Written By: Greg Pak, David Lapham, David López
Illustrations By: Matteo Buffagni, Andre Arujo, Roberto de la Torre
Publish Date: 2013
Rating: C –
X-Men: X-Termination brings together 3 different X-men series (Astonishing X-men, Age of Apocalypse, and X-treme X-men). If you haven’t been following at least X-Men: The Complete Age of Apocalypse you’re going to be pretty lost since the majority of the story focuses on previous plot points from that series. I picked this one up to finish out the X-Treme X-Men series without having read Age of Apocalypse (AoA), so I was confused over several points. (Such as AoA Jean Grey not having mutant powers anymore, AoA Nightcrawler’s vengeance mission, AoA’s Beast being evil, and the AoA team’s dislike of Scott Summers.)
At it’s heart, this story revolves around the AoA Nightcrawler’s mission of redemption after having been obsessed with avenging his wife’s death without consideration for the consequences of his actions. It’s also a story arc for AoA Jean Grey who gets tasked with a mission to save the multi-verse. So, if you’re reading this as a wrap-up to the X-treme X-men story, like I was, you’re going to be extremely disappointed. Those story arcs and characters get shoved into the background or are efficiently dispatched to make way for AoA to take over.
Separating this from X-treme X-men, X-termination was an okay story. Nightcrawler is one of my favorite characters and AoA Kurt had a lot of page time here, so I did enjoy that aspect. I also enjoyed his character arc but I wish I had been following his story prior to reading this volume since X-termination is the wrap-up to a larger plot. Outside of that, I was too lost to enjoy a lot of what was going on. I didn’t understand the dynamics of the AoA team and I wasn’t a fan of the main “villains” here since they were just mindless consumers of power.
All in all, a very disappointing ending for X-Treme X-men which had shown so much promise in its first volume. I would recommend this only if you’ve been following all of the series that come together here.
X-Treme X-men, Vol 2: You Can’t Go Home Again
Written By: Greg Pak
Illustrations By: Stephen Segovia, André Lima Araújo, and Paco Diaz Luque
Publish Date: 2013
Series: X-Treme X-men, vol. 2
Rating: B –
After adoring X-Treme X-Men, Vol. 1: Xavier Must Die! I had high expectations going into X-Treme X-men, Vol 2: You Can’t Go Home Again. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to them. The first volume was fast paced but stream-lined and had some really interesting character development happening. In comparison, this volume was disjointed and I found myself confused about what exactly was going on in several parts.
This collection starts out where the last volume ended with Issues 6 – 7 which finds Kurt accidentally back in his own universe. These two issues were fantastic. The story is that Kurt is trying to find out what happened to his parents in a post-robot uprising landscape. Like Howlett’s (and even Emma’s) development in the first volume, Kurt’s character development here was extremely well done and I was glad to see such a great conclusion to his story-thread. However, this is where the collection lost me.
Issue 7.1 (which was the worst one, IMO) to mid-10 seemed to be all over the place. The main reason was that things became extremely rushed. Up until 7.1, some time had been taken in each universe to build-up to the final battle with the “evil Xavier”. They had also taken time to build-up character conflicts and distrust of the Xavier who has been navigating them to each world. This made the overall story more engaging because it dedicated time to making sure you got invested with the characters and what they were trying to do. After Kurt’s plot though, it was like someone pressed the fast-forward button. The pacing was very Grant Morrison-ish, as we jumped from one emergency (or several) right into the next one with very little build-up and at the expense of engaging character arcs. To give some idea of how much the story was sped-up, in the first volume we made it through 3 Xaviers while in this volume we got through 6. I’m guessing that things became rushed because they (whoever they is) wanted to get to the X-men X-termination story?
I will say that in the middle of issue 10, the plot managed to slow it’s pacing back down and re-engage me. So by the end, I was back to full investment and am looking forward to reading X-Men: X-Termination.
X-Men, Vol 1: Primer
Writer: Brian Wood
Illustrator: Oliver Coipel and David López
Publish Date: 2013
Rating: C –
I have extremely fond memories of the X-men from my teenage years and it’s still one of my favorite franchises to pick-up. I’ve always loved the social justice themes and how diverse the characters are. So, when I heard that there would be a run focusing on some of my favorite X-Ladies I got pretty freakin’ excited. Unfortunately, X-Men, Vol. 1: Primer did not live up to my expectations.
Jubilee is heading home with a baby she adopted when she notices she’s being followed. Freaked out, she calls the all female X-team on a payphone and they fly in to the rescue. Turns out the person who was following Jubilee is John Sublime. Johns is attempting to track down his sister before she spews death and terror all over the place and enlists the X-Team’s assistance.
I hate to say it, but this collection felt like it was pandering to what it thought a female audience would want to read and it did this at the expense of having an engaging plot and character development. This caused some serious imbalances in the way characters are portrayed and how the world appeared. One example is how Primer seems to err on the side of “No Boys Allowed” in order to focus on its female characters. In a world that is as diverse as X-men it does not make sense to have a team made up of only one gender. Like most things, it should be about balance. You can have men on the active team without having to automatically focus on them.
Also, I found it disappointing that a run concentrating on female X-Men is also choosing to latch onto a baby storyline. Dominating the collection are scenes of Jubilee with her new baby which thread the story with forced sentimentality and rather melodramatic angst. The scenes of Jubilee enjoying a day out on the town with junior as she strolls down memory lane, with a very G rated Wolverine at her side, were never ending. They came after the climax of the main plot and I’m still baffled at why they even exist. I got the idea that it’s supposed to show how Jubilee is maturing by taking on the responsibility of having a baby. I’m hoping that this plot gets dropped. There are a million other less cliched and more interesting ways this can be accomplished for her character. Honestly, I’m hoping that they return to the “baby is evil” idea that seemed to pop-up briefly in the beginning. I would definitely pick-up the second volume if the baby turns out to be evil incarnate.
All in all, I thought that X-Men: Primer had issues but it also has some potential. The series has some really great artwork by Oliver Coipel and lot of characters with interesting backgrounds to support it. But I would love to see Wood add some real conflict into the group and give them a morally complex issue to deal with. Towards the end of the collection it seemed like Wood was trying to insert some of this by having Rachel and Storm at odds. Their conflict came a little out of left field but I think it was an interesting idea. For now though, I don’t think I’ll be picking-up X-Men, Vol. 2: Muertas.