X-Men: Apocalypse, Pretty Much Now.

Apocalypse is a Bad Guy who really seems to enjoy his work.

Apocalypse is a Bad Guy who really seems to enjoy his work.

It’s my first day of vacation! Yay! I will be seeing “X-Men: Apocalypse” tonight, after dinner. Most reviews call the film a “franchise killer” and have been negative. Most actual humans that I have spoken to have pretty much said that it is what it is…another super hero movie, and not a bad one at that. Not the best, but not awful. I’ll see for myself, obviously, since the tickets are already bought.

The guy above in the art is the title Bad Guy, Apocalypse…or En Sabah Nur as he is eventually called in the comics (and apparently all through the film). He is NOT one of my favorite X-Men Bad Guys…in fact, there aren’t too many stories with him that are all that good. In terms of basic history, he is the world’s first known mutant (like the X-Men), and is usually portrayed as one their enemies. He was created by writer Louise Simonson and artist Jackson Guice, and first appeared in X-Factor No. 5.

While writing the first five issues of X-Factor, Bob Layton dropped hints of a villain operating behind the scenes and leading the Alliance of Evil (mentioned in X-Factor No. 4). Layton intended to reveal this character to be the Daredevil villain the Owl on the final page of X-Factor No. 5. However, editor Bob Harras wanted a new villain to be introduced instead. Layton was removed from the book and replaced by writer Louise Simonson, who imagined the character of Apocalypse and had artist Jackson Guice design him. The final page of X-Factor No. 5 then revealed Apocalypse as master of the Alliance of Evil.

You know…a Last Page Reveal, like the Hail Hydra/Captain America thing? Comics do that.

In this case, it resulted in a major nemesis, who was heavily pushed and merchandized over the years.

Bob Harras claimed that the character arose because of storytelling needs: “All I had communicated to Louise was my desire that an A-level, first class character be introduced. I wanted a Magneto-level villain who would up the stakes and give the X-Factor team reason to exist.” Harras also commented, “As soon as I saw the sketch by Walter Simonson and heard Louise’s take on him, I knew we had the character I wanted. Jackson Guice redrew the page, patching in the shadowy Apocalypse where the Owl had been. But the genesis was clearly Walt and Weezie’s.”

Walt Simonson was pretty much the artist who defined his look, and I used references by him to draw today’s art. It is hard to draw like Walt Simonson.

Walter Simonson himself has downplayed his role in the character’s creation, saying that Guice was responsible for creating the design and that he, Simonson, merely modified it later: “I did not co-create Apocalypse. However, I wish I had. Louise Simonson and Jackson Guice created him. He appeared in a few panels at the end of one of Jackson’s last X-FACTORs, so I am the first artist to use him extensively in stories. And I kind of juiced up his physique a bit.”

He actually bulked up Apocalypse’s physique a whole lot. To like, epic level hugeness. Just saying.

I wasn’t ever all that big a fan of Apocalypse, or his visual design. He seemed like a sudden Darkseid for the X-Men, and that was something I had seen before. He was okay, and Louise Simonson’s initial story arc with him was solid enough…but he never captured my imagination and mugged it. He came in with a clear-cut agenda: ‘survival of the fittest.’ As a strict Darwinist, he didn’t care if you were a mutant—if you were weak, you would be destroyed. Unlike most comic book portrayals of Evolution as an instant process affecting one person…he’s very much about natural and/or unnatural selection for the long haul.

He was merciless, but his philosophy was easy to grasp and it fit in with the harder edge of evolution which is part and parcel of the mutant story. Isn’t that what humans fear about mutants? That they are the next step? The point was that this guy would give mutants something new to fear: a character who would judge them on their genetic worthiness.

Yeah…for me, that got old fast. Especially because comic book characters rarely stay dead…he really has no way to thin out that gene pool.

Also…his powers are so loosely defined as to be unfairly limitless. It basically comes down to, “Hey…he has any power that he needs to fight all the X-Men, on any given day. He is an immortal being, with total control over the molecules of his body, enabling him to alter his form as it suits him, such as allowing his body to become extremely malleable and flexible or change his size, enhance his physical abilities, transform his limbs into weapons, wings, or jets, regenerate from fatal injuries, adapt his body to apparently any disease or hostile environment, as well as give himself virtually any superhuman power. See what I mean?

Magneto on the other hand, is a guy that controls magnetism. Defined, clear, easy to understand. I like Magneto…so go figure that I like that directness.

So…my thing going in is this: as a Bad Guy, I don’t like him that much. However…the film is an eighties period piece with Mohawk Storm. That’s a serious goodness. I am, as a result, torn. We will see how I feel after the movie.

Today’s History Report on Comics and Pop Culture is now over. Go about your business.

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