Friday, May 20, 2016

... Endings (Marvel)
X-Men Omega When: June 1995

Why: Scott Lobdell & Mark Waid How: Roger Cruz

The Story So Far...
It was a world that was never meant to be.
The unstable mutant David Haller believed he could achieve his father Charles Xavier's dream by eliminating his one-time friend turned greatest nemesis: Magneto! To do so, he traveled back to a time when the two were still care workers in war torn Israel, but he failed to consider his father's will to protect a friend. The killing blow meant for the once and future Magneto instead struck the X-Men's founder.

The events stir the ancient mutant Apocalypse from his slumber, beginning the world on a path of destruction. Erik "Magnus" Lehnsherr resumes his destiny to become Magneto, but in this timeline, dedicates his fight to fulfilling the dream of peaceful co-existence between mutants and humans held by the late Xavier!

Already displaced in time, the X-Man Bishop wanders this new reality with the fog of knowing everything is wrong! Armed with the truth, the X-Men set about overthrowing Apocalypse's empire by unmaking the world he has created! To do so, the X-Men will need the cosmic artefact known as the M'Kraan Crystal - the reality nexus capable of healing time and restoring the universe to its true path.

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Apocalypse 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Apocalypse 5 (Professor)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Apocalypse 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Apocalypse 6 (Rubber)
Fighting: Apocalypse 4 (Trained)
Energy: Magneto 6 (Mass Destruction)

When it comes to heavyweight mutant match-ups - the marquee doesn't get much bigger than this! They could typically be thought of as two of the X-Men's deadliest enemies -- but in the altered reality of 1995: one leads the X-Men, while the other dominates all men equally as conqueror of the free world!

The former is Magneto: mutant master of magnetism! Born Max Eisenhardt, he witnessed the greatest atrocities of the Second World War first-hand. Abhorring those who would hate without cause, he learns to harness his mutant gifts of magnetic field manipulation to influence the world around him through the metal he controls. So great is his power, Magneto can twist metal, defy gravity, and ride and effect the magnetic spectrum of Planet Earth itself!

In a world of paranoia and fear toward super-powered mutation; Magneto began a pre-emptive war against a human race who would study and catalogue them. In our reality he was founder of the Brotherhood of Mutants - blind to becoming the very thing he hates. In a reality where his best friend Charles Xavier was murdered in a time travelling attempt on his own life; Magneto adopts a dream of peaceful co-existence between men and mutants, founding the X-Men!

Magneto's X-Men are humanity's greatest hope in an Age of Apocalypse!

The ancient mutant En Sabah Nur was discarded as a child for his freakish grey skin. Rescued by nomads from the unforgiving Egyptian desert, he learned a cruel lesson in survival that shaped his life's philosophy. Increasing his power through technology of Celestials, he is an immortal mutant with an agenda of conquest! He enacts his merciless plans through the employ of Four Horsemen, reserving survival for those who are fit enough to take it!

Apocalypse was drawn back into the modern world by a demonstration of power in Israel by time travelling X-Men: Legion, Storm, Iceman, Bishop and Psylocke. In this timeline, he emerged before an age of Marvels that created the Fantastic Four, Avengers and other heroes. Opposed only by Magneto's X-Men, Apocalypse rewrote history, eventually conquering North America to establish a citadel of power on the ruins of Manhattan, New York City.

Apocalypse may be known for staging battles behind augmented minions known as The Four Horseman, but make no mistake - he's a serious threat! We've only seen Apocalypse in action once in past feature fights [Uncanny X-Men #295]. In a state of weakness, he was still able to overwhelm a seasoned team of X-Men with a desperate display of power. At full strength, he wields phenomenal super-human strength, endurance, durability, reflexes, control over his body's size, shape, and make-up, and the ability to expel concussive energy blasts!

That one appearance has kept Apocalypse undefeated, while an unkind streak of circumstances have made Magneto winless on The Comic Book Fight Club!

A brief alliance with Prince Namor snatched defeat from the mouth of victory in X-Men #6. He ripped the adamantium from Wolverine's bones, prompting a rare moment of psychic violence from Professor X in X-Men #25. Magneto also had the rare misfortune of catching a cosmic powered Spidey in Amazing Spider-man #327. He was even eaten by zombies in another alternate version of the Marvel Universe [Marvel Zombies #1]! Unflattering, but you've got to chalk some of it up to bad luck!

In a world built with iron and steel, the master of magnetism is no joke! At the height of his powers, he's even able to dominate the iron content in human blood! Apocalypse has total control over his physical make-up, which might make it tough to play with his armor, but there's still the literal post-apocalypse of New York City to play with! Meaning, even though Magneto has one trick to play against his powerful opponent - it's a pretty darn good one!

The Tape: Apocalypse Ranking: Apocalypse (#220)

What Went Down...
At the feet of Apocalypse, the man called Magneto clings to a dream that was never his own. Battered by a monster called Holocaust, this mutant survivor defies a being who has conquered the free world. He believes his X-Men are on a path to end the nightmare of this Age of Apocalypse: a reality that was never meant to be. Alas; Apocalypse too has learned the secrets of the time displaced mutant Bishop. He has taken possession of the cosmic nexus known as the M'Kraan Crystal. He has turned the X-Men's objective into a well laid trap!

The X-Men are not the only ones subject to surprise, or with something to lose, though. Outside Apocalypse's citadel, the mutant called Angel sacrifices himself to destroy the stronghold's force field generator. At the same time, the Mid-West is reduced to a radioactive crater by the Eurasian High Council!

As Apocalypse draws plans for drastic retaliation against his enemies, he opts to accelerate an end to Magneto's life. Before he can discharge the fatal blow - an unexpected interloper enters the unshielded stronghold and sends Apocalypse tumbling across his own throne room! Sinister's secret weapon: Nate Grey!

The youth called "X-Man" confronts Apocalypse, but instead becomes entangled in battle with his heinous son - Holocaust! Their bitter struggle peels away from Magneto as the X-Men arrive to regroup with their leader and determine the future of all of reality!

The Master of Magnetism has no orders for his students. Only words of hope that the world need not be the apocalyptic landscape that cruelly strangles life and love from all who live. A mantra contrary to Apocalypse, who takes the time to turn his defensive grid into a genocidal weapon against The Human High Council.

As Council heads await the obliteration of England, Apocalypse wonders if his centuries old machinations have strengthened "the wolves and sheep" equally, to assure mutual destruction. His musing is interrupted as Magneto rips his way through the fortress to find his nemesis!

From the rubble, Magneto assembles a suit of armor. Wrapping himself in layers of twisted metal, he decries the twisted philosophy held by Apocalypse and the madmen who came before him! He mocks the notion of "survival of the fittest", reminding the High Lord who won the war Hitler began - the so-called weak!

Wielding a righteous gauntlet he topples Apocalypse with a mighty right hand!

With the High Lord down on the ground with the rest of humans and mutant, Magneto pounds his malleable flesh with unforgiving steel fists! He callously calls an end to Apocalypse's rule, confident in the crumbling of his options. Bold words that come prematurely as Guido Carosella - a double agent among the X-Ternals - enters the chamber with Charles Lehnsherr - Magneto's son!

Apocalypse sees a final card to play, but he under estimates the wrath of a mother scorned! Present for the conflict, Magneto's bride Rogue uses her mutant gifts to absorb Carosella's impressive strength and rescue her son!

Apocalypse attempts to use the distraction to sneak away with a shard of the M'Kraan Crystal. Knowing the world he made in his own vision is about to come crumbling down, he plots to inflict himself upon another world - a world in which he can enjoy conquest anew! Little does he realize, he isn't alone in his escape route.

X-Man returns to steal the Crystal from Apocalypse and swear revenge for his adoptive father Forge. He unleashes a telekinetically charged kick that humbles Apocalypse once again! Magneto catches up to rejoin the fight with Nate Grey!

Together Magneto & X-Man pummel Apocalypse into further submission! Magnetic and telekinetic energies bombard his body! For the first time it truly seems as Apocalypse's rule may finally be in danger, but at that moment Holocaust catches up with the fight to steal X-Man away once again!

Distracted by the attack for just a moment, Magneto is vulnerable to Apocalypse, who lunges at him! The towering, ancient mutant bears down on Magneto with his full weight, wrapping malicious hands around his throat!

Suddenly hope drains from the moment! Ever dedicated to a principle of the fit, Apocalypse compels Magneto to fight back! He mockingly questions the lack of will in the Master of Magnetism. He receives his answer...

It begins with a small tug... An almost gentle pull... As Magneto focuses on a single central point, Apocalypse knows what is happening. A harder yank. He can do nothing to stop it. A wrenching tear that tears his body in two!

"For twenty years, you've gone on and on about how only the strong survive. Tell me again, Apocalypse... Just how strong you are."

Feeble utterings choke out of Apocalypse's dismembered head. Nothing of meaning or grandeur. Will the High Lord survive his catastrophic bifurcation? It hardly matters. As Magneto ponders what could have been had two of the world's most powerful mutants worked together, he walks to his wife and child, knowing this reality is about to be unmade around them.

The Age of Apocalypse is finally at an end...

The Hammer...
In one of the most epic battles we've ever seen on The Comic Book Fight Club - it's Magneto who emerges victorious!

Give the well earned assist to Nate Grey, aka; X-Man! His brief intrusions into the fight helped lead to victory, but his true clash with Holocaust is a battle we will have to feature another day!

This year on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths we've been serving many masters, and while doing so, ticking off some of the untapped corners of the comic book universe(s). This entry marks an overdue first victory for Magneto, the debut of X-Man and Holocaust in the rankings, and the first recorded feature from the alternate universe of the Age of Apocalypse!

Like a lot of readers (it seems), I was immediately intrigued by the cancellation of the entire X-line. By the time I was aware of it, there was already a promise of a strange new world told in series like: Astonishing X-Men, X-Calibre, Factor X and Gambit and the X-Ternals. In 1995, with X-Mania lingering but the air starting to let out of the balloon, the stunt seemed inconceivable, yet exciting.

What followed was a rare moment in comics. A harmonious synthesis of high concept, creative execution, marketing stunt, and just a hint of restraint. Sure, there had been grim futures and alternate realities for decades. Surrendering a whole line to them under the proposition of a new reality - exciting and fresh.

I'm not sure I can remember a time when there wasn't intense nostalgia for the Age of Apocalypse. It was an instant hit. One that only lasted for something like five months! They left us wanting more. As daring a choice as the story itself!

The universe did have its immediate spin-offs and consequences. Refugee characters like X-Man, who starred in his own on-going series, Holocaust, as well as oddballs like Sugar Man, and Dark Beast - the evil alternate Hank McCoy who snuck into the X-Men for a while. Otherwise, it was occasional one-shots, a few mini-series, or a memorable issue of What if...?. Pretty restrained.

In the last ten to fifteen years, there have been far more attempts to recreate the mechanics of the concept. One of the least subtle was the Age of Ultron a few years ago. It seemed to come and go without leaving much more than a prospective movie title for Avengers 2. Something about killing off Hank Pym was in there, I think. It all came about out of so much upheaval and property mismanagement it's really hard to distinguish or care about what happened.

The legacy of Age of Apocalypse has sadly been quite counter to the original. Stories like House of M or DC's Flashpoint played with the same high concept of remaking a world of familiar characters, but usually do so with a destructive design. 2005's House of M was an early warning sign for darker years ahead, built around Magneto and the decimation of Marvel's mutant populous. 2010's Flashpoint holds the distinction of delivering DC's lasting line-wide reboot: the New 52. If ever there was a case for two wrongs not making a right, it's that!

Ironically, it was the truly apocalyptic tone of Age of Apocalypse that helped make it work so well. It had the committed darkness and complete world view of something like Kamandi. There was no illusion that the heroes were always going to make it out okay. In this hellish universe, the heroes aren't even all on the side of angels - and vice versa! Magneto and Sabretooth had been X-Men before, but never with total suspension of disbelief. Their stories - two that tapped into the simple contrarian fun of the alternate reality concept with enough organic grounding that it wasn't time wasted.

The pretenders that've come since usually overstay their welcome. At times, Age of Apocalypse seemed to be trying to cram too much in. Today's featured fight takes place over the entire course of the super-sized X-Men: Omega special -- bookend to X-Men: Alpha. Interspersed between the big final battle are stories involving all the other favourites from related mini-series. There's a lot going on. A harsher reviewer might call the issue a bit of a mess. I think I like it that way, though. At some point the dotting of Is and crossing of Ts just turns into a maelstrom of genuine creative energy!

Like other stunts before it, it's kind of abhorrent on a basic level. Another Death of Superman for a bonfire of culture. If only it wasn't so well orchestrated and motivated. What people think they remember and the logic that's been applied since was always doomed to fail, because they were never bad ideas and never did what we think they did. They were stories that dared to go deeper than ever before, without losing sight of why that contrast worked.

With any luck we'll get a chance to venture deeper into the Age of Apocalypse in future updates. For now, I couldn't allow X-Men: Apocalypse to breeze through theatres without finally cracking the seal on the much loved alternate universe. A fun time in comics, and a great chance to match-up two of the characters who star in the new movie, and haven't done a whole lot of fighting in the past!

You can see more of today's featured fight for yourself by using the Amazon link provided [embedded right] to purchase the entire collected edition. Using the link to navigate to Amazon before you purchase something else can also help the site and future installment!

If you're reading this in real-time, you know we suffered a technical setback in May, but with any luck there'll be plenty more fights to come! In the mean time, you can always go back issue diving in the Issue Index Archive! Yay!

Winner: Magneto
#351 (+461) Magneto
#298 (-78) Apocalypse
#481 (new) X-Man
#482 (new) Holocaust

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