So in my X-Men Reading Project I finally came to the mega event Age of Apocalypse. This was really interesting because it was around this time in the 90’s that I started falling away from American comics as a kid, in large part to these huge crossovers which were so big that I couldn’t afford to collect them all. Age of Apocalypse was probably the biggest of these for me. Not only did all of the X-Books change names as part of the AoA for 4 issues, but there were other important stand alone issues as well.
AoA is available in a super nice (but expensive) hardback collection. I went the cheaper route and was able to find the Age of Apocalypse Complete Epic (parts 1-4 pictured above) for a really good deal. It’s five volumes. I reviewed the Prelude separately because it was so different than the rest of the story. I’m not going to get into the ISBN’s and issues collected this time because that in itself is a bit of a chore, and info on the collection can be found pretty easily.
As far as how critical this story is if you’re catching up on all of the major X-Men storylines, I’d say that it’s actually pretty important despite being an alternate timeline story, especially if you’re going to read the next big event, Onslaught, since there are ramifications that carry over into the real world of our favorite merry mutants. So, if you don’t want to drop a bunch of money on this collection, I would at least read a detailed synopsis so that certain things make sense later on.
Personally I found the story to be much the same as I remembered it as a kid: overwhelmingly BIG. The 4 main story issues of the AoA Complete Epic are over 1300 pages together! And that’s not including the 237 pages of the Prelude. So reading it was a big undertaking. I’m normally not nearly as into alternate tales, reboots, or other such things, preferring to stay with the history of the characters I know and love, so I wasn’t really into the AoA myself. That being said, it is a major epic that is well planned and executed. It’s just that there are large sections of story (Generation Next, the 4 issues of Generation X in the AoA, in particular) which just felt so long and drawn out.
In conclusion, I’d definitely at least read up on it in detail if you don’t want to make the big time and cost commitment.