By Zack Quaintance — I was at Marvel’s SDCC X-Men panel, during which Matthew Rosenberg insinuated major X-happenings would come in Extermination, a five-part mini-series with a tagline of EXTERMINATE THE PAST. ELIMINATE THE FUTURE. The smart money was on this being the book that would settle the fate of the original 5 X-Men, who basically all of X-fandom agreed had run their course like two years ago.
Through one issue, that suspicion is all but guaranteed, especially given the new Uncanny X-Men #1 teaser art with hardly a young X-person in site. Another thing Rosenberg insinuated at the panel was everyone would think they knew what Extermination was about, but that, in fact, they would be wrong (a pretty standard teaser in superhero comics). Rosenberg was, of course, vague, as to not accidentally step on the upcoming project of a fellow X-writer.
All of that is my way of saying Extermination #1 is maybe not entirely what it seems to be. Through one part (or 20 percent) of the story, I feel like I have a decent grasp on what’s at stake: one part of it is definitely sending the time-displaced X-pups away, another part is doing something interesting with an older X-character whose identity I won’t reveal because, you know, spoilers. If that’s all this story is about, it’ll be interesting enough.
Really, this first issue is incredibly well-paced, doling out consequential action at a clip the vast majority of event comics (is this an event?) don’t. It’s in a unique position to do this given the current X-status quo. Marvel’s mutant stories have gotten pretty messy of late, with little sense of cohesion. This, in fact, has been my central complaint with X-titles (Blue and Gold, etc.), and I’ve largely limited myself to X-Books that have RED in their titles, or are written by writers named Thompson (Kelly and Zac) or Rosenberg.
This is significant here, because the unwieldy state of the X-titles gives Brisson disposable pieces to take off the board, pieces he uses expertly, giving needed jolts to the ends of the first and third acts of this comic. I enjoyed the tight plotting, but, more than that, Brisson’s willingness to make big moves is also an encouraging sign for the upcoming 10-part weekly re-launch of Uncanny X-Men. There sure seem to be quite a few X-Men on that promotional poster. I know it’s morbid, but wouldn’t it be thrilling if there weren’t as many left when that 10 weeks is over?
Extermination likely marks the start of a cleanup before the franchise’s flagship title returns in full, and an encouraging one at that. I suppose it remains to be scene which of Brisson, Rosenberg, or Thompson will ultimately write Uncanny full-time, but I’m glad they’re doing it together at the start, potentially portending that sense of cohesion I’ve craved.
Overall: An exciting and fast-paced first issue, posting a couple quick surprises. If this book is the start of an X-cleanup before the fall’s Uncanny X-Men re-launch, the Brisson-Rosenberg-Thompson era is off to a very nice start. 8.5/10
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Zack Quaintance is a journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.