Follow TV Tropes


Comic Book / Age of X-Man

Go To
But where's the Apocalypse?note 
Age of X-Man is a 2019 Bat Family crossover event spinning out of the X-Men Disassembled storyline in Uncanny X-Men. The event is spearheaded by Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler, who previously worked on Cable and wrote the Apocalypse back-up stories in X-Men: Black.

Nate Grey, the son of Scott Summers and Jean Grey hailing from the Age of Apocalypse, has returned. He has managed to warp the world into the antithesis of his home dimension, a world where mutants are treated like celebrities and the world is in a state of peace and acceptance... at least on the surface.

The event has a similar structure to the aforementioned Age of Apocalypse, launching from an Alpha issue before several miniseries tell its story and explore its world. Notably, the other X-ongoings, such as Mr. and Mrs. X, X-Force (2018) and even Uncanny X-Men itself, were not interrupted to make way for the storyline.

The comics involved in the story are:

  • Age of X-Man: Alpha — The Age of X-Man starts here! Written by Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler, art by Ramon Rosanas.
  • The Marvelous X-Men — The Age of X-Man's premiere mutant team has created the perfect world and are hailed as the saviours of mutantkind... and no one dares says otherwise. Written by Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson and drawn by Marco Failla.
  • Nextgen — In an era of peace and harmony for mutantkind, teenagers still need to rebel. Written by Ed Brisson and drawn by Marcus To.
  • The Amazing Nightcrawler — Kurt Wagner has finally made it and is now both a Marvelous X-Man and A-list actor. Surely thing will be easy from here on, right? Written by Seanan Mc/Guire and drawn by Juan Frigeri.
  • The X-Tremists — The secretive X-Tremists protect their perfect world from hidden threats. Written by Leah Williams and drawn by Georges Jeanty.
  • Apocalypse and the X-Tracts — In a world without love, one hero will rise up and teach people the ways of love and family and romance... Apocalypse?! Written by Tim Seeley and drawn by Salva Espin.
  • Prisoner X — In the mutant detention centre known as the Danger Room, everyone wants to kill everyone else. At least until Lucas Bishop arrives. Written by Vita Ayala and drawn by German Peralta.
  • Age Of X-Man: Omega — The end of the Age of X-Man! Written by Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler, art by Simone Buonfantino.

The event can be considered a Spiritual Successor to both Age of Apocalypse and House of M.

In addition to the usual X-Men tropes, this story provides examples of:

  • Academy of Adventure: The Summers Institute for Higher Learning, which houses students for ten years and allows them to pursue a track in either law enforcement, agriculture, medicine and history. Teachers at the Institute include former X-Men Box, Cecilia Reyes, Husk and Sunfire, with Warren Worthington (Angel) serving as dean and Psylocke appearing as a guest lecturer. Though the courses are pretty standard fare compared to a usual school the fact that students on a law enforcement track essentially become deputy members of Department X (along with the whole, “everyone in attendance having superpowers” thing) means this is no ordinary school.
  • A Glitch in the Matrix: The Resolution event that led to the current state of society was recent enough for the X-Men to be relevant to the circumstances and surviving members to still exist concurrently, but also somehow long enough in the past for there to be no living memory of sex and reproduction. Glob Herman in NextGen is aware of how things used to be, writing what he remembers down in journals he passes off as fan fiction. Further cracks show when he leads other characters to discover the holes in the world's history.
    • Colossus is finding himself increasingly drawn to Kitty Pryde, a member of Apocalypse's rebel team, despite the fact that he has no memory of her. Early in the arc he is seeing painting a picture of Lockheed.
  • A God I Am Not: Nate declares this, surprisingly.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Colossus is missing an arm. Due to his grim comments about what went down in Russia during the Resolution, it was most likely then that he lost it.
  • Badass Boast: Nate to Apocalypse in issue #4 of Marvelous X-Men, as in a flashback he shapes him into 'Murshid', when Apocalypse tries some back-talk.
    You forget. I was born to end the Apocalypse.
  • Bat Family Crossover: The early 2019 one for the X-Men, although some titles won't be involved.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In Age of X-Man: Omega, things are resolved peacefully: the X-Men get to go back, and while Magneto goes with them, he first thanks Nate for creating a world that was the exact opposite of the one he grew up in, then arranges for the AOX version to split off and remain to help Nate reform the AOX reality. However, not all of them want to, and understandably so, but they have to.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: The message of Age of X-Man: Omega.
  • Broken Masquerade: Cracks begin to form even early on, with Anole, Bling and Glob seemingly forming a rebellion against the stringent rules of society from within the Summers Institute. It eventually breaks down completely, as the event ends in Age of X-Man: Omega.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The world built by Nate after the events of Disassembled seems perfect at first glance, with everyone gaining superpowers, peace being achieved for mutantkind and advances in technology leading to a new golden age. But between the outlawing of relationships, rampant mind-wipes by Department X, outright erasing of individuals from others' memories and more it’s clear that life is only perfect in this world if X-Man’s laws are followed without resistance of any kind.
    • At the end of the event, Nate acknowledges this, and he and AOX!Magneto start planning out how to improve it, with 'no secret police' being one of the first changes.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Nate, at Jean's expense at the end, when he observes that she doesn't like it when he makes unilateral decisions, but is apparently completely fine with taking them herself.
  • Downer Ending: Nextgen ends with the teens mindwiped and in jail, and Nightcrawler also ends up being mind wiped at the end of his series. However, Age of X-Man: Omega lightens things up a bit, taking it into Bittersweet Ending territory, with everyone getting their memories back.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Department X try not to hurt civilians, and honestly think they're doing the right thing. Moneta, however, is a psychotic Rabid Cop who gets kicked out precisely for not having these standards.
  • Fantastic Racism: All forms of interpersonal relationships are prohibited, including familial. The Cuckoos are looked on with disdain for having an obvious sibling resemblance (as a telepathic gestalt, they get an exception, but people still find it strange and even disgusting). X-tremists introduces "grade", short for retrograde for people who still have what are considered obsolete romantically sexual relationships.
  • Fisher King: In Omega, Nate explains that the world he created is him. That when you step on the land, it's as though you step on his flesh.
  • Forbidden Love: Romantic and familial relationships are banned. Family units no longer exist, children are made artificially and raised communally. People who had families from before are separated from them. Anyone that violates these principles are taken and mindwiped in "reeducation".
  • Foreshadowing: The cover of the Alpha issue (shown above in the page image) depicts the main cast of the Marvelous X-Men squad that serves as the primary superhero team of this reality, with one major omission. The one member of the squad not shown on the cover is Bishop, who appears as a member throughout the issue. What makes this foreshadowing is the fact that Bishop gets caught engaging in an illicit relationship with Jean Grey and sent to prison while Jean has her mind altered. The issue ends with X-23 replacing him on the team as if she had always been there and the pictures on the walls even showing her to be a member of the squad all along. X-Man’s reality warping skills have gotten so powerful he’s even erasing Bishop from the front cover showing the “heroes” of the crossover.
  • Get Back in the Closet: Nate neither understands nor cares about the trauma of being forced back into hiding one's sexuality after coming out.
    Iceman: Do they know? Do they know what they took from us?
  • Graceful Loser: Nate, at the end, for a given value of loser - the X-Men don't (and frankly, considering how ludicrously powerful he is, can't) take him down by force. Instead, the most that happens is that he gets whacked in the face hard with the fact that he's Not So Above It All, realising that he still has things to learn, rather than just teach, and most of the X-Men ultimately reject his reality. However, his arguments for what he's done and why are admitted to be at least somewhat valid, and while the AOX is treated as being imperfect, it's seen as having definite plus points (none of the 'hated and feared' thing, for starters). In the end, Nate lets the X-Men go without a fight, after explaining the consequences (they all have to go, as he gently and sadly explains to Nature Girl), with nothing more than a small jibe at Jean over her hypocrisy regarding unilateral decisions, before setting about reforming the AOX with the aid of AOX!Magneto to remove the flaws.
  • Harmless Freezing: Played with for drama in the first issue of "The X-Tremists". Iceman is a member of the Department X officers, charged with detaining those who violate the social tenets of society, and regularly freezes perpetrators solid to bring them in. Unfortunately one such couple they just captured is expecting a child, and the officers are now concerned he may have killed the baby doing so.
  • Hate Sink: Rabid, foaming at the mouth Department X member Moneta has an extreme belief in Nate’s Asexual and Aromantic ideology and is thus violent and prejudiced against anyone who breaks those laws.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: The go-to exclamation of surprise appears to be "By Hope's Grace!" in the same situation one might say "Jesus!"
  • In Their Own Image: The tenets of society all but explicitly follow Nate's background. Romantic and familial relationships don't exist (or aren't meant to, but do anyway, which is more or less how Nate's life went), all reproduction is done artificially, everyone is raised by surrogates until their role in society is assessed and assigned.
  • Killed Off for Real: Anyone who wasn't at the beach when X-Man created the Age of X-Man is apparently dead in that universe, with Cyclops, Wolverine, Hope Summers, and Professor X being confirmed as dead. According to the "Secret History" variant covers they were killed by Stryfe, which somehow sparked the Resolution.
    • A series of portraits hanging above the blackboard in the History classroom in the first issue of Nextgen depicts the four aforementioned heroes as well as Rogue and Gambit (busy in Mojo World during the events of Mr. & Mrs. X) and Cable who was killed by his younger incarnation during the events of Extermination (2018).
    • Evan Saba Nur is killed by Omega Red. It sticks after the world is undone and as of Dawn of X his resurrection is put into question due to the Quiet Council's "no clones" decree.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Several of the remaining X-Men after "Disassembled" aren't transported into this reality, specifically Cyclops, Wolverine, Magik, Havok, Multiple Man, Karma, Banshee, Wolfsbane, and Hope Summers.
    • Oddly, however, Dani Moonstar is part of this and part of Scott's new team - as the event goes on, it's indicated that this is intentional, with AOX!Dani talking about feeling like both dream and dreamer, and having dreams about Nate (who was last seen prior to this event as her boyfriend). This is eventually a key plot point, with the revelation that AOX!Dani is a manifestation of Nate's subconscious, and proof that he's Not So Above It All in regards to relationships and connections.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The reality crafted by Nate is a surface-level realization of Charles Xavier’s dream with everyone becoming a mutant so that no one group is being subjugated by another. But this comes at the cost of altering the X-Men’s minds and sicking thought police on anyone who steps out Nate’s preferred line of thinking and mentions of reconditioning being made in reference to Jean Grey, the only telepath possibly powerful enough to threaten Nate’s reign. At the end, Nate and AOX!Magneto set out to reform the reality, with no reconditioning or secret police.
  • Mass Super-Empowering Event: The Resolution, where everyone in the world became a mutant. Exactly what happened hasn't been explored yet, but Cyclops, Wolverine, and many others gave their lives for it.
  • Mind Rape: Telepathic 'reconditioning' is fairly standard, and played for horror each and every time this happens.
    • It's particularly important in Nextgen, thanks to Glob being immune to it and thus seeing more than one person get Unpersoned, and others mindwiped. At the end of the series, after being caught, Armour, one of his friends, comes up and introduces herself as if she's never met him before.
  • Mystical White Hair: Nate, at the end, something which arguably symbolises his Character Development.
  • Not So Above It All: Bishop is pissed that he is the only one who gets punished for having consensual sex with another adult, but he would have understood it if he'd remembered that Nate sees 616-Jean as his own mother.
    • The fact that Nate isn't as above it all as he pretends/thinks is a crucial point in the last issue of Marvelous X-Men and in Age of X-Man: Omega. The former shows a glimpse of the AOX's past, and that reality's Professor X calling out Nate's tendencies to be a solo act, while Cyclops complains that Nate's a natural at everything except understanding other people, which indicates a degree of self-awareness on Nate's part, and the latter has Nate stunned by the presence of Dani Moonstar, his last girlfriend, whom he emphatically did not bring into the AOX, or consciously create a counterpart of. Instead, she's a subconscious creation of his, who helps him realise that he's not as immune to relationships as he likes to pretend - and, moreover, that that's a good thing.
  • Rabid Cop: Moneta is most zealous in doing her job in Department X. Unbeknownst to everyone else she kept a pregnant detainee handcuffed to a pipe in their basement with no material comforts, the barest efforts to feed her and assaults her when she protests her mistreatment. All the while spewing hate about her having a romantic-sexual relationship and stereotyping her ability to shapeshift into a rat person. Her colleagues are all horrified.
  • Reality Warper: How Nate created this world.
  • Rebellious Spirit: The premise of Nextgen is that in an era of peace and equality, and also repression, the teen mutants still need to rebel. It doesn't end well.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Department X spends the entire last issue of their book doing this against just about the entire world, to the point where they miss the climax in Age of X-man: Omega because they're too busy blowing things up.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The entirety of Nextgen ends up being this, with Glob's quest to get the Life Seed coming to nothing, being locked up and Unpersoned, with all his friends undergoing the same and being mind-wiped to boot.
  • Single-Precept Religion: The Age of X-Man is governed by the Guiding Principles, chief of which seems to be complete individual autonomy - no relationships, be they familial, sexual, or romantic, are allowed. This is under a counterintuitive but sort of logical (in a warped kind of way) belief that such units end up dividing people, with Nate later lamenting that even in this world, members of the X-Men are still forming into groups opposed to one another.
  • Shout-Out: A Crapsaccharine World without families or romantic relationships and reproduction is handled in "hatcheries" is straight out of Brave New World, whereas Department X is heavily reminiscent of the Big Brother of Nineteen Eighty-Four.
  • State Sec: Department X are the new regime's secret police, hunting down people who have illegal relationships. Unusually, they appear to be very short on resources — they travel around in an old VW camper, and there appear to be a grand total of six members in the whole of America. They also seem to have a very light-hearted approach to their job — which quickly becomes rather disturbing, considering what their job is. The fugitives who fear their custody know them as the X-tremists, something they're pointedly unaware of.
  • Stylistic Suck: Kurt is a famous movie star in this reality starring in a very flimsily set up action film involving ray guns, flimsy sets and hammy acting. Given the fact that a star of Kurt’s caliber could afford a better budget on his movie but his 616 version has always been a fan of throwback swashbuckler films, this may be intentional in-universe.
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham: The current incarnation of X-Force are busy hunting Kid Cable (then, later, trying to find Rachel Grey), Rogue and Gambit are stuck in Mojoworld, and Cyclops and Wolverine were missing from the X-Men when the event began, thus none are involved in the story. In fact, Cyclops and Wolverine return while the story is still going and thus are dubbed the last X-Men.
  • Swapped Roles: Apocalypse and Genesis in "Apocalypse and the X-Tracts" actually have a relationship with each other, but their attitudes are swapped. Apocalypse is now a pacifistic spiritual leader while Evan is anxious to do battle to prove his worth.
  • Theory of Narrative Causality: Nate discusses this in great detail in the last issue of Marvelous X-Men and in Age of X-Man: Omega, noting how he tried to break the X-Men out of their everlasting cycle of conflict and heartbreak.
  • There Are No Global Consequences: Averted in the backstory to the mass awakening of mutant abilities worldwide. Thousands nearly drowned when an eight-year-old spontaneously developed Making a Splash abilities and Piotr and Kurt both mention chaotic scenes in Russia and Germany, respectively. This is later explained as part of Nate's attempts to keep the X-Men from seeing through the facade by continuing to portray them as heroes even in a mutant utopia - though as he explains it, as with the Matrix, the X-Men's minds simply couldn't accept a perfect utopia and needed something to fight against.
  • Unperson: Seems to be the primary means of punishment that X-Man has for dealing with rebellious mutants, especially X-Men. Bishop is removed from all pictures depicting the X-Men and replaced by X-23 after breaking the world’s “no-romance” rule.
    • Laura almost recalls Gabby in Marvelous X-Men #1, with Nate quickly rewriting her memory, implying that Honey Badger was too much trouble, leading her to become this.
    • In Nextgen #1 Blob tells a rebellious Bling that getting their mind wiped for a third time is something they don’t want to experience, implying that those who go against X-Man’s will too many times get this treatment.
  • Uterine Replicator: All children are artificially created in hatcheries called Cerebros. The teenage Nature Girl finds the fact that people used to have sex unbelievable.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The mutants in charge are said to be morally dubious in order to protect their new utopia. Also the fundamental principle behind the crossover in the first place, with Nate holding this attitude. The tie-ins demonstrate this up close and personal, with an undercurrent of sinister politics.
  • Villain Has a Point: It depends on how much you see Nate as a villain, but in the final issue, Age of X-Man: Omega, he's treated as having some pretty valid points about the hell the X-Men constantly go through in the real world, and how this world - as intended - offers opportunities both for respite from that and for the X-Men to be their best selves without judgement from others, particularly to the likes of Nightcrawler, who can't pass for human. Magneto, for one, actually thanks Nate for showing him a world that's the complete opposite of the one he grew up in - though he tacitly acknowledges it flaws by noting that Nate already knows what he screwed up.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Nate Grey, ultimately, explaining that this world was an attempt to break the X-Men out of their endless cycle of struggle and heartbreak, while conforming to the Theory of Narrative Causality enough to make them comfortable (hence the struggle against Apocalypse and the X-Tracts, to make it seem like there's always a cause to fight for). In the end, he explains this to the X-Men, then lets them go when they choose to.