Writer: Mike Raicht
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Honestly, in the age of the internet, I question the need for these Official Handbooks. What could these books have that you can’t find on any number of websites maintained by obsessive fans, or through message boards? Still, I did learn a couple of things in this book that I never knew about the “AoA” alterni-verse. And having all this information in one comic is more convenient that searching the net.
Part of the fun of “AoA” (as much fun as you can have with a story about genocide and the end of the world) was recognizing X-Men characters changed by the alternate history. Morph, for example, is the Marvel Universe’s Changeling, a shape-shifting villain who died impersonating Xavier. But for those of use who haven’t read every X-Men comic ever made, many characters were unknown to us. I was hoping this handbook might identify the characters I didn’t recognize. While it does explain who the Sugar Man and Holocaust are, it leaves out Empath, the human council, and other characters from the "X-Universe" mini-series. It doesn’t even have an entry for the time-tossed Bishop, a key figure who sets the story in motion. The focus seems to be on those characters who starred in the “AoA” comics, and those who later appeared in the Marvel Universe. So I would not call this book comprehensive.
But the biggest mistake made with this book is the title. It doesn’t just cover the characters and events in “Age of Apocalypse”; it also covers The Exiles. Every member of that reality-hopping team is covered, including the long lost Magnus and Thunderbird. Their counterpart Weapon X is also listed. Maybe Marvel editorial sees Exiles as an “AoA” spin-off, or maybe neither series had enough information for an entire handbook. (If that latter, why make one at all?) A flip-cover would help identify the dual subject matter of the book. A mention in the advance solicitations would have been better.
So, no, I do not recommend buying this comic. It’s not worth the $4US it costs. If you’re already committed to buying the current “AoA” mini-series, trade books, and other related comics, then $4 isn’t that much to you anyway. For you Exiles fans looking for more info on your favorite characters, search the net.
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