Tuesday, July 29, 2008

ASTONISHING X-MEN #4 – June 1995


Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Joe Madureira (penciler), Tim Townsend & Al Milgrom (inkers), Steve Buccellato & Digital Chameleon (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters)


Blink confronts Holocaust, and manages to use her teleporting powers to drop him into a boiling vat of genetic stew. Nearby, Rogue’s team of X-Men fights the army of Infinite soldiers. The team splits up, leaving Sunfire and Wild Child to rescue the humans inside the plant. Morph meets up with Blink, who tells him that Sabretooth is dead. Holocaust suddenly emerges from the vat and resumes their fight. Morph reveals himself to actually be Rogue, who absorbed his shapeshifting powers a few minutes earlier. Taking Holocaust by surprise, she uses her magnetic powers to reverse the electromagnetic flow inside his brain. The real Morph joins the fight, along with Sunfire and Wild Child. Rogue is gravely injured in the battle, but Morph uses his powers to impersonate her son, inspiring her to fight. After pushing Holocaust back into a teleportation platform, Rogue is prepared to follow him to Apocalypse, but Iceman arrives with Sabretooth to stop her. Rogue declares that the Age of Apocalypse will end tonight.

Creative Differences

The last page has an obviously tacked on exchange between Blink and Sabretooth, which has Sabretooth tell Blink that he’s hard to kill. I guess the editors wanted the readers to know that they didn’t forget about Blink’s numerous references to his death earlier in this issue.

I Love the ‘90s

The “X-Facts” hype page mentions the hostile initial reaction to this storyline that emerged when the cancellation of the X-titles was announced. “You sent your opinions spinning through the techno-void of cyberspace and posted them proudly on the bulletin boards of the information superhighway.” I think this is the first reference to internet fan reaction in one of the books (although the letters pages still haven’t started listing email addresses yet).


This is the big fight issue, which is appropriate since it’s the series’ final installment that's supposed to lead the characters directly into X-Men Omega. As an issue-long fight scene, it starts to feel flaccid after a while, but the opening few pages are fairly exciting. Once you get to page sixteen and everyone is still fighting Holocaust, it can’t help but to be tedious at that point. Madureira’s art really helps to sell the action in the opening scenes, but it starts to look sketchier and rushed as the issue goes on. His exaggerated manga influence also gets dialed up in this issue (especially with his interpretation of Rogue), which starts to push things a little too far away from what normally works in superhero comics.

Going for an all-action issue to close things out is an understandable move, but it comes at the cost of developing the character dynamics hinted at in the first issue. The only cast member who completes a character arc is Sunfire, who comes to the sudden realization that he was the sole survivor of Japan because he’s destined to save humanity from Apocalypse. The scene doesn’t really work, unless we’re supposed to believe that Sunfire wouldn’t have done anything against Apocalypse unless he was personally affected by his actions, an idea that hadn’t been mentioned earlier. It’s also a very rushed one-page scene that almost reads like it was done as an afterthought. There’s some decent material that comes from Blink’s mourning for Sabretooth, but it’s undermined by his sudden resurrection at the end. This is also the third issue in a row where Sabretooth is believed dead but turns out to be alive, which I always thought was absurdly redundant.

1 comment:

Matt said...

That cover gives me chills.

And how come anime/ice elemental Iceman never showed up after AoA? I still think its the best visual representation of the character, and it looks like he's coming back in the pages of Wolverine and the X-Men. Thank you Jason Aaron, for not only bringing back my honest-to-god favorite part of the X-Men mythos (the school), but also making Iceman cool and relevent again!

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