This week in the Marvel Rundown, Apocalypse learns the truth Genesis and the history of the Broken Land of Okkara… but will it tear them apart? Find out in a SPOILER-LITE review of X-Men – Before The Fall: The Heralds of Apocalypse! Not ready for spoilers? Jump on down to the Rapid Rundown for spoiler-free blurbs on Silk #2 and Silver Surfer: Ghost Light #5!

What did you think of this week’s fresh Marvel Comics releases, True Believers? We’re waiting to hear from you! Give us a shout-out, right here in the comment section or over on social media @comicsbeat, and let us know what you’re thinking.

X-Men: Before the Fall – The Heralds of Apocalypse #1

X-Men: Before the Fall – Heralds of Apocalypse #1

Writer: Al Ewing
Artists: Luca Pizzari, Stefano Landini and Raphael Pimento
Colorist: Ceci De La Cruz
Letterer and Production: VC’s Travis Lanham
Design: Tom Muller
Main Cover: Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia

The march to war begun in the pages of X-Men Red reaches a head, as Genesis gathers her armies for the beginning of what will become the Genesis War…while Apocalypse sets his own plans in motion to prepare Arakko for the coming conflict. Though the titular heralds get very little screen time, this issue makes it clear that they will be very important to the battles to come and the upcoming Fall of X.

It’s tough to see Genesis continue down this path, especially after the work Apocalypse has done to try and keep his people safe during this time of peace. It’s revealed that back when Genesis first took hold of the Annihilation Helm (now staff) and was possessed by the spirit, it was less so a forceful possession, and much more of a choice she made than we had previously been led to believe. It’s a shocking decision, both for us as readers and for Apocalypse, who has only ever wanted peace and safety for his family and people.

This issue feels like the beginning of divorce proceedings for Apocalypse and Genesis. We’ve already seen them square off in X of Swords, but the end of that made it feel like they were working on how to come together as a family again. This, and the last few issues of Al Ewing’s X-Men Red, feel as though they’ve hit an impasse, and will be facing off on opposing sides once again. Even if Genesis’ decisions are being influenced by the Annihilation Staff, it feels like her choices are natural extensions of what she truly wants, which seems to be a warlike culture, never satisfied with peace, but focused on proactive ‘defense’ measures.

Apocalypse is such a contemplative dude now and I love it

Though there are three artists on this story (Luca Pizzari, Stefano Landini, and Raphael Pimento), the shift between them is seamless, both due to the stylist fit for the portions of the issue they are each illustrating, and the strength of Ceci De La Cruz’ colors, which unite the book in a cohesive palette. While the book is grim and quite violent in spots, this is contrasted with scenes of idyllic peace, with these beautiful bright colors for Okkara and the Amenth after it has been reclaimed by Apocalypse and his family. Travis Lanham maintains that consistency, with bold lettering for the scene shifts that make it clear we are in very different places pre and post the influence of Annihilation. 

What continues to shock me is the fact that, since the beginning of this Krakoan Age, Apocalypse has been transformed from a one-dimensional monster into this well-formed spiritual advisor, with a great deal of depth and sympathy to his character. Much of this can be attributed to Tini Howard and Jonathan Hickman’s work toward the start of this era, but it’s great to see Ewing continue that throughline and keep pushing Apocalypse toward this more noble path.

It’s going to be very interesting to see this conflict play out on Arakko, especially now that the culture has undergone a tremendous shift to become far more accepting of each other and the idea that peacetime can be a beneficial thing. I’m not sure Storm is going to be too willing to give up the planet to Genesis and let them fall back into the warrior grindset they were deadset on before the terraformation of Mars. The influence of Orchis on Genesis’ decision is something I didn’t get into here, but it’s a brief connection that makes it clear they are doing anything and everything in order to set up the most disastrous outcome for mutants in the Fall of X.

What is he cooking

VERDICT: BUY. This is an essential chapter in the Krakoan story, and feels incredibly consequential for what’s to come.

Rapid Rundown!

  • Silk (2023) #2
    • In Silk #2, written by Emily Kim, with art by Ig Guara, colors by Ian Herring, letters by Ariana Maher and an arresting main cover by Dave Johnson, Cindy Moon remains trapped in her cinematic dreams. This second issue included everything there was to love about the first, along with an interesting perspective character: Cindy’s brother, Albert. Albert (and his hilarious aprons) have been a favorite supporting character here at the Rundown for a while now, and examining his function as a “supporting character” is an interesting way back into this story about Cindy’s movie-like dreams. While I would have liked to see more of the Western train robbery movie, of which Cindy’s dream is comprised this issue, the real-world exposition was probably necessary and definitely enjoyable. Check this title out already! It’s presented in SPIDER-VISION, people. — AJK
  • Silver Surfer: Ghost Light #5
    • The return of one of Marvel’s most obscure characters concludes in this issue, as recently resurrected Dr. Al Harper, aka Ghost Light, and the Silver Surfer fight to protect Harper’s family and the sleepy town of Sweetwater from the cosmic entity the Stranger, powered up Dr. Sombra Solomon, and her cohorts from the A.I.M. splinter group, the Scarlet Sector. Writer/Professor John Jennings and artist Valentine DeLandro dug deep, nerding full out on this run, making a modern interpretation of what a classic Marvel story is, high cosmic stakes with a human heart at the center. Without spoiling, artist DeLandro and colorist Matt Milla give readers some great eye candy showcasing Harper’s growing power. Ghost Light fills a corner of the Marvel Universe with its warmth, depth of character, and stylish art. —GC3

Next Week: It’s the week of the captains with Captain Marvel: Dark Tempest #1 and Captain America #750!