For the last few years I've been buying and reading the Ultimate X-men books. But that's stopping, as of tonight, as of Ultimate X-Men 18: Apocalypse.
This issue is the culmination of a story arc that no one really knew was happening. It ties up a lot of loose ends into a hangmans's noose which it proceeds to snug around its neck before making an airborne leap in the final chapter (Ultimate X-Men Issue #93). It feels like this collection came about at a writer's meeting where someone secretly switched everyone to decaf.
"Okay, we need to come up with something for this issue and I'm tapped."
"We haven't seen that mutant serial killer in a while. The guy that's got to kill ten mutants and he's only killed four so far."
"Yeah, okay. That'll fill out an issue. But let's make it really easy for him to kill those other ten."
"Yeah, six. What happens when he gets to ten?"
The silent response is deafening. One writer taps out a popular song on his notebook while Harvey Tolibao adds more muscles to a character he's doodling.
"He gets real big?" One writer ventures.
"No, not just big. Huge. He's like, the ultimate mutant. He becomes... Doomsday!"
"Doomsday's been used. He killed Superman."
After security is called, the meeting resumes.
"Like I said... He becomes... Apocalypse! He can take anything the mutants dish out. In fact, he can control mutant DNA!"
"What does that mean? He can morph their powers? He can turn them normal?"
"No, dumbass. It means that he's like the puppetmaster. He'll make all the mutants attack each other and innocent people."
("You can do that with controlling DNA?" another writer asks under his breath.)
"That's cool. He can use the mutants as his own army and it's up to the other superheroes to battle it out. It's a good crossover opportunity. We can get The Ultimates in there and--"
"No! No Ultimates! We need Spiderman and The Fantastic Four."
"Can we at least get Thor?"
"No, no Thor. I told you. Fantastic Four and Spiderman."
"He's dead, dumbass. And, not even the Fantastic Four and Spiderman can stop this guy. He's that bad."
("This story's that bad," quips someone in the back of the room.)
("If Spidey and the FF can't stop this guy, why are they here?" asks someone else.)
"So, who's going to defeat this guy?"
More coffee cups are filled. Someone makes a three point shot into a waste basket. Harvey Tolibao keeps adding muscles upon muscles on his doodle. Someone finally raises their hand and says, "How about Magneto?"
"I like it, I like it. Magneto from the FUTURE! No, no... better yet! Charles Xavier, from the FUTURE! Dressed like Magneto!"
"But Xavier's dead, isn't he?"
"Of course not! He got transported into the future. Um... It was all... a plan! Yeah, it was a plan that Cable and Bishop came up with and they've been working this all along. They knew Apocalypse would show up... cause... they're from the FUTURE. So, Charles Xavier's been hanging out in the future and getting all buff and stuff and he can totally kick Apocalypse's ass."
Harvey Tolibao starts a new doodle of a buff Charles Xavier.
"But, I thought Apocalypse was unstoppable."
"Oh, fuck, I don't know. Okay. Bust out the Phoenix. She'll save everyone. Damn. I'm tired. I'm tired of all you guys. I'm sick of this whole fucking book. That's it. Phoenix comes back, defeats Apocalypse, and turns back time to before I was on this fucking book. Story over."
"Can we do anything to make this story even worse?"
The sarcasm is lost on Robert Kirkman who answers, "Yes, we can. Tobliano, you're doing the art for #93!"
That might not be an exact transcription of the events behind Ultimate X-Men 18: Apocalypse but that's definitely how the whole painful experience comes across. That said, I'm giving up after that knee to the groin.
And what's with Tolibao? Just look at the monstrosity below. It looks like a mural painted by the Hale School "special" class: