Writer: Chris Burnham & Dennis Culver
Artist: Ramon Villalobos
Colors: Ian Herring
I had to do a double-take when I saw that Ian Herring was also on colors on this book, the second book that I read in my stack this week. He also did the colors for the first book that I read in my stack, All-New Hawkeye #4. And it’s good work, too. His rubbings on Ramon Perez’ art in that book (a different Ramon) were superb, as they are here.
E is for Extinction is a re-telling of Grant Morrison’s 2001 initial arc in his revamp of the X-Men and the Marvel mutant universe in general. Or at least it carries the same title. I did not read Morrison and Quitely’s run back then. Apparently it told the story of the X-Men discovering the roots of mankind’s extinction within the next few generations. The population of Genosha was executed by wild Sentinels, Xavier was shot, possessed by another being, revealed to the world that he was a mutant and all hell ensued. That’s not this tale as far as I can tell. This is the Battleworld re-telling. Magneto has Jean Grey and has been using her and a Pheonix-egg to manipulate the X-Men and turn them against each other. Emma Frost is back with the team, and she, Cyclops, and Wolverine have gone off to rescue the healing mutant Xorn from the U-Men. They’ve been depowered and need their abilities back. In truth, Magneto has been blocking their powers. Restored to full strength, they launch an assault/rescue mission on Magneto, encounter their former students, and…you guessed…all hell breaks ensues.
The first thing you are going to have to do when you settle down to read this yarn is get into or over Villalobos’ art. Staff writer Danny B. had the same initial reaction as I did…not a fan. And I have this thing where if the art is too abstract or over stylized and becomes distracting, I check out of the story. This art is a bit chunky, and a little newspaper cartoony in its style. It also reminds me of some of the MTV animated series from the 80s. However, whether it is because the story was so good or something else, I got over it quickly. I think it is maybe because Villalobos did not exacerbate the interruption by going all crazy with the panel layouts. Those are pretty mundane, which I also sometimes gig artists for. The layouts are very standard 1 X 4, rectangular and square panels without a lot of angles or embeds. I guess in this case, the slightly off-kilter art placed in a stock layout balanced each other out. And Herring’s colors smooth out the rest of the overall artistic impact. I like some particular choices that Villalobos makes, such as having Cyclops’ beams have an arc on them in some cases, and having wisps of energy emerging from his visor after firing blasts sometimes. Don’t comment on that not being realistic. It’s a comic. Plus it is occurring in the world of Doom, so anything goes. And is Wolverine fat in this comic? Villalobos also, as every X-Men artist is compelled to, does his own riff on Hank McCoy, whose appearance in this comic I label as Lion Beast.
Burnham and Culver spit out a pretty damned good script here. It is always tough whenever you have a book with a dozen X-Men on-screen at a time. It can be tough to juggle. And while your mileage may not go but so far if you do not immediately recognize some of these characters, you should still enjoy the snappy dialogue. There is a LOT going on here. First shocker: creepy gross old Magneto sleeping with one of the Cuckoos. Aren’t they, like, 14 years old? And now there are five; weren’t there three? It doesn’t matter. B&C are doing what many Marvel writers are in this time of Secret Wars/Battleworld, taking plot license to do as they will with what many of us think of as “our” continuity. Either way it all works. It’s knitted together and packaged nicely. And the final scene will make you breathless with anticipation for the next issue. It’s an excellent closer, and the type of thing I look for to grip newcomers to one of these tie-ins. It certainly encourages me to stay on-board for the next issue. I think it just might do the same for you.