Extermination did not have the impressive start I was hoping it would have. The latest X-Men event failed to deliver a story that was something to be remembered. Instead Extermination started out by going down the path of Days of Future Past that the X-Men cannot escape revisiting. The only difference this time around is that the time displaced original X-Men are at the center of the Extermination event. If this event is to truly revitalize interest in the X-Men franchise then Ed Brisson will need start showing what is special about Extermination beyond the basic Days of Future Past story that was presented in the first issue. Let’s see if that can happen with Extermination #2.
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At a supermarket Calvin Rankin (Mimic) is knocked out and kidnapped by Nathan Summers (a younger, alternate universe version of Cable), who requires his services.
Outside the Xavier Mansion the young Jean Grey finds the young Cyclops sitting alone. Jean promises not to read Cyclops mind, saying she is there if he wants to talk. Cyclops wonders how Jean can be so calm with Bloodstorm dead and their Iceman kidnapped. Cyclops breaks down and says it’s all his fault. Jean tells Cyclops Ahab is the one that killed Bloodstorm not him. Cyclops then wonders if they have changed anything about the future given that they are fighting.
At the Headmaster’s Office Shatterstar runs in and immediately asks if Cable is in fact dead. Kitty Pryde confirms this along with the young Iceman’s disappearance. The present Iceman says since he is still alive it means his younger self is okay. Beast doubts that given how time paradoxes work.
Kitty puts out how there may or may not someone that Ahab is working with. Domino thinks they should just go out to look for Ahab. Rachel Grey says that is not easy as Ahab may have traveled to any time in the past or future and the only one that could’ve tracked him down was Cable. She goes on to say that Ahab must be in the present to ensure the time displaced original X-Men are killed to ensure a bad future for mutants.
Kitty proposes that they split the X-Men up into four teams with each one assigned to protect one of the original X-Men. The young Cyclops walks out in frustration as Kitty announces the teams.
The young Angel, Beast and Jean Grey follow Cyclops outside with Angel telling him the other X-Men are just trying to protect them. Cyclops tells Angel that the others are just trying to hide them to keep them from fighting Ahab. He reminds his team that the young Iceman is their teammate and they need him to return to the past.
The young Jean Grey senses some unknown presence. As she tells her team that the young Angel and Beast are taken out. Jean tells Cyclops that she senses the unknown person in the woods nearby.
Cyclops heads there and immediately fires a powerful concussive blast at the unknown assailants location. This knocks the person down, giving Cyclops the chance to question him. Cyclops notices the person in question is Cable but really is Nathan Summer. Hesitating to strike gives Nathan a chance to land a kick on Cyclops, knocking off his visor.
Nathan runs to get Angel and Beast. Jean stops him from reaching Beast and demands to know what Nathan did to Iceman. Nathan tells Jean she should be there and teleports away with Angel.
The rest of the X-Men finally show up and ask Jean what happened. Jean reveals that “Cable” took Angel and Iceman. While Kitty works to protect the remaining original X-Men the young Jean request to team with Domino, Warpath, Shatterstar and Boom Boom.
A little later the older Beast is able to heal his younger self from the tranquilizer dart he was shot with. Beast reveals to his younger self that it was “Cable” who attacked them and he took Angel. Beast believes that “Cable’s” action was a sign of desperation as he attacked them with the X-Men nearby.
In an unknown location Nathan places the young Angel in a device that starts cutting into his back.
Back at the Xavier Mansion there is an explosion at the front door. Ahab appears out of the smoke with his Hounds. Rachel immediately launches an attack but is quickly taken out by Ahab who throws his spear through Rachel’s shoulder.
Ahab tells the young Beast he is not interested in killing Rachel as it would not give him an advantage like it would killing the young Beast. Ahab then states the X-Men should not worry about him since his Hounds are bigger threats.
Around the mansion the X-Men struggle against the Hounds though Old Man Logan is able to take out two of them. End of issue.
The Good: After a lackluster first issue Extermination #2 was a major step in the right direction to make this a compelling X-Men event. There are still things that need to be approved upon to ensure the success of Extermination. But given how Extermination started, there were a lot of improvements made in key areas to push the story forward.
The biggest improvement that Extermination #2 makes over the first issue is the overall pacing. Unlike the first issue, Extermination #2 had the benefit that all the major players already got their introduction. There was no need to worry about who the antagonists were. Brisson was able to just focus on progressing the story forward, positioning the X-Men to actually take action against Ahab and Nathan Summers. This made for a much more well executed issue as we saw how the X-Men could not just wait around for something else to happen.
The action of this issue greatly helped the pacing. Both action sequences, Cable vs the original time displaced X-Men and Ahab and the Hounds attack on the Xavier Mansion, both served push the story so we never got complacent. These two sequences pushed the narrative that the X-Men can’t just spend their time just talking or focusing on protecting the original X-Men. If they are able to just survive it will be because they actually take action against the antagonists of Extermination rather than waiting around to be attacked.
Along the way Brisson gave us plenty of solid character developments for various X-Men. That was best shown with the young Cyclops spotlight throughout Extermination #2. Through Cyclops, Brisson was able to give emotional weight to Bloodstorm’s death and Iceman’s kidnapping. That was especially important for Bloodstorm’s death since most readers unfamiliar with who she was.
Cyclops conversation with Jean Grey further added importance as he opened up about what is bothering him about their current situation. Unlike the other original X-Men it is clear that Cyclops is over with how stagnant they have become by staying in the present. Even with what they’ve learned it has not meant that the original X-Men have changed anything. The attack by Ahab and Nathan Summers from a post-apocalyptic future just emphasized this.
At the same time Jean openly offering Cyclops a shoulder to cry on does show how she has grown as a leader. She had the clearest mind in the current situation and understood she couldn’t just let her teammates run off. Her talk with Cyclops showed this as she continued to reach out before he could do something rash. Her quick action to discover Nathan’s location and stand her ground against him also showed how she was not going to back down in any situation. That is furthered by her volunteering to go with Domino’s X-Men team to find Nathan’s secret base.
Speaking of Nathan Summers, Extermination #2 did a much better job in characterizing him as an antagonist. His methods are extreme as he has not hesitated to disable or kill the X-Men. At the same time, as the present Beast states, Nathan is clearly not waiting to accomplish his mission even if it means that he has to shown his hand. The desperation to accomplish his mission in kidnapping the original X-Men for his own gain creates interest around what his endgame is.
The core X-Men quickly coming up with a plan to combat Ahab and Nathan Summers does show that Extermination is not an event were they will be divided. Kitty taking the lead and everyone accepting her leadership shows a unity from the X-Men we haven’t seen in a good while. This sense of unity will help the sense of urgency through the rest of Extermination as the battles become more intense.
Having Rachel Grey take a spotlight in Extermination #2 was the appropriate move. She is the one with the most experience with the post-apocalyptic setting Ahab and Nathan come from without Cable. Her connection with Ahab makes the villain’s appearance be even more personal because of that shared history. Rachel being spotlighted is also refreshing change as she usually serves as a background character during these X-Men events.
Surprisingly Brisson brought in Shatterstar and immediately gave some motivation to get directly involved in the story. Brisson bringing up Shatterstar’s history with Cable is something that is easily forgotten. But the way Brisson does bring this up effectively makes you care about him being part of the X-Men team going after Nathan. This is good timing since Shatterstar will be starring in his own title in a few months.
Pepe Larraz delivers solid artwork throughout Extermination #2. Larraz captures the chaos of the two big battles that help show how the X-Men were pushed against the ropes immediately in both fights. This was especially important since there wasn’t much time in both action sequences as they happened in a short window. Getting over how quickly both major scenes moved helped the overall pacing of the story.
The Bad: One of the things that kept Extermination #2 back was the fact that Ahab still has not come off as a compelling villain. While he did launch a surprise attack it did not actually tell us anything about his motivations in this story. Instead he just acts simply as a way to give Extermination #2 an explosive hook ending. Even when Brisson offers up a meeting with Rachel Grey, Ahab isn’t shown to be a villain with actual depth. Instead he just comes off as a violent, high-level grunt rather than a true bad guy to build an entire event around.
It does not help that we still don’t know what is motivating Ahab. So far we only know that he is looking to kill the original time-displaced X-Men. That threat is something that Brisson cancels out since he explains through the present Beast that even if one of the original X-Men die it does not mean the current timeline is affected. Given that time paradox element it would’ve been much more interesting if Ahab was also targeting all of the time-displaced X-Men. There are so many of them, including Rachel Grey and Old Man Logan, that if they were also targeted it would create more emotional weight in Ahab’s plot.
Further hurting this part of Extermination is the portrayal of the Hounds that Ahab brought to the present. One of the things that made the Hounds an intriguing concept is that they have characters like Rachel Grey amongst their ranks. Not having a future version of one of the current X-Men like Havok or Psylocke, made it tough to care about them. Instead they are just nameless characters who are nothing more than fodder for the X-Men since they can’t just fight Ahab right now.
With how Kitty Pryde tried to set up a plan to combat the current threat to the team it was odd that no one would go after the remaining original X-Men when they all ran out of the mansion together. Before that Kitty and the other X-Men emphasized that they needed to protect the original X-Men. For them to be so negligent to let the original X-Men run off in front of the team was head scratching. This led to making the X-Men look to be all talk and no action since they let key players in Extermination leave without warning.
While Nathan Summers was better developed in Extermination #2 it was an odd choice to have Mimic integrated into his plot. Given all the X-Men involved in this story to see a minor character like Mimic failed to make Nathan’s plot more interesting. That all comes down to unless you looked up who Mimic was there is very little clue into who he was. And since Nathan addressed him by his real name, Calvin Rankin, you would think that Mimic was just a random mutant that Nathan attacked. This just highlighted how we still don’t know the importance of the original X-Men living or dying in this event.
Overall: Extermination #2 was a big improvement over the first chapter in the latest X-Men event. Ed Brisson was able to create a greater sense of urgency for the X-Men in thanks in large part to the quicker pacing of this issue. Unfortunately the lack of development for Ahab and a few other story choice kept Extermination #2 from being a complete success. Hopefully as Extermination continues Brisson can fix the problems that have persisted in this X-Men event.