I really liked the first issue of this series, but, man, the quality dropped off quickly here.
Nicieza sets the two sides -- Cyclops' Elite Mutant Front (EMF) and Magneto's X-Men -- against each other in this issue. However, we don't really know enough about the characters and their allegiances to follow the battle. Is Wolverine on Cyclops' side? Is Burner maybe Sunspot? Why do Cannonball and Rogue hate each other? It's pretty much mutants randomly attacking other mutants, because we're not given any clear way to distinguish them. Plus, Nicieza doesn't do a great job of laying out their motives. It wasn't until the end of the issue that I realized that the X-Men were trying to get their hands on Doug, meaning that I spent the majority of the issue thoroughly confused. We also still don't know what their individual motives are. Is Wolverine with Magneto just because he hates Cyclops? Unclear.
Separately, I found it hard not to roll my eyes at Apocalypse being all evil here. He's essentially reduced to a Bond villain in his brief appearance at the end of this issue, where he's ranting like a deranged frat-boy in daring the X-Men to bring it. I feel like the problem with this approach -- one that pretty much everyone takes with Apocalypse -- is that it essentially dismisses him as a crazed lunatic. The reason why "Age of Apocalypse" was so chilling in the day was because it showed the damage that a meticulously applied policy of genetic supremacy could cause. It was bringing Apocalypse's world view to its inevitable conclusion, and it was horrifying. Here, he's somehow just a generic tyrant.
Finally, we get some hints in the scenes with Sabretooth that something else is going on here with the humans, but I'm not clever enough to follow the crumbs that Nicieza leaves us to get to the path's conclusion.
Hopefully this issue was a necessary bumpy patch as Nicieza tries to quickly get us to the interesting part. Fingers crossed.
** (two of five stars)