactions between the characters help to make the new world feel more real, while also allowing the cast to feel less like ciphers than they have in the previous crossovers. Sunfire’s shame over having his failure exposed, and Magneto’s conflicting feelings about ending the world that created his son, are both well-played. The fact that the AoA is still regarded as more than just a ‘90s stunt by a lot of fans is not only due to Marvel’s commitment to selling the new world, but the continued emphasis on characterization that also helped to make the books feel like traditional X-titles, even if the continuity had been radically altered. Reading this, it makes me wonder why Lobdell didn’t do more of these “balanced” issues during his regular UXM run. There, he seemed to segregate the character stories from the action stories. The routine crossovers undoubtedly had something to do with this, but even when they were over, Lobdell usually seemed more interested in character-centered stories with barely any plot or action.
If I have to complain about anything in this issue, it would be the horrible portrayal of Rogue’s accent. Rogue’s watching a sea of humans she’s convinced are about to be murdered run past her, and we get dialogue like this: “It ain’t enough for y’all to simply kill these people…ya have to terrorize them first?...If’n we cain’t find a way to calm these people, they’re gonna trample themselves t’death -- before we can get the chance to get them clear o’ heah…”. Rogue has always been portrayed with a heavy accent, but this is Snuffy Smith-level nonsense (“if’n”? Really?)