While Extermination has yet to conclude due to it being delayed until mid-December Marvel decided that it didn’t matter and would release the aftermath issue, X-Men: The Exterminated #1, in the beginning of December. The answer X-Men: The Exterminated #1 was not delayed to let Extermination end first is likely because Marvel just wants to put this events story to bed now that they are all in with Uncanny X-Men. No matter what the reason is The Exterminated #1 is here and it is time to see how Hope Summers and the X-Men deal with the death of Cable. With Cable being such a major character in the X-Men universe this is a death that has major ramifications for many people. Let’s see what how everyone deals with Cable death with X-Men: The Exterminated #1.
Writer: Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler (A Hope Summers & Jean Grey Story); Chris Claremont (A Cyclops & Corsair Story)
Artist: Neil Edwards (A Hope Summers & Jean Grey Story); Ramon Rosanas (A Cyclops & Corsair Story)
Colorist: Jay David Ramos (A Hope Summers & Jean Grey Story); Nolan Woodard (A Cyclops & Corsair Story)
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In the middle of destroyed area the X-Men watch as Hope Summers makes a speech to young X-Men students about how her dad (Cable) taught her the importance of being present and being able to survive with the tools available.
Apocalypse suddenly attacks and Hope leads the X-Men students against the villain. As she is trying to maximize everyone’s ability she reminds them to stay flexible as the situation changes.
Sometime later Bishop finds Hope sitting along by a tree and congratulates her on doing well during the Danger Room training, mentioning Cable would be proud. Hope wonders what Bishop’s motives are to talk to her after spending so much time chasing her and Cable through time. Bishop says he is not proud of what he did but says that after saving each other from Stryfe (Uncanny X-Force (2013) #17) that they could have a conversation with each other.
Jean shows up and tells Bishop that he should give Hope some space. Before leaving Bishop says he is sorry for all that happened.
Jean says that all the students loved Hope’s lesson and would like her to stay at the Xavier Institute. Hope is not sure. Jean tries to say something but Hope does not want to hear another person tell her things happen for a reason or that Cable would be proud of her. Jean admits she lost a son too.
Hope apologizes as her emotions have been up to eleven. She then admits that she can’t even remember Cable’s face. Jean is sorry to hear that and notices Hope has Cable’s safehouse keys. Hope says it may help her remember Cable but is afraid to go alone. Jean says that she will go with Hope.
Hope says she has to do it herself and then uses her powers to shield herself from Jean reading her mind. Jean tells Hope that she has seen a lot of death in her life and it has taught her that it should not tear people apart, rather it should bring them together. Jean says they are family and hugs Hope.
Sometime later in Hell’s Kitchen Hope and Jean enter Cable’s safehouse. Hope notices a door open and charges inside. She finds Deadpool and instantly attacks him. As they fight Deadpool says that he and Cable used to hangout in the safehouse together. Hope calls Deadpool out for bringing out the worst in Cable.
Jean eventual stops both Hope and Deadpool in place. Deadpool says that Cable wanted him there. Jean tells Hope to let Deadpool say his piece.
Deadpool takes off his mask and admits that Cable was the one person who always treated him like a human. He goes on to say that they had a bond that included a death pact. He says that there death pact was that when one of them died the other would erase their data and make sure that their enemies can’t use their information or weapons against their loved ones. Deadpool says he already did that and will only take a mug as a keepsake while leaving the rest of the remaining items for Hope.
Deadpool then says that once they are done looking through thing to destroy what is remaining. Before he leaves Deadpool tells Hope that he knows what Hope is looking for and it is not in the safehouse.
Over the next few days Hope and Jean go to every safehouse Cable had until they end up in the one located in Cooperstown, Alaska, where he found Hope. Hope hesitates to go inside so Jean says she is there for her. While walking around inside Hope admits that she still can’t picture Cable even after going through all of his safehouses while hoping he may show up like last time.
As they go through Cable’s stuff Hope starts feeling like she failed Cable. Jean says that Hope wouldn’t of made it this far if she failed him.
Eventually Hope is able to find what she has been looking for: Cable’s time machine. Jean realizes this is what Hope has been blocking from her. Hope says she has to use the time machine. Jean reminds Hope how Cable knew the meaning of messing with time and that even with that power it does not mean one should do it.
Jean uses her powers to take the time machine from Hope’s hand. Hope retaliates by trying to punch Jean but Jean is able to easily block it by using her powers.
Hope finally breaks down. After apologizing Hope admits she wanted to believe she could go back and save Cable like he did for her. Jean tells Hope that it is time to let go and live in the present. Hope understands what Jean is saying and uses her powers to destroy the time machine.
As they hug Jean admits she sees a lot of Cable in Hope. Hope says that she still can’t picture Cable’s appearance in her head. She asks Jean to help her, which Jean happily agrees to do as they walk outside. End of main story.
The Good: Taking X-Men: The Exterminated #1 as a self-contained story it does its job in exploring how Hope Summers and Jean Grey deal with Cable’s death. Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler were able to identify Cable’s importance to both characters and tell a story that was meaningful. Unfortunately they are unable escape the obvious faults that were inherent with the timing and type of story being told.
Having Hope Summers as the main driving force for X-Men: The Exterminated #1 was a smart one. Everything that happens in this issue is through her eyes. That in turn creates a strong focus for the reader to experience everything that happens in the main story through. It’s a focus that has been lacking in many X-Men stories and works even better because of that.
Keeping in mind what Hope has been through with her adopted father, Cable, made Hope’s entire demeanor throughout X-Men: The Exterminated #1 come off as more believable. Even if you are not aware of everything that Hope has been through Thompson and Nadler simplify things by going with the father-daughter connection she had with Cable. It kept the entire story simple and away from all the complex history associated with Cable and Hope’s history together.
Opening the issue up with Hope leading the X-Men students through a Danger Room simulated training session also put into perspective the harden character Cable turned her into. Hope was raised in a chaotic environment in which she did not necessarily have a home. Her only home was being next to Cable. Thompson and Nadlier did a good job putting that fact over with Hope’s speech to the X-Men students during the training session.
This training session also was a good way to set up the quick scene between Hope and Bishop. Ever since Schism the X-Men creative staff really went out of their way to damage Bishop’s character by turning him into an antagonist for Cable and Hope. Bishop’s talk with Hope felt not only as the character’s long overdue apology for what he did but also the X-Men staff’s apology to fans for what they did to the character. With Bishop having a major part in the Uncanny X-Men team this was a much needed development to help the character go back to the version that made him a fan favorite.
This meeting with Bishop set the tone for how Jean Grey was placed in a position to be the support that Hope needed during this difficult time. Being the first on-screen meeting between Jean and Hope this was a major moment since technically Jean is Hope’s adopted-grandmother, as weird as it sounds given how close in age they looked. Being someone that has personally experience death, both physically and from those close to her, Jean knows exactly what Hope is going through.
Hope keeping Jean at arms length until the very end of X-Men: The Exterminated worked in well with who Hope’s character is. Afterall, Cable did raise her to be protective of everyone, especially when it comes to psychics. This made Jean’s approach even more important as she did not push too hard to make Hope talk. Instead Jean only stepped in when she knew Hope was going to far. This was shown when she stopped Hope’s fight with Deadpool and when she spoke honestly about Hope trying to mess with time being the wrong thing to do. In choosing her spot the moment that Hope finally opened her mind to Jean at the end of X-Men: The Exterminated #1 came off as a much more effective way to end the main story with.
Deadpool’s appearance in X-Men: The Exterminated was a nice surprise that worked because it builds off previously established history. One of the most fan favorite piece of X-Men content over the last few decades has been the Cable & Deadpool series. The pairing of these two characters from a pitch standpoint shouldn’t of worked but it did. The dynamic was unique with Cable and Deadpool building a unique bond that they not share with anyone else.
Because of that it is not surprising to learn that Cable and Deadpool made a death pact with each other. Deadpool opening up about why it was important for him to complete the death pact made the bond be much more layered. Just mentioning how Cable treated Deadpool as a human, no matter how annoyed he was by Deadpool, showed that there was a true bond between the two.
Neil Edwards delivered some great artwork throughout the main story of X-Men: The Exterminated #1. Edwards nailed the look of each X-Men that was used and made me wish he was the main artist for Uncanny X-Men. There is an energy with every scene that he brings out of all the characters involved. Whether it’s the wide range of emotions or the brief action scenes, it all had a life of its own that made the story being told even more effective.
For the back-up portion of this issue Ramon Rosanas also did a good job with getting across the time period the story took place. There was a feeling of reading an old Chris Claremont X-Men issue from Rosanas’ artwork. At the same time it was modern enough that it kept consistent with Edwards style from the main story.
The Bad: As much as there was to enjoy about X-Men: The Exterminated #1 there was an equal amount of things that kept it back from reaching its full potential. Just the mere fact that Extermination has not completed upon the release of this issue was a major misstep. It is by no way the fault of Thompson, Nadler or Claremont. The fault lies completely on Marvel and the X-Men editorial staff for dropping the ball on the scheduling for Extermination.
They could’ve easily delayed this issue to release until Extermination ended. There is absolutely no reason for this type of release schedule to happen. But because it did happen Marvel and the X-Men editorial staff just drove home the fact that the events of Extermination did not matter. All the event was good for was to send the original time displaced X-Men back to their time period. That messaging ends up hurting the big impact that an issue like X-Men: The Exterminated #1 had.
Further hurting X-Men: The Exterminated #1 from a story perspective is all the problems with time paradoxes. This is something that has always been a problem when it comes to the X-Men. The team is a living and breathing time paradox with how often they unintentionally mess with time during their big events.
Because of that it did not make sense that Hope would forget who Cable looked like. There is absolutely zero explanation for why this is happening. And for that matter it is not explained why her memories were not just replaced by the younger Cable who we know is now running around in the present thanks to the spoilers provided by the solicitations for the new X-Force series. The why of all this just goes to show all of the confusing things surrounding the X-Men franchise, which in turn hurts some of Hope’s motivation.
Speaking of the young Cable, it is also not explained why Hope wouldn’t go after that version of the character. Afterall it is well known now by everyone in the X-Men that the young version that was introduced in Extermination was responsible for the death of the iconic version of Cable. Given that fact and Hope’s motivation in this issue her going after the young Cable would be the first thing she would do.
With Hope’s state of mind that would have made her entire arc even better and should’ve been what the back-up story was about. This would have also made a good way to put over the young Cable as the new permanent version of the character. But without his appearance it makes him look unimportant since the one character that would have the most against him, Hope, did not care about even meeting him.
As good as it is to see Chris Claremont back to write an X-Men story is his story did not have the intended impact. I understand what Claremont and Marvel intended to do with the story involving Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor but it just did not work. Without either character being around in the present it made the story completely inconsequential.
What especially hurts this back-up story is that it is just a reminder that Cyclops won’t be able to react to the death of his son. Just like Hope and Jean, Cyclops deserves the spotlight to mourn the death of his son. But since the current circumstances don’t allow that to happen the back-up just turns out to be reminder of the lost potential in that story.
Instead it would have been much more effective to have the back-up story be told from Jean’s perspective. Because for as well written as Jean was in the main story everything she did was in reaction to Hope. She was there to help Hope mourn her adopted father’s death. There was no time given to how Jean was actually dealing with the death of her son. We only got brief glimpses of that. It would’ve added a whole new layer to see Jean talk with Storm or Kitty Pryde about how she is dealing with this. Her perspective on this would’ve also added to why when Uncanny X-Men begins she is not in the mindset to take the initiative as the X-Men leader.
Overall: X-Men: The Exterminated #1 was much better than I expected it to be. Having Hope Summers be the driving force of the main story was a smart decision. Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler did a good job with the execution of how Cable’s death affected Hope’s interaction with Jean Grey, Bishop and Deadpool. Unfortunately there was a lot of lost potential in what this issue was intended to do, partly due to the timing of X-Men: The Exterminated #1’s release.