By Marius V.
Welcome to another “What If?” article by yours truly! We’ll be taking a look at Marvel’s Uncanny X-Force: Vol. 1 by Rick Remender. Most of this series’ 37 issues revolves around Apocalypse, Marvel’s first mutant and my favorite comic book character. If you haven’t read Uncanny X-Force, please do check it out as it’s a fun read! Spoilers may be below.
This series takes place while the X-Men are located in Utopia, off the cost of California. The X-Men fled to the island after Norman Osborn and the Dark Avengers had forced them out of their San Francisco base of operations. Chris Yost and Craig Kyle finished off their X-Force run where they established an X-Force team led by Wolverine as they go after threats to mutantkind and eliminate them by all means necessary. After Second Coming, Cyclops orders Wolverine to disassemble the team; however Wolverine secretly puts together his own dark ops X-Force.
For this new team, Wolverine recruited: Psylocke, Archangel, Fantomex, and Deadpool. The mission still remained – eliminate all threats to mutantkind. Previously, Domino was on the team, and I would have kept her on. X23 was also on the team, but Wolverine, being somewhat of her guardian, kicks her out of the team as he wants her to have a better life. Elixir at this point in continuity, just disappears and hasn’t been seen until recently with the death of Wolverine. Warpath quits the team and enjoys peace for once while Vanisher dies saving the team without anyone knowing it (this is later retconned as he’s alive and well having recently worked with Juggernaut).
Wolverine and the newly resurrected Psylocke are trying to help Warren Worthington III with his transformations between Angel and Archangel. Fearing that he’s losing control, Wolverine sends Deadpool on a mission to find Ozymandias, one of Apocalypse’s slaves and a member of the Clan Akkaba. Deadpool finds the Clan Akkaba and Ozymandias, bringing him back to Utopia and placing him in a cell under the guard of the island’s warden, Danger. Cyclops questions Wolverine as to how he came about finding him only to be brushed off. Ozymandias informs both men that a new Age of Apocalypse is coming and that the “seeds” have already been planted. This causes concern amongst the leaders.
Psylocke, who is busy helping Warren fight off the Archangel persona both mentally and physically, is brought in to psychically read Ozymandias but is unable. Wolverine places Psylocke in charge of X-Force as he doesn’t feel he can trust anyone that has been connected to Apocalypse until they figure out what is coming.
This is where the story would start to change and follow along with being a “What If?” story. Wolverine shows Psylocke, Domino, Deadpool, and Fantomex a list mutants that have been and are connected to Apocalypse:
WOLVERINE: The one time Horseman of Death during the storyline The Twelve. Apocalypse found Wolverine, at this time with bone claws, and placed adamantium back into his body while also taking control of his mind and making him the Fourth Horsemen. Wolverine has gotten past this but it does make him concerned.
CYCLOPS: In the aftermath of the storyline The Twelve, Apocalypse and Cyclops merged bodies and minds for some time until they were able to be separated by Cable. Wolverine suggests this may be the cause of Scott’s current harsh and rash actions.
ANGEL/ARCHANGEL: Recently, Warren has been able to transform into the Horseman of Death, Archangel. This seems to be both a mental and physical change. With Warren slowing losing control of his darker side, Psylocke has rekindled their relationship in hopes of saving Warren from himself.
SUNFIRE: During the events of the Blood of Apocalypse, we see Apocalypse finding a crippled Sunfire and turning him into the Horseman, Famine.
CALIBAN: Caliban is one of the rare and few mutants that have had the honor of taking the mantle of two different Horsemen during two different occasions, Pestilence and Death. He was killed during Messiah Complex and resurrected during Necrosha, being used as a tool to find deceased mutants.
POLARIS: Polaris, Magneto’s daughter, was depowered after the House of M and during M-Day. In the Blood of Apocalypse storyline, Apocalypse made her his Horseman, Pestilence. Polaris retained her mutant powers and gained the ability to assimilate and release any and all forms of diseases and viruses. Soon after, Emma Frost states that she is still mutating due to the effects of the Celestial technology that Apocalypse used for her transformation.
GAMBIT: During the Blood of Apocalypse, Gambit was turned into the Horseman, Death. As Death, he still had the ability to charge objects but was also able to turn air into poisonous gas and was immune to any and all diseases. Shortly after his transformation, we see Gambit back to his normal appearance as he states that Mr. Sinister has helped him transform back. During the “Hellbound” mini-series and like Warren, we learn that Gambit is also in a mental struggle between his persona and the Death persona.
DARK BEAST: A dark, sinister alternate version of Hank McCoy but from the Age of Apocalypse, had made his way to the 616 Universe and revealed responsible for a host of atrocities.
BLINK: During the Necrosha storyline, Blink was resurrected by Selene to join her Inner Circle. Blink is a direct descendant of Apocalypse’s bloodline as shown in the pages of “Apocalypse vs Dracula.” After an encounter with Dr. Strange and Emma Frost, Blink has teleported away.
CABLE: At this point in time, Cyclops’ time displaced son, is dead after the events of Second Coming.
CHAMBER/DECIBEL: Also a direct descendant of Apocalypse’s bloodline, Chamber was a former member of Generation X, and had a gaping hole in his chest where he emitted energy. During M-Day, he was depowered and placed on life support. Ozymandias and the Clan Akkaba found Chamber and restored him to his full potential, ironically resembling Apocalypse. Being offered the place of Apocalypse’s rule, Chamber declines. He is next seen in New Warriors under the name of Decibel and refusing to use his new powers and relying on technology.
A secret team that can barely trust each other, now looking at everyone on Utopia as a potential threat is what great comic storylines are made of. Angel converts into Archangel as he breaks out Ozymandias and they head to the home base of the Clan Akkaba. The young clone of Apocalypse is present and Archangel is being positioned as the boy’s guardian. The team of Wolverine, Domino, Psylocke, Deadpool and Fantomex head on a mission to save Archangel Being confronted by the Clan’s child clone of Apocalypse, Deadpool refuses to hill him and while Fantomex doesn’t hesitate to put a bullet in the young child’s head. The team barely escapes realizing their mission failed and they just killed a child. Ozymandias has Archangel ascend to be the next Apocalypse, as he was a fail-safe if something were to have happened to the child. We now have Archangel gathering forces and becoming a major threat.
I loved how Remender brought in the original Famine, Autumn Rolfson, as a previous intimate companion to Apocalypse and revealing that she bore a son named Genocide/Holocaust. I loved the concept of having a “death seed” be the Celestial technology that Apocalypse uses to create his Horseman Death, but how about extending that and also creating seeds for War, Famine and Pestilence? I would have kept his storylines where the team broke out Dark Beast to have him help them travel to the Age of Apocalypse. Wolverine, whose body never purged and healed from the death seed, turned into an Apocalypse figure of that reality.
I would have explored the Gambit/Death persona and also added Decibel to the team. This would provide them a fighting chance as he’s an omega level mutant. Bringing in the previous Horsemen as sort of a ‘reunion’ would have be a great visual.
As we have it, Archangel is now in the position of Apocalypse. He puts a death seed in Psylocke to make her the Horseman of Death in her Lady Mandarin design. Penance from Generation X would become War. For the horseman Pestilence – Northstar in his white skin design from Age of Apocalypse. Famine would be none other than Genocide as he’s trying to prove that he is the heir to the real Apocalypse.
These are the things I would have added and changed for this series, while also having the team fight against the Shadow King, Lady Deathstrike, Weapon Plus, Sabretooth, Omega Red, and others.
Remender bridged over a lot of his plots from Uncanny X-Force into Uncanny Avengers. It would have been great for him to bring back En Saba Nur, the real Apocalypse in that series! Apocalypse’s last appearance was during The Blood of Apocalypse where he was confronted by the Celestials. Giving him a new suit and new powers, making him a “Thanos” level threat to this new team of Avengers and X-Men combined would be a fascinating story!
Polaris would turn evil and be a companion for Apocalypse which would have been his plan originally if he had not been defeated. Her mutation continues to progress as she mutates into the bride of Apocalypse.
Uncanny X-Force was an amazing book. If it were to take a turn through the pages of “What If?” it would look something like this.