Credits: Scott Lobdell (plot), Ralph Macchio (script), Joe Bennett (penciler), Joe Pimentel (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Gloria Vasquez & Digital Chameleon (colors)
Summary: Nightcrawler receives word from Mystique revealing Apocalypse’s location. He’s recuperating from injuries on the Blue Area of the Moon. Morph disguises himself as Sabretooth and talks the despondent Blink into teleporting the X-Men to the Moon. There, they encounter the Horseman Death, who has used the Terrigen Mists to mutate a new army of followers. Blink escapes the fight and finds an ally in Cyclops. Elsewhere, Death plans on mutating the X-Men and using them to overthrow Apocalypse. Cyclops takes Blink to the X-Men and releases Sunfire from his captivity. Sunfire unleashes his powers and kills Death, as Blink sends the X-Men home. Magneto wonders if Cyclops was merely defending Apocalypse or if he is a potential ally.
Continuity Notes: This is supposed to take place shortly after Sabretooth rescued Blink. The X-Men are stationed in a hidden base underneath the Guthrie family farm. Gambit is shown as a member during a group shot, but disappears from the rest of the story. He’s not supposed to be a member at this point, since he left the team after Rogue and Magneto became a couple. The story opens with Magneto rescuing “American statesman” Robert Kelly in Central America from Diablo and Absorbing Man. Ship appears as the vessel that takes Apocalypse to the moon. A narrative caption says he’s destroyed when Sunfire’s powers explode. Death is apparently supposed to be Maximus of the Inhumans.
“Huh?” Moment: Cyclops ponders if mankind could’ve reached the stars if the eugenic wars never began. This reality diverged from ours twenty years ago, as we’re told three different times in this issue. Even in 1996, man reached the stars long before the twenty-year divergence.
Production Note: This is a $5.95 bookshelf format special. Digital Chameleon is credited with separations on the inside front cover, and Graphic ColorWorks (GCW) is credited inside the comic. Is this what happened to Digital Chameleon?
Review: Hooray. It’s Marvel’s first attempt at going back to the “Age of Apocalypse” well, and unfortunately it comes across as a mundane cash grab. Assigning the script to Ralph Macchio, who normally did last minute fill-ins, and the art to a young Joe Bennett, who was still a fill-in artist, was the first clue this wasn’t a high priority, even though Marvel charged six dollars for it. The AoA was unique because it was a story with a specific point that had a clean ending. I’m sure there are a few more stories to tell in the AoA universe, but you’ve really got to have something compelling to justify reviving the brand. What does Tales bring us? Some pages of Blink feeling insecure and a glimpse of how the AoA affected the Inhumans. There’s no real character drama, no secrets revealed, and the central story is just dull. It’s not even particularly “dark.” The sense of hopelessness and dread the original issues captured remarkably well is gone. Shockingly enough, this reads like a fill-in. A six dollar one.