After months of teasing, the original X-Men’s extermination has arrived in–you guessed it: Extermination #1! And after finishing this comic, my feelings toward it can best be summed up with another “E” word: “Epic.”
And before I go any further, I need to take a second to talk about this comic’s visuals, because from beginning to end, artist Pepe Larraz kills it. I’m sorry, he exterminates it. (And now I’m sorry for that!) Is Larraz a star yet? If he isn’t by the time this mini-series is over, I’m going to have to send Beast on another timestream-tinkering mission.
Just so writer Ed Brisson doesn’t get too jealous, yes, he too brings his A-game to this story that, in a less-capable writer’s hands, could be just another transition story arc between X-Men eras. Instead, what we get is a high-stakes, action-packed mystery that continuously swipes the rug out from under readers’ feet. Seriously, a number of this issue’s preview pages have made their way online, but in keeping with Marvel Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski’s #SummerOfSecrets, you ain’t seen nothing yet–trust me.
We begin in the much-teased future, where a hooded figure roams the devastated Central Park grounds of the Xavier Institute for Mutant Education and Outreach. Who is this mysterious future warrior? Is he Cyclops? He’s Cyclops, right? CYCLOPS!!!
Sorry, Cyclops fanatics, I’m not getting into spoilers in this review because they’re the worst. And this book is the best. So, you know, buy it and find out for yourself.
Anyway, from there, we return to the present, where two young French mutants are being persecuted by X-Men Group Editor Jordan White and a band of bigots until the time-displaced original X-Men show up to save the day.
From there, we join young Cyclops and the alternate, vampire Storm Bloodstorm on a date in the big city. And true to all Scott Summers romances, it’s anything but drama-free as classic X-villain Ahab shows up with his Hounds.
Guy must be a Jean Grey fan.
And, honestly, that’s all I really want to say about this issue’s plot, because from there, it becomes a wild roller coaster that never lets up. If you won’t be able to read this issue until Wednesday evening or later in the week, do yourself a favor and avoid spoilers. I went in fresh and was rewarded.
Now, if you’ve been reading Cullen Bunn’s X-Men Blue, you may wonder why he isn’t writing the original X-Men’s final adventure (in the present), or have concerns over Brisson’s handling of the characters. Worry not, the Old Man Logan writer clearly understands these teenage mutants, as well as many of the older X-Men who show up later in the issue. As a longtime X-Men reader, I was especially pleased to see Brisson’s handling of the characters’ rich histories and personal relationships with one another. Brisson has said multiple times now that “your back issues matter” and the evidence is certainly on display in Extermination #1.
As one of those rabid Cyclops fans I called out earlier, I was of course wondering why Scott and Bloodstorm were on a date and not Scott and Jean. Especially following the events of “Poison-X” and Venomized, where Slim and Jean were very clearly in love with one another. Maybe that’ll be explained in the final issues of X-Men Blue? Either way, it’s always fun to see Cyclops’ roster of love interests expand beyond telepathic redheads with Jean Grey’s DNA. Comic fans may love to call Cyclops boring, but the ladies of the Marvel Universe don’t seem to agree.
And, you know, it’s impossible to wonder about love triangles when Larraz’s art is so distracting (in the best way possible). With colorist Marte Gracia’s rich colors applied to Larraz’s pencils, Extermination #1 is destined to yield several soon-to-be iconic splash pages. You know you’re a comics journalist when you see a page and think, “Oh, that’d make a great feature image.”
Ultimately, I think that what made me love this issue even more was the fact that Marvel announced just days before that Brisson would be co-writing the new Uncanny X-Men series alongside the equally talented Kelly Thompson and Matthew Rosenberg. I’ve never been more confident in the future of the X-Men franchise, and knowing that Brisson isn’t going anywhere makes me think Extermination is only the beginning of a larger epic.