The Age of Apocalypse came about as a result of a mistake made by Legion, the time travelling son of Xavier. Legion, suffering from feelings of abandonment and his bouts with schizophrenia, decided that if Magneto had not existed, Charles Xavier would have had more time for his son. To rectify this problem in his life, Legion went back in time 20 years to kill Erik Magnus Lensherr before he became Magneto. He accidentally took four X-Men back in time with him: Storm, Iceman, Psylocke and Bishop.
The trip through time temporarily wiped the memories of Legion and the X-Men, but eventually Legion remembered the reason for his presence there. He attacked Lensherr and Xavier, since Charles was standing right there at the time. Cable sent his mind back in time and was able to warn/remind Bishop of what Legion was about to do. Bishop, Storm, Psylocke and Iceman quickly move to help Lensherr and Xavier fight Legion, but they are not strong enough. Just as Legion was about to kill Lensherr with a Psi-Bolt, Xavier threw himself between them, and died. Since Xavier was Legion's father, Legion ceased to exist. The X-Men that were products of Xavier's training (Storm, Psylocke and Iceman) also cease to exist. The only ones left are Bishop, who wanders off, and Erik Lensherr, whose confused and shocked mind can only comprehend the fact that his best friend died to save him from a murderous mutant with awesome powers. The death of Xavier in the past rewrote history; since Xavier was not there to oppose him, Apocalypse was able to take control of the world.
"But where was Magneto?" you ask. Good question.
Magneto was so touched by Xavier's sacrifice that he took up the torch for peaceful human/mutant coexistence (instead of promoting the idea that Mutants and Humans could only live peacefully if they were seperated). In honor of Xavier's principles, he founded the X-Men and set up shop in Europe at Wundegore Mountain. Logan joined the X-Men, which consisted (at that time) of Quicksilver, Iceman, the Scarlett Witch, Jean Grey, Colossus and Storm. Rogue was brought to Magneto by Mystique, her adopted mother, for training. On the eve of Apocalypse's takeover of North America, the X-Men got word of Apocalypse's intention to launch a nuclear attack on the most populated cities of the world. They travelled to the United States to battle the Horsemen.
Sabretooth, who was one of Apocalypse's operatives on that mission, learned that Apocalypse wanted to start a nuclear war; he refused to carry out his orders. Candra was about to kill him when the X-Men attacked. Sabretooth offers to help her if Candra will let him live; she releases him. The X-Men win, and Sabretooth is left for dead. He joins the X-Men and returns with them to Wundegore Mountain, where they learn that Apocalypse had ordered his son Nemesis (who later became Holocaust) to destroy Wundegore Mountain. Wanda died to save Rogue and defend the X-Men's base. Mourning their loss, the X-Men continue to fight Apocalypse, relocating to the Xavier Mansion in Westchester.
Apocalypse, with almost no resistance from anyone but the Human High Council and the X-Men, took control of America, and a large portion of the world. He sent most humans into camps, much like the Nazi Concentration Camps of World War II, and either had them killed outright, or worked to death. This genocide was called "Culling" and was used to control the remaining free peoples of the world (mostly living in Europe and Africa) through terror.
Apocalypse's rule was marked by the Darwinist idea of "Survivial of the Fittest." To enforce this policy he sent all mutants that he could find into the slave pens. If a mutant could survive in the pens, usually through the use of their excellent genes, they could rise through the ranks of Apocalypse's army to become a Prelate or even a Horseman. If not, they were used as fodder for the gene-pools that Sinister and McCoy were so fond of playing with, or they died in the pens.
When the Age of Apocalypse begins in X-Men: Alpha, the only ones left in North America to resist Apocalypse's rule are the X-Men. The ranks of the X-Men have swelled with the addition of WildChild, Morph, Blink, NightCrawler, Sunfire, Dazzler, Exodus, ShadowCat, Gambit and Banshee (who came out of retirement to fight with the X-Men). Important things to remember:
Magneto learned a way to shield himself from Rogue's powers; he could touch her. They married and had a son, named Charles (of course). (For those of you who read X-Men regularly, I say "GO FOR IT JOSEPH!")
Colossus and ShadowCat, who consider themselves man and wife although not legally married, have been sent to the west coast to train the next generation of young mutants. Generation Next consists of Husk (Paige Guthrie), Chamber (Jono Starsmore), Skin (Angelo Espinosa), Know-It-All (the AoA version of Monet St. Croix, called Claudia), Mondo and Vincente.
Because Rogue fell in love with and married another man, Gambit left to form his own team consisting of Jubilee, Lila Cheney, Strong Guy and Sunspot. Lila Cheney does not know that she is a mutant teleporter, but she loves Remy. Though he wont admit it, Remy has learned to love Lila too. The problem? Guido Carosella (Strong Guy) is also in love with Lila, and is really jealous of Remy.
Just like in the "real" timeline, Logan fell in love with Jean. The difference? Jean was captured by Sinister and forced to endure life in the Pens for several months, and only escaped with Logan's help. He lost one hand in the process. His utter devotion to her won her heart. Although Jean understands why Magneto could not send anyone in to rescue her, Logan feels that they were betrayed by the X-Men. Jean and Logan leave the X-Men and operate as a mercenary team.
On the Evil side of the coin, the lineup runs like this: Apocalypse runs things, with the help of his latest batch of Horsemen; Holocaust, Abyss, Mikhail (Colossus' brother) and ******. 'Pocy's main toady is a dude named Rex, we assume he's a mutant, but arent sure. Sinister and Henry McCoy are the main evil scientists. Scott and Alex Summers (Cyclops and Havok) are Prelates.
From there, we know that Sam and Elisabeth Guthrie, Terrence and Jesse Arronson (the Bedlam Brothers) and Jean-Paul and Jeanne-Marie Baubier (Northstar and Aurora) work for Cyclops and Havok. Rictor works for Apocalypse as well, determined to capture Gambit and his Externals, and therefore get himself a promotion. Domino, Grizzly and Caliban are Apocalypse's assasins. The Madri, Jamie Madrox's multiples, are running around forming cults without his permission; Jamie himself has been driven insane because McCoy played with his genes and forced him to produce too many multiples. Vanessa Carlysle (CopyCat) works for the Madri. Dani Moonstar, Wade Wilson (DeadPool, called Dead Man Wade during AoA), Damask (Earth 616's Black Queen of the London Hellfire Club) and others also work for Apocalypse.
Walking the edge of the fence we find Warren Worthington III, the Angel; he and his business partner Karma (Xi'an Coy Manh) run Heaven, the elite restaurant for Alpha-class mutants and the most select of humans. Emma Frost, Bolivar Trask and his wife Moira McTaggert Trask, are the Human High Council. Stationed in England, they are trying to negotiate life and peace for the remaining humans of the world. Gateway and Carol Danvers are a team, hanging out at Wundegore Mountain while Gateway learns all about humanity. Go figure.
In X-Men Alpha, Magneto, Rogue and the rest of the X-Men are investigating the scene of a culling when they find a stranger being threatened by Apocalypse's Infinites. When he is questioned, the Stranger attacks Magneto, rambling on about Legion and someone killing Xavier. And about the world not being "our world" because time was warped. Magneto slows the flow of blood to the strange man's brian, causing himto fall asleep. The X-Men return to their base, taking the stranger with him. Gambit gets information from Angel about how to find Magneto. Rogue plays with her son, and laments the fact that she cannot touch him. Magneto has Rogue touch the stranger so that they can understand what he babbles about. Rogue does it, and she and Magneto realize that the stranger's words might be true. Gambit interuppts the the exchange, and Magneto sends Nightcrawler to find his mother Mystique. Rogue tells Magneto that they are depending on him to lead them through the terrible days ahead of them. the last page shows that the M'Kraan Crystallization wave is headed towards Earth. (in other words, if they dont set things straight soon, all the different realities will come to an end)
Magneto is briefing the team on their chances during the upcoming missions. Blink and a wounded Sunfire emerge from one of her portals, fleeing from a prelate. The team helps Sunfire dampen his powers, and the Prelate follows them through the portal, which Blink left open for Sunfire to come through. The team is confused about what would cause Clarice and Sunfire to 'port directly into the Mansion when they realize that the Prelate is there. Blink closes the portal on him, killing him without allowing him to divulge the secret location of their base.
After yelling at Clarice and Shiro for endangering them, the team learns that the cullings of innocent humans have begun again, even though Apocalypse signed a treaty with the Human High Council. And worse, Holocaust is the one doing the culling. Gambit arrives because Magneto has sent for him. Rogue has a conversation with him, and they are on the verge of kissing when Blink brings little Charles to his mother - his nanny is being upgraded. We learn that Clarice wants to see Gambit dead, and he assures her that he probably soon will be.
Disturbed by his own memories of Charles Xavier's death, memories which include people who could be Legion and Bishop, Magneto tells Kurt that he is more afraid that what Bishop says is true than he is that Bishop has been planted to divert the X-Men from their goal of rescuing the humans. He sends Kurt to Avalon to find Destiny and bring her to the Mansion and Rogue, Blink, Sabretooth, Morph, Sunfire, and Wild Child to Chicago to stop the cullings. They leave, using Rogue's magnetic powers to transport the team because Sunfire cannot take another trip through Blink's portal. Bishop wonders why they are going to try to stop the cullings, even though it is likely that they will die in the attempt; Quicksilver tells him that they will never stop fighting for peace and freedom in their world. Magneto sends his own team to the East Coast to help the Sentinals evacuate as many humans as possible. What Magneto doesnt know is that the Human High Council has dispatched Logan (Weapon X) to Wundegore Mountain to find Gateway and convince him to lead their fleet of Airships when they drop atomic bombs on North America. Logan has to do this by himself, though, because Jean Grey will have nothing to do with it. In fact, Jean takes off for America to save as many mutants from the pens as possible before the bombs drop.
Wow - this is getting complex, eh?
Astonishing X-Men 2
Rogue and company are in Chicago, trying to keep the humans from killing themselves in their attempt to flee the infinites. Overcome by his own memories Shiro panics, causing the humans to become more frightened. Rogue has to touch Shiro to calm him down; by absorbing some of his memories as well, she learns that Shiro blames himself for allowing his people to die in the cullings. (Shiro was a Japanese national hero before Apocalypse came to power) They are both saved from falling out of the air by Morph; Rogue comforts Shiro and they resolve to go on.
Scene change to the mansion in Westchester. Erik is putting his son to sleep. Bishop interrupts him; Magneto tells Bishop that he needs one night to say good-bye to his son. Bishop is again surprised by the devotion the X-Men show for their cause. Then there is another scene change and we learn that Apocalypse has finally learned the location of the X-Men's Base. He says that he will handle this "Personally." (Uh-Oh!)
Next scene, a hill overlooking the city of Chicago. Creed calls Blink to the top of the hill to talk with her. Here is the dialogue - i couldn't put it any better. (To SEE this segment of the issue, go to this link, where X-Treme has it posted..)
|Blink:||Please. Please PLEASE please don't ask me. You want me to teleport you to him, don't you? You're asking me to help you commit suicide.|
|Sabretooth:||I ain't doin' no such thing. I'm just tryin' to buy Rogue and the rest o'ya some time is all. I know me and Kyle can't stop holocaust on our own --- but we can give the rest o'you a chance...|
|Blink:||I...I've never told anyone this before. But sometimes late at night -- i pray. Sometimes it's to ask for help -- so that we all make it through another day. Sometimes it's just to let him know how confused or mad or sad i am -- just someone to talk to. But every night -- no matter what -- i say thank you. "Thank you for putting Victor Creed on this world" I thank him 'cause you're the one who rescued me from Abyss (a horseman of Apocalypse) all those years ago. Pretty stupid, no?|
|Sabretooth:||I don't think it's stupid at all, pup. "Stupid" is not fightin'. It's givin' up. Clarice, I need ya to send me to Holocaust, so I can take one last poke at 'im. Then I need ONE other thing.|
|Sabretooth:||After he takes me out--and make no mistake, he will--I need ya t'kick his butt all the way back to hell...and tell 'im "THAT was for Victor Creed!" Can ya do that for me, pup?|
Although Rogue tries to intervene, Clarice displaces her for a fraction of a second, just long enough to knock her out. Then she "blinks" Creed to Holocaust.
|Blink:||Thank me, Mr. Creed...by coming home.|
Next scene is Sabretooth & WildChild vs. Holocaust. Creed sends WildChild back to Rogue to tell her where the Infinite processing plant is located. (The Infinites are the expendable troops that Apocalypse uses to keep everyone in line. Without them, his army would be seriously weakened.) But at the end of the issue, Holocaust has the upper hand and Sabretooth is unconscious.
The Astonishing X-Men 3 After Xavier: The Age Of Apocalypse
Through a clever ruse and some witty banter, Morph and Sunfire save WildChild from becoming Infinite fodder. Because Creed is the only one who can communicate with him, WildChild licks Rogue's face to show her where the Infinite Processing plant is. Rogue is determined to shut Holocaust and Apocalypse down once and for all. Scene change: Creed comes-to, chained up and at the mercy of Holocaust. True to form, he refuses to be cowed by Holocaust's talk of "Survival of the fittest" and "Genetic superiority." Eventually, Holocaust becomes so fed up with Creed's lip that he rips 'Tooth's guts out.
Rogue and the others are on their way to the plant. While travelling, Clarice tells the others about the first time she met Victor Creed. He and Logan had torched one of Apocalypse's bases while working for the X-Men. Before they left the burning building, Creed picked up a scent and realized that someone else was also still inside. When they investigated, they found a little child;it was Clarice. Creed picked her up, and from what we understand of their relationship, raised her as his own. Clarice is worried that she will never see him again. Rogue assures her that they will find him. Morph and Sunfire exchange more witty banter.
Multiple scene changes: Magneto and Bishop are attacked in Westchester. Holocaust and the Infinites prepare to destroy the world (All evil baddies are alike, y'know?) and Rogue and company arrive at the plant in the form of a giant whale (Morph). They are sneaking through the plant doing dmage where they can, when Clarice disappears, having seen something terrible. She "blinks" to the top of the hill and finds Victor Creed hanging, dead, from a post.
Astonishing X-Men 4 After Xavier: The Age of Apocalypse
|Caption:||"As a child, Clarice Ferguson was considered almost pathologically shy."|
|Caption:||"Clearly, this is no longer the case."|
|Holocaust:||I'm sorry, child. I don't believe we've met.|
|Blink:||The name is Blink. And I'm not a child. I'm the X-Man that is going to stop you and your genetic cullings once and for all.|
Holocaust compliments Blink on the amount of damage that she has been able to do using only her natural "Spatial Displacement" power. He also taunts her by saying that he enjoyed killing Victor Creed. Blink is able to damage Holocaust's battle armor, but he grabs her and throws her at a wall. Blink is able to focus her rage about Victor Creed's death and place a portal through the wall that comes out right behind Holocaust's head. She knocks him down and stands on him, holding one of her throwing darts just above his face.
|Holocaust: ||Tell me, Clarice... Do you really think you're faster than I am?|
vat of chemicals. Screaming "NO!" he falls in and sinks.
|Blink:||My name is "Blink". Who do you think is faster? Halfscan.|
The battle seems to be over, and Morph races into the vat room asking what the Capital of Nebraska is. Clarice is saddened by the death of Creed and tells Morph that he should be more respectful. When Clarice says that it is over, that she dropped Holocaust into the genetic stew in the vat, Holocaust breaks out of the vat. Morph protects Blink from the acid, and an all out battle is on again. Holocaust is about to kill Clarice when Morph reveals that he isn't really Morph at all, but rather Rogue in disguise. (She absorbed a little of Morph's power so that she could get close enough to Holocaust to kick his tail in. Clever girl.) Sunfire, the real Morph and Wild Child show up to help out, but even their humor is unable to keep Holocaust down for long.
Then Rogue gets a little mad, 'cause Holocaust tells her that Apocalypse has captured both Magneto and Bishop. But she really gets upset when Holocaust tells her that Apocalypse has promised that he will be allowed to look after little Charles. She's about to take Holocaust out when he makes it to a tele-platform. As he teleports back to Apocalypse's base, Iceman suddenly appears and saves Rogue, who is not happy about it. She wanted to go to her son, but realizes that she now leads the X-Men, and that the only way for Erik, Charles and Bishop to survive is for her to get them out. In fact, the only good news is that Creed's healing factor kicked in and saved him. When asked if she is okay, Rogue replies,
Amazing X-Men 4 After Xavier: The Age of Apocalypse
Quicksilver, Storm and Banshee have infiltrated the Temple of the Madri to save Bishop. While there, they find an insane, crippled young man who begs them to kill him. THey realize tht he is the original Jamie Madrox, locked away after Sinister and the EvilBeast genetically altered him so that he could exceed the "natural limits" of his duplicating abilities. Shocked, they realize that they will have to kill him to stop the Madri. But even though he wants to die, they re unable to bring themselves to kill him.
Rogue, Iceman, Morph, Clarice, Creed and WildChild return to the remains of the mansion to search for Charles, who is missing. (They only suspect that he has been kidnapped; they want to be sure he has been.) They find Shadowcat and Colossus waiting for them, along with Illyana. They learn that Illyana was rescued, but at the cost of the lives of all the students. Clarice is distraught, feeling that she should have been with them. Morph tells her to be glad that she is alive, because they are.
Storm rescues Bishop from his prison in the Madri Temple. Jamie Madrox begs and pleads for the X-Men to kill him, but Quicksilver will not kill an innocent man. Then Abyss, one of Apocalypse's horsemen, appears on the scene. Abyss has a special hatred for Quicksilver for some reason, and so he tells Pietro that Ororo and Bishop are about to be killed by the Madri. Surprised, Pietro wonders how Abyss knew that he loved Ororo. Abyss tells him that he knows what is in the deepest, darkest corners of all their minds. Abyss uses Banshee as an example, telling them that Sean is afraid of living and dying and everything in between. Abyss is convinced that he has backed Quicksilver into a corner by telling him that Ororo and Bishop are a few minutes away from dying and that there is nothing they can do about it.
Then Banshee steps in. He tells Abyss that he is afraid of dying, "Why shouldnae I be?" but that he will never stop trying to make this world a better place, even if it means sacrificing his own life so that someone else might have a chance to live. He attacks Abyss, and when Pietro begs him to stop, tells him that it isn't worth it, Sean Cassidy replies, "Pietro, My friend -- the world needs one less of Abyss more than it needs one more of me!" and he plunges into the heart of the Abyss. from within, the Banshee pours forth his rage in a sonic scream that tears the Horseman apart, and brings down the temple as well.
Jamie Madrox and Pietro escape from the temple as it collapses. Madrox tells him that his friends are still going to die, but he can save them. He asks Pietro if he loves Ororo and if he needs Bishop to destroy Apocalypse. Pietro says yes, so Madrox shuts the Madri down from within, even though it takes all the energy that he has left. Ororo and Bishop are saved at the last possible moment by the selfless sacrifice of two individuals. Pietro, though glad that Ororo and Bishop are alive, is broken hearted.
Rogue and the others find out that Strong Guy betrayed Gambit by stealing the M'Kraan shard. When the Morlock tunnels beneath the mansion collapsed, Gambit gave Charles to Strong Guy, because he knew that only Guido's massive body could sheild the child during the cave in. Rogue almost kills Gambit before Nightcrawler appears with Destiny. Storm and Quicksilver return with the rescued Bishop, and Colossus comments that "Hard as it is to believe, ALL of Magneto's plans are coming to fruition." Creed asks the all important question "What do we do now?" Quicksilver replies,
Magneto is beaten by Apocalypse and Holocaust. Clarice "blinks" the X-Men into Apocalypse's base, where they find that the Mutants in the Pens have escaped with the help of Cyclops and Jean Grey. They also find the EvilBeast, Henry McCoy and bring him along for safe-keeping. Angel gets mad, 'cause Apocalypse's cronies beat up his partner Karma, and so he blows up the forcefield around the tower. This allows Nate Grey to get into the fight. He saves Magneto from being killed, and together they fight Apocalypse and Holocaust. The rest of the X-Men find the shard of the M'Kraan crystal, which has been growing rapidly. Destiny realizes that what Bishop has said is true.
Quicksilver is prepared to send a team to escort them into the past, but Destiny says,
The X-Men are fighting for survival. Nate Grey is beating and being beaten by Holocaust. Magneto goes after Apocalypse. Colossus decides to save his sister, but kills his wife by accident. Gambit kills him, for killing ShadowCat. The SugarMan jumps into the M'Kraan Crystal. Jean Grey puts a telekinetic sheild over the city to save everyone from the bombs. Rogue saves her son from Strong Guy. Bishop goes back in time. Jean Grey is killed by Havok, who then turns on his brother Cyclops and kills him too; in return, Logan "snikts" him and sits down next to Jean to wait for the end. Bishop saves Xavier and kills Legion.
Morph is killed. Blink and Quicksilver find the EvilBeast as he is about to transport himself into the center of the M'Kraan Crystal. Pietro quickly scrambles the signal. The transporter glows a wierd pink color.
|Blink: ||Holy cheese, Petey! So much for ever seeing that furball ever again! You play dirty! I love it! You scatter his atoms good and rough?|
Wow. Complex story, huh? I hope i havent left anyone out...
Whoops.... Cable! Nate Grey is the AoA version of Nathan Summers Dayspring. created by Sinister from the DNA of Jean Grey and Scott Summers, and forced to grow rapidly in a clone chamber, Nate escaped from the Pens with the help of Scott Summers and found a friend in Forge, who travelled with Sauron, Toad, Brute and Mastermind under the guise of a travelling theatre troupe. Nate's presence is sensed by the Shadow King, who informs Apocalypse. Apocalypse sends Domino, Grizzly and Caliban (his merry band of assasins) to either convert Nate... or kill him. Which gives Nate a real reason to hate the big A and to come after him for revenge. hmmm. What do you think happens? Check out the X-Man Summaries to find out. (PS. Nate was one of the four AoA characters to make it to the mainstream.)
So... hope that gives you a clear enough background on what the AoA was and how to fit your favorite charactrers in there.