In X-Men Legends #3, Archangel saved the original X-Factor team from their own ship, potentially thanks to a suspicious connection from Apocalypse.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for X-Men Legends #3 by Louise Simonson, Walter Simonson, Laura Martin, and John Workman, on sale now.
With the ongoing anthology series X-Men Legends, Marvel is taking a look back at some untold stories from the depths of X-Men history. Now, X-Men Legends #3 offers a look at an untold tale from the era when the original X-Men broke off from the main X-team to form X-Factor.
While the first X-Men Legends storyline solved a long-gestating mystery about Cyclops and Havok’s brothers, this story sets up a new one, as Archangel seemingly has some sort of connection to the team’s sentient Ship, that once belonged to Apocalypse.
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Taking place just prior to 1989’s X-Factor #43, the latest issue of X-Men Legends finds the titular heroes battling the machinations of Apocalypse and their old ally, Cameron Hodge. On top of that, they were in the midst of trying to repair the sentient Celestial Ship which has recently been freed from Apocalypse’s control. Ship starts its regular cycle of transformation, reconfiguring its massive metal form into something new entirely without any control over its own actions. With the heroes trapped inside, Ship guides them through itself as best it can, telling them what walls to blast their way through in an effort to destroy whatever part of it is responsible for the changes taking place. After finally finding the central brain responsible, the floors begin to shift again, and Archangel unleashes his knife-like flechettes to destroy its central brain.
When Warren Worthington III returned from his then-recent apparent death, the founding X-Man was famously remade as a Horseman of Apocalypse, complete with new, metal wings that replaced those that had been forcibly amputated. Although he didn’t stay under Apocalypse’s control for long, the redubbed Archangel also gained the power to fire his lethally sharp feathers at any target within sight, an ability he uses to blow up the central brain of Ship here.
While trying to relax alongside his teammate Iceman after the mission, Warren is asked how he knew to do that in the first place, to which he can only reply that it was instinctual in the moment. Warren compares his own actions to the ice wall Bobby summoned during their escape, which protected the group from the explosion which came as a result of Archangel’s actions.
Considering that both Warren and the Ship were linked by their mutual ex-association with Apocalypse, this suggests that there could have been some form of latent communication between the two, possibly even one engineered by Apocalypse himself for unknown ends.
Even though Angel has been free of Apocalypse’s grasp for decades, Warren’s radical change in appearance didn’t eliminate the formerly cheerful Warren Worthington, but it did affect him in somber ways that he was never able to really shake. Then again, this shift did open up Warren’s career beyond what he had grown accustomed to with the X-Men and X-Factor. When he found himself as part of Cyclops’ X-Force, then a black ops team for missions that the X-Men couldn’t tackle themselves in the open, Archangel embraced his darker side to its fullest, using his bladed wings to tear through countless Purifiers.
As recently as last year’s X of Swords: Creation #1 by Jonathan Hickman, Tini Howard and Pepe Larraz, the now-heroic Apocalypse took a somber sort of pride in seeing Warren as he himself had made him so long ago, giving Warren some measure of closure before disappearing from the X-Men’s world.
Like his more recent actions, the X-Factor-era Apocalypse had some degree of nobility in his actions, which were meant to help prepare the world for the coming judgment of the Celestials.
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