It’s been a tough time to be an X-Men fan as of late. The core titles of X-Men: Gold and Blue have been tough to get into. Additionally, a lot of the spinoff team titles in the X-Men family haven’t fared better in attracting audiences. Things have turned around a bit with X-Men: Red, Old Man Logan and X-23 being the best titles in the X-Men franchise. Now Old Man Logan writer Ed Brisson has been tapped to write the X-Men’s latest big event, Extermination, centered around the final fate of the original time-displaced X-Men. Brisson has shown that he knows how to write a great Marvel comic with his work on Old Man Logan and Iron Fist. With that strong catalogue I am very interested to see what Brisson can do with Extermination and if this event can bring back many lapse fans of the X-Men. Let’s find that out now with Extermination #1.
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Twenty years in the future the Xavier Institute at Central Park is decimated. A mysterious figure walks through the wreckage. This person comes across the bodies of various dead X-Men and decides to clean up what the X-Men messed up. The person then goes through a portal.
In the present during a anti-mutant protest in Chicago a protester corners two young mutants in an alleyway. The X-Men Blue squad show up and save the two young mutants from the protester.
Later that night the X-Men Blue team bring the two young mutants to the Xavier Institute so Dr. Cecilia Reyes can make sure they are okay.
During the check up the time-displaced Jean Grey tells Kitty Pryde that the two young mutants have had their memories wiped and she can’t even find a fragment of their memories. Kitty thanks Jean and Cyclops for bringing the young mutants to her and promises to keep them updated if they learn anything about them.
A little later Cyclops and Bloodstorm (a time displaced vampire version of Storm) are on a dinner date. Bloodstorm tells Cyclops he can stop hiding his attraction to her and should stop worrying about the future.
Before they can talk more Ahab and his Hounds show up and try to immediately kill Cyclops. Bloodstorm tries to back Cyclops up but she is quickly killed by Ahab. Angered by this Cyclops unleashes a full optic blast that injures Ahab and his Hounds. Ahab teleports himself and his Hounds away before Cyclops can kill them.
Cyclops recovers Bloodstorm’s body and calls Jean with a Code Blue.
At a Broadway play Jean contacts Iceman about the emergency Cyclops just contacted her about. Iceman begrudgingly leaves the play to help his team.
On the way he is attacked by person from the future and is sent through a building.
Before the mysterious person can attack more Cable appears to help. Iceman creates a couple ice golems but is struck by a electric device as soon as he sends them out to attack.
At the Xavier Institute Cyclops calls out for Rachel Grey’s help. Rachel meets Cyclops in the hallway. When she reads Cyclops mind she learns that Ahab is in the present, explaining why her Hound markings have returned.
As they talk the time displaced Beast wonders where their Iceman is.
Back near Broadway, the mysterious person and Cable start fighting one-on-one as Iceman has been knocked out. The mysterious person calls Cable out for being old and slow. Cable retaliates by tackling the person down and takes away the person’s weapon.
Back at the Xavier Institute Jean is trying to use Cerebro to track down her Iceman but loses his signature as soon as she finds it. Jean mentions that she does detect that Cable is at Iceman’s location along with someone else she can’t recognize. Beast asks Jean if she can use Cerebro to see through Cable’s eyes to find out if it is Ahab. She attempts to do what Beast says.
Back in Broadway, the mysterious person uses his hidden gun to knock Cable off him. While calling Cable weak and soft the mysterious person kills Cable with his guns.
Back at the Xavier Institute Jean feels the feedback of Cable being killed and tells the others what happened.
At the same time the mysterious person grabs Iceman and teleports away from the area.
A little later the X-Men find Cable’s dead body. As Rachel cradles Cable’s body Cyclops asks if it was Ahab. Rachel says it is not as she can’t sense Ahab’s presence.
The present day Jean Grey and Nightcrawler show up. Jean tells her time displaced self that she also felt the feedback of Cable’s death when it happened.
The older Jean can tell the person who killed Cable created a psi-shield that is hiding his tracks. Cyclops thinks this mysterious person is working with Ahab. Rachel says Ahab wasn’t there. Kitty still does not believe that there being two dead X-Men within a few hours was a coincidence.
At an undisclosed location the mysterious person place Iceman in a containment unit. They then take off their cloak to reveal that he is Nathaniel Summers (a younger version of Cable wearing a combination of Cable’s and the time-displaced Cyclops costume). Nathaniel states that there is now one down and four to go. End of issue.
The Good: Extermination #1 is clearly an event that wants to draw in both current and lapse fans. Ed Brisson applies a lot of successful story elements from iconic X-Men stories, specifically Days of Future Past, to craft the stakes of the Extermination events. Unfortunately the result of that we are given just does not have the start out of the gate the way Brisson intended it to.
The one thing that kept Extermination #1 from not being a complete dud was the pacing of this issue. Brisson move this first issue at a rapid pace. There is never a moment where the reader or X-Men can stop to think about what is going on. The rapid pace is much appreciated as it is something that adds to the tension of the events going on in each page. That sense of urgency will potentially gives make the details we learn about the Extermination event greater importance when the information is uncovered.
Pepe Larraz’s style of artwork is not what you expect from a big event. That said, Larraz does a good job getting across the dark tone of the story. Larraz artwork was at its best when showing how the X-Men looked overwhelm as they are faced with the deaths of two of their own within hours of each other.
The Bad: Though the pacing of Extermination #1 was the strength of this first issue it does not make up for the lack of connection Brisson is able to draw between the reader and events that happen on screen. What particularly hurts Extermination is that it isn’t bringing anything new to the table. We are presented with the same X-Men story we have seen told every few years with the team. To have the story using the Days of Future Past setting yet again does not inspire much excitement as it just felt like we are spinning our wheels with the X-Men yet again.
The lack of impact from Extermination #1 is best summed up by the way the two X-Men deaths are handled. With Bloodstorm there is zero connection between the character and reader since she is just a time-displaced vampire version of a fan favorite. Since she is not the original it is tough to care about her since we only see her on screen for a handful of pages. And since she is a time-displaced version of Storm, Bloodstorm’s death makes her look like a throwaway character whose only purpose was to try to get Ahab over as a threat.
Similarly, the shock of Cable’s death is something that is completely undone by the introduction of a younger, healthier version of Nathaniel Summers. Rather than adding to the interest of how Extermination will play out, this hook ends up reminding the reader that things can simply be undone with time travel. It would’ve been much more effective if it was a future version of Jubilee, Hellion, Warpath or another underutilized X-Men. This would’ve both checked off the box of a shocking ending and elevating another X-Men in the process. But that is not the route we are left with and just presented with a time-displaced version of the time-displaced Cable.
Additionally, the presence of Ahab and the Hounds do not help the proceedings since they are characters that represent this tired X-Men concept. While Ahab is made out to be a threat his time on screen lacks the development necessary to get him over as the incredibly dangerous individual. Ahab and the Hounds are even made to look weak by the fact that Cyclops was so easily able to injure the three with one attack, even if the attack was emotionally charged. Even with the fact that he killed Bloodstorm, he was only able to do so with a surprise attack. It would’ve been much more effective if Ahab was forced to retreat due to Jean Grey, Beast and Angel showing up to even up the numbers.
And all of this focus on the time-displaced character is just a reminder of how tough it is to understand what is going on with the X-Men. While Brisson wants to clean this part of the X-Men with Extermination addressing that with focusing on those characters in the first issue was not a great way to kick off the event. With the stakes of this event the focus of this event should’ve been more on the present day X-Men, specifically with the X-Men Red and Gold teams. Instead, by keeping the focus of the Blue team a lot of the tension of Extermination #1 was removed since their appearances weren’t treated as being special.
Overall: With hopes high Extermination #1 was unable to escape revisiting old, tired territory. There is nothing about what Ed Brisson does that adds a new spin on the Days of Future Past story that the X-Men franchise continues to revisit in an infinite loop. That unfortunately starts the X-Men with a tough uphill battle to get readers invested in what happens during and after the events of Extermination.