So there are three Apocalypse Wars tie-ins going on right now in the X-Men franchise. From what I’ve heard, Uncanny X-Men’s is really good, but I stopped reading it after issue 2 because Cullen Bunn’s writing wasn’t enough to offset Greg Land’s art for me. This arc doesn’t have Greg Land on art, so I’ll need to pick it up in trade. All-New X-Men’s so far is pretty good, if you like Evan and Beast, but none of the other teammates are in the story at all. But then there’s Extraordinary X-Men’s tie-in, the first of the three to begin and probably the one with the most issues. You’d think this would help pick up Extraordinary X-Men’s pace after a bit of a slow and uneven start, but this story arc feels slower than anything prior. This issue does little to change that.
Long story short, most of Storm’s X-Men team is in a post-apocalyptic future, where Omega World is the last hospitable place on the planet. Omega World has a number of zones, each different from the last, but they all have one thing in common. Save for half of the horsemen of Apocalypse, none of them have any mutants. This is supposed to be the extended result of the terrigen mist on mutantkind. Ugh.
The last issue did almost nothing to expand the story – instead it’s just a big fight scene between the X-Men and the horsemen (Colossus being one of them). The fight in this issue is mildly better, if only because we actually see how each horseman’s powers are expanded, but save for Nightcrawler killing one of them in a temple (ugh), there’s no real sense of progress. The opening pages where Jean Grey tries to help Logan fight venom on his own are kind of nice, but she should easily be able to remove venom from Old Man Logan with her telekinesis alone after he fails. She doesn’t even try. It makes the fight feel kind of pointless. Apocalypse does reveal himself by the end if this issue, and it’s not a terrible reveal, but even he seems to have lost faith in mutants. Storm and Nightcrawler both feel out of character as well. Nightcrawler kills 2 people in this comic, when he’s historically very much against killing, and Storm doesn’t seem to react at all.
I’m sick of this comic’s depressing tone on that front. Both Apocalypse and Mr. Sinister abandoned mutants because of the terrigen mist? Neither of them abandoned mutants during decimation – if anything it strengthened their resolve, and that was arguably a much worse situation for mutantkind. Even the Magik/Sapna story, the saving grace in the previous issue, is kind of depressing here, although at least that story could lead somewhere interesting.
The art by Humberto Ramos is, as always, an acquired taste. There are some things I like about it, like how Jean Grey is drawn, Nightcrawler’s facial expressions and the various fire, ice and other effects from the different X-Men look good. Even if there isn’t much progress in the fight scenes, they flow well from panel to panel and it’s easy to see what’s happening. When Apocalypse shows up, his new look is interesting and it fits the role he’s taking. On the other hand, several characters’ proportions are grossly exaggerated. Colossus’s arms and chest are so big that you might as well say he doesn’t have a head. Venom is cartoonishly massive. Edgar Delgado’s colouring is very good though – everything is bright and colourful, and there’s good use of reflections and shading.
Like I said in the previous issue’s review, this series frustrates me, to the point where if the next issue doesn’t impress me, I’m dropping it outside of crossovers with other X-Men books. That would make this the first flagship X-Men title I’ll ever drop since I first got into comics. It’s fine to make a dark X-Men story, but unless you’re writing X-Force, there should be an obvious sense of hope. That doesn’t seem to exist in this series. Jeff Lemire can be a great writer, especially when he writes interpersonal scenes, but this issue is straight action and exposition. When there’s little sense of progressions in either, it makes for a comic that’s ultimately boring. I can’t recommend this series as it currently stands.