Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

287 – Welcome to the Age of Apocalypse

Art by David Wynne. Wanna buy the original? Drop him a line!

In which we enter the Age of Apocalypse!


  • One way to solve a problem
  • The story so far
  • Earth-295
  • X-Men: Alpha
  • Age of Apocalypse Collector’s Preview
  • What makes Age of Apocalypse a surprisingly good jumping-on point to the X-Men
  • The story so far
  • AoA vs. the Clone Saga
  • An Age of Apocalypse that might have been
  • AoA vs. Earth Askani
  • The X-Men of Earth-295
  • Fashion motifs
  • A dubious hairstyle
  • Facial tattoos
  • Wild Child
  • Blink (but a different Blink)
  • Morph
  • Character designs as storytelling
  • Baby Charles
  • Magic of magnetism
  • Dark Beast
  • The Prelates Summers
  • The Horsemen of Earth-295
  • The Bobby Newport of the Age of Apocalypse
  • Heaven
  • The Human Council
  • What’s coming
  • Characters we’d like to retroactively import to AoA
  • Tabletop X-Men

NEXT EPISODE: Previously on Earth-295…

Special thanks to Logan Bonner for the X-Men roleplaying assist!

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  1. To: Pat Dooley

    I’ve always been a big fan of playing the X-Men and Marvel Stuff using Marvel Super Heroes rpg from TSR. You can find most of the material here: http://classicmarvelforever.com/cms/. Ben Riely posted supplements on an old-chool Angelfire website that translated characters from the Age of Apocalypse (it is kind of buggy, because it is an Angelfire website, but right click and open in new tab should get you passed all the weird popups).

    There is also a nice D20 Conversion of MSH here: http://classicmarvelforever.com/cms/d20-conversion.html

    And another one here with an explanation as to how the conversion works: http://classicmarvelforever.com/phorum/read.php?3,65820

    So that can at least help you convert some of the AoA characters into your D&D-style campaign, if you wish to do that. Also, there’s Sentinels of Echo City, that basically takes Marvel Super Heroes and recreates it with old school D&D: (https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/150863/Sentinels-of-Echo-City?src=also_purchased) and Mutants and Marvels 2.0 that does the same thing but with D20 (https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/132623/Mutants–Marvels-20?src=also_purchased).

    Hope this is helpful to you (and anyone else who wants to adapt specific AoA into their games.

    1. There’s a retro-clone RPG of TSR Marvel Super Heroes as well, called Faserip, which I belive provides some useful tweaks to the original rules while still being compatible.

      In particular, the original resolution table for the TSR game was color coded in a way that is unfriendly to the colorblind.

    2. The TSR Classic Marvel RPG also has a really great character generation system that can be 100% random if you want. Not great for making fleshed out, thought out characters but great for comedy one shots.

      In my old RPG group we use have a saying. “The hardest part about making a Marvel character was naming them”

      That being said. For modern RPGs I’d go Mutants and Masterminds. It really is the only game to come out of the D20 era that actually took the core 3rd edition D&D rules and made it its own functional thing.

        1. One thing that amuses me about the classic TSR Marvel game is just how vague the language surrounding its retroclone FASERIP has to be. “FASERIP is a clone of, umm, a classic ‘80s roleplaying game.”

          Me, I play Champions, because I don’t hold with superhero games where you can make a character in under a week.

  2. So, this issue was also my first exposure to the X-men comics as well, though under different circumstances. At my Middle School’s Outdoor School (basically Summer Camp), one of my camp mates brought the first trade of Age of Apocalypse, with this issue and (for lack of a better term) Apocalypse’s Burn Book.

    I knew about the X-Men from the cartoon on TV, so this completely threw me for a loop, and also firmly cemented Apocalypse’s menace for me.

    Also, from the semi-anime inspired art, I now really wish that there had been a bit in the Marvel Mangaverse project that was a Fist of the North Star homage (or just an homage to Tesuo Hara and Buronson’s work in that universe) in the form of Age of Apocalypse Iron Fist.

  3. What issues will be reviewed in the next episode? I would like to read ahead. I sold off my X-Men collection years ago, but kept my AoA issues because I loved them so much.

  4. Awesome, I’m excited you’re starting this era and I’m hyped for the next episode!

    They’re not world-breaking or anything, but I was always surprised that Fabian Cortez and Shinobi Shaw didn’t show up in AoA, being that they were 90s characters. I mean, Exodus got to be one of the X-Men! I think Fabian Cortez would just be being his usual awful self, probably even MORE awful because this is a world that facilitates that, whereas I think Shinobi would show up as a victim in the breeding pens (turns out it is NOT about sex) and maybe get a story where he escapes them and goes on the run. Not a hero, but not a bad guy.

    And maybe Haven, instead of being an Adversary-posessed bad guy, could be a human who has formed a literal “haven” for mutant and human refugees fleeing America! Maybe she works with Destiny in the Savage Land. I would like that.

  5. Sorry, Jay, but I still want Rogue’s AoA haircut, I’m just too chicken to try it and to lazy to maintain something that gravity defying. Her reverse mullet with huge contrasting bangs sure wasn’t like the basic bob anyone I knew had.

    Also, I’d been associating AoA Nanny with Orphanmaker all these years. Her being an analog of the time Magneto turned all the X-Men into babies is a much more responsible parenting decision.

    1. I had vague memories of Rogue’s hair being compared to a manga character’s from some old issue of Wizard, and I managed to find it!!!

      “In fact, Madueira says he copied the hairstyle [Masamune] Shirow drew for Ghost [in the Shell]’s Major Kusanagi by giving it to Rogue during last year’s “Age of Apocalypse” storline.”


  6. Wild Child does have regeneration powers just like Sabretooth and Wolverine. Dramatic brain injuries are probably not a problem.

    Great episode though.

  7. Scattered thoughts:-

    -I’m always on the lookout for when ‘90s X-books have some connection to the actual 1990s, and this is a very ‘90s, well, apocalypse.

    As a dystopia in an X-book, it’s obviously always going to be in dialogue with Days of Future Past. (The parallel deployment of Magneto as a heroic figure in both is significant.) In contrast to DOFP, AoA is making an effort to evoke something contemporary, ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, especially in its opening pages, with their focus on the combination of genocide with displacement on populations.

    It’s not clear to me yet what, if anything, AoA has to say about that, but one immediate thing that strikes me is that AoA may be less complacent about the reader’s moral superiority than DOFP. DOFP was very much about putting the reader in the place of the oppressed, who were oppressed by actual robots with whom it would be rather hard to identify. This has an intimate connection with Reagan-era idealizations of the US.

    This is why I think the most interesting move in AoA so far is making Scott, Alex, and Hank guilty of horrific acts. Unfortunately, I think our hosts are right that it’s muddled, especially in its handling of Scott: the story does not seem to want to confront the reader with what Scott has done, and the only thing that I’d add is that Alex’s role should also implicate him in his own crimes. Instead, both are played off against Hank, who is reduced to a straightforward monster (a cheap trick to make Scott seem OK in comparison); and Scott is in turn played off against Alex.

    But insofar as there’s a hint of a story here that does not let the reader off the hook as easily as DOFP does, I think it possibly has a connection to one particular aspect of discourse surrounding the former Yugoslavia in the ‘90s, which was the unsettling horror of that sort of thing “happening again in Europe.”

    There were racist and Western-centric aspects to that reaction, obviously. (Contrast how Rwanda was covered.) And AoA does reinscribe that – the only two parts of the world that we hear anything about are North America and Europe.

    – Our hosts commented on the way the switch from Cruz to Epting produces some very mismatched Apocalypses. One thing that adds to this is that Cruz’s big splash page introducing the big A makes him look very goofy indeed. I found it absolutely hilarious how mismatched the captions were to Cruz’s depiction: He has a voice that the thunder would envy… …and a presence that would snape the gods to attention… had they the courage to approach him. He is APOCALYPSE, ruler of America… …and soon.. the world.” The art’s just not selling that, Mr. Waid.

    (Although, that’s how you reference an ‘80s classic from the “Comics can be for grown-ups!” era. You do something *different* with it that makes a point = Apocalypse has replaced Captain America as the defining figure of the former US. Take note, everyone who repeats that bloody line from Watchmen.)

    – Also, I’m not entirely sure that the digital revolution in coloring was well-timed for this, at least in combination with the cartooniness of Cruz’s opening pages. This can be one happy-looking grim genocidal reality. Although sometime this works, as in the way that the horrific anonymous coloring of the masses of dead humans in shades of brown that contrast with the brightly-colored principal characters like Magneto.

    -One thing that I did not like is something that, admittedly, I hate about this era in general. One thing that’s always interesting about these sorts of alternate versions of characters is that they reveal what’s supposed to be “essential” about the character, because that’s what they choose to riff on.

    And it was terribly predictable that, yes, Rogue has been reduced entirely to her romantic relationships, and that what makes an alternate Rogue alternate is “She’s with Magneto and not Gambit!” But what’s clearer than before is that her relationship with Mystique is now considered surplus to requirements and is not something worth riffing on. Mystique now goes in the “Nightcrawler” box, not the “Rogue” box.

    -As someone with an affection for glam rock, I object very strongly to our hosts so persistently associating it with this dark alternate reality.

      1. I don’t know that myself (I’ve skimmed AoA once before, but it was a while back, and I wasn’t paying close attention).

        But I don’t think it’s all that relevant to my point, because that’s the writers’ choice: it’s a matter of what aspects of the main version of Rogue they think it’s worthwhile to use to inform this alternate version of Rogue .

        One could in fact riff on the Rogue-Mystique relationship in this alternate version and still have it be absent. Something very like that is being done with Scott and Charles Xavier – a point is made of the fact that, in the absence of Charles, he has Sinister as his quasi-dad.

      2. She did–the flashback issue has her dropping Rogue off with the X-Men, because she’s not able to help her deal with the powers she absorbed from Polaris, and IIRC Mystique has a line about “I raised you better than that”. But after that, I don’t remember them interacting at all, which is a shame. (And I don’t remember any interaction between Rogue and Nightcrawler, either–were they raised as siblings in this universe? Who knows!)

  8. My favorite episode yet. You bring so much joy into the world. I love that you’re treating the next, how many, episodes as if we’ve entered into a whole new world-order (of AoA). Can I assume this will lead into episode 300? So excited.

  9. YES! The Age of Apocalypse is here!

    When I was 16 I worked in the zoo because I was living in the economic AoA and needed to help my family. The month I had some extra money I went to the store and bought Alpha, chronicles 1 and the fist three issues of astonishing, gen and X-man (because curiosity) (not the bi, the boring one). I readed all those issues two times in one night.

    I have to wait six or seven months to be able to buy the rest and some more AoA stuff

    All those memories (and some others adult themed memories about teenage stuff) came back to me when I re read all AoA again in preparation for this episode


    And now, because I know NOBODY asked, here is my reading order for AoA. The big difference with all the others reading orders is that this is the one I needed when I was 16 and poor. You have the core of the story and it will leave lots of space for surprises if you want to read the rest o if you only listen to Jay and Miles because reading is so 2019

    X-Men Alpha
    Generation Next 1
    Astonishing X-Men 1
    Gambit and the X-Ternals 1
    X-Man 1
    Weapon X 2
    Astonishing X-Men 2 and 3(*)
    Factor-X 3
    Amazing X-Men 3
    X-Men Chronicles 1 and Tales of the AoA: Sinister Bloodlines (**)
    Astonishing X-Men 4 (*)
    Generation Next 2, 3 and 4 (***)
    Gambit and the X-Ternals 4
    Amazing X-Men 4
    X-Men Omega

    (*) Optional. But here is where you find the breakout characters of AoA (Blink, Morph and Sabretooth) and some good moments with Magneto and Bishop
    (**) Optional. Those two are the best flashbacks issues. Also, its a nice troll move to yourself to read this after Amazing X-Men 3
    (***) Optional, but this is the best of all the AoA miniseries. If you only want to read one mini, this is the one you should read

  10. So entire time I’m listening to the episode I have “This is the dawning of the Age of Apocalypse” (set to the tune of Age of Aquarius by 5th Dimension) stuck in my head…just the chorus, may try to figure out lyrics for the rest of the song as we progress.

  11. I’v been listening to the podcast from it’s early days for how much time now? 4 years? Give or take. And I’v been looking towards you talking about the breakthrough of my favorite character for the whole time being.
    I was very patient.
    Totally paid off. 🙂

    (And there’s still so much more good stuff to come in this crossover!)

    1. Two of us! Two of us!

      I’m curious if you have a justification or reason why she’s your favorite though. Sure, I like her personality, her powers, but deep down I know it’s because tiny me just thought she looked the coolest. Ever.

      1. I think that loving character because she’s just the coolest is no short of a justification.
        She’s a badass teleporting pink skinned elf lady that throws her teleportation javelins like a weapon.
        I mean, come on!

        If you can’t love a character because of that then what’s the point of having a character that shoot red force beams out of his eyes as the main lead and calling him Cyclops?

      2. I think that loving character because she’s just the coolest is no short of a justification.

        She’s a badass teleporting pink skinned elf lady that throws her teleportation javelins like a weapon.
        I mean, come on!

        If you can’t love a character because of that then what’s the point of having a character that shoot red force beams out of his eyes as the main lead and calling him Cyclops?

  12. !!!A!!O!!A!!!
    Love the new podcast image.
    Not gonna start with x-men chronicles 1, or even least mention it..? That’s such a great ish.
    SABERTOOTH AND WILD CHILD: Whaaaaaat? “Sabertooth knocks out(?!) wild child whenever he is not needed”. I read AOA 3 times, I never once gleamed that from the pages. He doesn’t knock him out. It doesn’t ever show him knockin him out, does it?
    LOL: “Abyss doing a skateboard trick.” “Holocaust is APocs crap kid.” LOL
    U guys didn’t seem too enthused about Abyss 🙁 …I always thought he was so badass and weird & different. Cool to have a character that deviates from the norm of the human form factor. That’s so rare.
    Great ep / thank yous (for it) :D!

  13. AOA is what got me into reading comics. Read it for the 3rd time :P. It’s my all-time fav event. It’s not all gold, there is some rough 1990ish type stuff to trudge through, but all-in-all it still holds up. I never noticed b4, but it really stuck out to me how much of an Escape From New York [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escape_from_New_York] visual vibe it has. Cyclops’ appearance is similar to Snake Plissken’s [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_Plissken].
    Anytime they’ve tried to do some new AOA stuff it always sucks. After reading this again, I’d say they should come out with a full prequel to AOA. A series showing the years leading up to the first issue of AOA. Could show how Jean came to be a prisoner in the ‘Pens’, etc.

  14. It’s always struck me as odd that Apocalypse ruled the United States when it was previously suggested he had no desire to rule. I suppose this could be viewed as a a means to an end, but still a little strange.

    Also, I remember when they made the announcement for AoA there was a flyer for the announced titles. If I’m remembering right, there was Mutants: The Astonishing X-Men, Mutants: The Amazing X-Men, Mutants: Generation Next and The New Mutants which would have been released as issues #101-104.

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