From the Top
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Chris Bachalo (penciler), Mark Buckingham (inker), Steve Buccellato/Electric Crayon (colors), Richard Starkings/Comicraft (lettering)
Chamber, Husk, and Mondo train under Colossus and Shadowcat’s supervision. Colossus calls Chamber weak when he discovers that everyone is still alive. Skin and Vincente join their teammates and spar against their teachers. Magneto enters, asking to speak to Colossus and Shadowcat in private. He tells them about Bishop’s claim that reality fractured twenty years ago, and asks them to find a way to travel back in time. Apocalypse has already killed all known mutants with the ability to time travel, so Magneto uses the young mutant Know-It-All to scan Apocalypse’s records for any information that can help them. She learns that Illyana, Colossus’ sister, was erroneously reported dead earlier, and is currently in Portland.
Know-It-All is the AoA version of M. Her body is connected to a giant workstation and she speaks with a computer’s voice. Vincente is a new mutant introduced in this reality who exists in a gaseous form. This version of Shadowcat uses gloves with Wolverine-esque claws. Chamber is still missing part of chest but does have a mouth in this reality.
Chamber says that Colossus and his brother were “Russia’s greatest heroes” before his brother joined Apocalypse and Colossus followed Magneto.
I guess this is an attempt to counteract the laidback, warm tone of the regular Generation X series. Considering how bleak the “Age of Apocalypse” is supposed to be, that would of course make sense, but I think the creators take things way too far. The first half of the issue hammers home the fact that these training sessions are “kill or be killed” and that Colossus honestly wants to see his charges die. That’s just incredibly stupid. I can buy that Magneto is supposed to have a harder edge than Xavier, but I refuse to believe that he would allow Colossus to oversee the deaths of the next generation of mutants. I don’t know if the series later backs off on Colossus’ bloodlust, but it’s certainly overplayed here. The training scenes are also extremely long, and while they do serve to re-introduce the cast and provide some characterization, it feels like the issue’s killing time after a certain point.
Bachalo turns in a lot of great work in this issue, and I think his costume redesigns look much better than the standard yellow/red Gen X outfits. His storytelling is starting to get choppy, though, as there are a couple of action pages that are hard to follow. The scene where Husk attacks both Skin and Shadowcat is especially confusing (what exactly is she supposed to be doing?). There are also some shaky plot elements, like the opening scene that has Chamber running from a series of explosions, and then being attacked by wooden objects. He talks to an off-panel character called “Claudia”, and says that he should sense her thoughts but can’t. Claudia? Is this supposed to be confusing? Was Lobdell referring to Husk but using the wrong first name? The final scene doesn’t make a lot of sense either. Know-It-All is apparently searching for mutants who haven’t manifested their time traveling abilities yet, but how exactly would Apocalypse have records on that? And if Illyana’s “possibility of mutant manifestation” is “infinitesimal”, how exactly did she come up in the search? (And if both her siblings are known mutants, why would she be labeled that way?) Since Magneto absorbed Bishop’s knowledge of the original timeline, the story could’ve had Magneto already know about Illyana’s latent time travel powers and specifically searching her out. That’s not the best solution in the world, but it’s better than the awkward scene we’re given here. Bachalo’s art can only distract from so much shaky plotting. I do actually remember liking the AoA incarnation of this series, even if the first issue doesn’t hold up that great, so hopefully things will improve soon