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Hope everybody’s having a good 4th of July! (for those of you outside of the US, that’s the date we shoot off explosives and act REALLY patriotic).

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Uncanny X-Men #335 (August 1996)

Apocalypse Lives!” [Onslaught, Phase 1]

cover

Writer:  Scott Lobdell
Penciller:  Joe Madureira
Inker:  Tim Townsend

Apocalypse rises from his slumber, greeted by his faithful scribe, Ozymandias.  The servant quickly recounts to his master what has happened:  Magneto and Xavier are both gone, leaving Onslaught behind, and the X-Men have fallen.  Apocalypse rises above his chamber to see a lone Watcher, Uatu, keeping watch over the events as they begin to unfold.

Apocalypse
see?  right there in the title!

Above the X-Mansion, an Avenger quinjet (housing the Avengers and Nate Grey) surveys the ruined home of the X-Men.  As the jet lands and the Avengers prepare to disembark, the quinjet is attacked.  A quick skirmish ensues until the X-Men and Avengers are face to face.  Before explanations, though, X-Man uses his power to tear from everybody the image of what happened…until an optic blast knocks him upside his head.

The various X-Men attempt to deal with the aftermath, including Bishop and Gambit making amends.  The X-Men conclude that Magneto is still somehow responsible.  X-Force arrives (without Cable…I think we all know why) and the groups decide to split.  X-Force will remain behind and safeguard X-Man.  Cyclops, Jean and Cannonball will rendezvous with Psylocke and Archangel at Muir Island to obtain the Xavier Protocols.  Gambit will go with the majority of the Avengers and track down Magneto.  And the remaining X-Men/Avengers will go to warn the Fantastic Four of Onslaught’s interest in Franklin Richards.  Storm will head off on her own in search of Cable who is missing.  And Wolverine heads off himself because…he’s a loner?

Bishop quicksilver

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When I first read the entire Onslaught series, I actually enjoyed it.  There.  I’ve admitted it.  I liked it back in 1996.  Don’t hate me just because my tastes have matured.  Since then, I’ve recognized that it’s a subpar cross-over, tried to bring in way more titles than it needed to, and was just a marketing ploy to restart much of the Marvel line.

But even in 1996, I was disappointed with this issue.  Sure, the Onslaught:  X-Men book was intense.  We kind of needed a break, needed to regroup, recuperate, and set up the rest of the story.  I didn’t fault this issue for being slow.

But the cover…the damn cover…  We could see it on the cover…  APOCALYPSE COMES.  I mean…  i still love Apocalypse (not all his stories mind you, but he’s up there as one of my favorite X-Men villains…even if his motives are fairly one-dimensional).  And This book made it seem like Apocalypse was going to be a major player.  And then…we get him for just a few pages.  Basically, we get to see him wake up.  Woopdee doo.  And to make matters worse?  We wouldn’t really see much of him until years later, during the awful “The Twelve” story.  Seriously, Lobdell…why tease us like that?

Joe Mad is fairly consistent here, although it’s not as quite as flashy as most of his stories, but again, there’s fairly little action here.  It kind of drives me nuts that he still isn’t drawing all the straps on Cannonball and Cyclops’ costumes.  But maybe he was trying to get away from the early 90’s obsessions with straps?

x-men
despite all the stuff I say, this really is some beautiful artwork of the team!

It’s also nice, looking back after all these years, to see a time when the X-Men and Avengers are trying to work together…instead of fighting.  I mean sure, they’re first attacked by Gambit and then Storm fries their Quinjet, but still…Captain America takes the lead and they get organized and it’s like two families who are actually good friends.

All in all, not a horrible issue…but whereas so many of the issues involving Onslaught have been superior in storytelling (even as the overall event was “meh”), this one just disappointed…  so sad…

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