For the last month, All-New All-Different Marvel comics have hinted and teased at the fate of the mutant race. Finally, in Extraordinary X-Men #1, we get our glimpse of the present state of mutantkind – but does it disappoint?
Extraordinary X-Men #1 opens with Storm, brooding in the mysterious X-Haven. It’s a nice tool to help us dive straight into the X-Men’s new context, as she reflects on the dangers now facing the mutant race. From there, we jump to one of Magik’s missions; as X-Haven’s best teleporter, Magik is working to rescue mutants from persecution, but this particular situation is getting worse. So Storm makes a decision: she needs to recruit some key team members.
First on the list is Jean Grey, and Storm gives Jean the mental lowdown that we saw in the Extraordinary X-Men previews. But Jean is trying to live a ‘normal’ life, and – after the still-unrevealed events with Cyclops – she doesn’t want ‘in’ on the superhero gig again.
From there, we jump to Colossus, who seems to have retired back on his parents’ farm. He’s back in. Then there’s a tremendously fun scene setting up a Nightcrawler plot, before Storm meets up with her most surprising team-member – Old Man Logan!
First of all, I have to say (again) that I’m not entirely sold on the idea of the eight-month time-jump. That said, the X-books are using it in a clever way, to move the story into a position of high drama. Jeff Lemire is an exceptionally good writer, and he captures the characters really well. This is clearly going to be an X-Men run that’s high-stakes but also high on characterisation, which is fine by me.
Meanwhile, Humberto Ramos (on pencils) and Victor Olazaba (on inks) are a perfect team. I’m particularly impressed by their work on facial expressions; everyone seems beautifully human, none more so than Magik, whose emotions – from rage to joy – are displayed for all to see. Ramos and Olazaba were made for this book, and Edgar Delgado’s coloring is top-rate. I particularly love a splash-page where Storm discusses her fears with… well, I don’t really want to spoil that scene!
It’s a promising issue, but I confess that I remain troubled; the return to an extinction plot just isn’t quite what I wanted to see from the X-Men. That said, Lemire is clearly a top-notch writer, and I’m very much hopeful that he has a tremendous story to tell. I do have two closing points, though:
First of all, when did Jean Grey begin to be seen as the living epitome of Xavier’s Dream? I most definitely don’t view Jean as embodying it; indeed, at time the opposite has been the case (in his Morrison Manifesto, Grant Morrison described his portrayal of Jean as a god who was trying to remember what it meant to be human). Given some of her actions during Brian Bendis’ All-New X-Men run, I’m less than persuaded teen Jean is an embodiment of the Dream either.
Secondly, I’m curious about where X-Haven is situated. My money’s on the Himalayas, continuing the idea of the Inhumans forcing the mutants out of the equation; after all, the Inhumans themselves originally lived in the Himalayas, separated from humanity and unnoticed.
All in all, this was a good issue, a strong debut, and promises a good run. I’m still not convinced about the overall ‘X-Men / Inhumans’ concept running through Marvel’s books right now, but with this team in charge, we’re sure to see some real classic issues.
I’d give it 4 out of 5.