Extermination #1 // Review
Extermination #1, by Ed Brisson, Pepe Larraz, Marte Garcia, and Joe Sabino, is the beginning of the end for the time lost “Original Five” X-Men. Much has been said over the years about the characters and the choice to bring them to the present, and this series sets out to resolve their story in a satisfying manner. If the rest of the series matches the quality of this first issue, it will be a story to remember.
A beat-by-beat synopsis of this issue would be much too spoilery. Basically, the young X-Men are being hunted by a familiar X-Men villain and another more mysterious figure. Two new mutants are introduced, but no one can figure who they are or where they’re from. There are two deaths, one being infinitely more important than the other. The X-Men scramble to figure out why they are being hunted and, at the end of the issue, there’s a big reveal that will leave readers extremely surprised.
Ed Brisson injects the story with all the gravitas it deserves.The first death is the beginning of an emergency that leads to the second. At this point, there is no seeming connection between the events, and Brisson plays both deaths as catalysts for the X-Men to spring into action. The first death is one that mostly will only affect the O5, but the second death has huge implications for the X-Men universe in general, especially if it sticks. This story does seem like it will lean on time travel, though, so there’s a chance this loss of a very important character in the X-mythos will be undone, but, in the context of this comic, it’s definitely a jaw dropper and sets the tone for the book better than the title can. Right off the bat, it puts its money where its mouth is. If a book is called Extermination, there better be some deaths, and this delivers on that one.
Brisson uses X-Men continuity to give some characters a more personal stake in the events. A problem with some X-Men writers lately is that they allow the plot to overshadow characters. Charles Soule’s Astonishing X-Men run is one of the most egregious examples of this, but Brisson doesn’t fall into this trap. Brisson has a definite story he wants to tell, but he allows the characters to move the plot forward. Each character’s reaction to the events of this book feels genuine. The best X-Men stories allow the characters room to breath and this issue does that rather adroitly. The X-Men are a family, first and foremost, and the events herein put that family in danger. Brisson makes readers feel that.
He knows when to slow things down, allowing readers and the characters in the story to react to what is happening around them. There’s a lot going on here, but it never feels boring. The whole middle portion of the book escalates things further and further, until the second big death hits, and then he slows it all down. It’s fitting for such an important character’s demise to be treated this way, but more importantly, it brings the X-Men together to tackle a new threat. He could have easily jumped from that death to the big reveal at the end of the book and it still would have been effective and shocking, but effective and shocking doesn’t always keep butts in the seats. By slowing it down, he gives everyone, readers and characters alike, time to react and reflect on what just happened. It leaves them wondering if this character can be taken out in the first issue, is anyone safe?
Pepe Larraz and Marte Garcia’s art is wonderful. It’s crisp, detailed, and the action scenes are well laid out and exciting. Pepe Larraz has a perfect style for the X-Men and it feels like he born to draw them. It feels like he was raised on 90s X-Men comics and took a lot of that style to heart, mixing it with a touch of Stuart Immonen’s style from All-New X-Men, which is perfect for a story that seems to herald the end of the O5’s time in the present. Garcia’s colors hit the mark brilliantly as well. He casts the characters in colors that play into their emotional state in the scene. Like the best coloring, it sets the tone without drowning it.
Extermination #1’s title makes a promise, and the rest of the comic delivers on it. There are a lot of jaw-dropping moments in this one, and it sets the stakes high right off the rip. Brisson has created a compelling narrative, with enough twists and turns to keep readers coming back. In the long run, the time travel aspects of this story have the potential to do away with any of the big moments this book delivers, but that doesn’t take away from how powerful this first issue is. The art seals the deal, supplying the gorgeous visuals a story like this deserves. This is a quality X-Men story, whether readers are pro or anti-O5, delivering all the thrills and chills a story of this magnitude deserves. It’s a must buy for any X-Men fan.