Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Age of Apocalypse #5 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

This issue should pretty much be taught in Comic Book University as an example of a rushed ending, where the author tries to cram in too many new ideas in the series' waning pages.

It started with some promise, as Nicieza seemed to be making a good-faith effort to answer some of the questions still hanging over this series.  The problem is that I'm not sure that he even accomplished that.  For example, Doug tells us that the X-Men saved him from Apocalypse to prove that he (Apocalypse) wanted everyone to die.  Really?  How does Doug know that?  I mean, I get that he "reads" even the words that people don't say, but I'm still not clear whose unsaid words led him to this conclusion.  Magneto's?  Even if he did read this sentiment from Magneto, why did Magneto suspect that Apocalypse had the virtual destruction of the mutant race in mind in the first place?  It wasn't like Magneto knew about the Legacy Virus in the beginning.  If I'm not mistaken, he was just as surprised as everyone else was to discover its existence, let alone that Apocalypse intended to release it to weed out the weakest mutants.

But, the failure to tie up the loose ends isn't the greatest problem with this issue.  We get a truly spectacular amount of new developments at the end that Nicieza has no time to explain.  We randomly learn that Burner is Adam X and that he knows that he's Alex and Scott's brother even if they don't.  Nicieza doesn't even go for the shock revelation at the end - Burner is fretting about his "secret identity" on the very first page and Nemesis calls him "Adam" on the very next page.  I'm guessing that a small number of people reading this issue remember the dropped plot of Adam X from the '90s, let alone waited anxiously all these years to see him finally revealed as the third Summers brother.  When the revelation comes - because Burner sacrifices himself to save his brothers' lives - it's so rushed that you barely notice it.  (Seriously, I guarantee numerous people were left wondering who the hell "Adam" was.)

Meanwhile, Emma suddenly decides to give herself a lobotomy to graft the portion of her brain that controls her telepathy onto Jean's brain, to compensate for the portion that Essex removed years earlier.  Yup.  It's her grand plan.  (Initially, she stole Dark Beast's memories before he died, so it seemed like she was going to use them to whip up a cure to the Legacy Virus.  But, Nicieza dropped that plot just like he did with the reason why the X-Men kidnapped Doug.)  Instead, Mr. Sinister arrives just in time to perform the lobotomy and transfer, and he apparently does a bang-up job because Emma is walking mere moments after he completes it.

But, the ending is really the killer.  Jean not only magically incinerates Nemesis and uses the cure that apparently existed in every cell in his body, but she also "cured" mutantkind by eliminating the mutant gene.  WTF?  Apparently Jean burnt out her mutant power while curing mutants of the Virus so I guess she decided that no one can have powers if she can't?  We're supposed to believe that Emma took a great risk even trusting Jean with the power, afraid that she was going to kill everyone in a burst of Phoenix rage.  As such, I think that we're supposed to be relieved when her "love" won the day.  But, didn't she basically do exactly what Emma feared?  She didn't ask anyone's permission to "cure" them - she just changed them.  Doug's narrative says that it gave them a chance to choose their own destiny, but it's the exact opposite of that - Jean took away that choice from them.

Anyway, I could continue, but I'll stop here.  I was possibly the most excited about this "Secret Wars" tie-in series, but it really wound up being the most disappointing.  In fact, it's the first time that I started feeling like we really need to wrap up this event, something that I'm sure Marvel didn't expect.

* (one of five stars)

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