The History of the X-Men: Age of Apocalypse | Seminal Moments: Part 3

there was a tradition to have an annual crossover event. AGE OF APOCALYPSE was different
because the concept was so cool that everybody wanted to play. I don’t think I
ever saw an overview. It was– it was that loose. The thing with AGE
OF APOCALYPSE is it’s basically taking the
Maxim of all power corrupts and running with it. But it also at the same time
was really sort of happening, but in this alternate universe. I liked the idea of
our heroes fighting for a very apocalyptic future. You’re trying to save the world,
but the world is all destroyed. So what are you
really fighting for? And what you’re really
fighting for is humanity. JORDAN WHITE: When AGE
OF APOCALYPSE came out, I wasn’t a regular
reader of X-Men. So I heard about it
happening, and I was like, wait, what– what’s happening? Like, they’re getting rid
of all the X-Men books? What do you mean? This was a Marvel
who at that point was a very successful
publishing company. Had a great role in the market,
but was still willing to shake things up creatively, and
to take these kind of risk with what at that point was
our best selling franchise. The audacity of just
stopping the entire line, and not letting you know that
it was ever coming back– we were gobsmacked by this idea. We have a half a dozen
super successful books that are carrying the line. Let’s just cancel
those for four months. They’re going to change
everything across the board. All the books went away, and
replaced with something new. I don’t think it had
ever been done before. People couldn’t believe it. I mean, they had to believe
it, because that was right there in front of them. And they didn’t know if it
was ever going to go back. JEPH LOEB: It meant
anything goes. Anyone could die, anyone
could fall in love. Anyway we wanted
to change it up, everything that you had come to
know and love about the X-Men– out the window. SVEN LARSON: The premise
of the AGE OF APOCALYPSE is it’s a world where
Charles Xavier never existed, or Charles Xavier’s life
was prematurely ended. His son, Legion, ends
up going back in time, accidentally killing him. And as a result, with
no Charles Xavier, there’s nobody to stop
the rise of Apocalypse. Bob Harris was editor in
chief of the X-Men franchise. The initial concept
came from Bob. The man Fabian, and Scott,
and Jeph really took that ball and ran with it. He did just sort of call
out that initial key, come up with the initial story
premise, and then stood back and let his writers
sort of really take it and make something of it. We all had a big X-Men
conference with Jeph Loeb and Scott Lobdell, Bob
Harris, and myself, and a dozen other
people who were working on the X-Men books at the time. JEPH LOEB: What made
that summit so unique was that Scott had
the overall picture. He knew where we needed to end. And he knew each character
had sort of a job. There was this great
sort of jazz improvisation. You were making it up as you
went along, and riffing– riffing on everybody
else’s riffs. It was really good,
because it gave a lot of top creative
people at that time, free rein to just run
with their imaginations. Everybody was kind of flying
by the seat of the pants and making things up as they go. Sometimes, that’s a
great way to creatively come up with new ideas. SVEN LARSON: For a
lot of the artists, it was very
liberating to say, you don’t have to go
with the same visual that the character’s
had for 30 years. Do something fresh on it,
whether that’s reflecting the fashion of the
time or just, you always thought this character
would look better this way. And that energy is something
else that shows up on the page and helps make the story
about much more exciting. JEPH LOEB: This is really
where Joe Madureira like just exploded. Chris Bachalo, what
the Kuberts were doing. Being able to see characters
that were new, and broke out, and you know, like Blink
came from no place. And Morph. The idea that Sabretooth
was a good guy. And Wild Child
was like, his dog. I think it was a
little bit of borrowing of the “Mad Max” paradigm
of this is a darker world. It is a less polished world, so
let’s reflect that in the way the costumes look, and
the way the characters carry themselves, and
the sort of scruffiness of London’s costumes. Taking someone like
Scott, to start at a place where he was the leader of
the worst group of Mutants that we’d ever seen, and that
he was literally a cyclops. I don’t know that we
actually ever said it– that the reason why he lost
that eye was because Wolverine had cut it out. And that was also how
Wolverine lost his hand. I remember having lots of
conversations about never saying that’s what happened,
and that you’ve just had to put that together on your own. The design of AGE OF
APOCALYPSE Wolverine– I could tell you exactly
like it happened yesterday. I got a call from Bob
Harris, and he says, I’m going into a
meeting in 20 minutes. Can you fax me a quick
sketch of Wolverine? I need it for a meeting,
we’ve got to pitch this, that, or the other thing. I did the worst
drawing of Wolverine. And then at the
last minute, I said, I’m just going to
cut his arm off and put like a stump with a
metal thing on the end of it. Sent it in. And for some reason,
they loved it. That was my big
contribution to the AGE OF APOCALYPSE storyline. I would send stuff to Adam,
and it was like he was reading my mind or something, you know? It always looked much
like how I pictured it. It was always a joy
to get the pages. There was always this sort
of enthusiasm in the office. Everybody would come
from other offices, or you’d go to
somebody else’s office. Hey, look, these pages came in. It was like, holy smoke. That’s a lot of fun to see it
all clicked together like that. For a lot of people, their
first exposure to the event was going into the comic shop that
week to pick up their latest issue of X-Men, and
finding that it was something completely different. That was part of what made
this such an impactful event. We had people who
were like, don’t go back to the old continuity. Boy, I remember
the hue and cry There were fans who loved it. But there were fans who
were just out for blood because we’d taken away their
precious Kitty and Colossus. People were scared by it,
but then they read the comics, and they went, this is great. This is a new version of
all the characters I love. And everything is weird. Why is it weird? The AGE OF APOCALYPSE
while it’s not Xavier’s dream of humans and mutants
living together, coexisting peacefully,
it is Magneto’s dream. It’s a lot of mutants’ dream. It’s like, us on top,
the humans on the bottom. And it’s one of those careful
what you wish for things. The entire world are
against these people because they’re different. That’s so relatable
to almost everybody. It’s that wideness
of the spectrum, that wonderful
universal relatability that makes it work. Because it’s all stuff that
we see firsthand in our lives. The X-Men at its
core is always pushing back on the fear of the other. Mutants and humans
coexisting in peace might as just well be different
races, different religions, different sexual
orientations living in peace. Those people are ultimately what
makes society the strongest, and ultimately, what’s going
to be the salvation of society. It’s always been the
heart of the franchise, and the characters in
the AGE OF APOCALYPSE who still carry
on that dream are the ones that we identify with. When you have a lot
of complex characters in a complex universe, you
have to let them evolve. Because if they’re not
evolving, they’re dead. SVEN LARSON: Nobody is
cheering for Apocalypse to win. You’re cheering for Magneto,
you’re cheering for Rogue. You’re cheering for the people
who are trying to overthrow an unjust regime and
trying to end prejudice, and end hate, and have
tolerance, and love, and acceptance be the
things that sort of triumph in the world.

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