There are several types of stories the X-Men find themselves involved in over and over again until it starts to feel like a cliche. Those include the whole extinction of the species story line as well as the falling forward in time to solve the problems of the here and now. Both of which are huge factors in EXTRAORDINARY X-MEN #8. That is not to say this issue or the upcoming APOCALYPSE WARS cross over event are cliche, but they are certainly looming on the edge of that chasm.
This run of EXTRAORDINARY X-MEN is being written by Jeff Lemire and drawn by Humberto Ramos. While it feels like Lemire is doing the best he can with the situation he has been given the fact remains the current state of all things X-Men is hedging toward tales we have already heard and territory we have already covered extensively. Ramos’ art is clean and fun to view but can at times be muddled. It should never be an issue to discern Forge from Colossus just because they have facial hair now. His flowing style lends itself well to sweeping, artistic expressions and colorful washes of action scenes but at times can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what is being shown.
All of that being said there is much about this new run that fans will enjoy. The team itself is composed of characters we all love. The fact the name Forge was even mentioned, much less the fact he is a huge part of the team should make any true X-Fan at least a little happy. Even with there being a full blown Sentinel named Cerebra on the team doesn’t cut against the coolness of seeing Storm, Magik, Iceman, Colossus and Nightcrawler on the team. Along with time hopped teen Jean Grey and Old Man Logan just to make sure we all remember this is a post Secret Wars world we are reading.
This new team of X-Men, led by Storm with a school correctly located in the mystic realm of Limbo has great potential. Ororo Monroe should have been made the headmistress of Xavier’s School long ago. Her natural place is at the helm of the X-Men as her regal nature and overwhelming leadership are exactly what a group of vagabonds, rogues, educators and sometimes superheroes need. Many of the incredible complicated events of the recent past might not have ended so tumultuously with Storm in charge.
We also have the inclusion of Illyana Rasputin in the upper echelons of management of the school and that is a change that has been long in the making. Thanks to the help from several of her magic using friends, including Doctor Strange, Doctor Voodoo, Shaman and the Scarlet Witch, the school has been relocated to Limbo where Magik is the Sorceress Supreme and has been since she was a small child. This allows the X-Men to exist in isolation from the Terrigen Mist Cloud that is circling the globe giving new Inhumans their powers and causing the M-Pox, which is killing mutants and pushing the species to the brink of extinction.
We learn quite a bit about Illyana and her magic in the eight page back up story to this issue. The story was written by Lemire but it was drawn by Victor Ibanez and it was the best part of the issue. The story and artwork blended together perfectly and the characters all looked downright cool. A knock down, drag out magic fight with a tentacled beast from beyond is always great fun to read and they nailed it here.
On top of Ibanez’s great artwork we are treated to a tale involving Magik and a new mutant named Sapna that Rasputin recently took under her wing as a protegee as well as Doctor Stephen Strange. We are given an understanding about the young mutants abilities as well as tying this side of the X-Men universe into the events happening over in DOCTOR STRANGE. It is that connectivity that gives Marvel comics such a great unified feel and we get that here in great amounts.
In the main story Storm and her team of X-Men have returned to being a strike force of sorts, aiding the world in mutant related issues. Thanks to an abundance of teleporters on the team they can be in Mexico helping a group of mutants as well as in Toronto investigating an incident of mutant hate crime. However it is also integral to Xavier’s dream that they also remain a school. To that end Colossus has started training a group of younger X-Men who are living on campus grounds in Limbo. They include Anole, Glob and the mutant brain in a jar once known as No Girl that is now simply called Martha.
The main thrust of this story involved them checking out a clutch of new mutants that have been located by Cerebra. Another one of those X-Men tropes that are littered all through this series. Colossus and his group of students are sent to recon the situation since the rest of the team is stretched so thin. Once on the ground they find out there are around six hundred new mutants readings all located in an Ark that is nearing completion by the Age of Apocalypse era bad guy Sugar Man.
The mysterious Ark is quickly zapped into the future and takes along with it Colossus and his team of youngsters. As soon as you can say, “Give me a break, Sugar Man?” the rest of the team is on hand and looking to retrieve their lost teammates. Of course the entire team leaps into the timey-wimey way forward machine and ends up at least a thousand years in the future. Once there they meet the X-Men students that came forward with Colossus, each one aged up and looking far more hard core than before.
The cliffhanger ending comes when we learn terrible things have happened to Piotr. Our last image is one that will at once fill any X-Men fan with anticipation and set them on edge knowing this is ground we have covered many, many times before. Colossus blasts his way into the last frame and it is obvious he has been changed into one of the Horsemen of Apocalypse. With him are the other three horsemen, a woman in Moon Knight garb, Deadpool and what can only be the alien symbiote known as Venom.
This is a serviceable introduction to what will be the APOCALYPSE WARS but at times is overwhelmed by cliche and worn out story devices we have all seen over and over again. There is always hope Lemire and crew will find an interesting twist to the old style story they have set up here. With a quality roster like the one they have on hand and the infinite possibilities of growth there is every reason to believe this arch will rise above this pedestrian starting point.