Though the X-Men franchise has moved on from it Marvel still needs to wrap up the Extermination event. After several delays we are finally going to learn the fate of the original X-Men who were time displaced. This outcome has been a long time coming and something that the X-Men franchise has need to put behind. The event itself hasn’t been incredible as there have been many things about Extermination that has kept it back. Now with the event reaching its final issue can Ed Brisson end things on a strong note? Let’s find out with Extermination #5.
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Inside Searebro Ahab commands his Hounds to attack the remaining X-Men.
In the chaos the X-Men discover that Mimic sacrificed himself by posing as Cyclops earlier. Now recovered young Cyclops leads the X-Men into continuing the battle. Cable follows behind after telling the present Jean Grey to continue searching for a way to revert the X-Men that have been turned into Hounds.
As the X-Men and Hounds fight Maxime and Manon are able to turn several X-Men into Hounds. Kitty Pryde shows up with more back up as the X-Men become overwhelmed just as Storm is transformed into a Hound.
Inside a protective sphere Cable tries to convince young Cyclops and young Jean Grey to leave with him. Young Jean doesn’t want to leave the other X-Men to die. Young Cyclops tells young Jean that they have to go back. Young Jean trusts young Cyclops opinion.
As the fighting goes on the present Iceman and Angel say goodbye to their younger selves.
The other X-Men are able to give Cable and the time displaced X-Men enough space so they can travel back in time. Ahab notices this and follows them through time.
At some point in time Cable reveals he took the original X-Men to a time before Ahab was able to turn Maxime and Manon against the X-Men. He says they must try to get to the twins before Ahab can infect them. Young Jean volunteers to do that job.
Suddenly Ahab’s airship appears out of nowhere. Cable and the other original X-Men stay back to buy Jean time to meet Maxime and Manon.
Inside the Xavier Mansion young Jean quickly finds Maxime and Manon. Young Jean kindly asks the twins how their powers work which they happily show her.
Outside the Xavier Mansion Cable and the original X-Men do their best to hold Ahab’s forces off. Young Cyclops and Cable combine their attacks to heavily damage Ahab’s airship. Their blasts eventually cause the airship to explode.
Young Jean returns and says she discovered the information they need. Cable says he’ll stay behind to distract Ahab. As Cable goes to fight Ahab the original X-Men travel through time.
Cable is eventually able to timeslide himself and Ahab back to the present. Once they get there Cable is able to destroy part of Ahab’s body.
The remaining X-Men are left surrounded by all of their teammates that have been turned into Hounds. Cable mentions that they have to wait until the original X-Men close the time loop.
Back in the past the original X-Men back in to the day they were taken out of. They quickly go inside the Xavier Mansion and change back into their clothing from that day. While they change young Jean reveals they will have to lock their memories of the future. Though everyone is hesitant to do that young Jean mentions that at some point in the future they will remember what they went through since their memories of that time won’t be wiped from their minds.
When Cyclops and Jean are alone Jean mentions that Cable was just a boy who missed his father.
Young Jean then goes through the mind altering process. They all return to how things were that day with Beast marching off after disagreeing with how the fight that day went down.
In the present just as Maxime and Manon are about to turn the present Jean into a Hound she suddenly remembers how to beat them. She uses that knowledge to quickly knock out the twins and turn all of the X-Men back to normal.
As everyone recovers Rachel is revealed to still be a Hound and she helps Ahab timeslide out of Searebro. The others wonder why Rachel was still a Hound. Jean says that Rachel’s pain as a Hound was real unlike the others.
Jean then talks to Cable as a son. Cable tells Jean to look after Maxime and Manon. He then timeslides somewhere.
Several days later a funeral is held for the older Cable and other X-Men who died.
Afterwards Jean, Beast, Angel and Iceman go to diner to talk about their recently returned memories. As they enjoy themselves Beast mentions that it is odd to be there without Scott around. Jean says they should toast to Scott. Everyone raises their milkshakes and toast to Scott.
At young Cable’s safehouse Cable grabs some beers and tells someone that the time displaced X-Men returned to their timeline and the future has been reset. Cable hands the person a beer. The person grabs it and reveals himself to be the present Cyclops, somehow returned from the dead. End of issue.
The Good: Ed Brisson does everything in his power to deliver a satisfying conclusion for the latest X-Men event, Extermination. As with the other issues of this event Extermination is a comic that tedders on being being a break out story but held back from several major story problems. That is all on top of the fact that the delays severely hurt the impact of the ending Extermination #5 delivered.
From a story perspective the strongest aspect of Extermination #5 was the decisions made with the original X-Men. Throughout this issue Brisson got across how tough of a decision the original X-Men returning to the past was. It was such a wildcard decision that did not guarantee victory over Ahab that you understood why they took their time to make that decision. Especially with more and more of their allies being turned into Hounds they knew that the last thing the other X-Men needed was being down five people.
Establishing that created a greater sense of urgency to end things in any way possible. Having the young Cyclops understand that fact made for a good way to show him as the true leader of the X-Men. He knew just as well as anyone that this was a major risk but was able to stay level headed enough to make the decision. The confident way he convinced the others to follow him was a great reminder of why a good guy Cyclops is the best leader for the X-Men, even in the worst of times.
Additionally, having the young Jean Grey figure out a way to reset everything was a great way to end her story arc that started the moment the original X-Men were brought to the present. She was by far the most developed of the time displaced X-Men. So it was only fair to have her figure out how they would be able to reset themselves in the past while helping out their present selves. While not the easiest to understand if you aren’t familiar with this type of X-Men storytelling it worked within who young Jean was established to be over the course of this era.
Now while I have my problems with the ending, which I’ll get into in a bit, it was a nice nostalgic moment to see the present Jean Grey, Beast, Angel and Iceman talking while drinking milkshakes. It’s a scene we have not had in a very long time as these four have been split apart for such a long time. Even though it was a short scene it was a reminder how they, along with Cyclops, have a special chemistry that does not exist with other characters in the X-Men.
With how chaotic things were in Extermination #5 Pepe Larraz did a great job bringing it all to life. Larraz’s artwork got better and better with each issue of Extermination. He delivered on how impactful it was to see the X-Men forced to fight their allies who were turned into Hounds.
The Bad: From a pure story perspective Extermination #5 was not able to avoid the problems from past issues of this event. One of the biggest continuing problems of Extermination was centered around the young Cable. At no point in this event did Brisson justify why a young version of Cable was needed. Extermination #5 did nothing to help this. The only explanation that Brisson gave us is that he and the X-Office wanted a younger Cable running around since they thought the character was to old.
What especially hurt the young Cable’s perception is that he never went beyond acting like a brat. Everytime he was on screen he was just a straight up asshole. And since this is a version younger version Cable all of his dialogue came across as a kid who had his toy stolen rather than meaningful dialogue.
Given the nature of Extermination this makes the death of the iconic version of Cable make less sense. There was no reason for the iconic version of Cable not being used in the role his younger self played. Afterall, Cable knows better than anyone what it means to be a time displaced character. So for Cable to somehow have memories of what would happen if the original X-Men stayed in the present would’ve been easy to explain because of the nature of his character. It would have also gone a long way to explain why Cable would kidnap characters like Mimic since he has the credibility that his younger version lacks.
What made Extermination #5 a bigger failure of a conclusion is that Ahab never became the compelling villain Brisson intended him to be. Ahab had zero charisma. The only thing the character ever does is smile wickedly and laugh at the chaos he is creating. Anytime the character actually participates in the action he was easily defeated. From young Cyclops in the first issue to young Cable in Extermination #5, Ahab never was shown to be an unstoppable monster on his own.
That makes the fact that the X-Men come across as absolute rookies for how Ahab is able to turn almost all of them into Hounds. This is not the first time the X-Men have come across a threat like Ahab. It was just a poor showing for characters that are supposed to be veteran heroes at this point in their careers.
This also highlights one of the biggest weaknesses in the Extermination plot being that Brisson never spent time showing the emotional impact of the X-Men turning into Hounds. As soon as any member of the X-Men were turned into Hounds they were nothing more than mindless grunts. As soon as that happened they became no better than nameless characters who had no history anymore. That all could easily changed if Brisson showed how the remaining X-Men were pulling their punches or hesitated to fight their friends. It would’ve not only explained the chaos of the fights but why it was almost all of the X-Men were turned into Hounds.
And speaking of Hounds, the impact of Rachel Grey still being one as Extermination #5 failed to hit. This story beat was a complete miss because Brisson only spent two quick panels on Rachel’s latest character development and quickly forgot about it. Given the characters importance you would think the X-Men would have cared more about Rachel still being a Hound and leaving with Ahab.
This especially looks bad for the present Jean Grey’s character. Afterall, while they are close in age, Jean and Rachel have developed a strong mother-daughter bond over the years. And given how much of an emphasis Jean’s character has gotten since her return you would think that Rachel still being a Hound would impact her. Unfortunately that is not the case at all as Jean has zero reaction for her daughter leaving with Ahab. It’s a disappointing development that just drives home how much character development was missing from Brisson’s Extermination event.
Now as much as the ending of Extermination #5 should have excited fans it was something that was completely spoiled by Marvel months ago. It is such a shame because Cyclops returning back to his form before Marvel decided to treat him as the Neo-Magneto should excite X-Men fans. Unfortunately all the excitement of this ending was robbed because it is something that we knew about before the full reveal happened.
This all speaks to the horrible scheduling of Extermination. The X-Office completely dropped the ball on making Extermination a successful event. No matter what the reason was for Extermination #5’s delay the fact is Marvel and the X-Office has already pushed passed this event for over a month now. There was zero importance to this ending since the X-Men franchise already moved on from the events of this story. That includes how Marvel has already started to promote Cyclops return in the first quarter of 2019. If Marvel wants to make sure the X-Men return to prominence they need to get things back in order and not let things like severe delays rob the impact of what should be major events in the franchise history.
Overall: Extermination #5 delivered a lackluster conclusion to what turned out to be a highly disappointing X-Men event. Ed Brisson missed the mark on many character moments that should’ve been highly impactful to the X-Men franchise. All of the misses, along with the delay of this finale causing spoilers for how things ended, made the entire Extermination series an X-Men event fans can easily pass on.