Post-Age of Apocalypse
First Appearance: X-Men Prime #1
Members: Archangel, Beast, Bishop, Cannonball, Cyclops, Gambit, Iceman, Jean Grey, Professor X, Psylocke, Storm and Wolverine.
Infiltrator: Dark Beast
As time went on, the members of the Blue and Gold teams had slowly started to appear more and more in each other’s titles. By 1995, there was little distinction between them when the X-Men titles were all drawn into the biggest crossover to date. For four months, all the main titles were put on hold and a series of new titles set in the alternate reality of the “Age of Apocalypse” debuted. The crossover occurred between the issues of Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #321 and #322, and X-Men (2nd series) #41 and #42, and when it ended a one-shot X-Men: Prime #1 was released to bring readers up to speed.
Active members from the outset included Archangel, Beast, Bishop, Cyclops, Gambit, Jean Grey, Professor X, Psylocke, Storm and Wolverine. At the time, Rogue and Iceman were on a sabbatical, taking a road trip across the country after both of them had been through some personal trauma. Technically, the Blue and Gold teams still functioned at this point but there was so much overlap between the team members featuring in both titles that it is hard to really distinguish between them.
There was a new addition in Cannonball, who officially graduated from X-Force to the X-Men in X-Force (1st series) #44. Debuting in Marvel Graphic Novel #4 and then starring in the New Mutants series, Cannonball was a mainstay of the younger squad teams. He first operated as an active X-Man in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #323, but he was never shown as an actual member of either the Blue or Gold team individually.
Rogue’s and Iceman’s journey across America came to a close when Gambit tracked them down and confronted Rogue about their issues. Rogue had previously absorbed some of Gambit’s memories when she kissed him and the two fought about the secrets he kept hidden. After having a heart-to-heart, Rogue decided she could no longer trust Gambit and she decided to quit the X-Men permanently in X-Men (2nd series) #45. Whilst Rogue went off on her own, Iceman returned to the X-Men the same issue and took up an active role on the team once more.
The X-Men were soon to gain a new member, although they didn’t know it at the time. When the Age of Apocalypse reality was reverted back to its previous version, there were a few characters who escaped the dying world. One of them was an alternate version of Beast, known as Dark Beast due to his twisted and sadistic nature. Needing to hide from Mister Sinister, Dark Beast attacked and imprisoned the regular Beast, taking his place on the team in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #331 without anyone else being the wiser. Due to the nature of his presence on the team, he cannot be considered a member of the X-Men as the rest of the team didn’t know who he truly was.
Aside from a few personal dramas, such as Psylocke nearly being killed by Sabretooth and Wolverine’s slow slide towards a feral state, the team’s main concern was the apparent coming of the mysterious Onslaught. It was around this time that the two main X-Men titles became even more interconnected, with stories from one being concluded in another. When the Onslaught event hit, it was a line-wide crossover that encompassed many other titles outside of the X-line. It also ended Bishop’s long-running plotline of who would betray the X-Men in the future. It was revealed that Professor X had inadvertently created the Onslaught sub-identity in his own mind when he mind-wiped Magneto during the Fatal Attractions event a few years before. During the event, Dark Beast revealed his true colors and sided with Xavier-turned-Onslaught. The real Beast was located and rescued in X-Factor (1st series) #126, where he rejoined the X-Men once more.
First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #337
Members: Archangel, Beast, Bishop, Cannonball, Cyclops, Gambit, Iceman, Jean Grey, Joseph, Professor X, Rogue, Psylocke, Storm and Wolverine
In the wake of Onslaught’s attack, the X-Men were left shell shocked by the event and the various members of the team questioned their place on it. Coming out of Onslaught, the initial team was Archangel, Beast, Bishop, Cannonball, Cyclops, Gambit, Iceman, Jean Grey, Professor X, Psylocke, Storm and Wolverine. By now the concept of the Blue and Gold squads had virtually been abandoned, with the various members of the X-Men appearing in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) and X-Men (2nd series) as and when the story demanded it. Many of the issues in this particualr era focused on small groups, or pairs, of the team rather than the expanded roster.
During the Onslaught event, Rogue came back into the X-Men’s life with a mysterious new friend, Joseph, in tow. First appearing in X-Men (2nd series) #46, Joseph’s origin was shrouded in mystery, as he looked just like a younger Magneto and even had the same powers. However, the man was a complete amnesiac, only possessing memories of a few weeks previous when he woke from a coma. Rogue found him during her recent absence from the X-Men and the two met up with the team to fight Onslaught. Afterwards, Rogue rejoined the X-Men in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #338 and Joseph followed suit, although there was much debate on whether he could truly be trusted.
Another repercussion of the Onslaught event was that many of the other main Marvel heroes, such as the Fantastic Four and Avengers, were apparently killed. With the loss of his wife Crystal and his sister Wanda, Quicksilver was offered refuge at the X-mansion until he recovered. Although he helped out on the X-Men, Quicksilver never officially joined the team.
Feeling incredible guilt over his role in Onslaught’s creation, Professor X was also contending with losing his telepathic powers. When Val Cooper showed up on the X-Men’s doorstep looking to take him into custody in X-Men (2nd series) #57, the X-Men stood by him. Professor X decided that he should face up to what he had done and willingly went with Val Cooper. Unbeknownst to everyone at the time, it was all a trick and Xavier was actually in the hands of the mutant-hunting robot Bastion.
Aside from Bastion, one of the new threats the X-Men faced was the aspiring presidential candidate Graydon Creed. Riding on a wave of anti-mutant hysteria, Creed’s political power was a dangerous concept for the X-Men and so they wanted to keep an eye on him. Cannonball and Iceman were placed undercover as part of Creed’s presidential campaign staff in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #338. They both retired from actively working on the X-Men in the hopes that they could get some dirt on Creed in a bid to stop his rise to power. Things took a tragic turn when Iceman’s real identity was discovered and Creed had Bobby’s father hospitalized as a warning. Iceman decided to leave the X-Men for a while in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #340 so that he could care for his sick father. In the wake of Iceman’s reveal, Cannonball returned to active duty on X-Men too.
Whilst on one of their many trips into space, the X-Men’s ship was destroyed in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #345 and Bishop was believed to have been killed. He had actually been saved by Deathbird, who tricked him into thinking the other X-Men were dead and he was paralyzed. Bishop remained in space for a number of weeks under the “care” of Deathbird.
Soon after, Psylocke and Archangel would both step down from active duty but still maintain a reserve X-Men status. Both had been dealing with personal identity issues recently, with Archangel’s feathered wings growing back and Psylocke’s near-death battle with Sabretooth. To save Psylocke’s life, Archangel had to use the mystical Crimson Dawn elixir on her, which not only healed her but gave her new powers. After a particularly dangerous adventure in the Crimson Dawn realm, both X-Men felt the need to spend some time away from the constant battles and they were confirmed as reserve X-Men in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #348.
A few issues later, the X-Men were rocked by revelations about Gambit’s past. In Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #350, some of the X-Men were being held captive in Antarctica by Eric the Red, who held a mock trial for Gambit. It was revealed that the Cajun had helped assemble the Marauders, the team that had slaughtered the Morlocks a few years before, on behalf of Mister Sinister. The X-Men were disgusted, none more so than Rogue, who finally understood the dark memories of Gambit’s that resided in her mind. The X-Men managed to escape Eric the Red but Rogue chose to leave Gambit behind, effectively kicking him off the team whilst making the rest think he has perished.
Whilst the drama in Antarctic was going on, another problem was brewing that the rest of the X-Men had to deal with. Bastion had been operating in the background for a while but the robot decided it was time to strike at the X-Men whilst their attention was elsewhere. Creating a number of human-sentinel sleeper agents known as Prime Sentinels, Bastion managed to capture Cyclops, Cannonball, Wolverine, Storm and Jean Grey with ease in X-Men (2nd series) #65.