Extermination #2 // Review
Extermination #2, by writer Ed Brisson, penciller Pepe Larraz, colorist Marte Gracia, and letterer Joe Sabino, features the X-Men trying to figure out who’s attacking them while dealing with tragedies of the last issue. It ups the ante of the first chapter, yet does it without going back to the well by killing more characters. However, the quality of the book doesn’t flag even a little without all the shocks of the last one.
The X-Men gather to lick their wounds and figure out how to protect the young “Original 5” from their attackers. Cyclops take issue with the plan because he feels like it takes his team out of the fight, and leaves the mansion. The other remaining time-lost X-Men chase after him, only to be attacked by the young Cable. He’s able to grab one of them before the numbers game gets to him. The X-Men regroup, only to be attacked by Ahab and his Hounds.
Ed Brisson’s script is spectacular. This issue is a perfect balance of character development, plot progression, and action. The central mystery of the book is still extremely vague, but, at this point, it doesn’t matter, because what readers are getting is entertaining and intriguing. After the first installment and its bloody surprises, Brisson pulls back a little, but every time a character is in danger, the fear of another death is there and it works to keep the drama coming. Even though there are no fatalities in this issue, Brisson has already established no one is safe and that tone clings to the comic.
Brisson knows how to progress the plot by using the character and their actions. Kitty Pryde takes charge, laying out a plan. Cyclops bemoans his lack of agency and being kept out of the fight. Young Jean tries to help Scott see why this plan is necessary and then, when Cable attacks, gets vicious. Rachel goes at Ahab without thinking, his very presence angering her past the point of reason. Each of these events are just the characters being themselves, and they move the story forward, getting it to where it needs to be. That’s one of the factors that sets Extermination apart from other Marvel events: the characters aren’t slaves to the plot, they are integral parts of it. This is a character-driven story and Brisson makes that work perfectly.
As great as the writing in this book is, the art matches it perfectly. Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia are knocking out of the park with this one. Larraz’s line work is wonderful and detailed. He doesn’t skimp out on the backgrounds, and his action scenes are clear and well laid out. Gracia’s color are rich and powerful, perfectly complementing Larraz’s pencils. Throughout the book, these two give readers some amazing, dramatic visuals, with the highlight being the last several pages, as Ahab and the Hounds attack. It all leads up to a big last-page surprise, a full page spread of a beloved X-Man as a Hound. The image captures the moment to a tee, ending the issue on a high note and whetting readers’ whistles for what comes next.
The first issue of Extermination was consistently shocking, and those shocks helped make it so effective. This one isn’t nearly as shocking, but it succeeds just as much as the last installment because Brisson has a constructed a story that runs on the actions of the characters, using them to inform the plot. The art is the icing on the cake, taking Brisson’s script and giving it the visuals it deserves. Extermination is easily one of the best event books Marvel has put out since Secret War. It’s a must buy series, not just for X-Men fans, but for comic lovers in general. Brisson and company are doing something special with this one.