Astonishing X-Men 2 – So are we just ignoring that he’s called Holocaust

Sacrificial Lambs – Credits: Written by Scott Lobdell, pencilled by Joe Madueira, inked by Tim Townsend and edited by Bob Harris

Cast: Rogue, Morph, Clarisse ‘Blink’ Ferguson, Wildchild, Victor ‘Sabretooth’ Creed, Toshiba ‘Sunfire’ Yashida, Erik ‘Magneto’ Lenscherr, Charles Lenscherr, Apocalypse, Rex, Holocaust } Earth 295 versions and Bishop} 616 version.

Plot: Rogue is in Chicago trying to save people from the culling that have restarted in Apocalypse’s America. Probes have been sent by Apocalypse’s son and heir, Hol- no am not calling him that and this has led to a panicked stampede of human beings made worse by this triggering the PTSD of Gunfire, who bursts into flame. This type of culling is what happened to his home in Japan. When he tried to stop it all those years ago, he was drowned and disfigured by Apocalypse himself. Rogue brings him back to himself, and they press on with the evacuation.

In Westchester, Magneto is holding his son Charles, when Bishop interrupts. Magneto is aware that he may have to rewrite reality, but he wants time with his son, while he still has the chance.

At his Stronghold, Apocalypse rages over his recent setbacks and oppositions to his rule and asks his aide Rex if there is any progress in his search for the X-Men. Rex has in fact located him at the Xavier Mansion in Westchester and Apocalypse prepares to go.

Back in Chicago, Victor asks Blink to send him and Wildchild to Hol- let’s say son of Apocalypse to bide the erst of them time to evacuate the humans. Rogue objects, but Blink teleports her away for a second and sends him anyway.

Victor faces Hol-son of Apocalypse, who informs him and the animalistic Wildchild that the Infinites processing plant that produces the troops of Apocalypse is 20 miles north, Victor then tells Wildchild to run and let the rest know and then attacks his opponent.

The fight is brutal, but short. Ultimately Victor is left for dead and son of Apocalypse surviving, despite the lost of his life support suit.

Notes: Well it’s the elephant in the room isn’t it, the lead villain in this comic is called Holocaust. What the actual hell Marvel? Okay, with that out of the way, this story is a little thin. I mean really thin, like should have an intervention thin. Sunfire has a meltdown, subplots and Sabretooth vs Son of Apocalypse (I sure as hell won’t be using that name if I can help it) and that’s about it. The thing that this story does well it show the horror of the culling and the human wreckage it leaves behind. The conceit that all this dystopian decent took place is a little under a decade is sadly becoming the most realistic element of this story, when it was once the least.

Colouring is not something I always notice, but the strong yellows, oranges and reds of the characters contrast well against the more subdued greens and browns of the environments and is a far cry from the colouring of only a few years earlier. Overall it’s a fun and exciting comic that moves the story along and proves why this was the flagship title.

Verdict: Art 5 out of 5 – I enjoyed the expressive and cartoony pencils of Joe Madueira was doing at this time, he was less interested in realistic anatomy as he was in page layout and overall feel. In recent years he has been known more for video game work and that matches very well what we have on the page here. We get fast-paced action and some awesome character design, I mean isn;t this the best that Sunfire has ever looked? It was by far the best art of this era of X-Men.

Writing: 3 out of 5 – Very little writing of this era is going to get more than a 3, the dialogue is often stilted and unnatural and Scott Lobdell (again going with problematic) did lean into the melodrama off and on, but the moments between Sabretooth and Blink were genuinely touching and the twist with WildChild was a lot of fun.

Overall: 8 out of 10 – This is a good part of this event I enjoyed, it was consistently fun and still for the most part stands up pretty well.

Next Time: You thought the Clone Saga was convoluted before now?

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