Best X-men Apocalypse Stories

James Smith
• Tuesday, 01 December, 2020
• 14 min read

Fans have been very vocal about certain characters' appearances in promotional material as of late, and last Friday’s release of the first trailer for X-Men : Apocalypse kept the trend going. But the loudest voice of all came from the ever-raging debate over whether Oscar Isaac was the right choice to play the film's eponymous antagonist.

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Whether you’re a Singer/Isaac believer or not, the Age of Apocalypse is coming, and we here at Screen Rant have a few comics to prepare you for the arrival of En Sarah Our. The organization's puppet master was originally intended to be Leland Wesley, aka the Owl, but Apocalypse was inserted as a replacement character for the series' new lead writer, Louise Simon son.

Cyclops and Jean fail in their attempts to prevent the creation of Sinister, whose own plot to betray and kill his so-called master is foiled as well. Widely regarded as Apocalypse’s archenemy, Cable did once succeed in destroying the seemingly-unkillable En Sarah Our, so Sinister's plot was technically successful in a roundabout sort of way.

Much to the chagrin of comic book fans, neither Cable nor Sinister are expected to appear in X-Men : Apocalypse, despite the fact that many consider the two to be essential characters for such a film. One of the biggest surprises in comic history followed, as one of En Sarah Our's lackeys is revealed to be the believed-dead Warren Worthington III.

Shocking betrayals and non-stop action are in plentiful supply in this brief but memorable three issue arcs from Apocalypse's creator, Louise Simon son. Bryan Singer appears to be borrowing from certain elements of this series for X-Men : Apocalypse, and that doesn’t simply include Archangel’s presence in the big-screen incarnation of the Horsemen.

With En Sarah Our’s live-action debut coming up next year, it would make a lot of sense for Marvel Comics to bring the villain back into the limelight, despite the fact that Fox owns the movie rights to the X-Men characters. We're a few months away from the debut of this comic, so you can’t read it just yet (which is why you may be scratching your head a bit at its inclusion here), but we have a feeling it’s going to be much more than just a memorable quasi-tie-in series.

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Jeff Bemire, known for his widely-acclaimed two and a half year run on DC’s Animal Man, heads up the writing team, sure, but the comic could have some serious historical significance as well. There's been no mistaking Marvel's decision in recent years to prioritize characters that they have the movie rights to over the ones they don't, like the X-Men and The Fantastic Four; it's less of a conspiracy theory and more of an obvious fact.

Executioner's Song saw the weakened super villain being forced to team up with the X-Men to take down his out of control former protégé Strife, who was driven mad upon learning that he was actually a clone of Cable. Strife teams up with Mister Sinister to take vengeance on both his adoptive father (Apocalypse) and his biological parents (Cyclops and Jean Grey), forcing our favorite mutant heroes into their improbable alliance.

In this future setting, a weakened Apocalypse begs his former Horseman, Archangel, to aid him in his fight to stop Strife, though he isn't without his own selfish intentions. Apocalypse won't likely be shown to be anything less than near-perfection in the film version, though, as complicated plots like those featured in Messiah War often fall by the wayside in cinematic adaptations.

Writer Rick Reminder has steadily gained a loving fan base in the Marvel community, thanks in no small part to this outstanding run on this Uncanny X-Force title. The series doesn't really depict the Apocalypse that we've come to know (though the X-Force squad does have a pretty serious brawl with the Horsemen), but the unique perspective on his teenaged clone, Genesis, is a true breath of fresh air.

Unlike the original Apocalypse's brutally harsh upbringing, Genesis is raised under the watchful eye of Fandom to do good, and he even ends up enrolling in the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. This massively epic crossover storyline engulfed the entire X-Men universe, forcing them into a world suffering under the harsh rule of En Sarah Our, all seemingly caused by the premature death of Professor X.

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Having died before founding his school or forming the X-Men, Xavier's absence has allowed Apocalypse to overtake and conquer the world without much opposition. The crossover has already been adapted into multiple video games, and it would have served as the principal storyline in season 2 of Wolverine and the X-Men had the animated series not been canceled.

Corey’s career aspirations include commanding a Transformer to battle intergalactic space robots, fighting crime and injustice as a masked vigilante, and completing a bachelor-friendly cookbook utilizing Dino nuggets, BBQ sauce, cheddar Goldfish, and boxed mac & cheese as the main ingredients. Enjoy! With Bryan Singer announcing to the world that the followup to X-Men : Days of Future Past will be called X-Men : Apocalypse, it’s easy for any comic book nerd to get excited.

This movie will undoubtedly feature one of the X-Men’s greatest villains, Apocalypse. Even if you don’t read comics, you’ve probably seen his big blue mug before. In a twist, Magneto ends up championing Xavier’s dream of peaceful coexistence between humans and mutants, causing him to found his own group of X-Men including a one-handed Wolverine, Rogue, Jean Grey, Sunspot, Blink, and Saber tooth, among others.

Meanwhile, Apocalypse's forces included the likes of Mr. Sinister, Holocaust, and Sugar Man, as well as former heroes Cyclops, Havoc, and Beast. What made this event so epic was that it took over ten plus comic series at the same time to tell a story that touched all of Marvel’s mutant characters.

The landscape of a world ruled by Apocalypse was a dreary one where more characters wound up dead than alive, allegiances changed like the wind, and everyone had a hardcore rock metal makeover. Apocalypse sought to ascend to godhood by absorbing the power of the twelve most powerful mutants in the world: Professor X, Magneto, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Cable, Storm, Iceman, Gunfire, Polaris, Bishop, Mikhail Rasputin, and the Living Monolith.

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He wants to remake the world into one where the weak are culled and only the strong survive (something we saw in Age of Apocalypse), but when he forces the X-Men to work together with their nemesis Magneto, he winds up being his own undoing. 2 Believe it or not, Apocalypse was created because writer Louise Simon son didn’t want to use the underwhelming villain The Owl as the mysterious leader of the Alliance of Evil.

Apocalypse wields a vast array of powers including the ability to use telekinesis, telepathy, rapid healing, and shape shifting to turn parts of his body into guns, jets, and various pointy objects. In addition to that, he’s a genius-level scientist, a master strategist, and is capable of rallying others to his cause (these people became known as the cultist Clan Ankara).

We also learned about his signature Four Horsemen -- powerful mutants hand-picked by Apocalypse himself that embody Death, Pestilence, Famine, and War. This made him prey for Apocalypse’s manipulation, who offered to restore his wings in return for service as his new Death horsemen.

Angel was subjected to genetic tampering which resulted in blue skin, a sweet new outfit, and a pair of razor sharp metal wings in place of his old feathered ones. Angel was brainwashed into obeying Apocalypse but eventually broke free and became obsessed with getting revenge on his former master.

You see, Strife is a clone of Cable (the true son of Cyclops and Jean), was raised by Apocalypse in the future, and was driven mad when he learned of his origin. Not to say that he had an easy time; he nearly got beaten to death at one point and when he begged Archangel to end his life, he was denied even that, so he may continue to endure his torturous existence.

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The Rise of Apocalypse goes back to his origins in Ancient Egypt before he put on that imposing blue suit with all the hoses. The tale takes place 5,000 years in the past when a weird looking baby was found by a tribe of nomads in the middle of the desert.

It’s revealed that it was the tribal leader, Baal, who taught Our about survival of the fittest, an idea that he would twist into his extremist agenda for destroying those he deemed weak. But in true fashion, Our defeats King and overthrows his kingdom, earning his new name: Apocalypse.

Wolverine started a clandestine squad of mutants -- Archangel, Locke, Deadpool, and Fandom -- with the agenda of preemptively taking out threats to mutant kind. We won’t spoil the end (because it’s awesome and polarizing) but suffice to say that in the following issues a new Apocalypse emerges from one of his previous Four Horsemen: Archangel.

That led to a little gem of a story called The Dark Angel Saga, which earned a perfect 10 from IGN. It utilizes the Clan Ankara, the Four Horsemen, Archangel’s personal vendetta, and we even return to the Age of Apocalypse universe.

The best part is that you could have never read a single comic about Apocalypse, and you’d still be just as entertained and informed by Reminder’s engrossing writing and seamless exposition. While Apocalypse never appears as we know him, he is still the number one problem the team must face, even as they take on Decathlon robots and other villains.

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During the story, a clone of Apocalypse named Genesis is grown into a teenager and given a simulated upbringing not unlike Superman’s. Some were simply excuses for big, epic fight scenes, while others changed the course of the books for years to come.

While this story ended up having huge ramifications on the entire Marvel Universe, the Onslaught Saga (1996) started off as an X-Men storyline. After Professor X used his powers to shut down Magneto's mind, a small piece of the villain's psyche infected Xavier's own.

The resulting entity fed off of the professor's negative emotions, and eventually began acting on its own. Eventually, Onslaught emerged and revealed himself to be the mysterious betrayer that Bishop had travelled back in time to stop.

Basically, this event wasn't all that great on its own, and led to one of Marvel's worst creative periods. Wanda Maxim off went crazy and used her powers to destroy her teammates in Avengers Disassembled (2004) by Brian Bends and David Finch.

This led to House of M (2005) by Brian Bends and Olivier Compel, where Wanda uses her powers to create an alternate universe where mutants rule the Earth. In Giant Size X-Men #1 (1975) by Len Wan and Dave Cock rum, Professor X recruits a new team of mutants to rescue the original X-Men, who had been captured by the sentient island of Krakow.

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Xavier erased Cyclops' memory of this team, and kept their fate a secret for decades. However, one of the missing team members, Vulcan, survived the ordeal and eventually returns for revenge.

Vulcan, however, proved to be a popular character and played a major role in several later stories, like War of Kings (2009). Back in 1987, there was the original The X-Men vs the Avengers by Roger Stern and Marc Silver for the first three issues.

When pieces of Asteroid M begin falling to Earth, the Avengers and X-Men both head to the crash site. Stern was replaced by Tom Deface, who ends the series by having Magneto turn himself in and stand trial.

While Deface is a great writer, it seems like he was brought on to write a different ending than originally intended. For years, the X-Men had dealt with a vague prophecy that predicted that 12 mutants would play a key role in either bringing about, or preventing, a future ruled by Apocalypse.

Apocalypse nearly succeeds, but Cyclops sacrifices himself to prevent the villain from taking over Nate Grey's body. The biggest problem is that the story ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, with Cyclops/ Apocalypse still merged and on the run.

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That storyline wouldn't be concluded until the following year's The Search For Cyclops miniseries, during which Apocalypse's spirit is killed and Summers is freed. Running through the various X-Men titles of 1997, Bastion is able to capture several key X-Men (including Jubilee and Cyclops), while planning on wiping out as many mutants as possible.

He also activated his army of Prime Sentinels, who were regular people outfitted with nanotech that turned them into mutant hunting robots. This crossover happened immediately after Marvel “killed off” most of their other heroes, and was meant to have the X-Men take center stage.

The X-Men franchise was massive at the time, and fans were forced to buy a ton of issues across several titles just to get the whole story. Aside from that, this was a good story to help move the mutants past the traumatic and world shattering events of Onslaught.

Written by Brian Michael Bends, Matt Fraction, Jason Aaron, Ed Breaker and Jonathan Hickman, and drawn by Adam Hubert, John Romina Jr and Oliver Compel, the event took over most of Marvel's lineup. Eventually, the Phoenix possesses Cyclops, Emma Frost, Enamor, Colossus and Magic.

The five begin to force their will upon the world, culminating in a final showdown that left Professor X dead and Cyclops' heroic reputation forever tarnished. They also team up with Madeline Pryor, Cyclops' ex-wife and clone of Jean Grey.

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NYC is transformed into a hellish landscape, forcing the majority of Marvel's heroes to fight off the demonic horde. Eventually, the demons are defeated and banished, New York is returned to normal, and Jean Grey takes down Pryor.

There's plenty of action, and many of the tie-ins gave great excuses for artists to go nuts drawing the demonic invasion. If anything, it's worth reading to watch an elevator eat a family in the Empire State Building.

After Jean Grey was killed off during Born/Magneto's attack on New York in Grant Morrison's run on New X-Men, the Shi'Ar resurrect the Phoenix force. The X-Men help give her the strength to finally put the Phoenix to rest, and Jean returns to “the White Hot Room” (aka death).

Due to Jean Grey's history of dying and being resurrected, many fans assumed that her death in New X-Men wouldn't be permanent. It ultimately reveals the existence of thousands of clones of them, who were all partially developed using Emma Frost's DNA.

During Extinction Agenda (1990), it's discovered that Cameron Hodge has turned the island into a mutant slave camp. When Hodge eventually betrays the Kenosha, the government is forced to team up with the X-Men to take the madman down.

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This event is famous for being one of the first major storylines to feature both Jim Lee and Rob Ziegfeld. Of course, using different artists for each chapter leads to several glaring continuity issues (like characters randomly switching outfits).

Cameron Hodge would return and continue to be one of the X-Men's strangest (and most frightening) foes, so this event is worth remembering just for his inclusion. The original five students formed their own group, X-Factor, while the main X-Men moved to Australia and pretended to be dead, before briefly disbanding.

When the two teams discover that Muir Island has been taken over by the Shadow King, they both head over to free their allies. The Shadow King eventually jumps into Legion's body, granting him an extraordinary amount of power.

Jean Grey is eventually able to pull the X-Men together to defeat the villain, although the battle leaves Legion temporarily brain-dead. It features several classic X-Men writers and artists, including Chris Claremont, Andy Hubert and Fabian Nicaea.

It starts off during an awkward time in the team's history, however, so it might be slightly confusing for newer readers. In 1987, Marvel pitted the mutants against their first family in Fantastic Four vs the X-Men by Chris Claremont and Jon Bogdanovi.

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The series starts with the X-Men needing Reed Richard's help to cure Kitty Pride, who was wounded during the Mutant Massacre (1986) storyline. The Fantastic Four, however, are reeling from the recent discovery of a journal that suggests Reed knew what would happen during their fateful flight.

The X-Men, wary of owing a debt to Doom, reluctantly agree, except for Kitty, who would rather just fade away than put the X-Men in a bad position. The only reason why it isn't ranked higher on this list is because it's more of a Fantastic Four story that guest stars the X-Men.

Bishop chases him, believing that the newborn might cause his own horrific future to come into being. In Messiah War (2009), X-Force follows them, finding a world ruled by Cable's evil clone Strife.

The story ends on an ominous note, as Emma Frost believes that Hope might be a future host for the Phoenix, along with the appearance of five new mutants across the globe. Cyclops and Jean Grey are kidnapped by Strife, who reveals they are his “parents,” making Scott the true father of Cable.

Still, the story itself is very good and is fairly easy to follow, despite being 12 issues (minus the epilogues) spread across four different series. Much to X-Factor's shock, Death is revealed to be a transformed Warren Worthington, who was believed to be dead at the time.

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Angel's transformation into Archangel is one of the most traumatizing events to occur to an X-Man, and still effects the character to this day. Days of Future Past appeared in Uncanny X-Men #141 and #142 (1981) by Chris Claremont and John Byrne.

An adult Kitty Pride has her mind sent back to the past, where she possesses her younger body. She has to convince the X-Men to believe her and help stop the assassination of Senator Robert Kelly (who is fiercely anti-mutant).

The X-Men are successfully able to stop the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants from killing Kelly, and Pride returns to the future. The story ends without showing if the future has been changed or not, with the X-Men wondering if the dark dystopia is still waiting for them.

The “dark future that awaits” trope has become a common story element with the X-Men books. This story likely helped to inspire the timelines where classic characters like Cable and Bishop came from.

“Days of Future Past” has been adapted several times for various X-Men television shows, and was even the basis for the plot of a film in 2014. During the funeral for Island Rasputin, Magneto returned to Earth and announced his intentions to kill all of humanity.

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He and his Acolytes have set up their base on an asteroid called Avalon, from which they plan to launch their attack. After Magneto unleashes a devastating electromagnetic pulse across the globe, Xavier leads a team of X-Men to Avalon, where they confront the villains.

In one of the most brutal fights to ever occur in an X-Men book, Magneto rips the adamantine from Wolverine's skeleton. Not only did it affect Wolverine's story for years to come, it laid the groundwork for events that would shake the entire Marvel universe.

Xavier's mind-wipe ultimately led to the creation of Onslaught, who caused the “deaths” of both the Avengers and Fantastic Four. He discovers that they've been kidnapped and replaced by the Phalanx, who are attempting to use cerebra to locate the next generation of mutants.

Forced to team up with enemies Emma Frost and Saber tooth, Banshee must find the young mutants before the Phalanx does. Meanwhile, Cyclops and Jean Grey team up with Wolverine and Cable to rescue the X-Men from the hive's clutches.

Banshee is a great character, and this story gives him a chance to take center stage. Chris Claremont, Dave Cock rum and John Byrne created one of the most epic X-Men stories with The Dark Phoenix Saga.

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It begins with Jean Grey seemingly dying as the X-Men return from an adventure in space, only to re-emerge as the Phoenix, a being of pure thought. Her power levels are off the chart, and Dark Phoenix destroys an entire solar system, killing billions.

As it was originally told, however, the ending was one of the most heartbreaking scenes in Marvel Comics' history. Not only that, but the ensuing battle caught the attention of Apocalypse, causing him to put his plans of world domination into motion a decade earlier than he originally did.

Without Xavier to lead the X-Men, Apocalypse successfully takes over North America and launches the Earth into a brutal world war. Characters were radically changed, with Cyclops and Havoc becoming villains, and Magneto taking a heroic turn as the leader of the X-Men.

Eventually, a time displaced Bishop is able to travel back to the past again and prevent Legion from killing Xavier and waking Apocalypse, correcting the time stream. This was just in time, as a salvo of nukes was headed towards New York City in hopes of destroying Apocalypse's forces once and for all.

Several characters escaped to the mainstream Marvel Universe, such as Nate Grey and the villains Dark Beast and Sugar Man.

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1 www.goodreads.com - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18166939-the-lion-who-stole-my-arm