Fabian Nicieza was one of the original creators of the Age of Apocalypse reality in 1995. Now, 20 years later, he’s returning to the world he helped create as part of Secret Wars.
Newsarama spoke with Nicieza on the eve of Age of Apocalypse’s July 8 debut, discovering what it’s like to return to a story with such a strong legacy in the context of Battleworld, this time with artists Gerardo Sandoval and Iban Coello.
Nicieza waxed nostalgic about the end of the original Age of Apocalypse while also getting down and dirty with details about this new iteration, including Sandoval and Coello’s artwork, some surprise characters, and which Age of Apocalypse favorites might make an appearance. Oh yeah, and the talking dog.
Newsarama: Fabian, what’s it like returning to the world of Age of Apocalypse after almost 20 years?
Fabian Nicieza: At first, very odd and more than a little daunting. But, like riding a bike, it was quickly a very fun and enjoyable ride!
Nrama: You were one of the architects of the original Age of Apocalypse back in 1995. How does it feel to see the legacy of the original series in action?
Nicieza: I have to be honest, I never read any of the following iterations of the original. I didn't even know some of them had been done! Not to disrespect any of the creators involved or readers who enjoyed those series, but when we worked on the original Age of Apocalypse we tried very hard to make it a self-contained storyline. The world of Age of Apocalypse ended at the end of the series when that entire reality ceased to exist (rewritten by the M'Kraan Crystal).
So it was kind of meant to be "one and done" even though we had lots (maybe too much!) stuff bleed through into the mainstream Marvel Universe.
Nrama: Is this a return to the continuity we’ve seen before, or a new version of Age of Apocalypse?
Nicieza: This is a brand new Age of Apocalypse which draws from a lot of the character extrapolations of the original. So this Age of Apocalypse has always existed on Battleworld as far as they know. The death of Charles Xavier still serves as the focal point for when Apocalypse rose to power, but how he died may be different in this version.
It is a very self-contained story but does tease threads to the past and I think fans of the original Age of Apocalypse will find material and characters they are happy to see again, but will also get to see some of them in a new way.
Nrama: Cypher seems to play an important role in Age of Apocalypse. What makes him so special?
Nicieza: I wanted to take an "everyman" character and make him the narrative voice, since he would give a very objective point of view on all the characters. His powers are fun to play with from the standpoint of how other character's motivations can be explored.
Nrama: Who are Magneto’s X-Men in this version of the Age of Apocalypse reality? Is it close to the original line-up, or are there some surprises?
Nicieza: Some surprises for sure. Familiar faces, but maybe some of them in unfamiliar roles or combinations. The X-Men are down and out, not many of them are left (and maybe a lot less after the first issue). I don't want to reveal too much about who is on the roster or who makes it through to the end. You'll see lots of the usual suspects, but you'll see some of them in a different light.
Nrama: One of the coolest parts of Age of Apocalypse was seeing all the re-imagined X-Men characters. Will we see any new ones pop-up in the Secret Wars series?
Nicieza: You will see one specific re-imagined character. I took someone and tried to do the "Sunfire treatment" with him, by radically altering their look like Scott Lobdell and Joe Madureira did in the original book with Sunfire.
You'll see who it is in Age of Apocalypse #1 and many fans will probably guess who he is well before #2 comes out.
Nrama: The original Age of Apocalypse boasted work from some of the greatest X-Men artists of the ‘90’s. How do Gerardo Sandoval and Iban Coello stack up?
Nicieza: They have both been great in very different ways. Gerardo brings a tremendous amount of energy, mood, and spewing testosterone to the first three issues, while Iban brings a great storytelling clarity to what could have been several very complicated scenes as the cast comes together in #4 and #5.
Nrama: Will any Age of Apocalypse fan favorites like Blink or X-Man show up in the Secret Wars series?
Nicieza: Yes and no. But not necessarily in that order. Or possibly exactly in that order.
Nrama: Speaking of X-Man, part of Age of Apocalypse’s lasting legacy are the characters that made it into the mainstream reality after the crossover’s end. Any chance we’ll see any of these characters make it out to the All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe?
Nicieza: You'd have to ask Heff Lemire and everyone else working on the post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe! I'd love it if lobotomized Jean Grey made it through! :-)
Nrama: Bottom line, what can fans of the original Age of Apocalypse expect from its Secret Wars revival?
Nicieza: The same old dumb stuff I always try to put into my work: a big story told with small moments; plenty of action that is the result of plot driven situations; characters in conflict with each other and in conflict with themselves; some fun lines and attitude; and a talking dog.
You always have to try to have a talking dog. I fail far too often in that last regard. You'll have to pick up the series to see if I got the talking dog into the book.