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Friday, May 31, 2019

X-amining Weapon X #1

"Unforgiven Trespasses"
March 1995

In a Nutshell
Weapon X & Jean Grey battle Havok in advance of the Great Evacuation.

Script: Larry Hama
Breakdowns: Adam Kubert
Finishes: Karl Kesel, Dan Green, Chris Warner
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Mike Thomas
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
On a mission for the Human High Council, Weapon X & Jean Grey ride a Sentinel to one of the stations that make up Apocalypse's Atlantic Seawall. Responding to their attack, Havok is teleported to the base, but Jean Grey is able to hold him off while Weapon X disables the station's defenses, creating a gap in the defensive network that allows the council's massive fleet of Sentinels & transport ships to fly through, with the intent of evacuating the remaining humans in North America from the continent. Returning to London, Weapon X stops an attack on the council by Magma, but her assassination attempt galvanizes support for Brian Braddock's plan: to follow up the evacuation with a nuclear strike on Apocalypse. Weapon X is all for it, but Jean worries it is the beginning of a descent into madness.

Firsts and Other Notables
Weapon X is the Age of Apocalypse counterpart to Wolverine, still starring the AoA version of Wolverine (who never uses that codename; another character will be shown to have used in X-Men Chronicles #2), along with Jean Grey, who is Weapon X's partner & lover in this reality.

Much of the backstory between Cyclops, Weapon X, Havok & Jean Grey is mentioned in this issue, with Havok referring to Jean as a “breeding sow”, a reference to her time in Sinister’s Pits before Weapon X rescued her (something that will become more significant in X-Man), Weapon X revealing that Cyclops is responsible for the loss of his hand, and Cyclops revealing that Weapon X took his eye.


When Weapon X & Jean Grey attack the seawall, Apocalypse's soldiers refer to them as "alphas", and say they need another alpha to deal with them (who turns out to be Havok). I'm not 100% sure, but I think this is the first time any kind of Greek-letter based ranking system is used to suggest there's a quantifiable hierarchy of mutant powers, something that will eventually be used fairly commonly outside this story (notably in Grant Morrison's New X-Men).

In the wake of assassination attempt by Apocalypse, Brian Braddock argues even more forcefully for a nuclear strike on Apocalypse; this plot thread will, in part, be the focus of this series, and play a significant role in the climax of the story.


Through the Looking Glass
Mariko Yashida is part of the Human High Council; she argues against the nuclear strike idea.


The assassin sent to target the Human High Council is Magma; she is instead killed by Weapon X.


A Work in Progress
The opening pages of this issue provide a glimpse of Apocalypse’s seawall, mentioned in the Collector’s Preview, his defensive fortifications intended to prevent Sentinels from reaching North America


Weapon X & Jean’s actions in this issue punch a hole in the seawall that enables the Human High Council to execute the Great Airlift, a mass exodus of the remaining humans in North America to Europe, a plot line that will be further explored in Amazing X-Men.


Havok returns to Apocalypse’ citadel fused with the Sentinel hand as a result of a botched transport, the incident referenced in Factor X #1.


The Reference Section
Weapon X battles a “Balrog-class meta-cyborg”, presumably named for the creature which kills Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring.


Austin's Analysis
This issue is something a little different in that in begins in media res, with Weapon X and Jean Grey in the middle of a mission for the Human High Council. Whereas many of the initial Age of Apocalypse series begin with a fair amount of setup, introducing the elements of each title's specific setting and the plot thread(s) that will drive their four issue narrative, here Hama plunges right into the action, an appropriate enough decision given the title character. It's also unique in that, unlike many of the other series, the title character here isn't wildly different from his prime counterpart. This Wolverine is perhaps a bit too willing to shrug his shoulders at the idea of the North American continent being obliterated by nuclear fire, but that, and the the cosmetic details (different costume, different number of hands) aside, it would be easy enough to imagine the "regular" Wolverine starring in this story without a whole lot of changes.

Where much of the "Age of Apocalypse" stands out for the way it re-imagines existing characters (Magneto is noble, Havok is a full-on psychopath) or highlights the way certain character traits are consistent no matter the reality (Cyclops is always a buzzkill), this series is much more about taking a version of a character not too far removed from how readers know him, and seeing how he reacts to the changed circumstances of the reality. It's less "how has this new world changed Wolverine?" and more "how does Wolverine deal with this changed world", making it relatively unique amongst the titles.

Next Issue
Next week: Amazing X-Men #1, Gambit and the X-Ternals #1 and X-Calibre #1!

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15 comments:

  1. Havok becomes fascist in any reality withouh Lorna. The amnesiac one from Siege Perilous instantly becomes a Magistrate, and even our 616 one carelessly blasts car tires in #224 after losing her to Sinister's machinations.

    Though, Scarlet would suggest that any booty from a good woman will do to soothe his inborn fascist tendencies. Goblyn Queen on the other hand got him thralled him quite to the other direction.

    Havok was an incel before it got mainstream.

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  2. I didn’t care at all about this title, as well as the ones with Nightcrawler and Gambit. Notice that Cyclops’ visor only covers the good eye in here, while in Factor X it covers both eyes.

    Back then, and to this day, I hated how Adam Kubert drew Holocaust sitting like a child in the playground during the meeting. It felt silly and it ruined a character that looked menacing and imposing in Amazing X-Men. Funny how a single panel can do so much damage to a character

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    1. I didn't get much of Holocaust due to our very limited publishing of these books, but I always loved Holocaust sitting there dangling his feet like a school boy in knee shorts. I had totally bought that he's a Horseman of the Apocalypse, one of his generals; so he doesn't need any cheap imposing posing to be a Serious Threat. He pushes himself up onto his feet when need be, switches on the 'kill', and heroes beware. He's much scarier this way than Abyss in his pretentious Thunderbird stance, this was the establishing image to me.

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    2. Like, Apocalypse calls up a official serious meeting, and he just sits there like he was on a pier! It's obvious that he can back up his insolence (as it was as obvious that Arcade striking a match on Dr. Doom's armor never ever could have).

      Clearly he has done something off-panel to earn the right to act like this in Apocalypse's eyes.

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  3. I'm not 100% sure, but I think this is the first time any kind of Greek-letter based ranking system is used to suggest there's a quantifiable hierarchy of mutant powers

    Nimrod describes Rachel as "class omega contact" in UXM #208 when he homes on him, and himself being on par with "class omega subjects".

    Re: what was previously said of in medias res, it's a fun touch that Cyclops and Wolverine have already before the recorded events each taken a piece of each other that respectively diminished their use of the optic beams and adamantium claws. Like, if you're going to do triangle drama with these three, this is the way to do it right.

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  4. Logan’s outfit is basically his nonsensical Patch action costume, the blue one with the red belt, here adding red versions of the claws or fangs or tiger stripes from his classic Wolverine suit on both his torso and his gloves — sorry; glove.

    He also has paint or a tattoo of those shapes on his forehead, while Jean has some on the left side of her face. They remind me a bit of Rachel’s hound marks.

    If humans can still make Sentinels in this reality then Logan can get at least a rudimentary cybernetic hand. Yeah, I acknowledge that he’d have a hard time accepting one on principle but with the kind of situations he finds himself in — leaping around, engaging in close-quarters combat, lighting a stogie — it’s just a necessity.

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  5. Look at that, Marvel made a documentary about AoA - https://www.cbr.com/x-men-marvel-returns-to-the-age-of-apocalypse-with-documentary-short/

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    1. Gotta love that timing! What's even more eerie is that the same week that documentary posted, I was listening to an old Battle of the Atom podcast from last fall, and the guest mentioned having (then) recently completed an oral history of "Age of Apocalypse", so I've been reading through that as well.

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  6. Why doesn't Wolverine's hand grow back? Why the metal cap on his wrist?

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    1. It's said somewhere, possibly in the "Year of the Mutants" preview issue, that he had the metal cap put on the stump quickly after the injury, before the hand had a chance to grow back.

      Why he would want to remain one handed, it didn't say. We could probably No-Prize it as some kind of point of pride/remember the stakes of losing kind of thing.

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    2. Would the lost hand bones grow back or would he just get mushy disfigured hand tissue there? And bad guys would obviously be crushing his non-adamantium hand from thereon, bones or not.

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    3. And where did the claws on his left hand/arm even go? Unless losing that hand somehow keeps them permanently retracted he should be able to still pop them out of his stump, weird as that might look or feel with no hand there.

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