David Lapham's Age of Apocalypse has been one of those titles I've kept up with due to its potential rather than really enjoying each issue. It's set in that dimension, in a world where Wolverine has become Weapon Omega, the new Apocalypse, trying to exterminate humanity at the behest of the Celestials, while a rag-tag group of humans led by the people who would be the most virulent anti-mutant bigot-faces in the 616 struggles to survive and find a way to topple him. It's a neat twist, but so far the series has just felt sort of adequate. Not bad enough to get me to drop it, but not all that compelling, either, even with the pair of depowered mutants, Jean Grey and Victor Creed, joining the fight for the X-Terminated.
That might change with a couple of new developments. For one, the grungy art from Roberto De La Torre has been replaced with the cleaner style of Renato Arlem. Something about that dirty look, while suiting the tone of the book, made it a little more off-putting the more it wore on – a purely personal and visceral response, I'm sure, as your mileage may vary. Arlem's style makes it a bit easier to slide into, although it's not perfect by any means – the first two close-ups of Jean look a bit stoner-constipated.
The second bit is that, in Age of Apocalypse #7, we get to meet their version of Victor Von Doom, and that always livens up the proceedings. Arguably the greatest supervillain of all time as we know him, AoA Doom is a secretive revolutionary deposed from his throne in Latveria (now a processing plant where criminal/unworthy mutants are melted into primordial goo for mad scientists to play with), where the X-Terminated have gone to try and get his help to decipher some smarty-pants journals from the late Reed Richards which might contain the secret to defeating Weapon Omega.
Prophet and Deadeye have been made by a mutant patrol team and have Sentinels bearing down on them when Doom arrives flying like Superman to destroy them, before leading the two into a trap. However, it's to keep them from interfering in a carefully laid plan he's already got running. He's still the ego case we know – "I am Doom. I know more than you can possibly imagine." – but he seems at first glance a bit more benevolent here, his armor literally shining like those knights you hear about, and plus, he hasn't been horrifically scarred and is still the handsome man he once was. If this series can add Dr. Doom to its central cast as a freedom fighter, not only will it hearken back to the awesome sauce that was Doom 2099, but I will instantly be a hell of a lot more engaged with this book than I have been so far.
That remains to be seen, though, as the rest of the team has been betrayed by Emma Frost, and whether or not Doom is in league with her or if he'll help the fight against them has yet to be revealed. It's hard to imagine a Doom story without some kind of treachery planned on his part, but this is Age of Apocalypse. Here, Doom can be The Superman.
Make it happen, Mr. Lapham.