Marvel’s mutant titles have had it rough for some time now. So rough that we even halted our Uncanny X-Piles column because even the one or two enjoyable titles left were starting to falter and no one should keep paying for subpar storytelling. So when it was announced that Extraordinary X-Men was being launched there was some skepticism on my part. However, the creative team along with most of the roster was a huge reason why this title was given a shot. So, let’s see how things have changed after Secret Wars!
Lemire’s team of X-Men get a solid introduction as well as laying out what is wrong in the world of the mutants. Most of the big problems are still the same since there’s still anti-mutant rage and the mutant race seems to be faced with extinction once again. This time though it’s due to the Terrigen Mists that were released which causes sterilization and horrible side effects to mutants. Why these effects weren’t happening early on is still a mystery so let’s hope it’s addressed at some point or it’s going to be one large, glaring plot hole as time goes on. This is the part of the story that sort of feels like a retread into all too familiar territory when it comes to the X titles and mutants in general. However, Lemire does keep it from feeling too rehashed with the member introductions and hinting at whatever horrible thing that Cyclops has done to fuel the hatred of mutants all over. We see that Storm and Magik are recruiting former members while still saving other mutants exposed to the mists. We also meet the roster of Colossus, Iceman, Nightcrawler, teenage Jean Grey, and the displaced Old Man Logan. His presence here is another mystery since Secret Wars has yet to wrap up but it really doesn’t hinder the story since Storm and Iceman seem just as confused when meeting him. There is also a decent conflict between Storm and young Jean as she’s determined to stay out of the hero game and live a “normal” life. She doesn’t like the idea that it seems as if her destiny is to die. A lot.
The visuals from Ramos are top notch and exciting as always with some great character redesigns along the way. Mainly for Iceman and Nightcrawler who get the better of the upgrades. Nightcrawler receives a chainmail light armor look that fits his swashbuckling style of fighting and swordplay. Iceman’s suit actually looks as if it keeps the cold in and away from those who stand close to him so it’s a more functional design. Storm’s new look is pretty much the same as Magik’s but a little more “conservative” because it lacks the cleavage window. It is good to see that they kept the mohawk hairstyle which has been the fan favorite for some time now. The action taking place in the panels looks great and helps elevate Lemire’s script along the way. Though my favorite sequence is when we see what Colossus has been up to while living in Russia. It’s just a great combination of Olazaba’s inks and Delgado’s colors with Ramos’ work that just brings everything together in what is a visually exciting book. It’s also nice to see that Ramos is drawing Wolverine’s claws the way they should be! Coming out from the back of his hands and not from in-between his knuckles which was introduced in the movies. It was always weird and just off to see some Marvel artists drawing his claws that way after the films came out.
There’s still some trepidation here because so many elements are being used again and it doesn’t seem too exciting on that front. There’s also the issue with what’s going on with Cyclops but if we’re to hate the guy then I’d actually like a reason. Lemire also lays it on a little thick about how much Jean is needed on this particular team of X-Men but that could honestly be my anti-Jean bias kicking in. So, even with certain story elements not really bringing too much new excitement Lemire does have a nice grasp on the characters themselves. There’s also the setup here for a clash with the Inhumans at some point and that will be what keeps me coming back to check out the next issue. Hopefully the creative team here can make this X-Men title something worth reading on a regular and bring some fun back to the mutant populace.