Credits: Written by Fabian Nicieza, pencils by Andy Kubert, inks by Matt Ryan and edited by Bob Harras.
Cast: Erik ‘Magneto’ Lensherr, Apocalypse, Telford ‘Vanisher’ Porter, The Madri, Abyss, Shadow King, Nanny, Charles Lensherr, Warren Kenneth ‘Angel’ Worthington III, Ororo ‘Storm’ Monroe, Alison ‘Dazzler’ Blaire, Robert ‘Iceman’ Drake, Paris ‘Exodus’ Bennet, Pietro ‘Quicksilver’ Maximoff of Earth 295 and Bishop from Earth 616.
Plot: Parents of the Atom opens with Magneto standing over the grave of his friend Charles Xavier in the grounds of the Xavier estate in Westchester New York, on the Eastern part of Apocalypse’s America. On the tombstone has the words “Any dreams worth having, is a dream worth fighting for.” Words Magneto promised would be on that stone many years earlier. His reverie is interrupted by Bishop’s arrival. Bishop is concerned that the perimeter has been breached and levels the gun at Magneto to emphasise his point. Magneto. Magneto requests that Bishop fire over his left shoulder, the shot hitting the materialising Telford Porter, the Vanisher. (Lets just take a second to marvel in the on-the-noseness of that name, Tel Porter.) And we’re back. Vanisher is bringing a strike force of Infinites and once done he quickly vanishes. The Infinites don’t fare well against Magneto, but instead of gloating, Magneto readies himself to face Apocalypse.
Bishop tries to stop Apocalypse, who make short work of the time-displaced X-Man, he then turns his attention to Magneto who would rather kill himself along with Apocalypse than risk anyone else, but with only half of the power he once had when last the pair battled, Magneto falls before Apocalypse, who has sent Vanisher after Magneto’s son Charles.
Under the Mansion we find Nanny, the robot charged with protecting Charles, facing Vanisher. Vanisher has cornered Nanny, who has Charles cocooned in her torso. Facing danger to Charles, Nanny then produces several guns from somewhere and is prepared to do anything to protect the child in her care.
Some time passes and the X-Men team led by Quicksilver returns. They find the area a battleground, covered in the debris of Magneto and Apocalypse’s fight. They also see the body of the Vanisher after Quicksilver puts his leader head on and sends Dazzler and Exodus to look for Nanny and Charles. He sends Iceman to get Rogue’s team and asks Storm and Banshee to stay at the Mansion, while he gets some answers.
At the nightclub called Heaven, Warren Worthington III, known as the Angel is worried that both of his most trusted employees have been arrested by Apocalypse’s forces. With the information they hold, it’s looking pretty clear that he’ll be brought in next. Then he is attacked by an enraged Quicksilver, who wants answers and is in no mood to be patient. Angel is feeling cooperative and tells him that he knows thtat Magneto will be in Apocalypse’s citadel and Bishop, integral to Magneto’s plans, is in the hands of the Madri. The Madri are holding Bishop in Quebec. Quicksilver has a choice to make, who is more important to the X-Men’s goals. Magneto or the man Magneto needs to save or change the world.
In Quebec, the Madri use the Shadow King to get into Bishop’s mind. The Shadow King finds memories of another world, free from the boot heel of Apocalypse. Abyss, horseman of Apocalypse and in command of the Madri’s base, recognises the threat that this man poses to the current order.
At the Xavier estate, Quicksilver returns and orders Storm and Banshee to accompany him to Quebec. Storm questions this decision, but Pietro is determined. So leaving Magneto in the clutches of Apocalypse, his half-brother who knows where and he and his team going after a stranger to further his father’s cause for reasons he doesn’t really understand.
Notes: This is very much the ‘other’ X-Men title in the Age of Apocalypse. As a result, I was initially less invested in this comic. Thing is, this is where all the plot is happening. Magneto defeated, Charles missing, Bishop tortured and Quicksilver forced into a difficult choice. That is one 20 page comic. Apocalypse owns his scenes with the X-Men’s leader, all menacing and scenery chewing. When standing against Magneto, that takes some doing. This issue lights the touchpaper that leads to the explosive finale of the Age of Apocaylpse that we know is coming.
This issue also showcases the complete absence of personality suffered by the more well-rounded Quicksilver. He is portrayed as a poundland version of Cyclops with the emotionally repressed decisions, more powerful girlfriend and the absence of anything like a sense of humour. Watching him ditch this for a moment is the only decent bit with him available. But like most issues 3 of 4 it’s a lot of set up for an issue 4 and the second half of this issue is simply that.
As you might be able to tell, can’t really tell if this is a good issue or not.
Writing: 4 out of 5 – It’s paced well and the dialogue is interesting if a little purple at times. The scenery does that teeth-marks in it, but there’s still some dignity to this. Apocalypse bluff-checking Magneto is quite a high point in an issue full of them.
Art: 2 out of 5 – All I am going to say is that this issue did not make me a fan of Andy Kubert or the colourist, who do their best to make each other’s work unappealing. It’s unfair to compare this against its sister title and its which has Joe Madureira led art, but they are both called X-Men and one of them has better art.
Overall: 6 out of 10 – Less than stellar art and a crappy lead character can’t take away from the jam packed story with a break-neck pace and I am still riding the Age of Apocalypse high.
Next Time: 3 Spider-Men, a prison break and a damsel who is less in distress as she is armed.