Credits: Louise Simonson (writer), Dan Panosian & Eric Nguyen (art), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Jim Charalampidis (colorist)
Summary: Apocalypse implants Cameron Hodge’s head into Master Mold’s remains to create Master Meld. He teleports it into Manhattan, where X-Factor attends the birthday party for Charlotte’s son, Tim. X-Factor defends the city from Master Meld while Apocalypse and Caliban break into Ship and search his database. Master Meld is finally defeated when Iceman freezes Hodge’s head, but the team is in for another shock when a Celestial appears in the sky.
- Cyclops ignites Tim’s birthday candles with his optic blasts, which is something he shouldn’t be able to do since his powers don’t generate heat. (This mistake appears sporadically. Cyclops once melted a SHIELD agent's gun on a Captain America cover.) Simonson does have someone point out that these are trick candles, but that doesn’t exactly cover for the mistake.
- Apocalypse asks Caliban if any of the Morlocks gave birth to a mutant child. He says it never happened, which supports Apocalypse’s theory that two mutants can’t create another mutant. What about Nathan Christopher? Apocalypse says that since his mother was a clone of a mutant, her genes could’ve been manipulated.
- Baby Nathan (or Christopher, or Nathan Christopher) uses his long-forgotten ability to create a forcefield bubble when Master Meld attacks. Marvel Girl’s telekinetic powers always repel his forcefield, for reasons no one quite understands.
Review: The biggest disappointment this issue is discovering that Dan Panosian is missing for much of the page count. Even though the inking style is fairly consistent, Eric Nguyen’s art is clearly not compatible with Panosian’s cartooning. Nguyen’s work is in the vaguely realistic, modern day Photoshop style, while Panosian is obviously going for something else. (Looking at Nguyen's DeviantArt page, he's certainly capable of going in a cartoony direction, so I'm not sure why this style was chosen.) I have no idea how many pages Panosian can finish a month, or what his deadline was, but it’s a shame that even with a back-up, he still isn’t penciling the entirety of the main story.
Speaking of which, Simonson uses the fight scene as a diversion (it’s right there in the title) while Apocalypse searches Ship’s database and provides some hints for the future. Much like Claremont’s work in X-Men Forever, Simonson is using her series to make rather sweeping statements about the overall status of mutantkind. Her premise is that mutants can’t reproduce, which is of some concern to Apocalypse, for reasons we’ll discover later. I tend to dislike this kind of over-generalization; it’s like the writer is just begging the reader to punch as many holes as possible in the premise. I will say that Simonson is easing into the premise and not overselling it, so I’m willing to see where this goes. So far, the miniseries really does feel like a continuation of the original X-Factor run; there’s enough goodwill generated to give her the benefit of the doubt.
The Apocalypse Journal II
Credits: Louise Simonson (writer), Aluir Almancino (penciler), Terry Austin (inker), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Dan Jackson (colorist)
Summary: Apocalypse gains some control over Ship and travels around the Earth. He gathers a group of humans he deems fit and takes them to the island of Atlantis, which is eventually invaded by the Deviants. Apocalypse pits the Deviants against each other in retaliation, and begins to understand the value of evolution.
Review: I’ve never read the original Eternals series, but I’m assuming this is Louise Simonson’s attempt to retcon Apocalypse “behind the scenes” of Kirby’s origin stories. On a certain level, this is a defensible choice, since Ship always had a connection to the Celestials and Simonson exploited this fact in previous X-Factor stories. So I have to acknowledge the decision to tie Apocalypse in with Eternals continuity isn’t totally arbitrary. My personal bias as a reader hasn’t changed, however. I’m not invested in the Eternals and Deviants, and when I discover facts like Apocalypse was the founder of Atlantis, I have no real response outside of “Uh, surrre….” At least these info dumps are left as backup stories, and they are mercifully short.