Extermination has been a disappointment so far in its early life. Rather than bring interest back to the X-Men comics it has just revisited old territory by telling the same Days of Future Past-style story we have seen many times before. Ed Brisson has not brought much new to the table that has made Extermination standout. With only three issues left in this event Brisson needs to kick Extermination into the next gear. If not then this may turn out to be yet another example of why it is tough to get into the X-Men comics. Let’s find out if things can turn around with Extermination #3.
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At the Xavier Mansion Ahab has turned Old Man Logan into one of his Hounds and has him go after young Beast.
At Searebro young Cyclops tells Jean Grey that they need to help the others at the Xavier Mansion. Jean says that her team’s job is to protect young Cyclops.
Above New Jersey, inside an X-Wing, young Jean Grey says she knows X-Force is planning on going after Kid Cable.
Back at the Xavier Mansion young Beast is saved by his present day counterpart from Old Man Logan’s wrath. As the younger one runs away the present Beast tries to convince Old Man Logan to fight Ahab’s control. Old Man Logan just stabs present Beast instead.
Noticing that Kitty Pryde has shown up Ahab reveals that the mutants, Maxime and Manon, the X-Men rescued earlier have been working for him since the beginning. He goes on to state that Maxime and Manon’s combined powers allows him to create new Hounds in an instant.
Iceman tries to attack Ahab but is quickly knocked out.
In another part of the mansion Storm and Beast perform a tag team move to take out Old Man Logan. Ahab decides to activate more of his new Hounds so he snaps his fingers to do so.
Back at Searebro Nightcrawler is suddenly turned into a Hound and teleports himself and Cyclops into the ocean.
At the same time in the X-Wing Shatterstar is also turned into a Hound and attacks X-Force.
Back at Searebro present Jean quickly saves young Cyclops with her psychic powers.
Inside the X-Wing Warpath, Cannonball and Boom Boom struggle to hold Shatterstar down. Young Jean tries to use her psychic powers but can’t get through to Shatterstar.
Back at Searebro the X-Men rush young Cyclops to the medical center to get him healed up.
Back inside the X-Wing Shatterstar break free from Warpath’s grasp. Cannonball activates his powers and tackles Shatterstar out of the X-Wing.
Back at the Xavier Mansion Iceman, Storm and other X-Men students struggle against all the mutants Ahab has turned into Hounds. Ahab mocks the X-Men that they should just quit and hand over the original X-Men so those that are still alive can remain that way.
In another part of the mansion young Beast runs away as the present Beast tries to hold back the two Hounds chasing him. Kid Cable suddenly shows up and shoots the two Hounds and present Beast. Kid Cable then teleports himself and young Beast away.
Left bleeding out present Beast uses the last of his energy to apologize to Kitty for being unable to protect his younger self. Present Beast is surrounded by Ahab and his Hounds. Seeing as the young Beast is gone Ahab decides to teleport himself and the Hounds away.
As the remaining X-Men recover Kitty informs Iceman that young Beast has been captured.
At his secret base Kid Cable places young Beast inside a containment tube alongside young Angel and young Iceman. Kid Cable then notices that Mimic has suddenly woken up. Kid Cable tells his computer system, which he calls “Professor,” to knock Mimic out.
Inside the X-Wing, while trying to stabilize the jet Domino tells young Jean that Cable led them as X-Force and they owe him everything. Domino says that when they find the person who killed Cable they will kill him. Domino says that if young Jean plans to get in their way she will leave her with the Avengers. Young Jean asks if Domino’s lecture is over. Domino says it is. Young Jean then states that they are going in the opposite way they need to be going.
On Pequod (Ahab’s airship base) Nightcrawler tells Ahab he left young Cyclops in the ocean to be crushed by the water pressure. Ahab wants to make sure young Cyclops is dead so he sets course for Searebro.
As they head to Searebro Ahab wonders why the X-Men thought he had young Beast and young Iceman. Maxime and Manon tells Ahab that it is because of whatever Kid Cable is planning.
Back at the secret base as Kid Cable is trying to track down where young Jean Grey is being kept. Just as he locks in on a location an explosion blasts him across the room.
Young Jean and the X-Force suddenly appear and get ready to fight Kid Cable. End of issue.
The Good: Finally after a very awkward beginning Extermination finally gets rolling with its third issue. There are certainly some problems that Extermination #3 cannot avoid. But that is mostly due to the lack of set-up done in the previous two issues. Thankfully Ed Brisson is able to elevate several previous points of weakness and turns them into the strengths of Extermination #3.
From beginning to end the strength of Extermination #3 was its pacing. Having established the groundwork in the first two issues Brisson hits the gas pedal and rarely lets up. Brisson constantly pushes forward as the X-Men are forced to the corner on multiple fronts. The chaos that is created with the X-Men being attacked by their own thanks to Ahab’s doing made it easier to get behind all the action that was going on. By the end of Extermination #3 Brisson is able to make several parts of this X-Men event thanks to the frantic pacing of everything that happens in this issue.
The pacing of Extermination #3 is exactly what Ahab needed. The first issue did not do Ahab any favors as he did not come off as a true main antagonist an entire event can be based around. Brisson changes that perception by making Ahab a much more powerful threat thanks to the twist with the new mutants, Maxime and Manon. These two mutants were completely blank slates, giving Brisson room to have them serve whatever role they needed to. He used that room to quickly establish how dangerous Maxime and Manon are, especially in the hands of Ahab.
The way Maxime and Manon were present worked to give Ahab the necessary power up to establish him as a powerful threat. There was a strong sense of terror with how Ahab was turning just about any X-Men he wanted into one of his Hounds. Having Old Man Logan and Nightcrawler as the first two X-Men to get turned into Hounds was a great choice. Both these experience X-Men have a level of respect with the team and fans. Seeing these two suddenly try kill the X-Men showed how Ahab will do whatever it takes to kill the original X-Men, including destroy the X-Men from the inside.
Adding to how much the X-Men were going up against was how we saw how they were completely unprepared for this event. Even though they were able to fight back the X-Men that remained were all shown to have to hold back. None of them wanted to hurt their friends and family even if Ahab’s new Hounds were trying to kill the X-Men. This fact made all of the action sequences have a greater emotional resonance than previous action scenes in this event.
Seeing that both young Cyclops and present-day Beast were left within an inch of their lives added to how urgent things are getting. Even with these two down the X-Men can’t just sit around to plan a counter strategy. That sense of urgency made everything that Brisson does to make you feel for the X-Men’s current plight even more interesting as we are left wondering how they can overcome it all.
From a character standpoint Brisson’s work with the X-Force was the strongest development in Extermination #3. It’s clear that Brisson has a particular fondness for the X-Force as he gets over with the reader how much Cable’s death impacted the team. Even if you aren’t familiar with this version of the X-Force Brisson makes sure you get their entire backstory and their motivation for what they are doing. The way Domino talked to Jean Grey about what Cable meant for them in particular made it easy to get behind them getting their revenge on the kid Cable.
Extermination #3 was Pepe Larraz chance to shine and he shows up big. Larraz does a very good job getting across how chaotic things were at the Xavier Mansion, Searebro and X-Wing. There was a true sense of danger in each location that made you wonder which X-Men would be left standing. And even with everything that was going on Larraz made everything clear so you knew what was going on in each panel.
The Bad: One of the biggest things that has held Extermination back was the lack of development with the Kid Cable. Extermination #3 does nothing to improve the character. Instead Brisson continues to present Kid Cable as an extremely vanilla character who lacks any sort of personality. That is a big difference from what readers are used to from the original Cable, whose backstory and personality were fleshed out immediately after he appeared.
Hurting Kid Cable’s character even more is the fact we don’t know anything about his backstory. So far all we know is he is a leaner version of the Cable that has been around for decades. And now that we have reached the halfway point in Extermination that is unacceptable. All this lack of development does makes it tough to get behind Kid Cable’s plotline since we have no idea how it will help or hurt the X-Men. Not even getting clues on what exactly Kid Cable is planning hurts a major part of what Extermination is to be about.
The lack of direction for Kid Cable highlights the biggest weakness of Extermination and that is how we don’t know what the true endgame for all of this is. All we know is that both Ahab and Kid Cable have plans for the original five X-Men. Outside of that we aren’t given any clues into what the success of either Ahab or Kid Cable means for the future we saw at the beginning of Extermination. Not having that clear endgame even teased makes it tough as the reader to invest in what continues to go on in this event.
With how chaotic things were at the Xavier Mansion and how many X-Men were getting hurt or turned into Hounds it was odd that Kitty Pryde did nothing in this issue. As the leader and Headmaster of the X-Men she is the one that should be rallying the team. This major battle with Ahab is exactly the time Kitty should be doing everything she can to show that leadership. Unfortunately Kitty does the exact opposite as she is just shown standing around as the X-Men are fighting for their lives. In showing that failed leadership it creates questions why Kitty is even the leader of the X-Men that should never be in question for events like this.
Overall: Extermination #3 was a big improvement over the first two issues of this event. That is not saying much but the quicker pace and elevation of Ahab as a viable threat helped make this a much better issue. There are still parts of Extermination that need improvement in order for it to be a must read story. If Ed Brisson can turn those things around and keep the momentum created by Extermination #3 going than this could turn out to be a successful X-Men event.