Ed Brisson (Writer), Marte Gracia (Colorist), Pepe Larraz (Artist), Joe Sabino (Letterer)
August 29, 2018
“I’m going with them.”
The four words at the end of Extermination #2 told me all I needed to know and I honestly couldn’t be more hooked on this book. This is a comic focused on returning the time displaced original five X-Men to their rightful place, but it also headlines some unexpected X-Men who haven’t gotten much spotlight in the last several years. Here they are playing key roles. Granted, you could also put the original X-Force in almost anything and I’d be cheering from the sidelines.
I was instantly intrigued by Extermination #1 and found myself excited for the continuation of the story Ed Brisson, Pepe Larraz, and company are telling. It takes any expectations for a classic X-Men story and twists them into something more engaging. A difficult feat considering how played out some classic tropes can feel in the wrong hands. Extermination #2 doesn’t drop the ball and only escalates the stakes while giving some screen time to some of my all time favorites. (I’m not biased, I promise.)
What’s most impressive about Brisson’s storytelling is how he gives weight to individual moments between characters without the story slowing down. I like my X-Men more on the soapy side. I like the feelings more than I like the punching and the moments he gives young Scott and Jean out in the rain feel much more resonant than simply having a scene for a scene’s sake. Brisson also doesn’t forget how so many of these characters are connected. Of course Cable’s untimely demise would bring together the X-Men, but more importantly, it would bring together the classic X-Force lineup. Shatterstar’s declamation of revenge, Domino’s impatient, withering looks: It’s all here, just like it should be. I can’t remember the last time X-Force was gathered like this. But it feels special and long overdue.
If Larraz and Brisson are on second and third base, then Garcia is stealing home with his colors on this issue. His perfectly picked shades made the first issue stand out and set the tone for the event, but they provide for some killer focused moments in this issue. Brisson seems to know when to let the art speak louder than his words and when he pulls back, Larraz and Garcia really shine. Even if the story wasn’t as strong, the art would still be something to marvel at. Jean Grey telekinetically facing off against Angel’s attacker in the rain is perfect; Larraz draws her looking powerful and the colors soak the panel in melancholy dread. Larraz is one of the big draws of this book and I can’t see that changing for the rest of the series.
Regardless of the bigger picture here, Brisson has the reigns held tight and isn’t planning to let this story wander too far away from its main point. My only concern is that Ahab may be extra baggage along for the ride. We don’t know his motivation or why he is in the present. The X-Men seem like a house divided at this point and with the identity of the young Cable out in the open already, it seems only a matter of time before he’s teaming up with them against what may be the larger threat at hand.
At this point I’d usually have my doubts that this can all be resolved in a timely manner, but it may not even be resolved at all. I am fully expecting a cliffhanger, something that can spill into November’s Uncanny X-Men relaunch or at least leave something up in the air as the O5 go back to where they belong. There are big X-Men plans a-foot and Extermination #2 is an incredibly solid and beautiful bridge leading us deeper into the great unknown that is the third issue.