The original five X-Men teens have been in our time since Bendis & Immonen’s run in 2012. Extermination is the final chapter of their story.
***SPOILERS LIE AHEAD***
A ghost from Rachel Summers’ past rears its ugly head in the form of Ahab. He crashes a date between Bloodstorm and young Cyclops, resulting in the time displaced vampire mutant’s death. Right away, writer Ed Brisson makes the mission statement clear, it’s time to clean up the X-Men landscape.
Across the city, Bobby Drake is ambushed by a mysterious figure–Cable intervenes and ends up paying the ultimate price. In true Cable/X-Men fashion, the person who murders Cable and has their sites set on the other time displaced teens is none other than a young Nathan Summers himself, Cable on Cable homicide. He claims “one down, four to go” to close out this introductory issue.
Extermination #1 is a fast paced thrill ride that wastes no time getting into the thick of things. This is a story that a portion of X-Men fans have been waiting for given that the OG-5 have been hanging around since 2012. Whether you’re in that camp or not, this looks to be a potentially exciting story either way.
Ed Brisson has been adding to his mutant credibility recently with a great run on Old Man Logan. His script sets the dark tone effectively without dipping too deep into the despair that plagued X-Men for years before ResurreXion. It’s going to take a skill and courage to pull this off right, Brisson has proved with his Marvel portfolio that he’s capable and ready to take some bold leaps.
At first glance, the darker tone and dimly lit atmosphere warrants anxiety as it carries a similar look to the post-Messiah Complex X-Books that were too dark for their own good–the opposite of what Marvel promised fans with ResurreXion. However, that quickly dissipates and what we’re delivered is a story that carries weight and has consequences but is still ridiculous and digestible X-Men comic book fun.
Artist Pepe Larraz animates our characters and keeps the tempo high, making this extra-sized issue go quicker than the average monthly read. These are some of the best looking panels of the Original 5 X-Men since Stuart Immonen’s original story. The final page reveal of young Cable is a perfectly illustrated de-aged Nathan Summers. Giving him a similar costume design to the X-Men: Blue team was a crucial detail and a nice touch.
Colorist Marte Gracia keeps this book from feeling too dark, adding life and light into the faces and eyes of our heroes. Every use of red, whether it’s a Grey or just Cyclops’ glasses, is subtly striking in beautiful contrast to the rest of each panel. Letterer Joe Sabino immediately establishes and maintains the tone of this consequential tale throughout the issue.
The biggest takeaway from this book isn’t even the story itself, it’s the implications for the rest of the X-Men line. If the mutant landscape is healthy enough to finally send the kids back to their own time, we’re in a good place. It’s also a great sign that the house of ideas finally came up with a story concept worthy of ending their tenure in the 616.
X-Men comics are in a much better place now than they have been in recent years. Fresh creative talents, like the Extermination creative team, have brought new life to the line. It’s the end of an era and the beginning of the next chapter for a flourishing mutant world–no more sense of constant dread.
Extermination #1 is a bold statement that it’s time to move forward again for our favorite mutant heroes. It’s been long overdue, but it seems like the timing couldn’t be better. Yay X-Men!