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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

X-amining Amazing X-Men #2

"Sacrifical Lambs"
April 1995

In a Nutshell
Quicksilver defeats Abyss as the Great Airlift continues.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Kevin Somers & Digital Chameleon
The Great Profundity: Bob Harras

In Maine, Abyss kidnaps a human boy, while the X-Men attempt to stop the Brotherhood from infiltrating the human evacuation by Sentinel. Their efforts are hampered by the reprogrammed Sentinels, until Storm arrives and is able to use lightning to temporarily confuse their sensors. Searching for the Madri, Banshee comes across Abyss, learning of his captive. When he relays the information to Quicksilver, Quicksilver & Storm leave to confront Abyss while Banshee uses harmonics to backup the work Storm did to reprogram the Sentinels. Together, Quicksilver & Storm rescue the boy, and Quicksilver defeats Abyss by drawing him into his Abyss' own dimensional void. Meanwhile, Rex & Sebastian Shaw interrogate Karma for information regarding the defenses around Xavier's mansion, with Apocalypse declaring that, at last, he will confront Magneto and they shall see which of them is truly fit enough to survive.

Firsts and Other Notables
Though not his first appearance (he's made minor appearances already in X-Men Alpha and the first issue of Weapon X), this issue shows Abyss in action for the first time, as he displays his weird ability to turns his body into a series...of ribbons...which which he can grab people, in order to draw them into the...interdimensional void that is...his chest. Bottom line, Abyss is weird, y'all, and his power works visually in a way that is hard to describe in words.

Abyss is the newest Horseman of Apocalypse, said to have replaced someone named Bastion, who isn’t an existing character (as far as I know), but will be the name of the central villain of the "Operation: Zero Tolerance".

Quicksilver defeats Abyss (though he doesn’t believe he killed him) by basically making him swallow himself (Quicksilver will turn out to be correct, as Abyss returns for the final two issues of this series).

Through the Looking Glass
Angel’s assistant Karma is tortured by Rex, under the belief she might posses more specific information about the X-Mansion defenses, in a scene that also introduces the AoA Sebastian Shaw.

The AoA Shadow King is called the Shadow Thief, and Karma is terrified of being subjected to him (which, knowing Nicieza'a penchant for continuity, is probably a nod at the New Mutants story in which she was possessed by him for an extended period of time).

A Work in Progress
Exodus was tortured by the Madri before being rescued by Magneto.

Box & Copycat are use the Sentinels to distract the X-Men, enabling them to blend into the evacuating humans for their appearance in Weapon X #2 (their fellow Brotherhood members - Arclight (who gets named here), Yeti & Spyne - are defeated off-panel).

Iceman pulls himself back together after being obliterated last issue.

Banshee provides some more information about the conversation that pulled him out of retirement.

The X-Men are able to use “logic” to escape being targeted by the Sentinels.

In addition to turning his body into ribbons and carrying around a void in this chest, Abyss is also able to trigger psionic tremors in everyone within his vicinity.

Young Love
Storm considers Quicksilver to be one of the most optimistic people she knows. She also finds herself finally admitting she loves him.

Similarly, Quicksilver considers Storm to be one of the most fiery & passionate people he knows.

Austin's Analysis
Whereas most of the "Age of Apocalypse" series tell one story over the course of their four issue runs (stop Holocaust, steal the M'Kraan crystal, etc.), Amazing X-Men is somewhat unique in that it essentially tells two distinct stories over the course of its four issues: the X-Men's efforts to facilitate the evacuation of North America, and then Apocalypse's assault on the X-Mansion (and the fallout thereof, which leads directly into the event's conclusion in X-Men Omega). Thankfully, Nicieza doesn't short-change the first story (the unceremonious disappearance of half the Brotherhood aside), as he manages to (functionally) introduce Abyss, conclude the evacuation plot, and pack in at least a few character moments, all in the span of one issue. The character work, in and amongst all the other business, is particularly impressive, as he creates a lasting impression for the AoA Quicksilver, underscoring just how much he's this reality's version of Cyclops without being terribly obvious about it, by contrasting the character both with the AoA Storm (who also emerges from this issue as a character more distinct than just "an edgier Storm") and with what readers know of the prime Quicksilver (that one is impatient and hot-tempered, at constant odds with his father; this one is methodical & deeply compassionate, and a devoted son). It's a great bit of writing, made all the more impressive by the fact that he never really slows down the action and also advances the plot while doing it.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, spaaace! in Gambit and the X-Ternals #2. Friday, Nightcrawler battles pirates in X-Calibre #2. Next week, Age of Apocalypse: The Chosen!

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  1. This version of Quicksilver is what made me love the character. I agree, great writing from Nicieza. Also, Banshee and Dazzler's AoA costumes are visually impressive.

  2. So is AoA Dazzler actually killed in that panel?

    1. She and Exodus will be back later. And then disappear during the climactic final battle (X-Men Omega) for some reason.


  3. Abyss rhetorically asks “Who has the power to kill a Madri and string him up like a welcome mat?” in a continuation of Banshee’s thoughts, which… I don’t get. From the context he seems to mean actual physical force rather than power in a political sense but neither Madrox nor his duplicates have enhanced strength or invulnerability. Plus, “a Madri” seems weird, never mind that “Madri” as the plural of “Madrox” is a nonsensical hash formation born of ignorance.

    On the subject of ribbons: The long, pointed individual strips on AOA Banshee’s costume are pretty much the opposite of the glider wings on Prime Banshee’s costume there to presumably help him stay aloft when not screaming.

    Lastly, Abyss refers to the kid he’d trapped inside him as “little brother”; that apparently turns out to just be a metaphorical reference, but in the moment it seemed more literal or at least more personal — I was thinking some kind of symbiotic mutant relationship.

    1. Plus, “a Madri” seems weird, never mind that “Madri” as the plural of “Madrox” is a nonsensical hash formation born of ignorance.

      Just to pile on the ridiculousness, I insist on reading it in my head as "Mad-ree" for some reason, even though it's clearly, nonsensical as it is, meant to be pronoucned "Mad-rye".


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