Oh, boy. Another X-Men title. The X-Men, much like the Avengers, is a franchise that is being milked for all its worth with a billion different variations. Having said all of that, I am still excited for this issue. Why? Jeff Lemire. That’s why. Lemire is a talented writer and rarely disappoints. It was a real steal by Marvel to lure Lemire away from DC. An absolutely brilliant hire. I am more than confident that Lemire will deliver a well written debut issue. Let’s go ahead and hit this review for Extraordinary X-Men #1.
Words: Jeff Lemire
Pencils: Humberto Ramos
Inks: Victor Olazaba
Colors: Edgar Delgado
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Storm in her office at the X-Mansion talking to someone off panel. Storm recounts all the recent events concerning mutants. How the Terrigen Mists is infecting them with a disease and killing them. How Scott Summers has made the entire world not just dislike mutants but downright hate them. That this is the worst time in history for mutants. We pan back and see Professor X sitting in front of Storm’s desk. Storm asks Professor X how he managed to handle all of this for so many years.
Suddenly, Iceman enters Storm’s office and asks Storm who she was just talking to. We see that the office is empty. Storm replies that she was just talking to herself. Iceman then tells Storm that Magik is in India to rescue a young mutant and has encountered a tougher situation than expected. We zip over to India and see an unruly mob surrounding the young mutant’s family. The Indian military is in riot gear and also on the scene. Magik tells everyone to back off. The Indian military then opens fire on Magik. Magik then teleports the young mutant girl away from the area.
We hop back to outside of the X-Mansion. Storm and Iceman look at the stream of incoming mutants seeking asylum. Storm says that every mutant counts now more than ever. Suddenly, Magik and the young mutant girl appearing outside of the X-Mansion. Magik tells Storm that things are getting worse out there. That it is not just unruly mobs of citizens. That the Indian military was involved and did not hesitate to open fire. Magik says that because of what Scott did humans hate mutants more than ever.
Iceman says that Magik cannot keep this up forever. That they need more help. Storm agrees. Storm says that if they do not act now then everyone and everything that they have cared about dies. That the war for survival begins now.
We slide over to Empire State University. Young Beast and young Jean Grey exit class. Beast asks Jean to come out and party with him and some friends. Jean declines and says that she has work to do. Jean trudges off by herself. Suddenly, Storm and Iceman appear on the scene. Storm and Iceman say that they need Jean’s help. That things have never been worse for mutants. That the Terrigen Mists is not only killing mutants but it is also sterilizing them. That there will no longer be any new mutants. Jean replies that there is nothing she can do. That all she wants is a normal life.
We cut to a farm in rural Russia. We see Colossus tending to his land. A bear roams onto the farm. Colossus stomps his foot and growls and the bear turns tale and runs away. Magik then teleports onto the scene. Magik tells her brother that the X-Men need his help. Colossus says that he is a simple farmer. That his farm needs him. That he is nothing but a brawler. That he is not a humanitarian. That X-Haven is a good idea but Storm needs humanitarians to help her with such an effort.
Magik replies that this farm is not their land. Magik asks if Colossus has forgotten how their father mistreated him and made him live in the barn once his mutant abilities manifested themselves. Colossus replies that he has not forgotten. However, Colossus says that he has changed. Magik calls Colossus a coward. Magik says that Colossus is a fighter and now it is time to fight. Magik swings her sword at Colossus. Colossus armors up and grabs her sword in mid-swing. Magik smiles and says that this is the brother that she knows and loves. Magik tells Colossus to put away his vodka and farm clothes. Magik says that they are going to go get Colossus’ best friend: Nightcrawler.
We cut to Nightcrawler being hunted by Aries, Azimuth and Coda. Nightcrawler quotes the bible during this fight. The villains overwhelm Nightcrawler and take him down. The villains say that their boss would have killed them if they had allowed Nightcrawler to escape.
We shift back to Storm and Iceman talking to Jean Grey. Jean says that she doe snot want to be a symbol. That she is doomed to die again and again. That it can only end in tragedy. Jean asks if Storm can blame her for being selfish. For wanting something else. For wanting to live her life. Storm answers “No. I cannot.” Storm tells Iceman that it is Jean’s choice. Storm then hands Jean a mini-Cerebro and tells Jean to contact them if she ever changes her mind.
Jean then tells Storm that there is something she should know. That after Cyclops she scanned telepathically to see who she could find and she discovered that there is someone out there. Someone who should not be here.
We cut to some cold and snowy wilderness. We see a shadowy figure with Wolverine’s claws. A Sentinel appears on the scene. The shadowy figure attacks the Sentinel. The Sentinel says “Please – Don’t hurt me.” Storm and Iceman then arrive on the scene. Storm asks “Is it really you?! Logan?!” We then see that the shadowy figure is Old Man Logan. End of issue.
The Good: Extraordinary X-Men #1 was a good read. Lemire does not disappoint. Lemire is a quality writer and just keeps getting better and better. Extraordinary X-Men #1 is well crafted from a technical standpoint. Lemire manages to do everything that a writer must do with a debut issue of a new title. Lemire is able to succinctly and clearly deliver the title’s mission statement and what the reader can expect to get on this title and why the reader should come back for more. Even better is that Lemire is able to do all of this is an interesting and entertaining fashion that gets the reader invested in this new title. What is also impressive is that Lemire manages to kick off this new title within the new context of the All New All Different Marvel Universe without ever losing sight of what makes the X-Men who they are.
When dealing with a rebooted universe, writers often fall into an easy and frequent trap of making change just for the sake of change in order to show that everything is “new.” Yet, often when change for the sake of change is delivered the franchise loses the essence and the core tenants from the franchise’s history. That is not the case with Lemire and the Extraordinary X-Men. Lemire is absolutely dealing with a rebooted reality in the All New All Different Marvel Universe, but Lemire eschews change for the sake of change. This may be a new reality and a new direction for the X-Men, but Lemire demonstrates a clear understanding of the core tenants that form the foundation for the X-Men during the course of their 52 year history.
This may be a new Marvel Universe and a new direction for the X-Men, but Extraordinary X-Men #1 definitely feels like an X-Men title. This story is brilliantly infused with the core elements of the X-Men franchise that makes this franchise so special and unique. It is so enjoyable to read a franchise that has undergone a soft reboot but still retains the proper essence of the franchise. This title feels like a proper X-Men title that is true and loyal to their storied history. Lemire deserves loads of praise and credit for creating something new that is clearly in line and consistent with the franchise’s past.
Extraordinary X-Men #1 vibrantly taps into the classic core elements that make the X-Men who they are. And in doing so, this issue is as appealing to long-time readers as it is to new readers who have decided to give the title a try due to the All New All Different initiative. Lemire delivers a clear mission statement of this title. The new setting for the X-Men is firmly outlined and established. Lemire manages to plainly state the conflict at hand for the X-Men and their core mission in this All New All Different Marvel Universe. Lemire is able to demonstrate to the reader what type of story they can expect to receive from this title on a monthly basis.
This new setting for the Extraordinary X-Men is nicely fleshed out and manages to pull the reader into the story and get the reader invested in the X-Men and their mission at hand and the struggle that is before them. Lemire superbly straddles the difficult line of making Extraordinary X-Men #1 extremely new reader friendly while, at the same time, still interesting for long-time readers. The information required to bring new readers up to speed is organically woven into the story so that long-time readers never get bored.
X-Haven serves as the proper foundation for this new direction. Yes, it can be debated if Marvel should have hit the “No More Mutants” button for a second time with having the Terrigen Mists kill mutants as well as sterilizing them. This is an editorial decision that is not all that creative of an idea. However, Lemire makes the most with what he has been given my Marvel’s editorial staff. There is also a positive side of having Cyclops ramp up anti-mutant hysteria as well as the M-Virus amping up the hatred and distrust of mutants. And there is a positive side to reducing the amount of mutants on Earth. All of this helps allow Lemire to return the X-Men to their roots. It takes the X-Men back to a time where they were a very tiny percentage of the world’s population and were hated by all. Honestly, I do not mind the more old-school approach to both the size of the mutant population or their position in the world.
Extraordinary X-Men #1 is nicely paced read. Lemire treats the reader to a pleasant blend of action and drama. The story has a good flow as each scene transitions seamlessly to the next one. This its is also well plotted. Lemire delivers a focused story that moves with a clear purpose in mind. This issue also ends with a surprise appearance of Old Man Logan which translates into a strong hook ending that gets the reader interested in coming back for more.
Lemire whips up some quality dialogue. That is over no surprise. Lemire has always been able to craft unique external voices for his characters. That is certainly the case with Extraordinary X-Men #1. All of the characters have well deviled external voice. Lemire also delivers his typical strong character work. Most of the characters starring in this issue are well-developed. Iceman and Nightcrawler are the only roster members of this team of X-Men that come across a bit generic. However, the rest of the roster including Storm, Jean, Magik, Colossus, Old Man Logan and Nightcrawler are all well written. The reader gets a clear sense of the unique personalities of the various characters that make up this roster.
Storm receives some of the best character work. Lemire nails her level-headed, respectful and thoughtful personality. The excellent scene where Ororo imagines talking to Professor X was fantastic. This scene perfectly encapsulated Storm’s heavy burden as the leader of the X-Men. This was an effective scene that highlighted the fact that even very capable and confident characters like Storm can still suffer from doubt in their own abilities and decisions.
Jean Grey was the other character that lead the way in terms of character work in this issue. Lemire flashes an excellent feel for Jean’s personality and character in this issue.The scene with Jean, Storm and Iceman was simply some fantastic writing. I love the concept that Jean is important to the X-Men more in terms as a cause, a symbol or a martyr than she is as an actual active member of the team. The idea that Jean is destined to die over and over just like her namesake, the Phoenix, which dies and then is reborn from its own ashes over and over. All of this made it so much more believable and understandable that Jean would want to break free from the X-Men and live her own life. Storm’s reaction to Jean’s decision was consistent with Storm’s personality. All of this is going to make the moment that Jean sacrifices living her own life in order to help the X-Men that much more bittersweet.
Lemire did a fine job with Magik and Colossus. The scene between these two siblings was excellent and generated some quality chemistry between the two characters. Lemire succeeded in capturing Colossus’ simple farm boy background along with his role as the powerhouse brawler of the X-Men. Magik got a chance to shine her fiery personality that makes her so deadly in combat. And Old Man Logan, while only appearing for a few pages, is simply a cool character. Lemire gave him the proper Clint Eastwood style introduction that the character deserves.
The quality charter work helped to make some good chemistry between all of the characters on this roster. And chemistry is important. Strong team chemistry has always been a hallmark of any X-Men team. I am glad to see Lemire making a strong effort to generate some pleasant team chemistry in short order.
Humberto Ramos whips up some solid artwork in this issue. I will admit that impressed with Ramos’ artwork in the past. However, it is clearly evident that Ramos has been working hard on his craft. Yes, Ramos still has his trademark manga style to his artwork. However, his art, overall, is so much stronger than before. Ramos has improved on his layouts. His panels are so much more impressive. His panels are no longer a chaotic mess that makes scenes almost impossible to decipher and to follow what is going on in the story. Instead, Ramos delivers panels packed full of strong and clear artwork. I love it when you see an artist consistently work on his craft and grow and improve.
Of course, Ramos still posses great motion in his action scenes. And that is exactly where I like to see that kinetic energy. Ramos also delivers some great facial expressions. Ramos is able to inject so much palpable emotion that brings Lemire’s story to life in an exciting fashion. Ramos’ art plays an important role in pulling the reader into Lemire’s story.
The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.
Overall: Extraordinary X-Men #1 is a strong debut issue. This comic should appeal equally to old and new readers. Lemire and Ramos kick this title off in style. If you like super hero team titles then I would certainly recommend giving Extraordinary X-Men #1 a try. This is a well crafted issue that is more than worth the price of admission.