Age of Apocalypse

Age of Apocalypse

Infobox comics story arc

caption=Cover to "X-Men Alpha". Art by Joe Madureira.
publisher = Marvel Comics
date = 1995-1996
titles= "Age of Apocalypse: The Chosen"
"Amazing X-Men" #1-4
"Astonishing X-Men" #1-4
"Factor X" #1-4
"Gambit & the X-Ternals" #1-4
"Generation Next" #1-4
"Weapon X" #1-4
"X-Calibre" #1-4
"X-Man" #1-4
"X-Men Alpha"
"X-Men Omega"
"X-Men Chronicles" #1-2
"X-Universe" #1-2
main_char_team = Alternate universe X-Men and associates
writers = Rolf Kauka
Scott Lobdell
Mark Waid
Fabian Nicieza
John Francis Moore
Larry Hama
Warren Ellis
Jeph Loeb
Howard Mackie
Terry Kavanagh
pencillers = Roger Cruz
Steve Epting
Joe Madureira
Andy Kubert
Tony Daniel
Salvador Larroca
Chris Bachalo
Adam Kubert
Ken Lashley
Steve Skroce
Terry Dodson
Ian Churchill
Carlos Pacheco
Joe Bennett
(plus assorted artists who did pin-ups)
The "Age of Apocalypse" is a popular X-Men story arc. Although occurring in the alternate universe of Earth-295, it has often had ramifications in the universe of Earth-616, the universe most commonly used in Marvel Comics.


Legion (David Haller), an Omega Level psionic mutant on Earth and son of Professor Charles Xavier and Israeli diplomat Gabrielle Haller, travels back in time with the intention of killing Magneto, Xavier's former best friend and current archnemesis, to improve conditions. When David is on the verge of ending Magneto's life, Xavier places himself between the two, and Legion inadvertently kills Xavier instead. Due to a "Grandfather paradox", Legion then ceases to exist as Xavier now died before Legion was even fathered (NOTE: Technically this is not a true Grandfather Paradox as the nature of the paradox stipulates that if Legion kills his grandfather Xavior and ceases to exist, then his non-existence would mean he could not come back to kill his grandfather and thus the paradox).

Because of Xavier's sacrifice, Magneto comes to believe in his late friend's dream of peaceful coexistence between humans and mutants. Apocalypse, an immortal mutant who has been alive for centuries, was monitoring the fight. In this reality, he chooses this moment as the perfect time to begin his "survival of the fittest" genetic war, which doesn't happen in the regular Marvel Universe until ten years later.

In this timeline, Magneto assembles the X-Men before Apocalypse establishes himself as a major power. Apocalypse comes to rule all of North America (the Statue of Liberty is replaced by a gigantic statue of his visage), and initiates a worldwide genocidal campaign of "cullings" in which millions of humans die. The few that survive live in parts of Europe and Africa which were not devastated by nuclear weapons. Fleets of Sentinels are their only defense.

Meanwhile, the disturbance of the timeline leads to a crystallization wave of the M'Kraan Crystal that is heading toward Earth.

Magneto, as leader of the X-Men, leads a resistance movement against Apocalypse's forces. Early in the timeline, his daughter the Scarlet Witch is killed by one of Apocalypse's henchmen, Nemesis (later Holocaust). Later, Weapon X (Wolverine) and Jean Grey leave the X-Men to follow their own separate path. The true beginning of the Age of Apocalypse, however, is in the comic book "X-Men Alpha".

X-Men: Alpha

The comic begins with a hooded figure climbing over piles of corpses. He encounters a fleeing human, who begs him to protect her from the Infinite soldiers who are chasing her. They are soon discovered by the Infinites, led by the Prelate Unus, who attempts to kill the hooded man with a force field attack. The hooded man absorbs the attack however, and Unus realizes he is a mutant. Unus and his Infinites are about to kill the man and the girl when Magneto and his X-Men arrive. The Infinites are quickly defeated, and Iceman kills Unus by freezing him and then shattering him. The hooded man reveals himself to be Bishop, and as soon as he sees Magneto he attempts to kill him, calling him a murderer and blaming him for all the destruction Apocalypse has caused. The X-Men feel Bishop is crazy, but Magneto seems to know exactly what Bishop is talking about.

The scene then switches to Heaven, a Nightclub run by Angel and his two assistants, Scarlett and Karma. Gambit appears in the club asking Angel where he can find Magneto. Angel reluctantly tells him, fearing spies from Apocalypse in his club. Sure enough, Sebastian Shaw sees and overhears the conversation, and immediately informs Apocalypse, who has Karma captured, interrogated, and eventually killed.

"X-Men: Alpha" also features the appearance of the Elite Mutant Force. Sinister, the "father" of the EMF's leader Cyclops, informs him that he must go away, and Apocalypse soon realizes that Sinister has betrayed him and intends to pursue his own plans. Magneto and the X-Men attempt to decide what to make of Bishop's story, and the comic ends with the appearance of the M'Kraan Crystal heading for Earth.

The Age of Apocalypse then splits into several comic books, each one describing the different quests that the separate groups of Magneto's fighters undertake to defeat Apocalypse and his followers. Following these events, the various stories come together in "X-Men: Omega", which details the final end of the Age of Apocalypse.


X-Calibre is a team centralized on Nightcrawler, who is sent by Magneto to locate Destiny, a mutant capable of seeing into the future. Magneto intends to use her to verify Bishop's story. Nightcrawler must travel to Avalon, a secret refuge where mutants and humans live together in peace. Along his journey, he encounters John Proudstar, the pirate Callisto, and his mother Mystique. The chief antagonists for Nightcrawler's journey consist of the Pale Riders, a trio of Apocalypse's servants. One of them, Moonstar, is killed by the Riders' leader Damask, and the third member, Dead Man Wade, is killed by Nightcrawler in Avalon. The Shadow King is the final antagonist Nightcrawler and his allies must overcome. Nightcrawler's team consists of Mystique, Switchback, and Damask, who joins him after realizing the beauty Avalon has to offer. The "X-Calibre" book gets its name from an in-joke between Nightcrawler and his mother, Mystique, because of the calibre of bullets she uses, simply stamped with an 'X'.

Gambit and the X-Ternals

Gambit's X-Ternals consist of Sunspot, Jubilee, Strong Guy, and Lila Cheney. They are sent deep into space through Lila's teleportation in order to retrieve the M'Kraan Crystal, essential to the verification of Bishop's alternate reality. During their entire journey, the X-Ternals are pursued by Rictor, a henchman of Apocalypse desperate to earn his master's praise by killing Gambit. The X-Ternals also fight the Imperial Guard of the Shi'ar Empire to retrieve the crystal shard. During their battles, Sunspot is killed by absorbing too much solar energy, causing him to explode. On their return to Earth, Strong Guy betrays the team, not only stealing the M'Kraan Crystal, but also stealing Magneto's son Charles. Gambit chooses to protect Lila, who he loves, rather than retrieving the crystal and the child.

"Generation Next"

"Generation Next" consists of a young group of mutant students trained by Colossus and Shadowcat, husband and wife in the AoA. They consist of Chamber, Husk, Mondo, Vincente, and Skin. They are sent by Magneto into the Seattle Core to rescue Colossus' sister Illyana, who is the last surviving Transdimensional Teleporter. Illyana is a slave of the Sugar Man, one of Apocalypse's prefects and ruler of the Seattle Core. Mondo finds Illyana and secretes her inside of his body, intending to smuggle her out at shift change. When Mondo is found out, the ensuing fight finds the Sugar Man killing Mondo with a blast from his tongue, exposing the rest of Generation Next. Knowing the mission was doomed from the start, Generation Next gives time for Colossus and Shadowcat time to escape with Illyana from the core with the blast doors closing behind them, trapping the rest of the students inside.

Amazing X-Men

The Amazing X-Men consist of Quicksilver (the team's leader), Storm, Dazzler, Banshee, Iceman, and Exodus. The team is sent to Maine by Magneto to aid in the evacuation of humanity to Europe. During this mission, the team fights Apocalypse's Brotherhood of Mutants, as well as Apocalypse's Horseman Abyss, who is defeated (but not killed) by Quicksilver. During their absence from the Xavier Mansion, Magneto and Bishop are attacked by Apocalypse himself, who defeats and captures them both. Quicksilver then sends Iceman to rendezvous with Rogue's team (the Astonishing X-Men), and sends Dazzler and Exodus to find Magneto's son Charles (the two X-Men stumble across Gambit and Lila during their search). Quicksilver, Storm, and Banshee then go to rescue Bishop, who is in the hands of the Madri, Apocalypse's priests. During the fighting, Abyss returns for a rematch, but is defeated and killed by Banshee, who sacrifices his own life to "tear Abyss apart."

Astonishing X-Men

The Astonishing X-Men are led by Rogue (Magneto's wife) and consist of Sabertooth, Blink, Wild Child, Morph, and Sunfire. They are sent by Magneto to stop the cullings, which are being undertaken by Holocaust, one of Apocalypse's horsemen. While helping with the evacuation and protection of humans, Sabretooth asks Blink to teleport him to Holocaust's location, which she reluctantly does. Sabretooth and Holocaust fight a vicious duel, but Sabretooth is defeated and seemingly killed, to Blink's horror; Sabretooth had rescued Blink from Sinister, and she had come to see him as her dearest friend and mentor. The team then fights Holocaust and his Infinites, destroying his factory. Holocaust manages to escape however, and the team returns to Xavier's mansion, where Rogue learns that both her son and her husband have been captured. Sabretooth is revealed by Iceman to have survived the battle, to Blink's delight.

Weapon X

Weapon X (AoA's Wolverine) and his lover Jean Grey are depicted in this magazine carrying out missions for the Human High Council. Jean and Weapon X drift apart however, as the Human High Council intends to launch a nuclear strike on the U.S.A., and Jean is appalled by the loss of life it would cause. After Weapon X concludes a battle with Donald Pierce (an altered human cyborg who will return two more times in the series to confront Weapon X), Jean leaves to help evacuate the U.S.A., and bids a tearful farewell to her love. Weapon X is then sent to recruit Gateway, whose teleportation ability is necessary to bring the fleet to America. As the fleet leaves, Weapon X decides to join them, if only to find Jean somewhere in America before the bombs are dropped.

Factor X

Factor X consists of the Elite Mutant Force, who serve Apocalypse. They are split into four sibling pairs: Cyclops and Havok (Scott and Alex Summers), Cannonball and Amazon, The Bedlam Brothers, and Aurora and Northstar (The Beaubiers). The EMF is tasked with maintaining control of Apocalypse's breeding pens, where people are imprisoned, and tortured and experimented on by the Beast, also a member of the EMF. Havok is emphasized as an antagonistic character who is jealous of his brother's leading the team. It is later Havok who discovers that Cyclops is in fact a traitor, who has been helping people escape the pens, and in one such escape attempt, both Aurora and Northstar are seriously injured and hospitalized. Havok then exposes Cyclops as a traitor and attempts to kill him, but Cyclops escapes with the aid of Jean Grey, who has arrived to evacuate as many people as she can before the Human High Council's Nuclear Strike. The Bedlam Brothers also choose to side with Cyclops, and they successfully defeat both Amazon and Cannonball. Cyclops and Jean also defeat Havok, but do not kill him. As Jean and Cyclops lead the prisoners they have freed out of the Pens, Havok is revealed to have survived, still determined to kill his brother.


The protagonist of "X-Man" is Nate Grey, a mutant born of Cyclops' and Jean Grey's DNA, and the most powerful telekenetic in the world. He lives under the guidance of his father figure Forge, who leads a group of outcasts consisting of Mastermind, Toad, Brute, and Sauron, who attack trains and factories of Apocalypse while masquerading as a theatre troupe. During their missions, they rescue Sonique from imprisonment, who joins the team as Nate's lover, and they also encounter a mysterious figure known as Essex, who encourages Nate to untap his full potential against Forge's advice. Brute realizes later that Essex is not what he seems, but is killed by him before he can warn the others. The troupe is attacked by Domino and her allies Caliban and Grizzly, who have been sent by Apocalypse to either recruit Nate or destroy him. During the battle, Toad and Mastermind are both killed, but Domino and her teammates also die. Forge realizes Essex is a traitor, and like Brute, is attacked by him. He dies in Nate's arms. Essex reveals himself to be Sinister, another of Apocalypse's horseman who in fact created Nate in his lab. Nate defeats Sinister, and decides to leave Sauron and Sonique while he goes to confront Apocalypse personally and avenge Forge's death.


The "X-Universe" magazine differs from the others. Instead of being four issues in length, it is only two issues in length, and rather than dealing with mutants, it deals with humans. The story concerns humanity's fight for survival against Mikhail Rasputin, the fourth Horseman of Apocalypse, who has hypnotized the masses of humanity through a mutant named Empath, who is catatonic and used as a weapon. Mikhail is also served by Matthew Murdock, a blind human who takes care of Empath and keeps him alive. A group of humans, Tony Stark, Gwen Stacy, Don Blake, Susan Storm, Ben Grimm, and Victor von Doom, attempt to stop Mikhail by willingly going aboard his ship where they are taken prisoner, only to be reawakened through a ruse undertaken by Stark. They then steal the weapons on board the ship and destroy Mikhail's tower which blocks the evacuation of the human survivors. During these events, a monster battles against the humans resembling the Earth-616 Hulk. Once returned to Bruce Banner, however, the Hulk aids the humans. Don Blake kills Mikhail, but he dies in the process. Doom rescues the surviving Human High Councilors, and the magazine ends with the humans successfully evacuating and abandoning the planet to its fate.

X-Men: Omega

The final episode of the Age of Apocalypse begins with Magneto, now in Apocalypse's custody, battling with the High Lord. The X-Men, consisting of Rogue, Quicksilver, Blink, Sabretooth, Nightcrawler, Wild Child, Colossus, Shadowcat, Gambit, Jubilee, and Iceman, along with Destiny and Illyana, invade Apocalypse's stronghold using Blink's teleportation. Soon after their arrival they capture the Beast. Meanwhile, the Angel, no longer trusted by Apocalypse, decides to finally choose a side, and after fighting off the Infinites, flies himself into Apocalypse's force field generator, destroying it, but also killing himself in the process. His sacrifice however, allows Nate Grey to enter Apocalypse's Citadel. The Human High Council's Nuclear Attack wipes out half of Apocalypse's western kingdom. Apocalypse decides to kill Magneto immediately, but Nate arrives, and along with Magneto, prepares to battle Apocalypse and Holocaust.

Magneto is freed during the X-Men's attack, and orders Destiny to enter the M'Kraan Crystal with Illyana in order to send Bishop to the past, where he will save Charles Xavier and thus prevent the Age of Apocalypse from ever occurring. Colossus is furious with this decision, as he fears losing Illyana again, but she wants to do as Magneto wishes. Destiny, Illyana, and Bishop carry out their plan, while Magneto resumes his fight with Apocalypse as Nate battles Holocaust.

The X-Men continue their battle against Apocalypse's minions, and when Beast tries to escape through a teleporter, Quicksilver rearranges the coordinates with his super speed, sending Beast to an unknown location.

Meanwhile, Logan (Weapon X) enters the battlefield looking for Jean, who is alongside Cyclops leading the prisoners of the breeding pens to safety. Jean uses her telekinetic powers to keep the Human High Council's bombs from dropping, but Havok arrives and kills Jean Grey before Logan, arriving via parachute, kills Havok, seemingly right after Havok has murdered his brother, Cyclops. However, in an AoA one-shot in 2005, a video screen in Magneto's office months after the events of "X-Men: Omega" shows the status of ten seemingly random mutants. While Jean Grey and Havok are listed as dead, Scott is listed as incarcerated. The reason for this was an editorial error in "X-Men: Omega", as Scott was supposed to have been killed by Alex. As Jean dies in Logan's arms, he sadly realizes that Jean Grey "is no Phoenix."

Illyana and Destiny successfully send Bishop to the past where he kills Legion. Colossus, insane and fearing for Illyana again, rushes to reach her, destroying everything in his path, including Iceman. Shadowcat attempts to restrain him by appearing in his path, trusting that his love for her will prevent him from killing her. Gambit warns her to move, but he is too late; Colossus crushes her and Gambit kills him from behind. Colossus dies just as Illyana returns to him to tell her brother that she succeeded.

Magneto begins to win the fight against Apocalypse, when Strong Guy appears clutching his son. Luckily, Rogue arrives, kills Strong Guy by absorbing his kinetic energy, and once again Magneto resumes his attack. Nate and Holocaust continue their fight, and Nate stabs him with a shard of the M'Kraan Crystal. Magneto kills Apocalypse by magnetically ripping him in half.

The comic ends with Magneto standing over the ruins of the citadel, watching as the world around them ends. Bishop has succeeded in his mission, and Magneto realizes that he and all around him will soon be no more than memories. He stands with Rogue and his son as the universe is destroyed, thanking Charles Xavier for being in his life.

Characters and affiliations

Mutant heroes


Timeline escapees

After the Age of Apocalypse story arc, Bishop travels back in time to prevent the timeline from ever occurring. This occurs simultaneously with a nuclear exchange between the Human High Council and Apocalypse.

Some characters escape the Age of Apocalypse into the Earth-616 continuity. These include Beast, Nate Grey (the AOA version of Cable), Holocaust (one of Apocalypse's horsemen), and Sugar Man. Nate Grey allies himself with the X-Men a few times, but later "dies" by disseminating into every life form on the Earth. Holocaust remains at large in the main Marvel Universe until he joins the Exiles and is killed by another universe's evil version of Hyperion (in "Exiles" #62).

Beast and Sugar Man are sent 20 years into Earth-616's past. This allows for major retconning that explains that the Age of Apocalypse's Beast (now known as Dark Beast) has a hand in the creation of the Morlocks. It also explains why Mister Sinister initiated the "Mutant Massacre": he recognized his stolen handiwork, and ordered it exterminated, as a debasement of his art or as a potential rival to it. Furthermore, Sugar Man gave genetic technology secrets to the Genegineer of Genosha, allowing this small nation to become powerful by enslaving mutants.

Blink escapes into the multiverse itself: she joins and leads the reality-hopping team of heroes known as the Exiles. Her counterpart on Earth-616 has been dead since the "Phalanx Covenant" story arc.

Sabretooth also survives along the same means as Blink. He joins a team of reality-hopping super beings known as Weapon X. During one mission, he opts to stay behind on a world to raise David Richards. Eventually, he is brought back into action and joins the Exiles.

In "Excalibur" (vol. 3) #10, another survivor was revealed as Rastus, one of many wardens of Apocalypse. He joined forces with the Sugar Man and killed some Magistrates on Genosha. How he managed to make his way over from the AoA to Earth-616 has yet to be explained and presumably will never be as Rastus was apparently killed by 616 Callisto.

Recently, it was revealed that Wild Child had also escaped this timeline; he was found and claimed by a time-traveler Quentin Quire. He then moved to the latter's reality to replace its deceased Wild Child, who was not supposed to have died.

Ten-year anniversary

In 2005, Marvel published an "Age of Apocalypse" one-shot and miniseries to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the popular event.

The one-shot features stories set before the events depicted in the original "Age of Apocalypse" event, similar in focus to the "Chronicles of the Age of Apocalypse" issues: the one-shot contains the story of how Colossus and Shadowcat left the X-Men to train Generation Next, how Sabretooth met Wild Child, the first appearance of the Silver Samurai, and how the world survived the Human High Council's nuclear attack.

In the miniseries, which takes place after the nuclear attack in "X-Men: Omega", we are introduced to several characters who weren't in the original storyline. Long time characters Cloak, Dagger, Psylocke, and the Morlocks (including Feral, Leech, Marrow, Skids, and Thornn), who where survivors of Mister Sinister's experiments, are introduced. Newer characters Beak, Icarus, and X-23 are seen along with the concept of Xorn. Jean Grey is also revealed to have saved everyone from the nuclear attack, and is revived from death by Sinister. She is also now displaying Phoenix Force-level powers.

The Exiles, two of which are from the Age of Apocalypse universe, visited the world as well during this time, the survival of which comes as a surprise to Blink and Sabretooth.

"What If?"

There had been various What If? issues revolving around the Age of Apocalypse:

* In "What If?" (vol. 2) #77, Legion manages to kill Magneto just as he escapes from the concentration camp he was being held in. Due to Magneto's death, mutants become accepted by the public and the X-Men are mutant celebrities, although Xavier senses that something is wrong.

* In "What If?" (vol. 2) #81, Tony Stark (a.k.a. Iron Man), head of the human resistance, joins up with Magneto to figure out a way to save Earth from the coming of Galactus. Among Tony’s fellow human freedom fighters are the Hulk, Sue Storm (a.k.a. Invisible Woman), and Gwen Stacy. Galactus ultimately defeats the AoA survivors, but is left mortally wounded.

* In 2006, Marvel published a "What If? Age of Apocalypse" one-shot which reveals what would have happened if both Xavier and Magneto were killed by Legion, leaving no one to form the X-Men. As explained by Uatu the Watcher, the governments of the world respond to the hundreds of deaths caused by Legion's attack by capturing mutants and sending them into concentration camps, causing non-mutant superhumans to flourish. Some mutants, such as Cyclops (who tore out his own eyes to pass as human) flee to the Savage Land. After Apocalypse conquers the world, he gains hundreds of mutant and superhuman followers including the Absorbing Man, Banshee, Cannonball, the Hulk, Holocaust, Juggernaut, Lady Deathstrike, Namor, the Scarlet Witch, Sebastian Shaw, clones of Spider-Man, Storm, and Sunspot. Apocalypse's Horsemen are Hulk, Juggernaut, Namor, and Storm. Apocalypse's followers destroy the mutant sanctuary in the Savage Land and only Sauron and Nate Summers escape. They join the Defenders, a group of heroes consisting of Brother Voodoo (the new Sorcerer Supreme), Captain America (wielding Mjolnir), Captain Britain (who uses Iron Man's armor), Colossus, the Molecule Man, the Thing (who uses a prosthetic arm), and Wolverine (who isn't bonded to any adamantium), who have learned the truth about their reality from the sacrifice of Doctor Strange. They have pledged not to change the past, but to overthrow Apocalypse in the present. As they fight back, Nate puts his own plans in motion to change the past, with tragic consequences. The majority of the Defenders are killed in the struggle against Apocalypse. Nate succeeds in killing Apocalypse with the help of the Molecule Man. Nate then garbs himself in Apocalypse's armor and uses the stolen Eye of Agamotto to open a time portal into the past to stop Legion's actions. Captain America unleashes a bolt from Mjolnir that kills Nate and he and Wolverine walk off. Uatu reveals that by trying to change the past, Nate merely caused events to repeat themselves in yet another reality, as the lightning bolt destroyed Legion, Xavier, Magneto, and hundreds of others. He mentions that this problem is spreading like a cancer across the multiverse, as reality after reality turns into an Age of Apocalypse.

Other Media


* An Age of Apocalypse-like timeline is shown in the episode "One Man's Worth" of "". The death of Xavier at the hands of Fitzroy during his college years cause a destructive Mutant-Human War, with Magneto leading a mutant group against the Avengers.
* In Wolverine and the X-Men animated series, after the X-Men accomplish their mission in the present avoiding a sentinel ruled world, an Age of Apocalypse is shown in the final episode of the first season.

Video games

"" is heavily influenced by the Age of Apocalypse storyline, including several characters and concepts from the storyline.

Trading cards

In the VS System Trading Card Game, a series of exclusive cards were recently released as prizes and participation awards in various tournaments. These cards were themed around the Age of Apocalypse, and notably there are a number of cards in the set that are the first cards in the game with the printed Horsemen of Apocalypse team affiliation. [ [ Upper Deck Entertainment - VS System - Articles ] ]


External links

* [ UncannyXmen.Net's look at the Age of Apocalypse]
* [ Age of Apocalypse summary]
* [ It Only Hurts When I Sing: The Age of Apocalypse Resource Center]

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