7 issues in and I’m still not sure how I feel about Extraordinary X-Men. The first 4 were so dark and depressing that I nearly dropped the title, even if there was nothing terrible about the writing itself. Issue 5 gave a sense of hope, and a great speech by Storm. Issue 6 was more fun. This issue though, is probably the darkest issue of Extraordinary X-Men yet.
Extraordinary X-Men 7, written by Jeff Lemire, is split into two stories. The main one is Jean Grey and Storm traveling through Nightcrawler’s mind together, trying to help him recover his sanity. Meanwhile, the rest of the Extraordinary X-men are in Weirdworld. The Weirdworld story is kind of fun, but it moves so fast that it feels kind of pointless. The story would have been better off stretched out by at least one more issues to actually show us what Weirdworld is like for those who haven’t read anything else about it. Exploring strange lands is one of the staple X-Men stories and this one feels a bit lacking. The hint at further troubles for Magik is interesting though.
The story in Nightcrawler’s head is well-written at the very least. Because Storm isn’t a psychic, she’s really only useful for moral support, but that doesn’t mean her presence feels wasted from a storytelling standpoint. She does help guide Jean a bit, and by knowing what Nightcrawler went through could help both of them in future issues. That said, she feels pointless in this issue. I won’t spoil exactly what Nightcrawler saw that apparently broke him, but it’s a very dark moment yet at the same time, Nightcrawler has a nearly unbreakable spirit and one would think it would take more to break him.
The art by Victor Ibanez is very good for the most part. The journey through Nightcrawler’s brain is complete with detailed backgrounds of the German village where gangs chased him in his past. There’s a good mix of detailed environment and strange, atmospheric looks. Weirdworld is also complete with detailed environments, with a couple floating islands, well-varied trees and a very creepy looking cave. Facial expressions do a great job at conveying emotions. There is one panel toward the end where Magic’s face looks really weird though. Jay David Ramos’s colouring is also great. There’s a good mix of green backgrounds, dark environments, and reflections that make everything look all the better.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with this comic from a quality standpoint, but I’m not so sure I enjoy the depressing nature of the story. The X-Men is a franchise that loans itself well to dark storytelling, but the best X-stories balance between dark and fun. There also could have been a lot more to the Weirdworld story. So far, Extraordinary X-Men leans a bit too far toward dark for my tastes, and if I want a story this dark, I’ll re-read an X-Force run. Those who have enjoyed Extraordinary X-Men so far will likely enjoy this, but I’m still not sure whether I’ll stick with this series or not.