Credits: Louise Simonson (writer), Dan Panosian & Eric Nguyen (art), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Jim Charalampidis (colorist)
Summary: Apocalypse interrupts X-Factor’s battle with Mr. Sinister. After using Sinister’s technology, he’s convinced Christopher isn’t Sinister’s creation. He gives the infant to Cyclops and tells him to present Christopher to the Celestials. X-Factor leaves inside Ship, while Apocalypse and Caliban stay behind to face Sinister’s army. Sinister’s base explodes, killing everyone inside. X-Factor arrives in Manhattan and gives Christopher to the Celestials, who judge him favorably. Unexpectedly, the Celestials teleport away to Genosha. After reading Apocalypse’s journal, recently unearthed by Ship, X-Factor realizes that the Celestials will destroy Genosha, as they eliminated Lemuria years earlier. The Celestials eradicate Genosha and then teleport away. With Ship’s help, X-Factor rescues hundreds of Genoshan citizens.
“Huh?” Moment: The Celestials’ positive judgment is represented by a literal “thumbs up.”
Review: I realize that everything is written for the trade these days, but there are two major plot points in the main story that make no sense unless you’ve read every chapter of the miniseries so far. Just to be clear, the Celestials judge Christopher worthy (he’s a “talisman” according to Apocalypse) because he’s the first viable offspring of mutants created with no outside interference. Next, the Celestials destroy Genosha due to Sinister’s genetic manipulation of its populace, a practice that offends the Celestials. (Strongly, it would seem.) If you’ve read every issue leading up to the finale, you can infer these points, but it’s surprising that Simonson doesn’t spell them out in greater detail.
Ultimately, Apocalypse gets to play the role of hero, even though Cyclops is quick to point out that he always has an angle and most likely isn’t dead, nor was Apocalypse purely altruistic in the first place. X-Factor Forever turns to be a fairly interesting Apocalypse story, and even though I’m still apathetic towards the Celestials, I have to say that providing Apocalypse with a more coherent motive is a step in the right direction. Simply establishing that he’s obsessed with “survival of the fittest” but never really saying why has always done the villain a disservice.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, I think Simonson’s character subplots were the true highlight of her run, so I’m a bit disappointed that supporting cast members like Opal were shunted offstage so quickly. I don’t know if there was an alternate way to structure the story, but I wish Simonson could’ve found a better balance between the fight scenes and the character moments. While I’m also speaking in hypotheticals, I’ll mention again how disappointing it is that Dan Panosian couldn’t pencil the entire issue. He only shows up for seven pages this issue, which is especially frustrating considering that this is an out-of-continuity miniseries. Was there no way for Marvel to wait on Panosian to pencil the entire book? Why not wait until the series is finished before soliciting it?
The Apocalypse Journal V
Credits: Louise Simonson (writer), Aluir Almancino (penciler), Terry Austin (inker), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Dan Jackson (colorist)
Summary: Fearing that mutants cannot reproduce, Apocalypse creates his Four Horsemen to give mutantkind an edge. When the Celestials unexpectedly call upon Ship to leave Earth, Apocalypse fears that their judgment is coming centuries ahead of schedule. He leaves X-Factor his journal, telling them that the future is in their hands.
Continuity Note: The Celestials called Ship away from Earth in X-Factor’s “Judgment Day” storyline.
Review: While the earlier chapters provided an alternate origin for Apocalypse, the final “Apocalypse Journal” consists of recaps of late ‘80s X-continuity. Not really a story so much as a brief summary of other stories. Now that we’ve reached the final issue, I’ll mention something that’s bugged since these back-ups began. As Apocalypse says this issue, he’s “force-grown” the development of mutants and now fears the Celestials’ judgment for creating a non-viable offshoot of humanity. I’ve yet to read anything in this serial that indicates how Apocalypse is responsible for “fostering” mutantkind. I haven’t gotten the sense that he knows how to mingle human DNA and breed mutants, only that he’s been taking care of the strong humans. Maybe this is what Simonson meant by “strong” all along -- humans with the genetic potential for mutantcy within them. As I’ve read it, however, Apocalypse took a liking to physically strong humans and kept them as his own tribe. When other mutants appeared centuries later after the dawn of the Nuclear Age, Apocalypse was pleased, but he wasn’t directly responsible. Now, maybe Simonson also meant that Apocalypse pushed humans towards developing that technology (he does mention breakthroughs in technology as one motivation for fostering war for centuries), but it’s not explicitly said during this serial. It’s possible I just haven’t been reading in-between the lines and other readers picked up on points I considered too vague. Regardless, for a serial dedicated to the origin of Apocalypse and an elucidation of his philosophy, I would’ve preferred more concrete answers.