Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Joe Madureira (penciler), Tim Townsend (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Team Bucce (colors)
Continuity Notes: This is the first appearance of Ozymandias, who is yet another mysterious character with ties to Apocalypse. He’s named after the poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, which contains the famous line comic writers love, “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair”. Ozymandias makes a number of cryptic statements in this issue alone. He claims that he was a king before Apocalypse imprisoned him. He now “sets his blind eyes…his stone hands” to fending off madness by creating statues. Phoenix wonders if he’s an early mutant and Apocalypse didn’t want the competition, or if he’s a re-engineered human like Mr. Sinister (the Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix miniseries that gave him an origin was about to be released). In this issue, he’s presented as a victim of Apocalypse who fears his eventual resurrection, but I think he’s later portrayed as Apocalypse’s faithful biographer.
All of the statues created by Ozymandias resemble established X-characters, although Phoenix claims that she doesn’t recognize one of them. The statue is a male with an average build and medium-length hair parted in the middle. The art isn’t very clear, but it eventually occurred to me that this is supposed to be X-Man.
Xavier reveals to Zoe that he's aware of Landau, Luckman, and Lake's operations, which shocks her. According to him, L,L,&L have twenty-six offices.
Production Note: More nineteen page fun.
“Huh?” Moment: Ozymandias refers to etchings he’s made to represent recent events, like Avalon falling to Earth and Xavier’s fight with X-Man, but the drawings he’s referring to look like random lines that barely form any type of coherent image. I wonder if there was supposed to be some sort of computer effect in their place that wasn’t properly pulled off. The idea that X-Man pulled Xavier from the Astral Plane into reality is now presented as something of a big deal, but it certainly didn’t come across that way in the actual story.
Review: Well, the X-Men track down Roverine while another new mysterious villain is introduced. This isn’t exactly a highpoint of the era. Rereading it, this isn’t as bad as I remembered, since it actually tells a decent amount of story in nineteen pages, works in some action, and has Madureira’s typically strong artwork. It’s the connection to the inane “Wolverine as a dog” storyline, and the knowledge that Ozymandias turns out to be a dud, that makes the issue initially seem to be worse than it really is. Ozymandias’ design and powers actually don’t bother me; it’s the unimaginative origin and lack of personality that kills him. As the months go on, he just becomes that stone guy who hangs around Apocalypse occasionally. Apocalypse is already surrounded by dozens of characters with no personality, so I’m not sure what the point of Ozymandias was supposed to be.
The Xavier scenes seem to be setting up the upcoming Onslaught reveal, as Lobdell shows him willing to cross the ethical lines he’s made for himself in order to help Wolverine. The justification given is that after losing Sabretooth, he refuses to lose Wolverine. This, charitably, could come across as coherent long-term plotting, as one storyline leads to another, and Xavier’s character arc continues to take a darker turn with each event. However, reading all of these issues in a short amount of time just emphasizes the aspects that don’t work. Not only was Sabretooth’s reversion totally out of left field, but Onslaught was already making behind-the-scenes appearances before that even happened. Lobdell is trying to make something work and the pieces just don’t fit. On top of that, Xavier’s actions don’t make a lot of sense anyway. With his mental powers (and Phoenix’s), they could easily locate Wolverine, so he doesn’t need Zoe for that. As for his physical condition, the advanced Shi’ar technology the X-Men have at their mansion would likely tell him more than what Zoe can (granted, this is assuming that Xavier thinks the X-Men can bring him home). I understand that he would want information from someone involved in the case, but the idea that she’s his last resort and he has to cross these boundaries seems forced.