Credits: Joe Pruett (writer), Bernard Chang (penciler), Andy Owens & Rod Ramos (inkers), Hi-Fi Designs (colors), Comicraft (letters)
Summary: In Egypt, Cable leads a group of rebels against the Living Pharaoh. He’s joined by his wife, Aliya. After invading his sanctuary, Cable’s team is ambushed by Living Pharaoh and the amalgamation of Cyclops and Apocalypse. The Living Pharaoh boasts that he allowed some of the mutants to live in order to serve his purposes. Cable realizes that this reality is a fraud, and that Aliya is truly dead. He awakens in Apocalypse’s lair, questioning if Apocalypse can ever be defeated.
According to Cable, Apocalypse still maintains some of the Twelve’s combined reality-warping powers after merging with Cyclops. He’s created this new reality in order to “recreate the Twelve circuit.”
The alternate reality designs on cover don’t exactly match the ones inside the issue. Sunfire’s design is entirely different, as he merely dresses like a samurai inside.
Review: This is a good example of how badly Marvel misunderstood the initial popularity of “Age of Apocalypse.” Overlooking that the quasi-sequel “Ages of Apocalypse” lacked the scale and issue count to truly sell the new reality, it fails because it just assumes that new realities are automatically interesting. If that were true, What If…? would have never been cancelled. “Age of Apocalypse” connected with readers because they had never seen dark dystopia done with such conviction in the X-titles, and because it’s actually fun to discern the new continuity. Without Xavier to found the X-Men, how would the life of every mutant in the Marvel Universe be different? You could play that game for hours.
This storyline doesn’t give us a firm breaking off point for the new continuity, which leads to each chapter reading like random alternate realities that the writers are killing time in this month. Apparently, there’s nothing more exciting for Cable to do in this new reality than lead soldiers into battle, and then get captured in time for the issue to be over. There’s some effort put into selling his feelings for his late wife, but the scenes lack any real emotion (and Jeph Loeb already did a similar bit earlier in his run.) The only redeeming element of the issue is Bernard Chang’s art, which doesn’t present any brilliant alternate reality makeovers, but is still well-constructed and nice to look at.