Since we’re on the cusp another spiritual sequel to AGE OF APOCALYPSE with AGE OF X, I figured it was appropriate to reflect on this mega-crossover that left so lasting an imprint on our favorite mutants’ milieu. As of 2011, Earth-295 (the classification in Marvel’s multiverse) is 16 years old and it’s overlapped so much with Earth-616 (the regular Marvel universe) that it’s easy to lose track of just how many now well-established parts of the X-mythos originated there.
Most obviously, there’s the handful of refugees who fled into the M’Kraan Crystal and wound up in the ol’ 616. Dark Beast and the Sugar Man escaped to the past, where they respectively shaped the fates of the Morlocks and Genosha. The evil Hank McCoy even stole the identity of the good one (the real McCoy, as it were) for a period as a sleeper agent in the X-Men and recently served in Norman Osborn’s Dark X-Men. X-Man and Holocaust continued their feud into the then-present before going off on their own, drastically-different paths. Nate Grey would parlay his outsider status into an Adam Warlock-like role as shaman of the mutant tribe while the sometimes-Nemesis joined the multiverse-hopping Exiles. And, of course, that team’s ranks already included the likes of the AOA Blink, Sabretooth, Morph and Wild Child.
With time, the regular X-Men’s relationships and appearances came to better resemble their dark mirrors'. While hinted at before, Rogue and Magneto’s romantic feelings went full-bore in that world and subsequently resumed in the on-and-off tension they currently have in X-MEN LEGACY. The formerly-deformed mutant Chamber eventually gained a mouth and jaw as the New Warriors’ Decibel to match his babyface AOA counterpart. And the current hot-plate Sunfire and bald-is-beautiful Bishop looks both debuted in this Earth where Xavier never lived to found the X-Men.
Even with all the lasting consequences I've just listed, there are still loose ends from this alternate reality that I’d love to see addressed, like… == TEASER ==
A 616 Equivalent of Holocaust
Characters like Abyss, Mondo, Rex and Vincente were actually introduced in the AOA before their 616 counterparts. Out of these, Holocaust was definitely the stand-out, carrying with him the title of son of Apocalypse that I’ve always been intrigued by. Was he really En Sabah Nur’s biological son, or was it a more figurative title? Holocaust was actually hinted at a year or two before the crossover in the pages of STRYFE’S STRIKE FILES, but a 616 has curiously never been revealed. A lot of fans have guessed that it might actually be Gene Nation's Fever Pitch since they're both skeletal and incendiary, but that's still just a speculation. Somebody set the record straight!
A Heroic Exodus
Part of the fun of the AOA, of course, was seeing character's morality inverted. Heroes like Havok, Cannonball and Domino were evil in this world, while villains like Toad and Sauron were good. In some cases, these face turns (as they would say in wrestling) would repeat in the regular 'verse as out-and-out heels like Juggernaut, Mystique and Sabretooth eventually swung a little more to the light side as members of the X-Men. However, the one that wasn't explored as deeply as I would've liked (he was omitted in X-MEN: PRIME and the sequel mini-series!) was the heroic version of Exodus, Magneto’s fanatical, uber-powered acolyte and a test subject of Apocalypse's. That he's continued to be such a dastardly fiend over the years makes this even more intriguing, if only to see how his strange opposites-attract relationship with Dazzler would've worked out. Then again, maybe it'd make for a too powerful hero, which is probably why you'd never want to see Iceman or Madrox get as amped as their AOA versions.
Much like DC's later Tangent crossover, another novelty was seeing familiar names used by different characters. For instance, Logan went by Weapon X while one of Apocalypse's completely-unrelated Horseman went by Wolverine. My favorite example of this was in X-UNIVERSE, a two issue mini that showed how non-mutant characters like Gwen Stacy and Victor von Doom handled life in this world. These heroes were bedeviled by the Marauders, who weren't actually servants of Mr. Sinister but a paramilitary take on Spider-Man's foes. We have seen the Sinister Six mass into a larger unit and the Hood command a whole mob of super-villains, but I still think it'd be pretty cool to see an actually army of villains who've standardized all these outlandish gimmicks into issued weapons.