Age of X-Man: Apocalypse and the X-Tracts #5 // Review
A vision of a perfect world comes crashing apart as a revolutionary is accosted by those he manipulated in a world of godlike superpowers. It’s the final issue of Apocalypse and the X-Tracts. It’s the penultimate issue of the Age of X-Man crossover event. The rather clunky issue written by Tim Seeley is brought to the page dynamically by artist Salva Espin. The collapse of a painstakingly-designed utopia is nothing if not pretty thanks to color by Israel Silva. A final confrontation between a group of heroes and the villain who had taken advantage of them feels awkwardly expository as a rather large crossover event crumbles towards its final issue.
Servants of Apocalypse have come to understand that he’s been using them. Apocalypse himself is confronting the adversary with whom he helped to craft the Age of X-Man. The loss of his son mixes poorly with the confrontation of his former allies, causing him to take a form far more familiar to readers than the peaceful visage he had been wearing since the beginning of the event. A traditional battle between godlike powers ensues, but it might not end quite as expected with everything advancing towards a final conclusion next week.
Seeley is working with really complicated stuff here. A complexity of motives and actions unravels throughout the issue in dialogue-heavy scenes that don’t do a terribly good job of embracing the comic page. Longtime X-Men writer Chris Claremont was excellent with this sort of thing. Claremont’s dialogue felt awkward and stiff, but he knew how to launch characters from moment to moment in a way that played well against the comics panel. Though it comes across rather leaden, the writer isn’t entirely to blame in this one, single issue. In the massive machinery of the Age of X-Man event, Seeley is given far too much to bring across in this issue for it to feel terribly vivid on a narrative level.
On a visual level, Salva Espin carefully balances the page. The drama of the ensemble has a pleasantly exaggerated life. The interpersonal drama might feel over-the-top throughout the issue, but the excessive body language and overly-emotional faces serve to bind the inner dramas to the page quite well. Espin’s art illuminates a sadly dull script. Espin is aided with some beautiful color by Israel Silva. A fair amount of the impact comes in the form of the wispy, colorful radiance of Unveil’s energy emissions that elegantly cascade around the panel.
All things considered, the penultimate issue of the Age of X-Man could have been far worse. Themes of intention and exploitation by well-meaning messiahs might hit the page in awkward angles, but at least they’re being addressed. There’s a lot of exciting potential in the overall premise being explored in the event. It’s too bad that it hasn’t been given very much room to develop. It’s possible that next week’s Age of X-Man: Omega #1 will breathtakingly wrap-up everything seen in this and all of the other series in the event, but given the awkward composition of the story, it seems doubtful.