Ed Brisson (Writer), Pepe Larraz (Artist), Marte Gracia (Colorist), VC’s Joe Sabino (Letterer)
September 26, 2018
With a single snap of his fingers, Ahab suddenly becomes a scary villain again and that’s just the start of the ride the is Extermination #3. Sometimes the third issue of a mini series, event or not, is where the ride starts to stall out. Where some writers just slide down the hill to the conclusion. This is not the case here and I am so very pleased about it.
Writer Ed Brisson had quite the task in front of him, but he’s delivering on story as well as the surprises and back up against the wall moments that are synonymous with big X-Men events. Halfway through this series and we are beginning to see all the pieces fall into place, characters having big, splashy moments and stakes continuing to be raised. The third issue takes the strengths of the first two and improves on the formula while not letting the story peter out. We don’t have all the answers yet about kid Cable, where he comes from or exactly what Ahab is doing here, but I am more than just invested in this story at this point. I am actually having fun.
It isn’t all fun though, and you can’t title a book Extermination and not stuff it to the gills with dread. That is the perfect balance Brisson is striking here. The bleak nature of events never feel like too much. There is hardly ever any tragedy in this issue that isn’t underscored with something a little lighter. I have a big problem with superhero comics that are steeped in darkness, so bleak and black that they lose their hearts along the way. Brisson does a great job of setting stakes, but not making the events entirely pitch black. This still has heart.
Backing Brisson up on this journey are Pepe Larraz’s stunning artwork and Marte Gracia’s moody colors. They’ve been pushing this book towards perfection this entire time. Even saying that, it feels like Larazz has leveled up with every issue. Gracia’s colors really shine during quiet, emotional moments and the action is so well executed that there is still feeling pouring out of all of it. Larraz gives us kickass moment after kickass moment. Two scenes that particularly stick out are the brawl on the X-Jet where Shatterstar has been turned into a hound, and when the team finally catches up to kid Cable’s hidden base. The former scene is tense and moody, emotion oozing off of every character Larraz illustrates, the other is exploding with action just like one Boom Boom’s timebombs. If Brisson is this good with handling X-Force’s voices, even as just minor characters here, I cannot wait to see what he does with the upcoming X-Force book.
X-Force aren’t the only characters that shine under Brisson, Larraz and Gracia, however. The X-Men protecting the Original Five all have big moments too. Jean and young Scott in particular shine in a harrowing moment under the ocean where Scott is threatening to be crushed under the immense pressure after being teleported outside Searebro’s secure dome. A lot rides on every second of this book, but every character sings under Brisson’s guidance and are elevated even further with this stellar art team.
Even if Extermination doesn’t go down as the most memorable or even shocking X-Men event of all time, it’s solid if not exceptional comics work. It’s hard to think that this team won’t stick the landing.