May is a big month for X-Men baddie Apocalypse. Not only does X-Men: Apocalypse hit theaters on May 27, but Marvel's "Apocalypse Wars" event kicks off in Extraordinary X-Men before branching out to other X-titles in the following months.
In celebration of its Apocalypse-filled May, Marvel is releasing "Age of Apocalypse" variant covers for several of its books, including many that won't take part in "Apocalypse Wars." The first seven of these have been revealed, giving us a glimpse at alternate versions of heroes such as Spider-Man, Captain America, the Guardians of the Galaxy and more.
According to IGN, a total of 23 Marvel series will get an "Age of Apocalypse" variant cover in May, even though there are only three X-books participating in the crossover. The covers provide fans with a look at how the various heroes might have appeared during the popular "Age of Apocalypse" event from 1995 and 1996. In addition to the books that previews were released here, other characters such as Black Panther, Ms. Marvel, Iron Man, the Punisher and even Howard the Duck will get the Apocalypse treatment.
It's interesting to note that the event was originally planned for kickoff in March, with the original announcement stating that the event would roll out across X-books in March, April and May. The delay allows it to better tie in with X-Men: Apocalypse, launching at the same time as the film in a bit of cross-promotion. Though it's not uncommon for comic stories to reflect what's on the big screen for Marvel, there hasn't been an X-Men tie-in in years because Fox controls the rights to the X-films. While it's not a direct tie-in, an Apocalypse-themed event launching at the same time as an Apocalypse-themed movie is still big strides away from past actions like shelving the Fantastic Four books indefinitely while Marvel and Fox remained at odds over the FF film rights. Adding Apocalypse-themed variant covers across other books is perhaps even more huge since it's a nod to Apocalypse in books that largely have nothing to do with the character.
It's likely too much to hope that this signifies that the cold war between Fox and Marvel is starting to thaw, though at the very least it shows that they might be willing to test the waters. Marvel putting the X-Men front and center at the same time as the movie's release, especially with an Apocalypse-themed event, can't be a coincidence; there is enough going on in the Marvel universe that the company could have easily delayed the event so that it didn't tie in quite as well. With the timing set up like it is, we might even see ads for X-Men: Apocalypse in Extraordinary X-Men #10 (which would make it look like that much more of a tie-in.)
Marvel's variant covers have gotten a lot of attention in recent years, in part because of how out of left field some of them are. Marvel's done hip-hop variants, variants dedicated to specific artists or musicians, variants celebrating specific characters, and has even created a Free Comic Book Day collection made up of nothing but variant covers. They're fun, and in this case they offer fans a glimpse of their favorite heroes in what remains a fan-favorite continuity. If you like the look of these, head over to IGN to check out more of the released previews.
"Apocalypse Wars" kicks off in Extraordinary X-Men in May, followed by Uncanny X-Men in June and All-New X-Men in July. X-Men: Apocalypse hits theaters on May 27.