Written by: Jeff Lemire
Art by: Humberto Ramos
I am and will always be a sucker for alternate past, present, and future worlds in comics, so this issue was deeply satisfying. An alternate future where Apocalypse destroys the planet and all that’s left are artificial bubbles containing the evolutions of half a dozen different Earth civilizations that managed to survive? Sign me up. A new Four Horsemen including Venom and Moon Knight hunting down a robot No-Girl and jacked Anole? Yes please. A society of Iron Men controlled by a Stark-created AI hivemind? That’s happened before, but sure, why the hell not.
This is all welcome, seeing as Lemire manages to cover the year of missed time of the mutant students abandoned in the future in one issue. Although it takes a bit of momentum out of the seriousness of the situation at hand (the X-Men running into the new Horsemen in the future and getting into a likely-to-be-cool tussle), setting aside one issue to flashback like this is nothing compared to the snail speed pacing of Bendis’ X-Men runs pre-All-New-All-Different-Marvel.
Although the storyline is clearly Apocalypse-related, and the ones going on in other X-Men series are tangentially as well, it’s still a little unclear what the “Apocalypse Wars” are right now, and why they warrant a(nother) crossover event. It’s a common enough sight to see comic forum-goers ragging on the Big 2’s reliance on crossover events to generate sales when the events themselves often seem forced and inorganic *cough* Civil War II *cough*. It’d almost be refreshing if the Apocalypse Wars don’t cross over between X-Men series to the same degree as other events do, and instead just have each series go through a storyline connected to Apocalypse at the same time. I’m already tired of Standoff at Pleasant Hill and the interruption it’s posing to a bunch of series I read, so a new take on events would be excellent.
My qualms with the industry aside, overall this issue delivered on the promise of fun colourful storytelling that the previous 8 issues have made. Nothing super consequential happens in this series (I need my Cyclops, seriously guys, just tell me what really happened to him, I need some Scotty drama), but the team goes on wacky adventures with goblins and dragons, makes light-hearted quips to each other, and Ramos’ art contributes to this atmosphere perfectly. This is refreshing in itself as well; the flagship X-Men series have mostly fallen somewhere between medium-dark to neutral for years, so maybe a crazy frenetic out-there colourful book is what we need right now.